Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Superintendent Taymore Presents Progress Report on 100-Day Plan

Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore presented a progress report on her 100-day plan for the Melrose schools at the School Committee last night. She has made great headway, and I continue to be impressed with her hard work and dedication to our district.

100 Day Plan Progress Report

She also presented the organizational chart for school administration. These are the people who work for you:

District Organizational Chart

Sitting Down with Melrose’s Aldermen: A Conversation with Ward 6 Alderman Peter Mortimer

Mayor’s Office interns become better acquainted with their elected officials.

Ward 6 Alderman: Peter D. Mortimer

Interview Conducted by Brian P. Senier

Where did you grow up? If Melrose, what elementary school did you go to?

I grew up in Melrose since seventh grade, since I was twelve. I went to the Coolidge Junior High School, which is what we called middle school back then. It is now apartments on Main Street across from Memorial Hall.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study there and how did this prepare you for your role in city government?

I went to Boston College. My major was psychology, which made me understand a little deeper what people want and how to get things done. I also have a good grounding in municipal law and environmental law. There are a lot of wet areas in Melrose, and it helps if you understand environmental law.

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Sitting Down with Melrose’s Aldermen: Alderman at Large Donald L. Conn, Jr.

Mayor’s Office interns become better acquainted with their elected officials.

Alderman-at-Large: Donald L. Conn Jr.

Interview Conducted by Brian P. Senier

Where did you grow up? If Melrose, what elementary school did you go to?

Yes, and I went to the Winthrop School.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study there and how did this prepare you for your role in city government?

I went to Tufts University and Boston College Law School. I was a double major in history and political science. Many of the courses I took focused on government.

How long have you been a member of the Board of the Aldermen?

I have been an Alderman for 13 years: 1990-1993 and 2004 to the present.

Why did you decide to become an Alderman?

I wanted to be involved and I wanted to help the community.

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Welcome Class of 2025!

MHS athletes played soccer with the incoming students, and they also brought T-shirts for the newcomers.

School starts next week, and last night we welcomed the incoming kindergarten students to the Melrose Public Schools with an evening of slush, games, and fun. Melrose High School athletes came out to play volleyball, soccer, and other games with the incoming students, and everyone gathered for a big group picture. Each incoming student received a Class of 2025 button that will allow the child and a parent to attend Melrose High School football games for free. Here are a few highlights of the evening; the group photo will be available from our office next week.

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Sitting Down with Melrose’s Aldermen: Alderman at Large Jaclyn Bird

Mayor’s Office interns become better acquainted with their elected officials.

Alderman-at-Large: Jaclyn L. Bird

Interview Conducted by Brian P. Senier

Where did you grow up? If Melrose, what elementary school did you go to?

I grew up in Melrose and attended both the Beebe and Roosevelt Schools.  I have great memories of those years and was lucky to be surrounded by wonderful teachers and families at both schools.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study there and how did this prepare you for your role in city government?

I graduated from Washington College, a small liberal-arts school on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  I majored in American Studies, with minors in Political Science and History.  I think having a well-rounded education, with a concentration in government, has been very helpful with my role on the Board.

Washington College, though it is a small school, has an incredibly diverse student body.  I know that being in classes with students from all over the country and around the world gave me a better understanding of how our life experiences shape our views and why we sometimes view issues with such different perspectives.  This made me a better listener and I think that is a tremendously helpful skill to have in any job.

How long have you been a member of the Board of the Aldermen?

I was appointed to the Board of Aldermen in March 2011 to fill a vacancy on the board.  In November 2011, I was elected to a two-year term.

Why did you decide to become an Alderman?

I have always been active in the city, whether through my past professional work with the Melrose Alliance Against Violence (MAAV) or through volunteering to lead the Franklin Early Childhood Center (ECC) P.T.O.   When I found out that the Board was looking for applicants to fill a vacant seat, I saw this opportunity as an extension of my community involvement.

What is your favorite aspect of being an Alderman?

Do I have to pick just one?!  There are many—I find it fascinating…what it takes to keep a great city running smoothly; trying to figure out how to create a balance of providing excellent city services while keeping costs down for residents; meeting new people in the community; and hearing from the city employees about their individual departments.  I learn so much from listening to everyone around me, including my colleagues on the Board who have been great mentors for me.

Do you have any other interests? If so, what are they?

No other interests at all…strictly municipal budgets.  Just kidding!  Yes, I do have other interests. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and going to the beach.

What is one interesting thing about the ward in which you live?

I am an Alderman-at-Large, so I represent the whole city, but I am a resident of Ward 4.  My family moved to Porter Street last year and my children are now the 5th generation of my family to live on Porter Street. Though, now I am realizing that this is probably only interesting to me!

What do you like most about Melrose?

Melrose has so much to offer, with such an easy commute to Boston, but with the benefits of a quiet, residential setting. We have a vibrant small business community, both downtown and in the other business districts in the city.  I love the programs that Melrose offers for young families: organized and drop-in activities through the Recreation Department, the Winter Festival at Mount Hood, Community Nights Out in the summer, movies at Memorial Hall, the Lloyd pool on Tremont Street, the Melrose Kids Club, etc.  I think the people, though, are what make our community so unique.  We have volunteers on Little League and soccer fields, robotics teams, the Milano Senior Center, Veterans’ organizations, energy conservation groups, PTOs, and more.  These volunteers are all personally invested in seeing Melrose thrive and I think that enthusiasm and dedication really sets us apart.

If you could change one thing about Melrose, what would it be and why?

I don’t think there is one thing specifically that I would like to see changed, but rather certain areas where we could expand and improve.  These would include an aggressive water conservation plan, improvements to Melrose High School, which are ongoing, and regionalization of services where appropriate.  Melrose is in a great place right now and I am happy to support programs that keep us moving in the right direction.

Melrose IT director picks up national award

Our Information Technology director, Jorge Pazos, is in California as I write this, attending the CIO 100 Symposium, and last night he accepted the CIO 100 Award on behalf of the City of Melrose. The award recognizes our IT department’s innovative approach, which has allowed them not only to manage the City’s computer resources with great efficiency but also to provide support services to the Town of Essex in an unprecedented regionalization agreement. I am proud of our department, and I expect great things from them in the future. But for now: Congratulations, Jorge!

Guest Post: Famous Melrosians

By Abraham Zimmerman

You have, most likely, seen their faces before, but did you know that these individuals are from Melrose?

Have you ever tuned in to watch the Red Sox on New England Sports Network (NESN)? If so, then you are sure to have heard the voice of Melrose native Don Orsillo.  Orsillo has been the play-by-play commentator for the Red Sox since 2001. He was born in Melrose on December 16, 1968.  He went to Northeastern and received a degree in communications before starting his work as a broadcaster.

Most people know of Associate Justice David Souter, but few know that he was born in Melrose on September 17, 1939.  Souter was nominated for the Supreme Court by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, and he retired after the spring session of 2009.  Souter was replaced by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Melrose is just full of sports broadcasters.  Andy Brickley, born in Melrose on August 9, 1961, is the color commentator for NESN hockey.  Brickley became a commentator in 2000 after playing professional hockey for 13 years. Those 13 years even included a stint with the Boston Bruins.

 

Perhaps the youngest famous Melrosian is Olympian Steve Langton.  Langton is a push and brake man for the U.S. National Bobsled team.  He competed in the 2010 Olympics, where his four man bobsled team placed 10th.  He has had more luck in competition recently, placing second in the two man bobsled competition at the 2011 World Cup.  Langton was born in Melrose on April 15, 1983.

Donate school supplies to help children get off to a good start

Christopher Cinella is taking donations of school supplies for Melrose students at Edward Jones, 502 Main St.

For the third year in a row, Chris Cinella and the staff of Edward Jones Financial want to make sure that every Melrose child starts off with fresh supplies on the first day of school.

From now through August 27, Cinella and his staff are collecting school supplies for Melrose children, to be distributed by the Melrose Emergency Fund. Donations may be dropped off at the Edward Jones office, 502 Main Street. Basic supplies such as pens and pencils, notebooks, three-ring binders, filler paper, crayons, markers, and backpacks are particularly welcome.

“The first day of school is a fresh start for all students, filled with potential for the coming year,” said Mayor Rob Dolan. “We want all our children to do their very best, and one simple way to support them is to make sure they have the proper supplies they need for their classes.”

“Like many Melrose businesses, Edward Jones has been a great partner with the City of Melrose in working to make Melrose a better community for all our citizens,” Dolan said.

“We have had a great response to our school supplies donation drive over the past two years,” said Cinella. “We hope that we will be equally successful this year.”

Photos: Mayor’s Night Out

Madison Perry tries out a fire engine

We celebrated a great Mayor’s Night Out last Thursday at the Cabbage Patch—here are the photos to prove it!

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Letter to the Park Commission

Here is the text of a letter I sent to the Park Commission this afternoon.

Dear members of the Park Commission,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your extraordinary volunteer service. As I drive around this community every day, I can see that your stewardship of our parks and open space is outstanding.

As you know, the Park Commission, under its enabling legislation, is an autonomous board, and I do not have the authority to veto a vote of the commission or influence you in any way, other than by expressing my opinion, both formally and informally. I would ask you to consider the following:

I think last night, from all accounts, was a very difficult evening that included some regrettable exchanges. Many people have expressed to me that they felt uncomfortable during the meeting due to the heated and negative nature of the exchanges and the high level of disagreement. Now, however, the question is how we reconcile and achieve common ground on an issue that creates such strong emotions.

In my opinion, this is a two pronged issue:

  1. Golfers who pay money to play golf have every right to enjoy their experience free of unleashed dogs, the fear of hitting someone with a golf ball, and the fear of anything that lessens their golf experience.
  2. Mount Hood is a park as well as a golf course, and other users of the park should be able to enjoy the non-golf facilities with their leashed dogs.

Golfers fuel the economic engine that is our golf course, and because of them, and our investment in the course, we have been able to improve playing fields and recreational opportunities across this city. You are the stewards of that business venture, and it has been highly successful due to your oversight and commitment. As part of that stewardship, you have an obligation to ensure that all users of the golf course are safe and also that users obey the rules.

I agree that dogs should not be allowed on the greens or fairways, which are extraordinarily expensive to maintain and repair. Employees of the golf course should never be threatened or attacked by dogs, whether leashed or unleashed. Dog walkers should not be allowed to impede play by cutting across the fairways, roughs, or greens, especially where there are blind tees. These are very reasonable rules that are in line with our mission for the golf course and its many users.

However, the park is composed of two recreational components. It is the Mount Hood Memorial Park and Golf Course. The key word is “Park.” Thanks, again, to your efforts, Mount Hood offers many recreational opportunities outside of golf, such as sledding, ice skating, walking, and hiking. People come to the park all year long to enjoy the facilities, and they should be able to bring along their leashed dogs. I find a ban on leashed dogs to be both unreasonable and unenforceable, and I also feel it creates far too much unrest in the community. The issue we are facing is a challenge, but I do not think, with all due respect, that it warrants a total ban on dog walkers.

The Park Commission was right to bring up the issue, and the discussion around it presents an opportunity moving forward to find a real solution. We have heard from individuals who advocated for the dog park as well as those who are fed up with unleashed dogs and irresponsible dog owners in our school playgrounds. Now is the time to bring them together, as a small subcommittee or task force, to achieve common ground. I think the parameters of that common ground are the following:

  1. Dog owners and their leashed dogs have the right to use Mount Hood Park.
  2. Paying golfers have the right to play golf without feeling threatened or having their play impeded by dogs or their owners.
  3. We must provide education, at Mount Hood and across the city, to enhance greater community between dog owners and those who use the parks.
  4. We must consider how to continue to improve enforcement of existing regulations.

We have already come a long way with regard to enforcement. While we cannot afford to have an officer monitor the park 24 hours a day, we also do not need that sort of surveillance. Most people in Melrose follow the rules, and we have had successful educational campaigns about recycling, littering, and other regulations. The problem is dealing with that small handful of people who are abusive, and I think we have identified a three-pronged approach toward better enforcement:

  1. The golf management company has been handing out notices and verbal warnings to people who bring unleashed dogs onto the golf course. That is the management’s responsibility. Golf Management is the first line of defense in ensuring compliance with the City’s leash law. That must continue.
  2. Our dog officer has agreed, in her limited hours, to provide additional oversight, as she has the right to ticket if needed.
  3. The police are another line of defense. If an individual is told to leash a dog and refuses, or refuses to leave the park, the police should be called. That individual would potentially be subject to trespassing charges, as well as being ticketed for violating the City’s leash law.

Chief Lyle believes that this is no different from the other phone calls the police get for a variety of non-life-threatening issues. Our police department is always happy to enforce the law and to ensure a high quality of life for all of our residents. We are never going to fully solve this problem, but as with all code violations, we must do the best we can and use education first, and punitive action when needed.

I believe the rule passed by the Park Commission last night should be put on hold as soon as possible, until a group of people is assembled who are willing to serve together, maybe using the parameters I have outlined above, and start a respectful, positive, solution-driven dialogue about this issue.

I am available to assist you in any manner to facilitate this process.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Dolan
Mayor

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