State Rep. Brendan Crighton

Politics 101 at Classical

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Lynn Classical High School student Ali Jallow asks State Sen. Thomas McGee, left, and State Rep. Brendan Crighton a question during a town hall style meeting on government.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN Local government officials answered to Lynn Classical High School advanced government students on Tuesday.

Each student prepared a question for State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), State Rep. Dan Cahill (D-Lynn) and State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) and led a discussion on local and state politics.

They debated everything from the legal age to purchase tobacco to the rights of undocumented immigrants to a woman’s right to choose. One student questioned whether the locations proposed for two new middle schools are the best options.

“This is reflective of the great things going on in the Lynn schools,” said McGee, who was impressed by the nature of the students’ questions.

The students were equally impressed.

“I felt like I could trust them,” said Eric Macorri, a senior. “There’s a personal connection with them being so close to the community.”

Macorri said because of the event, he felt like he could reach out to his community leaders when there is a problem.

MG2, city iron out a deal for market-rate housing

“We got a lot of information about what goes on and how the (political) process works,” said Matt Lauria, a senior. “It’s really cool to see as long as you’re motivated you can always go out and do it. It doesn’t matter where you came from.”

Cahill and Crighton said they started out in the same place as the room full of teenagers. Both came from the Lynn Public School system; neither came from a political family.

Crighton’s political experience stems from an internship at City Hall. Cahill ran for office for the first time as part of a project for his master’s’ program at Northeastern University, securing a seat on the Lynn School Committee.

Anyone older than 18 who wants to get involved with local politics can run for office, they told the students.

Ali Jallow, a senior, said he was open to a career in politics.

“It’s kind of refreshing to hear from them,” he said. “They’re really about our problems. I know I have a voice and changes can be made. It makes me more conscious that I could do it.”

Cahill stressed the importance of voting.

“It’s your right,” said Cahill. “You can sit down and do nothing, hang out on social media and complain. But 100 million people didn’t vote. It’s your most important civic duty, aside from paying taxes.”

McGee encouraged students to do the work and research election candidates rather than believing rumors.

“We always like to meet and chat with young folks,” said Cahill. “It’s a good way to reassure the future generation that they can run for office, regardless of their background and that it’s important that good people run for office to make sure our community is well served.”

Lynn to receive $400K in PARC Grants

BOSTON — The state will provide $400,000 to complete  improvements to the Lynn Commons.

The second phase of the project will include the restoration of the curb and walkways on the western side of the park and new benches. The project will also include new trees, trash receptacles, granite mile markers and decorative lighting.

“It is great to see that Lynn is receiving PARC funding,” said Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) in a statement. “These public dollars will be key, not only in improving the Lynn Common but also in improving the quality of life for residents of Lynn.”

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) provided the grant through the Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Program.

State Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) said ensuring access to green space is an important part of community development.

“These funds will go to improve the Lynn Common in appearance and accessibility for all Lynn residents to enjoy,” she said in a statement.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said it is essential to invest in the city’s infrastructure to provide safe public places for all to enjoy.

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) thanked EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton and Lynn’s community development for continuing to rehabilitate and restore Lynn’s historic commons.

“These improvements will help to make the commons more accessible to seniors, families and the disabled,” Cahill said in a statement.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy was thrilled with the latest grant to advance the project. 

“We just finished up the small common and the work we will accomplish on the larger common will not only complement this work but also the work that is taking place down the street at the new Market Basket site,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The entire length of the common is truly a gateway to our downtown and its rehabilitation will do a lot for not only the aesthetics of the area but also the hundreds of residents that utilize it daily.” 

James Marsh, the city’s Community Development director, whose office applied for the funds, said design work will start immediately with a shovel in the ground this summer. 

“We will match the $400,000 with $180,000 in community development funding bringing the total funding to more than $500,000 for this historical green space,” he said in a statement.

Gateway project gets a HAND

PARC was established in 1977 to assist communities in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. To qualify for these grants, municipalities must develop projects that are suitable for outdoor recreation. Grants are available for the acquisition of land and the construction, or renovation of park and outdoor recreation facilities. Access by the public is required.

Earlier this year, EEA provided $730,000 to start the project.  

It’s the latest effort by the city to upgrade its parks. Among the open spaces already rehabilitated include Fraser Field, Flax Pond Park, Neptune Blvd. Park and Keaney Park. The improvements complement the $1 million restoration of the Lynn Common Bandstand.

Crighton to take on ‘The American Dream’

LYNN State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) is this week’s guest on “The American Dream” where he will discuss the Massachusetts House of Representatives with host and local attorney James J. Carrigan.

Hosted and produced by Carrigan in collaboration with Lynn Community Television (LCTV), the program “is designed to bring viewers behind closed doors to see how public policy is formed,” according to LCTV’s website.

The show airs on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. and Mondays at 1:30 p.m. LCTV broadcasts on Comcast channel 3 and Verizon channel 38.

ALSO: “The Brady Bunch” mom has ties to Swampscott

You can’t get there from here: Part 3

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE 
State Sen. Thomas McGee, State Rep. Brendan Crighton and State Rep. and City Council President Dan Cahill are seen at the commuter rail station in Lynn.

By THOMAS GRILLO

Third in a four-part series
ALSO: You can’t get there from here: Part 1
You can’t get there from here: Part 2
You can’t get there from here: Part 4

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) isn’t shy about saying what’s needed to fix the region’s transportation problems: raise the gas tax and add more toll roads.

It’s a bold proclamation considering the anti-tax climate on Beacon Hill.

In January, Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said the House will not propose any new taxes or fees in the new year. When then gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker ran for the office in 2014, he did not support raising taxes.

Voters seem to agree. While McGee supported a hike in the gasoline tax in 2013 that would have automatically adjusted gas taxes to inflation funds that would be used exclusively to pay for infrastructure improvements the measure was repealed the following year in a statewide ballot initiative.

“It’s more than just raising taxes,” he said. “It’s what services should we provide and how do we pay for them? Let’s have that discussion and then figure out the needed revenue.”

The legislation passed by the Legislature was the first time since 1991 that lawmakers had voted to raise the gasoline tax.

Still, DeLeo is not solidly in the no-tax camp. In 2009, he supported the increase in the sales tax to 6.25 percent, up from 5 percent, a move that boosted the state’s revenue by $900 million.

In addition, DeLeo has supported other tax hikes, including higher levies on cigarettes and gas. This year, DeLeo joined his Democratic colleagues to advance a 4 percent surtax on household incomes above $1 million that economists say could generate nearly $2 billion in new revenues annually.

While McGee and transportation advocates have suggested the possibility of installing tolls on some of the state’s other major highways, the idea hasn’t taken off. Baker implemented a “revenue neutral” switch to electronic tolling that will replace toll booths by the end of October.  

Another way to bring in transportation revenue is to assess a tax on motorists based on the number of vehicle miles traveled annually. But that proposal seems to lack traction on Beacon Hill.

McGee bristles at the suggestion that taxpayers refuse to pay more, as the repeal of the gas tax suggests.

“Without new taxes, you have to deal with a system that’s ready to implode; it’s imploding now,” he said.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) agrees. He said taxpayers are willing to pay more if they can be guaranteed the money will be spent on transportation.

“Voters want to know that the money is going to the right place,” he said. “A bipartisan commission found that it would take $20 billion for infrastructure just to bring us up to the state of good repair and that was a decade ago.”

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said everyone agrees that public transportation is a critical part of our regional economy; it isn’t functioning well and a solution is needed. The difference of opinion, he said, is how to pay for it.

“The governor has said reform over revenue increases, but that will get us about a 10 percent saving and that won’t get us there  we need billions of dollars,” he said.  “He has also said there will be no discussion of tax or fee increases, but we have to have those conversations.”

One key investment McGee has sought is an extension of the Blue Line to Lynn. He acknowledged that the three miles from Revere’s Wonderland to downtown Lynn could cost as much as $700 million at a time when the governor says the state is cash-strapped.

Rather than build new tracks, McGee suggests the Blue Line could be placed on the commuter rail line. He did not know how much that would trim the project’s cost.

McGee, who serves as co-chairman of the Senate’s Joint Transportation Committee, is passionate about improving the region’s infrastructure and expanding service that would include ferry service and a Blue Line stop at the commuter rail stop in downtown Lynn.

Both investments would get some commuters off Route 1 South to Boston that can easily take more than an hour to go 10 miles at rush hour.

“We have a commuter rail that doesn’t work for us, by the time the trains arrive, they are packed,” said McGee. “It costs more to take the commuter rail from Lynn than it does to take the Blue Line from Wonderland, and the mostly empty MBTA garage is crumbling.”

He points to Somerville, a city of similar size, that has the Red Line to Davis Square, the Orange Line at Assembly Square and soon the 4.3-mile Green Line extension that will provide service beyond a new Lechmere Station to College Avenue in Medford and to Union Square and three other stations.

“What was Davis Square like before the Red Line?” McGee asked.

Not much, just a handful of mom-and-pop stores, certainly not a destination point. Today it’s brimming with a Starbucks and a bunch of great eateries like Redbones Barbecue, Foundry on Elm, Anna’s Taqueria and the Burren, not to mention the revitalized Somerville Theatre.

The biggest challenge is not finding a great place to eat but a place to park.

Still, Somerville had the benefit of support from the powerful House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill who had persuasive powers in Congress and at the White House.

Today, the state’s delegation in Washington has limited power given their lack of tenure and the Republican control of Congress.  

While Lynn is one of the communities in the state to offer commuter rail service, McGee said it has never been a major piece of the city’s transportation system.

“It takes us to North Station, which means it’s another transfer point for most people,” he said. “It doesn’t take you to the inner core or connect our region to Logan International Airport, which is a key piece of future economic development and opportunity.”

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said there’s no question that improved transportation access is the key to growing Lynn.

“I’ve made it clear that economic development is my number one district priority and transportation is critical to that,” he said.  “That’s why I recently secured a $4.5 million grant to purchase a ferry for the city.”

He said deep-sixing the Lynn ferry for this year flies in the face of every successful ferry service in the state, challenging the governor’s assertion that the boat failed to win enough riders to be sustainable. They all had modest beginnings, he said. The Hingham ferry started with one daily trip and now there are 15 with 4,000 riders, he said.

The impact of ferry service is not limited to getting cars off the traffic-choked highways, it’s the key to development on the Lynnway, Moulton added.

“The waterfront development around the Hingham ferry terminal is unbelievable,” he said. “That could be happening in Lynn today, but it won’t happen if we fail to even run the ferry we bought.”

Moulton also supports the Blue Line extension and the so-called North-South Rail Link, that would connect North and South Stations so passengers from north of Boston would not have to take other MBTA trains to get to their downtown destination. That proposed project has been championed by former Gov. Michael Dukakis who said it would unlock major development north of Boston.

Moulton said more than three dozen such links have been built in major cities around the world.

Still, there’s the question of whether Boston would be ready for another Big Dig, not to mention the cost. The bill would be about $680 million per mile to dig under the city of Boston that’s as much as $2.8 billion, Moulton said.

“The Romney administration said it was an $8 billion project, but others say it’s not that much,” he said.

One way it could be paid for, he said, was for the state to abandon the idea of expanding South Station with additional tracks and a new office building.

“If we do the Blue Line extension and North-South Link, you would see an absolute real estate explosion in Lynn,” Moulton said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Lynn awarded $40G for recycling efforts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has announced that the city of Lynn was awarded $40,500 as part of their Sustainable Material Recovery Program.

The awarded money is divided into $38,500 for the Recycling Dividends Program and $2,000 for the Targeted Small Scale Initiative.

“Lynn has been a leader amongst gateway communities in addressing the issue of recycling awareness,” said State Rep. Dan Cahill. “Our continued partnership with the state through this grant allows us to continue to tackle urban waste management.”

The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) was created under the Green Communities Act, which directs a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Waste Energy Certificates to recycling programs approved by the MassDEP.

“This grant funding will assist the city of Lynn in continuing its efforts to encourage more residents and businesses to recycle,” said State Sen. Thomas M. McGee. “Increased participation not only helps the environment, but can also generate significant cost savings for the city.”

The SMRP solicitation offers funding to cities for recycling, composting, reuse and source reduction activities that will increase diversion of municipal solid waste and household hazardous waste from disposal.

“While Lynn has made extraordinary progress with recycling over the past few years, there is always more work to be done,” said State Rep. Brendan Crighton. “This grant will help us to continue our efforts to improve public health and the environment while at the same time cutting waste disposal costs.”

City takes the LEAD with developers

Charlie Patsios talks about the future of the land that used to house the old General Electric gear plant site during the economic development tour today. Item Photo by Owen O’Rourke

By Thomas Grillo

LYNN — Jay Connolly admits he is “somewhat of a stranger to Lynn,” but the vice president of Beverly-based Connolly Brothers Inc. registered for Tuesday’s city development tour of Lynn to find new opportunities.

“The city seems to have lots of potential, proximity to Boston and waterfront opportunities, so it’s exciting to see it,” Connolly said.

More than 100 investors, developers, lenders, brokers and contractors like Connolly boarded three buses for a glimpse at the city’s development opportunities.

“It’s encouraging to see so many new faces looking at Lynn,” said Matthew Picarsic, managing principal of RCG, a Somerville-based real estate firm whose Lynn projects include the Boston Machine Lofts building on Willow Street. “Lynn has lots of opportunities … and it seems ready to go.”

Hosted by the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn (EDIC), MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development agency, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) team, the tour showcased acres of waterfront land and more than a dozen underdeveloped properties in the downtown.

Charles Patsios, the Swampscott developer who is preparing to build a $500 million complex on the 65-acre former General Electric Co. Gear Works property that will feature 1,200 apartments adjacent to the train stop, met the tour on his site.

“Lynn has the best of the best and it’s been hidden in plain sight for so long,” he said. “Lynn is the next Charlestown, East Boston, South Boston, North End, Somerville, Cambridge, Kendall Square, all of those components can be found in Lynn. The future is Lynn … the opportunities abound.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy welcomed the visitors at the ferry terminal parking lot on Blossom Street extension, telling them that few people know there are 200 acres of undeveloped land available in the city, much of it on the waterfront. She urged them to let their imaginations stay open throughout the event. “Hopefully, you will come back with some ideas to transform Lynn,” she said. “All of us are standing by, ready to make that happen for you.”

Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and a member of a LEAD team, said he’s excited about Lynn’s present and future. He said the response he’s received about investing in Lynn has been encouraging.

“For those of you who are thinking about development in Lynn, I can’t think of a better place to make an investment,” he said. “It’s a jewel along the water. This place is happening. We are prepared to work with you to help make your development successful. We know that together there are great days ahead for Lynn and we are happy to be a small part of it.”

Gregory Bialecki, who held Ash’s job in the Patrick administration and is now a principal at Redgate, the Boston-based developer who is considering Lynn, said as housing prices soar in places like Somerville and Chelsea, Lynn is the next logical place to build apartments.

“Twenty years ago, people said Chelsea was not on the list of where people with choices would want to live, but they’ve turned the corner,” he said. “The conditions are ready for it to happen in Lynn.”

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) sang the city’s praises to the potential investors, telling them Lynn has a vibrant sense of community that is unmatched.

“Our waterfront offers one of the most beautiful sites on the East Coast and there are regional water transportation opportunities,” he said. “I know I’m biased living here in Lynn, but people in this city really care about this community.”

State Rep. and City Council President Daniel Cahill said so many elected officials gathered for the tour because they believe in the city.  

“We have done lots of rezoning, so you will see lots of build as-of-right possibilities, a very exciting phrase to developers, and we have expedited permitting,” he said. “You will find some great parcels and great investments.”

Just before the tour, James Cowdell, EDIC’s executive director, said the downtown has been rezoned to allow for conversion of industrial buildings into housing. As a result, he said, more than 300 new residents live downtown.

He provided a preview of the stops along the trek including 545 Washington St., the five-story former home of Prime Manufacturing Co. that is zoned for commercial use on the first floor and residential above; 11 Spring St., a six-story building across the street from the MBTA that has been used for location shots for Hollywood movies; 40-48 Central St., vacant buildings with adjacent parking which comprise a site for multi-story, market rate housing above commercial space; 38 South Common St., and the 1893 state-owned Lynn Armory that is on the National Register of Historic Places and is available for sale.

In addition, Cowdell noted there are multiple sites available on the waterside of the Lynnway including 40 acres owned by National Grid that could be developed.

“The sky’s the limit,” Cowdell said.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said the city is finally getting noticed, in part, because they have a full set of tools in their toolbox to help developers.

“We want to show off the city and get feedback to see if there are things we can do better,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton met the tour at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society and compared the proximity of Lynn to Boston in the context of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“Think about how Brooklyn has taken off in the last 10 years and it’s not just the Brooklyn of 50 years ago” he said. “There are a tremendous number of start-ups, a great tech scene and all sorts of things that are very much relevant to today, not just the economy of old. That’s the kind of thing we want to see in Lynn.”

At the start of the tour, about two dozen members of Lynn United for Change, a community organization that supports affordable housing, used the gathering to advocate for low- and moderate-income units. They held signs that read “Lynn Says No To Gentrification” and “Lynn Families Before Developer’s Profits.”  

“In this city, we need affordable housing that’s accessible to the working people of our city,” said one protester through a bullhorn.  

City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre, who was present during the protest, said the developer’s tour was not the time or place to air their grievances over housing.

“I would not go along with 100 percent of the units in a new development being affordable. But I am sympathetic to their cause. But the details are subject to them talking to the developers to see how many affordable units, if any, developers are willing to do.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

HUD, EPA say no to Lynn

The Department of Housing and Urban Development building.

By Thomas Grillo

Lynn has been dealt a setback by two federal agencies that would have provided momentum for the city’s rebirth, but officials say they are not discouraged.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rejected a proposal to designate Lynn a “Promise Zone” that would have given the city a leg up on competitive grants to accelerate its revitalization efforts. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said no to a $150,000 award to assess the cleanup of the Whyte’s Laundry contaminated site in the downtown.

“Those EPA grants are like chasing gold and every community in America is competing for them,” said Joseph Mulligan, a fellow at MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development agency, who is working to improve the downtown. “Not getting the Promise Zone designation was a tough break, but the upside is it got all the city’s constituencies together and they’re moving forward.”

The bad news comes as the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) team is working to bring local, state and federal resources to the city. The panel includes U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, James Cowdell of Lynn’s Economic Development & Industrial Corp., Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and for now, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, who is being considered for the city manager job in Cambridge.

“Lynn wasn’t even applying for most of these grants a few years ago and many communities apply five, 10 years in a row before they see anything come through,” said Moulton. “It’s important to realize that early rejections are a normal part of the process.”

Whyte’s, owned by Elaine Goldsmith of Salem, was demolished in 2000 to make way for an expanded post office on Willow Street. But that plan was derailed when Congress froze construction of new postal facilities in 2001. Since then, the overgrown lot has been vacant. EPA estimates that it will cost about $350,000 to remove contaminants from the 15,000-square-foot parcel.

Kennedy said she does not spend time being dismayed by rejection. She is already planning to reapply.

“The Whyte’s Laundry property is one of the lynchpins of developing an entire block of the downtown,” the mayor said.  “Once that site is cleaned up, we can move onto the Anthony’s Hawthorne, next door, and that’s nearly an acre that has been vacant since 2000.”

While the EPA gave the application a grade of A, Kennedy said given the competition, it needed an A+. The city plans to tweak the proposal and apply for the next round of funding, she added.

On the Promise Zone, Kennedy said she met with the HUD’s regional director on Monday to discuss the application.

“He was impressed with all of the good that is going on here,” she said. “We have caught their attention and while we were not chosen, there might still be some benefit for having submitted the application.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said while he was disappointed in not getting the green light for both, the good thing about these grants is that there’s always another opportunity.

“We are constantly looking at the state and federal opportunities and we will just keep applying,” he said.

On the EPA grant, the New England office said they distributed $600,000 to provide technical service grants to perform site assessment under the brownfields program. EPA said Whyte’s Laundry was not selected, primarily because the scope of the assessment work is beyond what the agency could afford.

An initiative of the Obama administration, the Promise Zone designation links the federal government with local leaders who are addressing multiple community revitalization challenges. While Promise Zone designees do not receive cash, they get five AmeriCorps VISTA members, a federal liaison to help designees navigate federal programs, preferences for competitive federal grant programs and technical assistance from federal agencies and possible tax incentives.

Kathleen McDonald, development director at the Lynn Economic Opportunity Inc. and one of the authors of the Promise Zone application, said more than five dozen cities competed and just a handful were selected.

“We knew going in that getting this designation was way against the odds,” she said. “But we were willing to do it because we saw so much value in convening all the city’s organizations and perspectives.”

As a result, she said, the Lynn-based Gerondelis Foundation has provided $90,000 over the next three years to manage the process of keeping the stakeholders together.

“We had a very good proposal,” she said. “HUD told us that while we did not win, they were impressed with our collaborative and want to provide us with technical assistance which was a nice piece of praise and a great gesture.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Governor again sinks water transportation

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Charlie Baker.

BY THOMAS GRILLO

Gov. Charlie Baker has deep-sixed creation of a state panel that would have crafted a comprehensive water transportation vision, including ferry service.

On Friday, Baker vetoed a no-cost provision of the 2017 budget for a Water Transportation Advisory Council. In a statement to the Legislature, Baker said he rejected formation of the panel because it duplicates efforts within and outside of state government.

The governor was not immediately available for comment. But he may be referring to the Massachusetts Ferry Compact which has yet to meet under Baker’s watch. That group’s mission is to identify an overall vision for the ferry system in the Bay State. Its membership is a mix of state agencies, elected officials, and organizations dedicated to improving ferry transportation in the commonwealth.  

Baker’s veto comes on the heels of his administration’s rejection of Lynn’s request for about $700,000 in operating expenses for a North Shore ferry to sail for a third summer.

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), who championed the new council in next year’s budget, said he was surprised by the veto and intends to seek an override with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

“The governor’s veto is lack of vision and a missed opportunity that is right in front of us,” McGee said. “Maybe they’re worried about the cost, maybe they’re worried about expansion. To me, it’s a no brainer.”

Baker vetoed $256 million in spending from the state budget for the new fiscal year, but signed the remainder of the nearly $39 billion spending plan.

The new council would have cost nothing, but would be instrumental in devising a vision for coastal communities to take advantage of water transportation given the gridlock on the region’s roads, McGee said.

“My efforts are to have an open and honest discussion about what I view as a huge potential for expansion of water transportation in the region while recognizing all the other challenges we face with gridlocked roads and investment in the MBTA,” McGee added. “This is an opportunity to have a fresh look at what we can to make access easier for people in the region.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said he was disappointed over the governor’s veto.

“Clearly, water transportation is not part of the governor’s transportation priorities,” he said “This is not just a Lynn thing, the council would have included stakeholders from every coastal community and a comprehensive group of people that could strategize for water transportation. The council doesn’t cost anything, there’s no mandate, other than exploring options.”

The council would be charged with creating a vision for a comprehensive system of water transportation services serving the commonwealth’s ferry passengers, including commuters and tourists. It would be tasked with identifying policies and improvements including, investment of public funds to support operating and capital expenses for existing and new ferry services, and supporting the state agencies and independent authorities responsible for planning, designing, constructing, operating, funding and maintaining the ferry transportation infrastructure facilities.

Members of the council would have included the Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, who will serve as the chair, general manager of the MBTA, chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, president of Boston Harbor Now Inc., executive director of the Seaport Economic Council, general manager of the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority, CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority, representatives of the private ferry operations industry, the mayors of the cities of Boston, Lynn, New Bedford, Quincy and Salem, and the town managers of the towns of Hingham, Hull, Provincetown and Winthrop.

“In Salem, we have seen the direct benefits from having ferry service to and from Boston for commuters and visitors,” said Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) in a statement. “It’s become an important transportation alternative…which has led to less cars on our congested roadways, a reduction in vehicle emissions and increased ridership year-over-year. It’s clear that when a reliable, economical ferry service is available, people will support the operation and utilize the service. The creation of the Water Transportation Advisory Council is a huge leap forward in shaping a comprehensive strategy and vision for water transportation in our coastal communities.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

Baker won’t move on ferry

ITEM FILE PHOTO

BY THOMAS GRILLO

In his first public comments on the stranded Lynn to Boston ferry, Gov. Charlie Baker defended his administration’s decision not to fund it.  

“At this point, it didn’t generate the ridership that people had hoped it would generate, and the price tag associated per rider is extraordinary,” Baker told The Item.

Baker made the remarks following his appearance at “The Future of Transportation: Paving a Path to Progress” in Boston on Thursday with Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and other experts.

The governor said Lynn’s two-year demonstration project to launch the ferry on the state’s dime was an opportunity to examine whether the service made sense.

“We agreed to work with folks and support it for a couple of years to see what happens,” Baker said. “Our message to people is: let’s look at what happened over the short, two-year demo period… see what’s possible with respect to how it might be organized going forward and paid for. And let’s come back and have a conversation again, after people do some homework on that review. I personally think that’s a reasonable approach.”

Earlier this month, the Baker administration rejected Lynn’s request for about $700,000 in operating expenses for the ferry to sail for a third summer. As result, former ferry riders are back on the commuter rail, taking the bus to the Blue Line or driving to Boston.

Pollack said the comparisons of the Lynn ferry to the MBTA’s ferry services in other Bay State coastal communities is unfair.

“The MBTA ferries cost half as much, and riders cover 70 percent of the cost,” she told The Item. “The Lynn ferry costs twice as much per passenger and riders cover less than 10 percent. There has to be subsidy in Lynn, like there is subsidy at the T, but the question is: what level of subsidy?”  

But Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said he disagrees with Baker that Lynn failed to attract enough riders to prove the service makes economic sense.

“Even the provider of the ferry service anticipated many fewer riders,” he said. “For us to have 15,000 riders last year in a three month period was a message that viable ferry service from Lynn is legitimately a real opportunity for the North Shore to have an important transportation option.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said the state has already invested $8.5 million to build the pier and a parking lot and without the ferry it’s going to waste.

James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development & Industrial Corp. of Lynn, said he hopes that when the governor reviews the two-year pilot program that he don’t look at it as a Lynn ferry, rather as a  regional ferry.

Cowdell insisted that none of the commuter ferries make money. But given time, ridership on the Lynn ferry would increase while the cost would drop. In 2014, the service attracted 13,136 riders and 15,230 last year.

“We are just starting out building ridership,” he said. “The best marketing is our passengers. You can’t compare us to Hingham. They have been in operation for a decade. If the ferry ran this summer, we would have exceeded 15,000 passengers.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was disappointed with the governor’s decision not to fund the ferry, but declined to criticize him.

“I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever reached out to state government to reverse a decision they’ve made,” she said. “That would be stepping over a boundary. If I want to have a say in how the state budget gets spent, maybe I should run for governor. I do understand his decision. It’s disappointing. People enjoyed the ferry and maybe the allocation will be available sometime in the future.”

On Tuesday, the City Council voted 7 to 0 to ask Baker to reconsider his decision not to fund the ferry service.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com

A history lesson for Crighton

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Massachusetts State Rep. Brendan Crighton speaks to Lynn Classical High honors U. S. History students that include Iris Martinez, Venita Figueroa, Ryan Clark and Elijah Almendarez.

BY DILLON DURST

LYNN — A Classical High School class caught state Rep. Brendan Crighton’s eye.

The Lynn Democrat visited Dena Capano’s U.S. history classes Thursday to participate in the “(Re) Vision of Lynn” project. The initiative examines the city’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), which put millions of unemployed Americans to work nationwide constructing public buildings and roads under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Students took pictures of themselves in front of the buildings, such as the General Electric Co. sites and Fraser Field — formerly Manning Bowl — and envisioned improvements for the city’s properties.

“It’s inspiring to see young people looking at the needs of the city,” Crighton said. “It’s cool to see that their vision reflects what we’re trying to do.”

Students raised issues about potholes, sidewalks and the cleanliness of the city’s parks and fields. A raccoon problem was even mentioned.

But most of Capano’s students agreed that they’d like to see an entertainment center built in Lynn.

Juniors Thomas Rojas and Tori McDonald said they’re tired of leaving the city to have fun.

Rojas said he often goes to Town Line, a Malden-based venue that features luxury bowling lanes, a sports bar and nightlife. While he won’t be visiting the bar anytime soon, he said such a place in Lynn would provide games for teens. He also said it would help attract outsiders to Lynn.

Students Elizabeth Tobin and Vilaphon Sodabanh said they’d like to see the MBTA’s Blue Line expanded. They would also like movie theaters in town because malls are too far away.

They said it’s tough for Millennials who lack driver’s licenses to plan rides to and from the closest forms of recreation.

“Lynn just really doesn’t have much to offer,” said student Jefferson Fuentes.

Crighton said the ideas are not far fetched, and said zoning allows those uses. But the only thing missing is someone willing to build it.


Dillon Durst can be reached at ddurst@itemlive.com.

Lynn students create a shadow government

Photo by Bob Roche
Lynn DPW mechanic Ernie Murphy, left, shows Lionu Kou of Lynn Tech how to fit a piston into the engine.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Precious Parker plans to attend a Texas university next year, but the charter school senior paid close attention Tuesday as a city mechanic assembled a piston.

Parker was one of 45 local high school students who participated in student government day events giving students a close-up look at how city government works and a chance to debate city council and school committee proposals.

Parker, a student at KIPP; English High School senior Jacob DeFilippo and four other students spent the morning at the Lynn Public Works Department on Commercial Street. They caught a glimpse at how city workers maintain parks and playgrounds and keep 300 city vehicles running.

City mechanic Ernie Murphy specializes in maintaining city fire engines. He took a break from working on Engine 7 to praise student government day activities.

“It’s good they do this for the kids,” he said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy kicked off the day with a quick speech at City Hall and state Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) and City Council President Dan Cahill explained why government is important.

“Think about the things you can do to impact people’s lives,” Cahill said. “It is exciting work.”

The Public Works’ scope of operation caught DeFilippo by surprise.

Public Works Commissioner Andrew Hall let him climb into a six-wheel, $144,000 International Truck capable of tackling winter storms and park cleanup projects.

“It’s unbelievable the work that gets done here,” said DeFilippo.  “I only had a small understanding.”

English High, Classical High School, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, Fecteau-Leary High School and St. Mary’s High School students also participated in government day with half of the students taking on the roles of councilors and committee members.

English High senior Blertushe Xhemajli and a dozen other students framed topics for debate by student school committee members with guidance from Committee Secretary Thomas Iarrobino.

The students warmed to the topics of mobile device restrictions and a discipline suspension standard. Xhemajli suggested students should be talking with each other in person and not on a phone during lunch periods.

“You’re taking away the opportunity to get to know someone,” she said.

Fecteau-Leary student Angel Acevedo and Tech student Nico Ortiz discussed the merits of at-home versus in-school disciplinary suspensions. Ortiz suggested educators must find more ways to keep students in class and out of trouble.

Before saying goodbye to Parker, Murphy urged her to stay in school, study and succeed academically.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would be a dentist,” he said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Rep. and councilor team up for Barry Park

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Kids hang out at the damaged concrete bleachers at Barry Park in Lynn.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNNState Rep. Brendan Crighton and Ward 7 City Councilor Jay Walsh are renewing a push to remove Barry Park’s bleachers as a first step to restoring the park.

Crighton, a Democrat who represents West Lynn and Nahant on Beacon Hill, has filed a budget request for $200,000 for the renovations, starting with the removal of the concrete bleachers.

“They are a source of blight separating the neighborhood from the park,” he said.

The seats deteriorating condition and location are a frequent target for graffiti. The vandalism prompted former councilor Rick Ford before he left office to call for their demolition.

Walsh said he is carrying on that fight and vowed there is support among residents to replace the seats with a low, tree-lined hill providing shade and a buffer between the park and nearby homes.

“The neighbors take it upon themselves to clean the graffiti, but the bleachers have become a problem,” Walsh said.

Crighton’s proposed amendments to the state budget under debate for the spending year that begins on July 1 includes another $200,000 to repair the broken median fence on the Carroll Parkway.

From the Nahant Rotary to the Lynnway, the parkway with its pedestrian overpass linking the North Shore Community College campus to Heritage State Park is divided by the fence on a grassy strip of land.

Last year, Crighton supported efforts to repair the fence, citing its appearance.

“It looks even worse than last year,” he said.

He also offered an amendment to spend $25,000 to pay for state inspectors to check Breeds Pond and Walden Pond dams for structural integrity. The earth dams border local water reservoirs and Walsh said they receive routine maintenance, including trimming trees before their roots take hold and erode the dam slopes.

State Rep. Lori  Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) and Crighton co-sponsored amendments to allocate $50,000 in the state budget to clear algae from Kings and Long Beach. The algae prompts odor complaints on hot summer days.

The pair also proposed spending $90,000 from the state budget to support the Russian Community Association of Massachusetts. The organization is one of several immigrant and refugee assistance groups on Wheeler Street where the New American Center is located.

Crighton also filed another $90,000 amendment to assist the E-Team Machinist training program praised by Gov. Baker and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com

Feds float $4.5 million into Lynn for ferry

FILE PHOTO
Passengers enjoy the view as they ride the Lynn ferry to Boston.

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — A $4.5 million federal grant will pay for a new 149-passenger ferry, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s office said Thursday.

Meanwhile, state officials are continuing to search for money to operate a ferry beginning this spring through the summer.

The federal document outlining the grant said the money will pay for a city ferry’s construction “to provide year-round commuter ferry service.”

““Full-time ferry service in Lynn will help unleash the tremendous potential for the city’s underdeveloped waterfront,” said Moulton. “I am grateful to the local and state partners, especially Senator (Thomas M.) McGee and the Lynn EDIC (Economic Development and Industrial Corporation), for their leadership on this effort.”

McGee said there is no timeline yet for acquiring the ferry but said the boat probably will not be available this year. He said acquiring a ferry is the key to Lynn running year-round ferry service.

“It’s very exciting news. It allows us to run service that works for Lynn,” McGee said.

Moulton said a meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx set the stage for the grant award. But he credited state and local officials who have met for the last several months, focusing on ways to fuel Lynn’s economic resurgence.

“This is a team effort and an example of how we are progressing for Lynn,” Moulton said.

The award cites the city’s success in increasing ferry ridership to 14,557, up from 13,136 passengers over the last two years, but the federal money only slightly overshadows city and state efforts to find cash to operate a commuter ferry from Blossom Street extension for a third year.

Operated for the city by Boston Harbor Cruises, the ferry Cetacea made three times daily between May and September from a dock at the end of Blossom Street extension off the Lynnway to Central Wharf bordering downtown Boston.

Each trip took about 30 minutes and cost $7.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton has filed an amendment to the Massachusetts House budget to provide $650,000 in state money to run the ferry for another season. McGee said legislators continue working with state officials to find money to operate a ferry this summer.

“We have some ideas – I’m optimistic,” he said.

McGee, Crighton and other legislators and city officials, including Economic Development and Industrial Corp. director James Cowdell, successfully sought out $1.5 million to operate the ferry from May to September in 2014 and 2015.

Uncertainty hung over the ferry’s future last September when the Cetacea made its last trip of the season from Blossom Street extension. The city applied for federal money to buy a ferry or have one built. But the hunt for additional state money, as of last Friday, continued with state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack saying, “We need to find out if there are any other sources.”

Cowdell on Thursday called the federal grant announcement “excellent news for commuters from Lynn and the North Shore.”

“This grant will allow us to purchase our own ferry and help us move toward our goal of providing year-round ferry service,” said Cowdell.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Lynn ferry could rise like a phoenix to make commuting easier

FILE PHOTO
Passengers board the Lynn ferry for Boston

First the good news — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton announced a $4.5 million grant award Thursday to help Lynn buy a commuter ferry or contract to have one built.

Great. Now the not-so-good news: The hunt for state money to operate a ferry from Blossom Street extension this summer for a third season continues.

A month ago, the ferry appeared to be floundering in choppy waters as grim-faced state officials declared they were trying but not having much luck finding tax dollars to pay for the ferry operation into a third spring and summer season.

By last week, the two-year-old commuter operation had all but plummeted to the bottom of Lynn Harbor with Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy expressing resigned frustration over the fruitless search for funding.

Segue to Thursday when Moulton’s office announced the federal grant award to pay to build a new city ferry. Even as they applauded the announcement, Lynn’s legislators continued to seek out tax dollars to pay for waterborne transportation from Lynn to Boston this year.

Their biggest weapon in this battle for the bucks is facts. In two years, commuter rider interest — no, enthusiasm — in the ferry increased.

The ferry’s immediate future seems murky, but shine a spotlight through the fog and the value of a city-owned ferry clearly comes into view.

Ferries, like all boats, are expensive propositions that make operating a business built around them a venture more inclined to operate in the red than the black. But if pure numbers prove anything, the 2014 and 2015 commuter seasons pointed to the ferry as an unqualified success.

Happy riders drove, even biked down to Blossom Street extension and boarded Boston Harbor Cruises’ Cetacea for a half-hour ride to Boston. They read books, made friends, snapped selfies, even drank a beer or two in the process of getting to and from work.

To be absolutely clear, Moulton is a member of a team of elected officials and municipal and state leaders, including state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, state Rep. Brendan Crighton, City Council President and almost rep-to-be Dan Cahill to push over the last few years to make the ferry a reality.

Add Kennedy and Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell into the mix and a clear picture of the level of involvement in the commuter ferry emerges.

Even before Moulton announced the federal ferry money on Thursday, McGee and Crighton were working to find some way to float the boat for another season. Crighton included a state budget commuter ferry amendment and McGee, arguably the Legislature’s transportation visionary, never let up on talking about why a ferry ride to Boston is a way to spare today’s children — tomorrow’s taxpayers — with staggering price tags for repairs to roads and bridges.

To McGee’s way of thinking, the commuter ferry is a piece in a transportation solution puzzle that includes making rapid transit run more efficiently, getting people out of cars and onto trains and bicycles and ferries and finding a way to convince people of the direct relationship between a smooth-running, healthy economy and transportation infrastructure.

On its inaugural voyage from the Blossom Street extension, Lynn’s new ferry will carry much more than passengers: It will carry a shining vision guiding us to a new way to think about transportation.

Street smarts in Lynn

ITEM FILE PHOTO
State Rep. Brendan Crighton

BY THOR JOURGENSEN 

LYNN — Lynn ranks high in a national survey examining how well communities work to ensure their streets are safe for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The city earned top ranking in the Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition survey along with Ashland, Framingham, Longmeadow, Natick, Norwell and Weymouth.

“It’s an honor for Lynn to be recognized nationally,” said state Rep. Brendan Crighton.

Complete Streets are roads that are safe, accessible and comfortable for all users, regardless of age, physical ability, income or how they choose to travel: by transit, on foot, by bike or public transit, according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and Smart Growth America.

Ten Massachusetts communities enacted Complete Streets policies in 2015 — the most of any state in the country last year and seven of those policies — including Lynn’s — were among the best in the nation, according to Smart Growth America’s new national analysis.

“These policies are an important local tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, advancing smart development and improving residents’ health and wellbeing,” said Marc Draisen, MAPC executive director.  

Western Avenue’s East Lynn section is a prime example of Complete Street planning. State and local officials are studying traffic and bus stop layouts, as well as traffic signals at major intersections such as Eastern and Western avenues.

The study focused, in part, on how traffic flows from Western Avenue in Lynn across the Salem line onto Highland Avenue. And it examines ways to improve bicycle safety on the busy road and reconfigure bus stops.

Crighton said the City Council passed a local Complete Streets policy last year. He said the measure could help the city obtain additional state transportation money and it underscores the strong connection between transportation and local economies.

“People want to work and live in areas that are accessible and safe,” Crighton said.

So far, 70 cities and towns have registered for the Complete Streets program, with 44 percent of those communities serving populations at or below the median household income, stated the MAPC.

Nationwide, a total of 898 Complete Streets policies have been passed by 843 separate municipalities, counties, metropolitan planning organizations, state agencies and states.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Tremendous amount of progress in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
State Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Executive Director of the Economic Development and Industrial Corp. James Cowdell and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy look at potential projects at an LEAD team meeting at the Lynn Museum.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Top officials, including state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, on Friday said they are going full steam ahead gathering the resources to spark Lynn’s resurgence.

A 355-apartment project on the Lynnway, a residential development on lower Washington Street and the Market Basket supermarket on Federal Street have advanced since last November, when Ash, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy stood on City Hall’s steps with Gov. Charlie Baker to launch the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development team.

Ash said Lynn is the envy of 25 other Gateway cities in the Bay State where incomes and education levels are below state averages.

“There is not another Gateway city where there is so much development actively that is ready to pop,” he said. “Tremendous progress has been made since we announced Lynn is a priority for us.”

LEAD’s goal is to focus city, state and federal expertise on a dozen projects scattered across downtown and the waterfront. Since November, that effort has included Ash’s meetings with National Grid representatives. The utility is the leading owner of oceanside land in the city, said James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development and Industrial Corp.

Citywide development, including the former General Electric River Works, the Whyte’s Laundry site on Willow Street and the former Beacon Chevrolet land, where an $80 million Lynnway apartment complex is planned, offer “similarities and their own unique challenges,” said Ash.

“We’re tackling them one at a time. With each, we are getting closer to development,” Kennedy said.

One of the challenges has been linking the 1,100-unit proposed gear plant project to commuter rail service. State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said she is optimistic that scheduled train stops can be arranged at the River Works stop, now reserved exclusively for GE employees.

An overarching goal in the LEAD discussions is increasing the city’s market-rate housing. State Rep. Brendan Crighton said the city and state can combine forces to lure developers with tax credits.

“The only way to attract market housing to Gateway cities is through creative financing,” he said.

Crighton and Moulton said talks are underway with GE representatives about opportunities to repurpose River Works land for residences or innovative businesses.

“We have a lot of good ideas,” said Moulton. “We need to see them come to fruition.”

But not all the news coming out of Friday’s session was good. Don’t expect to sail on the commuter ferry this summer. Pollack said the search continues for money to help the city buy a ferry and to cover operating costs.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Lynn fighting to keep ferry afloat

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — The Blossom Street commuter ferry to Boston is, at present, an uncertainty, with state and city officials scrambling to find money to pay for the water shuttle to operate for a third warm weather season.

“At this point there is no season because there is no money,” state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said Thursday.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee and state Rep. Brendan Crighton are trying to find money to launch the ferry service in the spring, and Crighton said about $750,000 will be needed to pay for the ferry operation this year.

“We’re working hard on it. The clock’s ticking,” Crighton said.

Pollack addressed about 50 Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce members at the Porthole Restaurant Thursday, talking to them about a potential 6 percent to 9 percent Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority fare hike, and future projects, including upgraded maintenance in the Market Street commuter garage.

Pollack spoke bluntly when she compared the $40 per ride state subsidy for the Lynn ferry with a $13 per ride subsidy for MBTA late-night service, which was eliminated this week. The state subsidized the Lynn ferry’s operation costs in spring and summer 2014 and 2015, with Boston Harbor Cruises providing the boat.

In their bid to sustain ferry funding, McGee, Crighton and city officials point to increased ridership from one season to the next and the increased need for ferry service to serve Boston’s waterfront.

“It will benefit not only our economy, but the regional economy,” McGee said.

Pollack said the state will help city officials attempt to secure federal money to buy a ferry. The boats cost between $4 million and $5 million.

The Lynn Economic Advancement and Development team is also working to find money to pay for another ferry season, said city Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell. Formed last November, LEAD brings federal, state and city officials together to work on priority local development opportunities.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

 

Is anti-opioid weapon right under our nose?

Photo By BOB ROCHE
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, left, practices how to administer Narcan on Mary Ann O’Connor.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy was among city officials who attended a nasal Narcan training course Wednesday, one day before the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced grant programs awarded to communities heavily impacted by the opioid epidemic.

The DPH will award a total of $700,000 to police and fire departments in 31 communities, including Lynn and Saugus.

Lynn will receive $9,470 and Saugus will receive $15,000 for the purchasing, carrying, and administering of the opioid overdose reversal drug, Naloxone (Narcan).

Lynn will also receive $85,000 annually for five years to partner with the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnership for Success program for prevention of prescription drug misuse.

“These newly available resources will assist in the life saving and preventative efforts that our community is taking in the fight against the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic,” said Senator Thomas M. McGee.

Wednesday’s Narcan training class was led by Healthy Streets Outreach Program health educator Rhiannon “Annie” DeFranco, who covered everything from signs of overdose to how to administer nasal Narcan, which reverses opioid depression.

“Lynn is not alone in having a great increase in the number of people overdosing,” said Kennedy. “Narcan has proven to be effective.”

DeFranco said Narcan is 99 percent effective when used intranasally for opiate overdoses and is not harmful if given to someone who is not overdosing on opiates. Narcan works on opiate receptors for 20 to 90 minutes, she said.

Overdose is not typically instantaneous, DeFranco said. It’s most likely to occur one-to-three hours afters after using the drugs.

She also said it was important to know that people overdose on many different things, including benzodiazepines, which are commonly mixed with opiates and alcohol. Alcohol and benzodiazepines further decrease respirations and suppress the respiratory system, she said.

“Overdose is essentially respiratory failure,” DeFranco said. “Signs could including blue, grey, or clammy skin.

“Everybody’s first instinct is cold water, but cold water slows respiratory function,” she said. “The person could go into cardiac arrest.”

DeFranco said it’s also important that people know not to induce vomiting or waste time giving the person milk or salt water.

“Opiates block pain receptors,” she said. “You want to break the threshold of pain.”

DeFranco said the best way to do this is with what is called a sternal rub. Firmly rubbing your knuckles on the person’s breastbone is extremely painful, she said.

“If they don’t respond, you know something is not right,” she said.

DeFranco then walked the City Hall officials through the steps of rescue breathing, putting together the nasal kit, and administering the narcan.

Kennedy said she felt it was important to learn about administering Narcan because she is constantly traveling around the city and meeting new people.

“I’m out and about in the city all the time,” Kennedy said. “Fortunately, I have not witnessed an overdose.”

“I meet with people of all walks of life, including people who are struggling with addiction,” she said. “We also have a lot of people who come into the auditorium.”

Among the several city officials who attended the class were nurses from the health center, the auditorium manager, and the booking agent for the auditorium.

“I’m happy to see so many people from City Hall took advantage of this class,” Kennedy said.

“Any skill we can learn that could be useful in the future is worth learning,” she said.

City Hall was provided with nasal Narcan rescue kits to be kept in case of an emergency.

Narcan rescue kits, which also come in an injectable form, can be purchased from the pharmacy and are covered by many insurance companies, DeFranco said.

“If someone is stuck and really needs it, we will also give it to you at the (Healthy Streets) office,” DeFranco said.

“It is important to have trained individuals that will have access to, and can effectively administer the opioid reversal drug Naloxone,” said State Rep. Donald Wong.

“The impacts of the opioid crisis are felt everyday across our city and the entire state,” said State Rep. Brendan Crighton. “While there is no silver bullet to end opioid addiction, resources for prevention and overdose reversal will go a long way to save lives.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com.