On Tuesday, Jan. 7, Winthrop’s new Town Council took its seats in front of a packed audience. As usual, Town Manager Austin Faison gave his updates on issues affecting the community.
Risk Management Task Force
The town is establishing a Risk Management Task Force at the request of the town’s insurer.
“We need to get some stuff in order,” he said. “This is a step toward further compliance with what our insurer is asking for.”
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will be giving the town $27,000 in additional Chapter 90 funding. Chapter 90 funding goes toward the improvement of roads and infrastructure. Faison called the funding “incredibly helpful.”
“We will take any additional money we can,” he said.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) is in the process of writing up a contract with the Town of Winthrop so that Win 2030 can be officially launched. Faison said the project should commence by February and that he signed a contract with an engineer to conduct a feasibility study of Main and Pleasant streets. He also said that he is in favor of contracting the engineer to explore bike markings around town.
“I can’t commit to bike lanes,” said Faison. “But I can facilitate a conversation about what bike infrastructure looks like within our town.”
Win2030 is a 10-year vision for Winthrop, developed with the assistance of the MAPC. It is a foundational step for developing a Master Plan.
Faison doubled-down on his commitment to improving the town’s resilience against climate change.
“Climate change is one of my top priorities. I’m not going to stop working on this for my entire career,” he said. “It’s scary how vulnerable Winthrop is. This is something that should be attended to with every single dime that we’re spending in town for the foreseeable future.”
Quality of life
Faison said that his office is busy trying to improve the day-to-day lives of Winthrop residents. This includes updating bus signs, exploring options for a dog park and expanding bicycle infrastructure. He also mentioned that he shares in the community’s frustration with maintenance to local roads.
“We’re always looking to alleviate these problems,” he said. “We’re always looking to see if we can fix smaller problems as well around town.”
Planning and Development
Faison mentioned that his office has several decades worth of planning and development suggestions from different entities around Winthrop. He encouraged residents to come and read through them.
“Some were followed up on, some were not,” he said. “I’m constantly leafing through them to see what ideas were made.”
Faison also encouraged residents to read the Town’s master planning document created in 2017.
“[It] has a wealth of information, including a lot of reflection on the middle school site.” Ultimately, Faison stated that there is no “one size fits all” approach to development, and urged residents to explore what has been done in other towns and cities in order to fully appreciate the potential for new development in Winthrop.