Council Hears Rate Study, COVID Updates

The Winthrop Town Council met remotely on Tuesday, April 6, where it heard updates on a town water study and the pandemic. Around 25 members of the public attended.

Council President Phil Boncore opened the meeting with a moment of silence for Michael DeGregorio, a Winthrop resident who passed away on March 25 after a battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Pres. Boncore congratulated resident Jeff Turco for his victory in the election for State Representative. He also issued a special citation to Winthrop’s own Jillian Dempsey, the Captain of the Boston Pride in the National Women’s Hockey League, calling her an inspiration to “athletes of all ages and genders.”

Water Loss Study

The Town is working with the Abrahams Group and with Environmental Partners to realize a study of the town’s water loss and water rate. The aim of the study is to answer the community’s questions about the recent water/sewer rate increases.

The study is already underway and a report should be delivered in early June in time for the FY22 budget. The full presentation can be downloaded on the Town’s website. A comprehensive overview will also be featured in next week’s publication.

Photo by Cooker King on Unsplash

COVID-19

Winthrop is currently in the Yellow Zone with a 2.75 percent positive rate, slightly higher than two weeks ago. The town has had 2,155 cases with 35 deceased and 48 in isolation.

To date, 7,282 Winthrop residents have received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine, or almost 40 percent of residents over the age of 18. Starting April 19, all members of the public age 16 and older will be able to get vaccinated.

The schools welcomed children back for in-person learning on April 5, in what Council Pres. Boncore called “a successful day.”

“Kids were fantastic and flexible,” he reported. “All the kids were happy to be back in school and see their friends and teachers.”

Students can now be tested for COVID on-site using rapid testing technology.

Winthrop was allocated $1.83 million in COVID relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. An additional amount was granted to Suffolk county, bringing Winthrop’s total to $5.4 million, paid out in two installments.

The funds must be used by the end of the 2022 calendar year. Rather than treating this as “found money”, Town Manager Austin Faison intends to “plug the gaps” leftover from 2020, and to boost the sustainability of ongoing health projects.

The town manager still plans to open Town Hall to the public beginning on May 1. In-person business will take place Monday through Thursday from 9am to 12pm by appointment only. Sanitization and mask-wearing will be compulsory.

Faison is also working with technology experts to prepare the Harvey Room for in-person meetings for boards and committees. To date, it has been unable to accommodate both remote attendance via Zoom and live streaming by WCAT.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

General Updates

The Council Committee for Appointments, Commissions and Committees has finished its reviews of town employees. A vote to accept the reviews will be held at the next council meeting.

The Town will be installing four additional fully-accessible bus shelters on town sidewalks in the hopes of increasing bus ridership.

Construction continues as scheduled in the Center Business District, with all utility work due to be completed in the coming weeks.

The School Department approved a preliminary budget for the next fiscal year in the amount of $23.5 million.

There are immediate openings on the Airport Hazards Committee, the Board of Appeals, the Planning Board and the Transportation Safety Advisory Committee.

The juveniles responsible for the fire at Ingleside Playground in November are being given the option to repay their debt to the community through Communities for Restorative Justice, a program that helps non-violent youth offenders avoid the criminal justice system.

A fire at Ingleside Park caused over $100,000 in damage

Upcoming Events

A public hearing of the Ordinance Review Committee will be held on April 8 at 6pm.

The Town Manager’s Office will present the FY22 Budget Proposal on April 20 at 6pm, followed by the Annual Spring Forum at 7pm.

The Middle School Zoning Committee and the Planning Board will hold a joint public hearing on April 22 at 7pm.

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