Development is NOT a Dirty Word
I am writing you today in advance of our next council meeting on April 3. At that time, we will be hosting a Community Forum to discuss a number of issues about town. Before we gather, I want to address some myths and truths about economic development in town.
Winthrop is no longer the most densely populated municipality. In fact, we were the only comparative seaside community in Massachusetts to lose population and local jobs from 2004-2014. We are only recently on the upswing again.
Winthrop has the fastest commute to work…truth! The “traffic” on the bridge is less related to population increases and in fact correlates directly to the loss of local jobs in town as mentioned above. Having 1,100 local jobs lost means that many more people need to leave town to go to work.
Building more housing will flood our school systems? This is a myth. If you take a look at various ideas for development, most include one and two-bedroom condos. One and two-bedroom luxury condos tend not to have children and when they do, they are rarely in the public school. Take a look at the Seal Harbor complex, 245 units of housing and all of one student in the Winthrop public schools.
Building more housing will ruin our smalltown feel…myth! People have said this about every revitalization project we’ve had (or tried to have) in town for as long as I can remember but after each project was finally completed we still consider ourselves as having the smalltown feel.
Why am I writing this you might ask? We are about to go through yet another painful budget cycle and like the previous one, and the one before that, and so on…the town does not have enough money to address all its needs, never mind its wants. We will see seniors asking us for tax relief to help with their fixed incomes, parents pleading to not cut teachers, and our first responders asking for the equipment and facilities needed to keep us safe.
Without increased revenue we are faced with very few choices to meet these needs. 1). Take from Peter to pay Paul, by shifting finances from one department to the next. 2). Cut resources (human and otherwise) and programming or 3). raise taxes.
I can tell you now that I will not support another override or debt exclusion, certainly not while we have options to make better use of our economic development opportunities.
I am asking for my fellow citizens to take this information in so that we can have a more productive conversation on April 3. I›d like to talk about what is and is not feasible, and what compromises the community at-large is willing to make in order to achieve our community goals. Development is not a dirty word…it is part of the solution that moves us forward.
Michael Lucerto-Town Councilor At-Large
Under Good Leadership
I agree with the Transcript’s description of DPW Director Steve Calla’s illuminating and well- informed description of the core reasons behind the exceptional cost increase estimates associated with the Center Business District infrastructure project. As Mr. Calla correctly explained the original cost estimate of $4 million ballooned to $12 million due to the large number of project scope increases imposed by the Town on the project’s basic design concept, which inevitably added to the project completion cost. Mr. Calla was caught between a rock and a hard place, being required to produce a dramatically increased infrastructure project at the original cost estimate, an impossible task. To his great credit he has accurately demonstrated the real cost of each additional CBD alternative produced in the last year, which will be very valuable to the Town in it’s deliberative process.
Whatever final CBD infrastructure design is approved by the Town it is comforting to know that it will be implemented by Mr. Calla.