The following is a copy of Council President Ron Vecchia’s speech.
It was 12 years ago today that this community experienced an historic event as we changed the form of government from Town Meeting to Town Council.
If you had moved away from Winthrop, and just returned for the first time you would be experiencing some of the physical improvements that have materialized in the last few years alone.
Winthrop’s gateway improvements welcome visitors with new lighting, new infrastructure improvements and a vibrant business district thanks to private development and state funding. Less than a mile east on Main Street a new state of the art middle/high school, partially funded with state funds and it’s construction guiding by dedicated elected and appointed citizens that brought the project in on time and under budget. Additionally upgrades to Veteran’s Field with new dugouts, new infields and associated upgrades and the installation new parking barriers have brought a new appearance, a sense of pride to our citizens but more importantly a new sense of commitment to our students. The entire project was topped of this year with a brand new state of the art athletic facility at Millers Field and a much needed drainage infrastructure improvement at Lewis Lake and golf course.
Other projects like the removal of chain-link fencing on Veterans Road and Cross Street and the installation of the wooden guardrails there, on Walden Street, Ingleside Park, Hannaford Park and other sections of town are other examples of how the appearance of Winthrop is changing for the better and improving the overall look of our seaside community.
Invisible through all of this are the improvements that have been made in our financial bill of health. Through good leadership, highly qualified and dedicated town workers and dedicated Citizens Advisory Committee, Winthrop is better prepared financially for changes in the economy, with good reserves and well maintained stabilization fund.
Our school system continues to make improvements in teacher retention as a result of making teaching in Winthrop more competitive with similar school districts. We have recently seen in increase in MCAS scores across the district and continue to see quality colleges and university’s accepting our graduating seniors.
There is much to be proud of. For those who have served as elected and appointed officials, we thank you for your service. We are proud of our dedicated town employees, our first responders and our teachers and staff that make a difference each day in the lives of our children. Our department heads provide the leadership each day that continues to move the community in a positive direction.
But there is much more to be done if we are to maintain our financial stability and provide the best quality of life for all of our citizens. I will work with the council and town manager to develop a five-year financial plan that will project out capital and operational expenditures anticipated in future years along with reviewing our ongoing building maintenance program.
I will recommend that the council approves the appointment of a new town manager that shares the vision of our citizens and elected officials, respect our history, but at the same time be open to the ideas and desires of all of the residents in Winthrop. It will be paramount, that the new manager provide an open process in the day to day operation of the town and always incorporate a process that addresses neighborhood concerns as it pertains to critical issues.
We will need to accelerate the progress of the reuse and rezoning the old middle school site. We have known for some time now that the site would become surplus, we need to get this process moving forward, with all options on the table. We currently have a part time town planner that will be working on this and others projects, the town should consider a full time position so that we can formulate a Master Plan that addresses future development town wide. Selective, neighborhood sensitive development will be the key if we are to broaden our tax base and avoid overrides or debt exclusions to fund the cost of large capital projects.
I will work with the Town Manager and council to develop and overall transportation plan that includes water, bus, auto, biking and walking and will suggest a complete evaluation of the current Town Ferry Operation. In a perfect world I would like to see Winthrop residents with a Charlie Card have access to commute to work by bus, train and even the ferry. Pie in the sky? Who knows, we will never know unless we pursue our ideas, work with our legislative delegation and see where it may lead.
It is important that we continue to strive for excellence in education for we have an obligation to provide the best education for our children. Our district has made great strides in the last few years thanks to great leadership, great staff, and excellent teachers.
It is important that we have open, positive, ongoing dialog with our neighboring communities, including MASSPORT, MWRA and DCR. Future development outside the boundaries of our community could have negative implications on our quality of life. It is important that we work together to help mitigate any negative impacts.
I look forward to working with all of the members of the council and the leadership team as we move Winthrop into the New Year. I will not have all the answers, I will look to the citizens of Winthrop for their input and advise. It is important that we cultivate an atmosphere of inclusion for every citizen of our town, and that all opinions are heard. Respect for one another will be paramount if we are to succeed as a vibrant, healthy community. It will be the goal of this council to operate our town affairs in the most transparent way as possible and continue to pursue additional ways to provide information regarding meetings, projects and general information to the public
I cannot express to you how grateful I am to be on this stage tonight and serve as your Town Council President. Over the next two years I will do everything I can to continue to improve the town that we all call home. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team…..Team Vecchia and each and every one of my supporters that worked so hard on my behalf during the campaign. I would especially like to thank my family for all their support with a special shout out to Grandson Christian Buonopane, and my wife Linda who was by my side every day of the campaign.
I thank you all for attending tonight’s ceremony, I wish you all the best in the New Year. Good night, stay warm and God bless you all!