Mayor Brian Arrigo isn’t shy about wading into his city government’s proverbial swamps, but it remains to be seen if His Honor can wade back out of the muck.
Arrigo is taking a comprehensive look at the Revere Police Department and, as if that project wasn’t a big enough challenge, he is going to yank the Public Works Department into the 21st century.
It’s been just over a month since the DPW safety director took to social media to condemn the department’s water-logged offices and complain about a lack of response from the mayor and City Council members.
Arrigo’s top aide responded to the Facebook video by pointing out how the mayor has been working to address what an Item news report called “… the long-term systemic problems at the DPW.”
Those problems are nothing new to longtime DPW Superintendent Donald Goodwin, who is glad to hear his department is getting some attention. Goodwin grossly understated the condition of DPW’s Charger Street building by saying, “It’s seen better days.”
Arrigo says he wants to upgrade DPW’s equipment and look at ways to add more employees. He is not the first mayor in Revere’s history to recognize the need for a beefed-up and modernized Public Works department.
DPW is perhaps the most visible of all city offices. People want responsive police officers and firefighters. Thankfully, they only need the city’s public safety workers when there is an emergency.
But Public Works employees patch streets, put up signs, and fix up parks and playgrounds. They are some of the most visible people working for the city. Their labors or their inability to keep streets fixed and parks clean can prompt calls and emails to councilors who are not shy about sharing their constituents’ praise or criticism with Goodwin or Arrigo.
Revere’s DPW also has a task that only a few other public works departments in Massachusetts communities shoulder: When big storms bear down on the state, it is Revere DPW, working with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, that cleans up after Revere Beach and abutting neighborhoods get slammed.
Arrigo is making good on promises to modernize DPW and hire employees. But any veteran councilor — not to mention Goodwin — knows improving a big, constantly busy department like DPW means spending millions of dollars over several years. Establishing the department in a new, permanent facility will certainly take years.
Arrigo’s on the right course with DPW. But he should take care to not get mired in the muck as he makes his way across the swamp.