Winthrop Year in Review

January

Vecchia sworn in as council president

 The town of Winthrop swore in it’s newly elected officials Tuesday night in the Neil Shapiro Auditorium at Winthrop High School.

Newly elected Town Council President Ron Vecchia took the oath from Town Clerk Carla Vitale as his family and friends watched.

Vecchia spoke about where the town has come from in the last 12 years and where it can ago to in the future.

“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,” Vecchia said.

“I’m looking forward to watch what Ron brings to the table,” said Linda Vecchia, his wife. “He is passionate about the town.”

 Vitale also swore in members of the Winthrop Housing Authority, Peter Gill and Frederick Silck III.

Sworn in as library trustees were Gillian Teixeira and Betty Nicolas Peabody. Virginia Wallace was slated to be sworn in but could not make the event. She will be sworn in at a later date.

School Committee members James F. Fabiano, Jennifer J. H. Powell and Brian J. Perrin were also sworn in by Vitale.

Also sworn in were Precinct 1 Councilor Michael McDuffee, Precinct 3 Councilor Nick LoConte and Precinct 5 Councilor Peter Christopher. Councilor-at-Large Michael Lucerto was also sworn in.

Delehanty’s time as Town Manager extended

In one of its first orders of business the Town Council voted to extend the contract of Interim Town Manager/Police Chief Terence Delehanty on Tuesday night during a brief meeting after the inauguration.

Delehanty has been wearing both hats for the past four months, one month of which he was temporarily made full town manager so some end of year business could be attended to.

Delehanty became interim town manager after Town Manager James McKenna decided not to renew his contract, and finish his final year of the contract, which runs out in May, as a consultant to the town. McKenna had been town manager for nine years, the longest since the town went to a Town Manager form of government 12 years ago. At that time there had been 25 applicants.

A nationwide search was made for new town manager but yielded only 12 applicants. Three of those applicants were interviewed by the search committee.

The town council and the search committee have opted to extend the search in the new year.

Wicked weather slams Winthrop

 With over 13 inches of drifting snow, the last thing Winthrop needed was a tidal surge that flooded over 70 buildings in town, and shut down access to the town from both ends.

“We were definitely surprised to see the level of surge come into the state so quickly and rise so rapidly, and the images were pretty shocking,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito in the Winthrop Fire Department garage, where she visited Friday before touring Pico Avenue.

Polito did say the affective communities will gather information on public infrastructure damage to determine if Massachusetts could qualify for federal disaster aid. Certain criteria has to be met, including that damages exceed $9.6 million across the Commonwealth.

“I pledge to get Winthrop on the path with FEMA,” Polito said, with Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and state Sen. Joseph Boncore behind her.

Soon afterwards, Polito toured Pico Avenue were she meet with residents impacted by the storm.

Town Manager/Police Chief Terence Delehanty said about 70 buildings were flooded in town and power had to be cut. Vikings Football Coach and head of the Parks and Rec Sean Driscoll. his wife and three daughters went among many who had to go to a hotel for a place to stay.

Smoking Regulations

The Board of Health was the first board to officially appear before the new Town Council at its meeting Tuesday night, and presented its draft regulations to restrict the sale of tobacco products in Winthrop.

A public hearing on the draft regulations will be held Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. in the EB Newton School on Pauline Street.

Some of the new regulations propose to raise the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21, limit the sales of flavored tobacco products to adult-only stores, ban the sale of blunt wraps, ban sales within in 500-yards of a school (current establishments would be grandfathered) and ban the sales of tobacco in a health institution.

Board of Health member Susan Maguire said the e-cigarettes are a big concern, especially with high school students. The new regulations would also apply to them. Currently, there are 101 communities that restrict e-cigs.

Precinct 3 Councillor Nick LoConte, the former Board of Health chairman, said he had a problem with the impact on businesses and taking people’s rights away.

“CVS no longer sells tobacco,” Maguire said. Brown’s Pharmacy on Winthrop Street does sell tobacco. “One hundred-sixty communities in the state ban the sale of tobacco in a pharmacy.”

February

Center business district

Interim Town Manager Terence Delehanty will appear before the Town Council at it’s Tuesday meeting with a center business district zoning law history that will include the zoning law changes that have taken place over the years.

“During several meetings with community members, business owners and other interested parties on the Center Business District infrastructure project, a growing concern was identified about the development and build out of existing buildings in the Center Business District,” Delehanty said. “Concerns included whether or not residential properties are located in the Center Business District (CBD) when were zoning laws amended; how were the laws amended, and why residents of abutting streets weren’t notified of zoning changes.”

To gather the information, Delehanty and his team researched the zoning changes using advertisements, minutes, postings and news articles. They also used prior code books, town meeting articles, assessors maps, historical information and past annual reports.

Looking back on the Blizzard of 78

Even though 40 years have gone by since the Blizzard of ’78, the memories of what happened are fresh in the minds of those who lived through it.

The blizzard, actually a historic nor’easter, formed on Sunday, Feb. 5, 1978 and broke up on Feb. 7. It covered all the New England states and the New York metro area. It left $520 million in damage with 100 fatalities and 4,500 people injured. Boston received just over 27 inches of snow. Route 128 was a sea of abandoned cars.

The area had already been hit in early January when a storm broke a record for the most snow ever in a 24-hour period.

Winthrop Shore Drive was battered in the storm, tearing a hole in the wall and an even larger one in the street. A fire truck was station at the Point. The water melted away much of the snow and tossed around a cars.

Howard named Superintendent of Schools

 Lisa Gill Howard has been named the next full-time superintendent of schools. Details will be finalized when negotiations with the School Committee concludes.

The School Committee met and member Gus Martucci made a motion for the word “interim” to be removed from Howard’s title and that she now be known as the full superintendent. The committee voted unanimously to make Howard the new superintendent.

“In the past seven months Superintendent Howard has demonstrated a solid understanding of the school district’s strengths and areas of needed growth,” said School Committee Chairman Tino Capobianco. “She has fully engaged in the management and leadership of our schools as evidenced by detailed reports to the school committee regarding budget updates and planning and facilities, student and staff updates, policy and procedure recommendations, leadership team progress, community engagement happenings and student safety.”

Howard had previously worked in the Winthrop School System as the pupil personnel director and assistant superintendent of schools. Prior to coming back to Winthrop, Howard worked in the Saugus School System in a similar position. A lifelong Winthrop resident, Howard was also a standout athlete.

Override suggested for infrastructure work

In a report given by Interim Town Manager Terence Delehanty at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting he pointed to a deficit in the water and sewer account and the need for a potential $5.1 million debt-exclusion override to fund the Center work.

The average homeowner could see their annual tax bill go up by an additional $59.73 per year if a debt-exclusion override passed.

If water and sewer rates could be increased by an additional $2 to $2.25 per year. In addition there would be an additional increase of 66 cents to cover the center project. The current combined water and sewer rate is $16.90. A rate increase to fund the deficit would range from $18.90 to $19.15 and a rate increase to fund the Center project could range from $19.56-$19.81.

News of this prompted freshman Councilor Michael Lucerto to request that former Town Manager James McKenna be called in to explain the increased cost in the project.

March

Coughlin Park fix moving forward

Plans for repair of the shoreline at Coughlin Park are moving forward. Officials from MEPA (the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act) came to Winthrop to begin the permitting process to address the erosion that has happened at the park’s shoreline.

Assistant Town Manager Joe Domelowicz explained that a couple of years ago it was noticed that the west bank was eroding into the channel.

“We’ve lost almost 20 feet of the park in the last eight to 10 years,” he said. “We’ve tried to look for opportunities to stabilize the bank.”

Domelowicz said two years ago a grant was obtained to study the possibilities of a green infrastructure solution. Right now the project is in the permitting and engineering stages. He noted that a “living shoreline” is the best approach for the town. The permit will be reviewed by Coastal Zone Management, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Marine Fisheries.

The process is expected to last six months.

CASA seeks support

Community Action for Safe Alternatives (CASA), has been a fixture in town for more than 20 years, and while it has helped thousands of residents it is now time for CASA to ask for help.

CASA is facing the end of a $125,000 on Sept. 30, 10-year grant, and the agency needs to find another funding source to continue to carry on its mission.

CASA was founded in May 1997 by a group of concerned parents who saw a need to work to reduce drug use among their children’s peer group.

“We have launched a fundraising campaign,” said Amy Epstein, executive director.

Youth services, the Diversion Program with Winthrop Police, the advisory board, the Q Club for LGBTQ youth, and the Winthrop Youth Providers Network (the Parks and Recreation Department, 21st Century Afterschool, For Kids Only and the Winthrop Public Library teen programs.)

April

60 people will gather in MWRA meeting room to plan and discuss resiliency

Given previous and ongoing events like the January and March coastal storm events, like many other Massachusetts communities, Winthrop now finds itself in a new era of more unpredictable and severe weather that can potentially cause more damage to our community. Town officials are working on a planning project that is designed to help identify the strengths and vulnerabilities and list projects or programs that could the Town of Winthrop more resilient to natural hazards including coastal flooding and other weather related threats.

 In addition to completed plans and assessments for hazard mitigation and critical infrastructure vulnerability, the town is currently working on a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness project with assistance from the state and our engineering consultant. This will involve an eight-hour workshop, which must include input from community members like yourself.  This eight hour workshop is required by the state.

Delehanty won’t take Town Manager ‘s job

The search for a new Town Manager is already underway, after Terence Delehanty, who has acted as the Town Manager and the Police Chief for the past nine month, informed Council President Ron Vecchia that he wants to be the police chief only.

“After a long hard consideration it is with a heavy heart that I inform you that I need to withdraw from consideration to become the next Town Manager for Winthrop,” Delehanty wrote in an email. “I look forward to continuing my service to the town as police chief.”

This announcement comes a week after a Suffolk Superior Court after a jury found in favor of a female Winthrop police officer in a gender discrimination case against the town and Delehanty. The jury awarded $2.3 million. There is no word yet on whether or not there will be an appeal.

Vecchia said Delehanty “has brought new respect for town government and new positive direction and atmosphere in town hall.”

Dog Park supporters push on

Many residents thought a dog park on the Winthrop/Revere line on DCR property next to the marsh would be a good choice but the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) thought it was too close to the Belle Isle Marsh, an area of environmental concern.

residents seeking to have a dog park in town will met in the Harvey Hearing Room at Town Hall to discuss potential new locations. Dog park proponents met with the Town Council DPW Subcommittee and DPW head Steve Calla about finding a suitable place two weeks ago. Calla said he supports the idea but he also have questions about maintenance.

The dog park group has been working for four and a half years to find a place for a park.

Also looking into the matter are Town Councilors Michael McDuffee, Mike Lucerto, and Nick LoConte.

Town to appeal discrimination case

The town of Winthrop will appeal a jury’s decision in favor of a female Winthrop police officer who was awarded $2.3 million gender discrimination case.

Officer Judy Racow filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination case with claims of being looked over for various assignments.

Racow filed a discrimination case with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in 2006 after then police chief David Goldstein put her back in the patrol division for “budgetary concerns”. In 2008 she was placed back in the detective unit after entering into a settlement with the town. In 2009, Terence Delehanty was appointed the police chief in 2009 by Town Manager James McKenna.

Town Council President Ron Vecchia said the town has begun the appeal process. The Town Council met in executive session prior to their regular meeting to discuss the appeal.

May

Tennis courts won’t be demolished, yet

About a year ago the Town Council voted for a moratorium that would prevent the tennis courts at the high school from being demolished and used for parking. During the year, many people wanted to observe the traffic flow around the school and study the findings.

On Tuesday night, tennis coach Marie Finn came to the council to lift the moratorium, to keep the tennis courts where they are and to fix them. A year ago one of the biggest concerns was parking around the high school. Finn and others claim that there were no problems, but Police Chief Terence Delehanty is still not convinced.

Water rates up 17 percent

It is not news that anybody wants,  but when water and sewer bills go out next week ratepayers will see a 17 percent increase in the water and sewer rate.

The town council heard from consultant Dick Kingson, who analyzed the new rates.

The current rate is $16.90 per cubic foot for FY 18 and the new rate, effective immediately will be $19.90 per cubic foot for FY 19..

Not only have the rates gone up for fiscal year 2019, there is also a $479,000 deficit in the FY18 budget that led to the higher rates.

In addition to the deficit, other factors contributing to the increase were principal and interest on new debt issues for Contract 5, MWRA center project work  and Winthrop Shore Drive Water Meters all totaling over $435,000. There is also $38,999 in a new salary that also resulted in need to raise the rates, and a purchase of a dump truck for $121,000

Kingson said a large impact for the new rate was a $272,282 assessment increase from the MWRA, a direct charge to the town. The extra assessment is linked to how much extra water the town uses in a fiscal year.

Council appoints part-time Town Manager

It’s been one year since former Town Manager James McKenna stepped down from his position and the Town Council appointed a part-time Town Manager to help with the transition until a full-time manager is found.

David Cressman, 65, is a resident of Merrimac, MA was appointed to a 90-day term with 30 day additional terms if needed. His contract stipulates a 19-hour work week at $80 an hour.

Cressman does not desire to become the full-time town manager. The Town Manager Search Committee is accepting applications until May 20 and will meet on May 30.

The search began last year when McKenna resigned and was supposed to act as a consultant to the town for a year. He received his last paycheck on May 15. Police Chief Terry Delehanty took over as interim Town Manager in November. He was later offered the full position but turned it down, opting to remain as the Police Chief.

Finance Commission not happy with budget

It was very clear that Finance Commission was not happy with the recommended $50 million town budget presented to them and the Town Council.

“I have been doing this since 1992 and I have never been so upset with the presentation of the budget,” said FinCom member Karin Chavis.

This is the first time in 10 years that the budget was not presented by former Town Manager James McKenna, who stepped down from his post last year to work as a consultant to the town. The FY19 budget (which goes into effect July 1) was presented to the Town Council last week by interim Town Manager/Police Chief Terry Delehanty, although it did not include the School Department budget, fire department or salary line items.

Since the first copy had been given to the Town Council a revised budget was also submitted, but it still lacks the school budget, as well as a budget from the fire department, teacher salary line items and a “half-assed,” Letterie said, alphabetical town salary list.

June

Class of 2018 graduates

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” said Winthrop High School Principal Matt Crombie during his welcome address to the class of 2018.

The theme of the evening was good fortune as Crombie made it clear that what the graduating class has is not luck, and instead it is hard work, dedication and perseverance.

Crombie made sure that the graduates were well aware that it wasn’t luck that got them the national cheerleading title when they were freshmen and it wasn’t luck when the drama society won the state championships two years in a row.

It wasn’t luck when they saw their names listed on the honor roll and it wasn’t luck when they aced their AP exams. Instead, their achievements over the last four years, were due to boundless determination and hard work.

Preceding his speech, Crombie gifted the graduates with a Massachusetts Mega Millions lottery ticket, choosing the number 18 as the first in the numbers that he hand selected for the class. Offering up his words of wisdom, he made sure that it was in the class’s best interest.

Council passes FY19 budget

The Town Council passed a balanced general fund budget of $50,703,576 for fiscal year 2019, which begins on July 1. This budget includes a school department budget of $20,876,280.

Finance Commission Vice Chair Jan Twobley gave a presentation of the budget. She said it was a challenging job given the turnover in the town manager’s office.

July

Kasbah fined again

Smoking issues still linger

The Kasbah Restaurant, Moroccan cuisine and lounge, has incurred another $300 fine for allowing smoking in the establishment.

After receiving a couple of anonymous letters, Saturday night June 23, Carroll, along with a Winthrop Police detective visited the Kasbah after 10 p.m. and found hookah smoking taking place.

“People were smoking inside. It seemed like a nightclub. This is a big issue, the Kasbah has a history, they’ve had many tickets and they have come before the board,” Carroll said.

Kasbah owner Nasser Belghiti has been in front of the Board of Health before regarding the state and local smoking laws in 2015 and was given a time period to comply. Carroll said now it resembles a nightclub, complete with disco ball.

Emotional meeting doesn’t stop the fishing pier

Almost 100 people came to the high school Thursday night to hear MWRA head Fred Laskey outline plans for a fishing pier and parking lot on Deer Island. Needless to say the residents of Point Shirley let it be known they oppose the pier if there is not increased security there.

At one point a shouting match broke out between a resident and a fisherman, which wasn’t such a surprise since the two and a half hour meeting was charged with frustration. The community meetings are held twice a year to keep the community up to speed.

Residents also complained about the speed of traffic coming to and from the island, the numerous truck trips and even a recent accident when a car hit a house. There was also an issue with abutters being noticed.

“I’m still upset with the trucks and my credibility with you people is zero,” said resident Mary Mahoney.

Deer Island is a national park, located in Boston. A legal ad regarding the project only ran in the Boston Globe and not the Winthrop Transcript.

“We are the geographical abutters,” said resident Dawn Quirk.

Funds from saltwater fishing licenses through the State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife will fund this entire project.

At the end of the night many still felt the frustration, but Laskey said plans to build the 250-foot long fishing pier and a 20 car, 7,000 square foot parking area remain in place.

Council President appoints Faison

It’s been more than a year since former Town Manager James McKenna left and the road to finding a replacement has been rough.  Town Council President Ron Vecchia appointed a full-time manager Austin Fasion in hopes that he will guide the town through some very difficult and challenging times ahead.

“I believe he is the right individual to guide our town through some very difficult and challenging times,” said Vecchia.

The new town manager will be faced with what to do with the old middle school, center business district issues, development, the ferry, a new public safety building, and three legal cases involving Winthrop Police.

Polito visits Winthrop again

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joined Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and other state and local officials from 80 municipalities came to Winthrop last Friday afternoon to award Green Communities Competitive Grants to fund clean energy projects at municipal and school facilities.

Gathering at the DeLeo Senior Center, the Baker-Polito awarded $14,798,596 in Green Communities competitive grants to 80 communities who have earned the Green Communities designation.

“Green Communities are champions for clean energy practices across Massachusetts and should be commended for their efforts to reduce energy use and costs,” Polito said.

For its grant Winthrop was awarded $247,554 for lighting around the police station, library and the senior center.

August

New pathway to school

Thanks to the collaboration of the school department, the police department, and the DPW, there will be a new footpath for high school and middle school students to access just in time for the upcoming school year.

The updates will be made to the area that runs from Ocean View Avenue alongside the tennis courts, and out to the main entrance of the high school.

While the area that connects Ocean View Avenue to the school, has always been accessed in the past, it will now be an ADA compliant asphalt footpath extending from a new pedestrian ramp that is being installed by DPW.

The path, which runs alongside the tennis courts, leads to an existing pedestrian ramp at the main entrance of the school, safely guiding the students out and close to the front doors. The ramp will be accompanied by a wooden guardrail that will be installed on the parking lot side of the path to delineate the area and offer protection for students. 

New park and pathway dedicated

Never in her wildest dreams did Conservation Commissioner Mary Kelley think something would be named for her, but on Monday afternoon the new pavilion at the Belle Isle Marsh Marine Ecology Park and Walking Pathway off Morton Street was named to honor the work of Kelley.

Joining in the dedication were Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, State Sen. Joe Boncore, DCR Commissioner Leo Roy, Town Manager Austin Faison, Town Council President Ron Vecchia, Councilor Jim Letterie, Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh and more.

Kelley, 81 years old and a retired schoolteacher, has served on the Conservation Commission as a member and the chairperson. She is now commissioner emeritus and Norm Hyett is now the chairman.

“She is the first woman in town to receive an honor like this,” Hyett said. “And it is well-deserved. Her goal was always to get things done correctly and to never compromise.”

Mary Kelley passed away the following week.

Mosquito spraying hits the spot

The Board of Health and the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control met and determined that it was time to spray for mosquitoes after numerous reports of people being swarmed during the day and night.

Kim Foss, an entomologist with NEMMC, said the salt marsh mosquito is a daytime biter, although in this species there is no concern for West Nile Virus. She noted that because of bees they can only spray after sunset and they choose to go even further waiting an additional hour.

Spraying was done along Morton Street with the goal of   reducing the number of salt marsh mosquitos along the marsh and to give residents relief from being swarmed.

“Residents reported some relief but it’s not clear if effect was compounded by the drop-in temperature and/or change of wind direction early last weekend,” said Board of Health member Dr. Astrid Weins.

September

CFO resigns

Winthrop’s Chief Financial Officer has resigned after discussions with the new Town Manager Austin Faison who would not say what prompted the resignation of Michael Perez, but he said they were discussing moving the town’s financial department forward and it became evident Perez would not play a role in it.

Perez had worked for the town for almost three years. He was hired by former Town Manager James McKenna and worked under temporary town managers Terence Delehanty and David Cressman.

Parents turn out to express concerns over growing class size

Monday night’s School Committee meeting drew the attention of a few concerned parents after word spread regarding an increase in the kindergarten class sizes. In what is considered an unusual case, nine new kindergarten students were registered after Sept. 1. The last-minute additions created an inflation in classroom size, with an end result of four, 26 student classrooms and two, 25 student classrooms. All six classrooms have a teacher and a full time ESP, resulting in a 13:1 ratio.

“The growing class size was shocking to me at first, and this will be challenging for both students who are advanced and those who are less advanced,” said parent, Natalia Rakhmanova. “One teacher and an ESP (Educational Support Personnel) for 26 students is not enough for what they need and it’s above the state limit. Advanced kids will be bored, and it will lead them to trouble and struggling kids will lack the push that they need. I’m concerned for both sides and the average students as well.”

Winthrop is one of 293 communities in the commonwealth that provide free all-day kindergarten, saving families anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per school year. In 2010, the school committee voted to have this benefit available for local students, and it was instituted at the start of the 2010-2011 school year. Prior to this decision, parents were required to pay $2,300 to send their children to the all-day kindergarten program.

Mixed response at marijuana forum

Town officials held to discuss the issue of retail recreational marijuana business in Winthrop.

For the most part the two and half hour forum was informational, with some residents and elected officials in favor of marijuana and others adamantly opposed. Concerns about the impact and message to children were aired by some and others focused on the revenue to the town.

Currently, there is a local moratorium on licensing any retail marijuana shops and it expires Dec. 31. If the town takes no action anyone can come in on Jan. 1 and open a shop. The town can see if the Attorney General can expand the moratorium to March 2019. The town officials can hold a special election asking to voters if they want a pot shop in town or not. To do this 1,200 signatures are needed to be obtained to put the question on the ballot.

Winthrop voted 54 percent in favor of recreational marijuana in November 2016.

The number of pot shops in any town is determined by the number of liquor licenses in town and it is a 5 to 1 ratio. Winthrop has six liquor licenses so if allowed there could be only one retail recreational marijuana business in town.

Council and Board support plastic bag ban

The Town Council and the Board of Health have teamed up to support the banning of single-use plastic bags, but no official action has taken place yet.

Suzanne Hitchcock-Bryan, a member of Winthrop’s chapter of Mothers Out Front approached both boards to rally support of banning single-use plastic bags. She even submitted several sample ordinances for Winthrop to consider.

She 81 communities have banned the bags so far, including Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, Swampscott and Salem.

Drive to ban marijuana shop is on

A group of Winthrop voters have begun the drive to collect enough signatures to have a special election with a ballot question seeking to ban recreational marijuana in Winthrop.

Currently, there is a local moratorium on licensing any retail marijuana shops, and it expires Dec. 31. If the town takes no action anyone can come in on Jan. 1 and open a shop. The town can see if the Attorney General can expand the moratorium to March 2019. Or the town can hold a special election asking to voters if they want a pot shop or not. To do this roughly 1,000 signatures are needed.

“The community is already collecting signatures,” said Town Manager Austin Faison.

Winthrop voted 53 percent in favor of recreational marijuana in November 2016.

October

TM calls for financial review

Town Manager Austin Faison will be contacting the Massachusetts Division of Local Services to provide a financial management review.

“They have done a fair amount of reviews for other communities,” Faison said at Tuesday’s council meeting, he also added that there is no charge for the review, which also helps determine policy on how funds are used. Currently the town does have a policy for free cash and stabilization funds. “They can provide some wisdom on policy too.” The review can also set up how a long-term capital plan can be set up.

“For example, a capital plan might be implemented that you could fund through six percent of your free cash each year,” he said. “You come up with a plan to sustain a capital plan. Longer term planning than just year to year requests.”

Wilshire Street fire devastates family

Diane Olson sat on the wall of a neighbor’s front yard just looking at the home she has known for all her life. Wearing only her pajamas and a yellow bathrobe she wiped away tears as it was sinking in about a fire that took it all away.

The night before at 10:23 p.m., Winthrop Fire Department were called to a fire at 36 Wilshire St. Soon a second alarm was called and assistance came from Boston, Revere and Chelsea.

Olson said everybody was in bed, asleep in the two-family home when her adult son on the top-floor smelled smoke.

“He thought he was dreaming of smelling smoke,” said Diane Olson. “He saw that the house was engulfed in smoke. He went toward the back door and could see the fire coming up from the floor. Within seconds it was just one big ball of smoke. If it wasn’t for my son…”

Town Manager picks Assistant Town Manager

A new assistant town manager will begin working for the Town of Winthrop on Nov. 19. Town Manager Austin Faison has selected David Rodrigues, who has accepted the position with a $100,000 salary.

Rodrigues comes from Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, where he served as Director of the Civil Process Division. Before that, he was the Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Everett, where he worked with the community on the Encore Boston Harbor project.

November

Residents still frustrated with MWRA

A heated meeting in June between the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) at Deer Island and its neighbors on Point Shirley left many people frustrated. Tuesday night there was no yelling, but there was a lot of frustration at the MWRA community meeting.

Despite the outcry, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries still plans to go ahead with the construction of a 250-foot long fishing pier and a 20-car parking lot. The project has gone out to bid and proposals are due back by November. Construction could start next spring.

It doesn’t appear that the pier itself is at issue, rather residents are concerned about a second parking lot on the island, speeding, potential increased traffic and overall safety issues.

Complicating the matter is the jurisdictional boundary for police agencies.

“We need consistent enforcement. That’s why the frustration,” said Precinct 3 Councilor Nick LoConte.

The Revere-based State Police are in charge of the coastline, from Nahant to Lynn, Revere and Winthrop Shore Drive. The State Police jurisdiction also covers Deer Island. The Winthrop Police do not patrol the island, their jurisdiction stops at the causeway to the island. Also on scene at times are the Massachusetts Environmental Police, which has three patrols between Quincy and Swampscott.

The MWRA also has their own security firm, Allied International, which runs two patrols every shift and monitors the islands 30 cameras.

Winthrop votes follow state results

Grey skies and rain couldn’t keep voters away Tuesday to vote in the mid-term election, in fact voters came out strong in Winthrop with 7,702 of 12,918 registered voters checking in.

“Turn out was very high, and we are very grateful for all the people that helped us Election Day”, said Town Clerk Carla Vitale.

Early voting seemed to have an impact too, with 1,738 coming to town hall to cast their votes prior to election day.

In the race for Senator in Congress, Democrat Elizabeth Warren won with 4,121 votes over Republican Geoff Diehl’s 3,179.

The Republican incumbents Charlie Baker-Karyn Polito took 5,391 votes in the Governor/Lt. Governor race over Democratic challengers Jay Gonzalez and Quinton Palfrey who earned 1,983 votes.

For Attorney General, incumbent Democrat Maura Healey had 5,169 votes over Republican challenger James McMahon III.

For Secretary of State, Democrat William Galvin earned 5,239 votes over Democratic challenger Anthony Amore.

For Representitive in Congress, incumbent Democrat Katherine Clark took 4,882 votes over Republican challenger who earned 2,403 votes.

State Sen. Joe Boncore ran unopposed but still got 5,968 votes. State Representative and Speaker of the House Robert Deleo also ran unopposed and earned 6,053 votes.

For District Attorney, Democrat Rachel Rollins earned 4,565 votes over Republican Michael Maloney.

Marijuana moratorium extended

The town council has passed a moratorium banning retail marijuana establishments in the town of Winthrop. They also set a date to vote on whether or not such a business could open in town.

The moratorium has been extended to Dec. 31, 2019 and the actual vote on the topic will take place Nov. 5, 2019.

Finances for Center Business District work approved

Now that financing for the infrastructure work to take place in the Center Business District (CBD) has been approved by the Town Council, town officials are ready for the next steps.

The council, minus three recused councilors, approved $4,931,500 for the purpose of financing the town center sewer and drainage system.

“Tonight is the first step in alleviating the flooding,” said Council President Ron Vecchia. “Every time we have a large rain event it floods, and floods into about every business down there. Tonight is the first start, the starting place for the Center.”

Town Manager presents fall forum

Town Manager Austin Faison got his chance at his first Fall Forum.

The town meeting style event is required by the town charter and was held last Tuesday night before the Thanksgiving Holiday. Faison focused on his management strategy and the state of the town.

“I will continue to make Winthrop a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Faison said.

He introduced the town’s new chief financial officer Anna Freedman and the new assistant town manager David Rodrigues. He also acknowledged all the department heads attending the meeting.

Faison said he would like to see the Town Council set out goals and objectives. He sees himself as a conduit between the department heads and the council.

Looking at the upcoming budget, Faison wants to see transparency and would like to strive for a Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Award standards.

December

Tax rate set

Town Council voted to decrease the tax rate for fiscal year 2019. Taxpayers will see this reflected in their January tax bills.

The council set the FY19 rate at $13.18 per $1,000 of valuation, down from the FY18 rate of $14.16, a decrease or 98 cents.

Neighborhood meets developer

The developer of a proposed building on Somerset Avenue will find out tonight what the town really feels about development in the town center.

The developer, Envelo Properties of New York, will appear at a public meeting on Dec. 13 at the E.B. Newton at 6 p.m. to discuss the proposed development at 10-16 Somerset St. And on Dec. 17 the proposal will be presented to the Planning Board.

Plans call for five-story building with 40 housing units, 13,000 square feet, 34 parking spaces with parking under the building. The units will consist of three, studios; 17 one bedroom, and 20 two-bedroom units.

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