Pictured is Malden Mayor Gary Christenson.
By STEVE FREKER
MALDEN — Mayor Gary Christenson opened his sixth “State of the City” address Tuesday morning declaring Malden is “on the move.”
Christenson greeted an audience of 300 gathered at Anthony’s by holding up a set of keys to symbolize city action to pass ownership of the former City Hall to developer Jefferson Apartment Group. With city government temporarily relocated to new quarters, the 1970s-era building has been sold to Jefferson and will be demolished this spring to make way for residential-commercial and retail mix development.
“Malden is strong, vibrant and on the move,” the mayor asserted.
Relocating City Hall and the Malden Police Station, redeveloping the City Hall site and reopening Pleasant Street to traffic after 43 years has been a major focus of Christenson’s mayorship.
During his speech sponsored by the Malden Chamber of Commerce, Christenson stressed Malden’s diversity and the ways in which he and his staff strive to reach and include all in the fabric of the city.
“One of Malden’s greatest strengths is our concern for each other. In this city we care about each other,” the mayor said, adding “with the divisiveness around the country it has become even more important for us to consistently let it be known we value all members of our community. We in Malden have been on the path of inclusiveness long before it has become a goal of other communities and for that we are very proud.”
Christenson spiced up his speech by using a digital assistant “bot” named “Tornado” to present his video-enhanced address. “Tornado,” named after the Malden High School athletic teams’ mascot, introduced the mayor.
In addition to detailing city government’s relocation over the past year and the construction and opening of the new police station on the lower Eastern Avenue corridor, Christenson announced a downward trend in crime and said the city will introduce a Citizens Police Academy this year.
He highlighted the swearing-in of new Fire Chief Kevin Finn this year and, in the context of last month’s fatal fire on Perkins Street, explained city efforts to distribute free smoke detectors. Christenson reviewed Malden public school successes from the past year, including leadership changes with Dr. Charles Grandson as interim Superintendent and Ted Lombardi as Malden High School principal.
The mayor praised the accomplishments by students and staff in all of the schools and said the School Committee endorses promotion of these achievements.
Other speech highlights included:
— Grants obtained by the Board of Health to partner with other agencies and groups to help fight opioid and substance addiction
— Gold Medal status from the state for the City Clerk’s office and retiring Clerk Karen Anderson for their successful introduction of early voting in the city this year.
— Improvements to several parks including Coytemore Lea (an all-inclusive, fully accessible playground to those with disabilities); Pearl Street tot lot and basketball court; and Forestdale Park.
— Malden’s designation as a “Green Community” and its subsequent $330,000 state grant which will lead to making all 3,400 streetlights in the city LED as well as a complete, energy savings-guaranteed energy audit of all city buildings.
— The addition of many new businesses to the community including a first-in-the-city brewery and taproom (Idle Hands on Commercial Street) and the designation of Malden, on equal footing with Boston and Cambridge as “platinum certified” in siting biotechnology companies.