Council Votes to Borrow Funds for Upgrades

At its meeting on Tuesday, February 10, the Winthrop Town Council voted to borrow $1.6 million to replace water and sewer lines.

Voting

-Council voted to borrow $690,000 in the form of a zero-interest loan to replace lead water service lines. Between 800 and 900 homes in Winthrop have lead water lines, which the Town plans to replace at an average of 80 to 90 homes per year.

-Council voted to borrow $609,750 to upgrade and replace existing sewer lines on Palmyra St. and Crescent St and $298,500 for a sewer infiltration and inflow assessment study. These will be in the form of a zero-interest loan. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) will cover 75 percent of the cost of both projects.

-Council approved the transfer $24,316.80 from Fund 727 RRAP Rideshare to the Town’s general fund. This is money coming into Winthrop from rideshare companies Uber and Lyft and must be used to improve public safety and road conditions. The Town aims to prioritize road paving, crosswalks, street signage, pavement markings, bike infrastructure and pedestrian safety.

-Council voted to amend Ordinance 5.28.060, which deals with licensing and conditions for motor vehicles. Specifically, they are taking out the language that requires all vehicles used for taxi cabs to be under four years old. This was putting additional strain on taxi drivers in Winthrop, who are already struggling to compete with rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft. From now on, the police department will be in charge of ensuring that these vehicles meet safety standards.

-Council reappointed the following individuals to the School Building Assistance Committee: Phil Boncore, Karin Chavis, Matt Crombie, Vincent Crossman, Robert DiMento, Dave Dockendorf, Austin Faison, Michal Filipko, Monica Ford, Anna Freedman, Paul Giella, David Girard, Lisa Howard, Richard Lawton, James Letterie, Gus Martucci and Mary Lou Osborne.

-Council agreed to postpone a vote on approving the changes made to the Committee Handbook after committee members in the audience made it known that they would like to be involved in any changes. Council will vote on the matter at their next regular meeting on March 10.

School Department Update/Committee Reports

-The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has granted accreditation to the Winthrop High School following a visit. NEASC will be conducting its ten-year review in 2021. It recommended that the district hire a library media specialist for the high school and junior high school.

-The Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School playground has been approved and construction will begin in May. The playground will be open at least two weeks before the end of the school year.

-The Miller Field Committee met last week to give an update on the progress on the field house. Students from the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School are still working on various projects and a dedication of the building is slated for April 3. They are looking into replacing the golf club shed, which was taken down at the start of the project.

Town Manager Report

-The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) is working on a visioning document for Win2030, which will help Winthrop clarify its vision for the future. Former Council President Ron Vecchia gave MAPC representatives a tour of Winthrop on Monday, Feb. 24, to introduce them to the different neighborhoods. A managers advisory committee will be appointed  and meeting with MAPC will begin in March. Public meetings will follow in March and April. The Town Manager’s Office will be using the hashtag #Win2030 as part of its branding effort.

-The Center Business District (CBD) Project will be a nine-phase project beginning with French Square in April. The Town will meet with the contractor on Tuesday, Feb. 25, to establish a timeline for the phases. A public meeting will be held in March and the Town Manager’s Office wants to ensure that all residents understand the chain of command for the project. There will be a website dedicated to the CBD project, and social media communications will use the hashtag #WinCenterBusinessDistrict.

-VanasseHangenBrustlin (VHB), Inc. is a professional planning firm that will be working on rezoning the middle school site with the legal assistance of KP Law. There will be a robust public input period. Communications from the Town Manager’s Office will use the hashtag #WinMSFuture.

-The Town is currently in the permitting process for the redesign of the Tafts Avenue and Shirley Intersection and a timeline will be available at the March 10 meeting.

-Anna Freedman, CFO for the Town of Winthrop, will be acting as assistant town manager when Austin Faison is not available.

-Research continues on both the dog park and the maintenance facility for the Winthrop Golf Course.

-The Town Manager’s Office is currently reviewing a draft report by the Winthrop Zero Waste Manager’s Committee. A final report should be available in March.

Upcoming Events

-Council meetings for the month of March will be on March 10 and March 24, with the Spring Forum to be held on March 24. The Town Manager will be making his budget presentation at the Spring Forum. Council will also be attending an off-site training on Feb. 29.

-An opening at the middle and high school for a library media specialist will be posted on the town website. There are also open seats on the School Committee, the Transportation Advisory Committee and the Conservation Committee. Those interested are invited to fill out an application online.

-Early Massachusetts primary voting will be available next week. More information is posted on the town clerk’s website.

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