Council talks COVID, Proposed Runway Extension

The Winthrop Town Council met in person on Aug. 3 where it heard updates on COVID and a proposed airport runway extension.

Council Pres. Phil Boncore opened the meeting with a moment of silence for Eugenia “Gina” Cerulli, a former school department member who passed away on July 25.


Winthrop has had 2,352 total positive cases of coronavirus, with 35 deceased and 10 currently in isolation. Seventy-seven percent of Winthrop residents have received the first dose of the vaccine and 71 percent are fully vaccinated. Vaccines are available without appointments at CVS.

There has been a town wide increase in breakthrough cases, which are cases occurring in vaccinated individuals. The new, rapidly-spreading Delta variant is leading to more complicated illnesses and is more easily transmitted.

The Mass. Dept. of Public Health has issued a new mask order as of July 30 in response to new information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks are required on all forms of public transportation and healthcare facilities. The full order can be viewed on the website.

The Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education has published new masking guidance for the coming school year. Masks are encouraged indoors for all K-6 students, unvaccinated students and staff, and individuals living with immunocompromised family members. Masks will be mandatory by all riders of school buses.

Council Pres. Boncore encourages all unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated and to comply with the new mask mandates.

“Be sensible. Wear a mask,” he said. “Follow the orders or we’ll get into trouble.”

One individual wrote to the Town Council to express her opposition to a vaccination mandate.

Airport Runway Extension Proposal

John Vitagliano of the Airport Hazards Committee showed the council an aerial view of a runway extension proposed by Massport. Vitagliano suggested that the 650-foot safety extension could potentially increase the number of flights over Point Shirley, with no benefit to the Winthrop community. He urged the council to oppose the extension.

Town Manager Separation Agreement

Resident Kathleen Capuccio noted an error in the Town’s separation agreement with former Town Manager Austin Faison, which she obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The agreement currently states that Faison is eligible to retain his town health insurance for a period of six months, ending in January 2023 (it should say 2022.)

Capuccio also disagreed with the language that would allow Faison to maintain his health insurance even if he accepts insurance from his current employer.

“This egregious mistake shouldn’t have happened,” she told the council. “Amend this agreement so we don’t pay for it.”

Save Our Ferry

On July 29, we reported that the Winthrop Ferry was in trouble. Since then, the council received four separate letters, one signed by multiple residents, in support of saving the ferry. Caller Sarah Fournier urged the town to leverage state grants and increase ridership in order to handle the deficit.

“It’s critical to keep it operating and serving citizens,” she said.

Opportunity for Healing

The Riverside Trauma Center is offering support groups for students in response to the hate-fueled murder-suicide of June 26. It will provide ongoing trauma-informed support groups for students and staff during the coming school year.

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