When the Winthrop Town Council last met on March 10, it broached many subjects affecting residents, including the townâ€™s readiness to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meredith Hurley of the Emergency Planning Committee spoke about the townâ€™s preparations for tackling the ongoing health crisis. She assured Council she is in constant contact with the Department of Public Health (DPH), the schools, the fire department and area medical facilities in order to form the most robust and collaborative response.
Hurley also said she is getting guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to manage this global pandemic on a local scale. She is working closely with Town Manager Austin Faison to keep the public informed and to ensure the continuity of government in these unprecedented times.
As of the deadline for this publication, the next regularly scheduled meeting of Council was March 24. Council is currently exploring options for meeting remotely over the next several weeks. Updates will be provided on its website. The Spring Forum, originally scheduled for March 24, has been cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled.
The Public Safety Committee is seeking alternative routes in and out of the Gorman Fort Banks School. In addition, it is exploring the possibility of increasing the cross times for crosswalks.
The Rules and Ordinance Committee met to discuss the topic of the town fee schedule. Its first step is to highlight areas for improvement. An intern at Town Hall has compiled a recommended schedule, and the committee wants to explore how much permits and services are costing the town.
The Miller Field Committee met on March 9, when it discussed the completion of the fieldhouse. Construction is 95 percent complete, with windows, bathroom partitions and fencing slated to be installed next. Of course, it is unclear how the current health situation will affect ongoing construction. Boston recently declared a moratorium on construction projects in the city, and neighboring municipalities are likely to follow suit. Council praised the vocational students who have volunteered on the project, saying they saved the town $300,000 to $400,000 in labor costs.
The School Committee met on March 2 to discuss its budget. It passed a motion to increase the cost of preschool for the first time in five years due to rising expenses. The cost will increase by $100 to $200. The slide at the Fort Banks School had to be closed and construction on its playground may be delayed due to COVID-19. The superintendent was putting together a list of items needed to complete the project, but priorities have obviously shifted in the wake of the pandemic.
Councilors are looking into reducing the speed limit to 20 miles per hour. It was previously reduced to 30 miles per hour after months of complaints from constituents about speeding. Council recognized that speed limits are only effective when they can actually be enforced. The matter was referred to the Townâ€™s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC).
Council approved the appointments of Rich Cifuni as the Head of Facilities and Brian Curley as Principal at the Middle School.
Council honored Norman Hyatt, Chairman of the Conservation Committee, who recently submitted his resignation.
â€œWe extend our sincere gratitude and we wish you the best in all of your future endeavors,â€ said Council President Phil Boncore.
â€œIt took less time to write the Constitution of the United States than to get a dog park in this town,â€ said a resident of Precinct 4. â€œWe have over 2,000 dogs. Our dogs need a place they can go. Letâ€™s stop putting it on the back-burner.â€
Council President Boncore responded that Council is currently working on a proposed site for the park, and updates should be available soon.