Public Safety Takes Center Stage at Fall Forum

Around 30 people attended the annual Fall Forum on Oct. 19 in the Robert A. DeLeo Senior Center, where Town Manager Terence Delehanty provided updates on public safety and public works.

Public Safety

The presentation kicked off with a tribute to Winthrop’s public safety team during the past year, which saw unprecedented challenges. A video montage showed the public safety response to the June murder-suicide, the August gas explosion, and capsized boater in September. It also highlighted the town’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Town Manager Delehanty emphasized that robust public safety depends on the collaboration of all city departments, not just fire and police. He wants this taken into account when it comes to designing the new public safety facility.

“We really work as one team,” he said.

Public Safety Building

Newly appointed Fire Chief Scott Wiley spoke about the need to replace one or both of the current fire stations, which are not ADA compliant, OSHA compliant, or handicap accessible. It is still unclear whether the new facility will be a standalone fire station, a combined fire and police station, or something else entirely.

The architectural firm Kaestle Boos Associates presented conceptual design options for a new facility. These include both single- and multi-phase construction options at the Little League field on Veterans Road, and the 7th hole of the golf course. A more detailed overview of the concepts is available here.

Public Works

DPW Dir. Steve Calla celebrated his department’s many achievements over the past year. In addition to the massive CBD restoration, it planted 50 new shade trees, repaired a culvert at Lewis Lake, completed thousands of SeeClickFix requests, restored the Main Street tennis court and parking lot, removed 100 lead water services, paved 70,000 square yards, and replaced a sewer at Palmyra and Crescent Streets.

Dir. Calla laid out the department’s goals for Fiscal Year 2023. DPW aims to finish the CBD project by spring or early summer; replace a water main on Bartlett Road; continue to restore roadways; remove an additional 100 lead services; clean the water mains and improve drainage on Revere Street, Crest Avenue and Grovers Avenue; and secure funds for sidewalk replacement.

The DPW director also lamented that his department was not consulted in the feasibility study of the public safety building project. He strongly urged the town to combine the middle school redesign project in the public safety building discussion. He called it an “incredible opportunity to correct some long standing problems in town.”

“As your director, I’d be acting irresponsibly if I didn’t ask you to hear me out,” he said.

Dir. Calla proposed building a new elementary school at the old middle school site, and retrofitting the Fort Banks School to accommodate the new public safety building, a new EOC and the expanding public health department. He claimed that this would solve a number of existing problems, would forestall future infrastructure problems, and would do so “with no negative impacts on anyone.”

A comprehensive examination of Dir. Calla’s proposal will be available in a future issue of the Transcript.

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