Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Reminder: DPW Day is Thursday, May 30

DPW Day, our annual open house at the City Yard, will be tomorrow, May 30. This is a special event for children to introduce them to the many things our Department of Public Works does, and this year’s theme is “Public Works—Everyday Superheroes.”

DPW Day is designed as a field trip for elementary school children, but Melrose residents are also invited to bring their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, age 8 and under, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. The Melrose Free Press has all the details.

Teen Center Has Open Gym Tonight

Tonight, the Melrose Recreation Department is sponsoring an Open Gym at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School gym from 7-9 p.m. It’s free, and all teens in grades 6-8 are welcome to drop in and join the fun!

Memorial Day Weekend Schedule

Here’s the schedule for the Memorial Day weekend events. I hope in particular that everyone will join us for the Memorial Day Parade on Sunday, May 26, at 1:30 p.m. The parade will go on rain or shine!

Massachusetts Vietnam Fallen Soldiers Tribute
On Display, May 19th, 2013 – Melrose Vietnam Memorial

Veterans Breakfast and Assembly
Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School
Friday, May 24th, 2013: 8 a.m.

Decoration of Veteran Graves
Flag Retirement Ceremony
Wyoming Cemetery
Saturday, May 25th, 2013: 10 a.m.

Veterans Day Breakfast
Memorial Hall
Sunday, May 26th, 2013: 9 a.m.

Veterans Memorial Tour
WWII-Korea, Vietnam and WWI Memorials
Sunday, May 26th, 2013: 10 a.m.

Veterans Day Religious Ceremony
Memorial Hall
Sunday, May 26th, 2013: 12 p.m.

Memorial Day Parade
Main Street to Wyoming Cemetery
Sunday, May 26th, 2013: 1:30 p.m. Kickoff

Closing Ceremonies
Wyoming Cemetery
Sunday, May 26th, 2013: 2:30 p.m.

(Click maps to enlarge)

2013 Memorial Day Events]

Parade

Flags Fly for Vietnam Fallen Soldiers

Flags

Veteran Services Officer Ryan McLane and the Veterans Services Advisory Board, with help from other volunteers, installed a tribute the the fallen Vietnam veterans from Massachusetts and Melrose over the weekend. The display is located near the Melrose Vietnam Memorial at Ell Pond on Main Street. Here are the details:

1,331 flags for the Massachusetts soldiers killed in action during the Vietnam War. Each flag in the tribute represents an American life sacrificed for the country.

11 Flags of Honor for Melrose residents who were killed in action.

10 flags in front and back for 10 years of war.

Two blocks of flags flank the 11 flags of honor. Each block represents the American flag with 13 rows of 50 flags.

Please take a moment this Memorial Day to reflect on the price of freedom. We will not forget.

For more information, see the Melrose Patch.

Help Maggie Raise $10,000 for The One Fund Boston

T-shirts

Maggie Clark, 16, of Porter Street, has raised over $7,000 to donate to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings via The One Fund, and she’s not stopping there.

Maggie, a sophomore at Bishop Fenwick High School, is selling Boston Strong T-shirts that she designed herself. Trying to keep costs low, she visited several local print shops and settled on the T-Stop in Wakefield to print them up. “Rod gave me a really good deal, and he has been really great,” she told me. Not only that, he made the T-shirts quickly so she could get them into people’s hands.

Maggie’s original plan called for her to make just 90 T-shirts to sell to family and friends, but the word spread quickly, and she soon had orders for over 150. Then she reached out to Marathon Sports. “I saw they had their shirts in the window, and I asked if they would help out, and they said ‘sure,'” she said. “I ordered 200 more for them, and they sold out.” She also spread the word via Facebook and newspaper articles, and now she has sold 1,000 shirts.

But she’s not stopping there. Maggie hopes to sell enough T-shirts to make a $10,000 donation to The One Fund, so she will be selling them at Neighborhood Nights Out this summer and at other city events. They can also be ordered by e-mailing Maggie directly at robertclark94@verizon.net. The T-shirts are $12 apiece, and additional donations are accepted as well. Children’s sizes are available.

Check It Out: Rec Programs May Qualify for Flexible Spending Accounts

Did you know that you may be able to use your Flexible Spending Account – Dependent Care for Melrose Recreation programs, clinics, and camps?

Many of our summer programs could qualify for reimbursement under your Flex Spending Account with Dependent Care. This means you can register your child or children for several recreation programs, clinics, and/or camps and be eligible to use your pre-tax FSA dollars to pay for the programs.

For financial reimbursement simply submit a Reimbursement Claim Form from your carrier to the Recreation Dept. for a signature and receipt of registration. You can then submit the form to your carrier for reimbursement.

Prior to registering, please be sure to check with your employer and/or provider to make sure that the recreation programs you have enrolled in qualify as eligible expenses for FSA purposes.

Melrose Children Raise Money for Bombing Victim’s Family

Boston Strong

Maeve, Roddy, and Ella McGillicuddy and Maggie Sullivan were selling Boston Strong bracelets today on Damon Avenue. They raised over $250 for the family of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. The bracelets say “no more hurting people,” which is the text of a sign Richard was photographed with before his death. Thank you, kids, for working so hard for such a great cause!

Live Performance of All the President’s Women at the Milano Senior Center

The Delvena Theatre Company will be presenting All the Presidents’ Women at the Milano Senior Center, 201 West Foster Street, Melrose, on Thursday, May 9, at 1:00 PM.

This show is a live performance which looks into the lives (sometimes behind closed doors!) of some our United States presidents and their wives. Find out which of our most famous first ladies was committed to a mental institution by her own son! Have we already had a female president? Could one of our first ladies have murdered her husband while he was still in office?

Fascinating stories bring lively entertainment and promotes dialogue after the performance between the cast and the audience.

This edutainment production will feature Lynne Moulton and Fran Baron in multiple roles. Joseph Zamparelli, Jr. is the director of the production.

The Delvena Theatre Company was founded in 1992 and has performed at various venues, most often at the Boston Center for the Arts. The company was nominated for five Independent Reviewers of New England awards. Its production of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ was on Theatre Mirror’s Best List for acting, directing and production. Presentations of ‘Anna Weiss’ and ‘Beyond Therapy’ were included on Theatre Mirror’s best play list and ‘Blue Heart’ was placed on Aisle Say’s best list.

Tickets are $5 and include lunch. Reservations must be made before noon on May 8. Please stop in at the Milano Senior Center 201 W. Foster St., Melrose

Fiscal 2014 Budget Address

Here is my Fiscal 2014 budget address, which I delivered to a joint meeting of the Board of Aldermen and School Committee last night.

I am very pleased to present my 12th balanced budget as Mayor of the City of Melrose. I am satisfied and confident that this budget meets and exceeds the executive branch’s fiduciary responsibility under the Charter and, as importantly, holds firm the covenant between this government and the citizens of Melrose whom we serve. It is a structurally balanced budget that draws on secure and conservative revenue expectations and offers responsible expenditure proposals that reflect my administration’s priorities and, I believe, the priorities of the citizens of Melrose as a whole.

The first responsibility of any elected body and any elected official is the solvency of the community. That above all else is the first charge, for if there is no solvency, there is no community. This budget meets that solemn responsibility and continues to invest for an unforeseen future that may be darker than the present. And this budget acts as a reflection of the values of our community.

It has been debated that my administration has had the challenge of putting together some of the most difficult budgets in the history of the City of Melrose. I am particularly proud of the work done to balance this budget for Fiscal 2014. It was a combined effort of some of the finest department heads in the commonwealth–true experts in their fields—as well as our labor unions, the hundreds of employees who work hard to make our city better, over 100 volunteer board and commission members who are the backbone of my administration, and the citizens of Melrose who continuously give of themselves to make the city better and, more personally, have been so supportive in tough times and in successes alike and have offered encouragement and support as we move this City forward.

Despite the challenges and gridlock in Washington, it remains my hope that the citizens of Melrose look at our local government and find cause for optimism.

  • We have authentically and openly balanced a budget on time every year.
  • We work together as government officials and with labor honestly and amicably, saving millions of dollars as well as every job and every service.
  • We still find a way to put some money in a stabilization fund through prudent spending, instead of draining it and spending what we can’t afford so the next generation will have to pay it off with interest.
  • We deliver without question the largest Public Works and capital projects in the history of this city and change people’s lives for the better, improve education, and in some cases save people’s homes.
  • We can, Republicans and Democrats, vote for a fair tax and fee system and offer programs that help lift up those who have been hit the hardest by this recession: children and seniors. We can partner with citizens through the Emergency Fund to help make sure no one is left behind.
  • We know that “on time and on budget” is all the time.
  • We can break down political or man-made barriers and open up government to regionalization that encourages collaboration and innovation.
  • We partner with local business and property owners to sell this community to investors, entrepreneurs, and home buyers to create one of the hottest real estate markets in the region
  • And we collectively work together to solve problems that few Melrosians thought could be fixed, by challenging ourselves and our citizens in the hardest of times.

The Fiscal 2014 budget sets the bar high. It is not a recession budget but pushes us forward, and for that I am most proud.

In the Fiscal 2014 budget I propose to this board a budget of $68,048,387.30 that focuses on the following initiatives:

Meeting our Green Community benchmarks to stabilize an energy budget for this and the next generation: This includes a $2.3 million Energy Savings Performance Contract that will propel us over the 20% total energy reduction program that we set out to accomplish five years ago.

Major capital improvements for City buildings: Although it includes installing new streetlights and lights in our schools and replacing older vehicles with energy efficient ones, this budget should also be seen as one of the largest building infrastructure programs in recent times: Major investments in new gas boilers in the Fire Department and Police Station, new boilers and chillers in City Hall, upgraded lighting and efficient equipment in most of our city buildings, and significant improvements to the heating systems at the Hoover and Horace Mann schools. These new systems are more reliable, use less energy and create better learning and working environments for all. As we previously targeted health insurance and pension costs as budget breakers, energy and unstable pricing are also a major red flag for future budgets. This budget will address the problem before it becomes a crisis, and because we have combined our schools and municipal buildings into one energy budget, we were able to renegotiate our electricity and gas contracts and we are looking to move forward with a single energy provider for the entire city.

Phase 2 of the improvements of Melrose High School: As we are at the halfway point in construction of our new science department, we are proposing a second bond of $2.5 million for Phase 2 of this project: A new HVAC system for Melrose High School as well as full elimination of all electric heat, the most expensive form of heating, major improvements to the ventilation system, and the restoration of air conditioning to the building. Many of the current systems date back to 1973 and are no longer reliable, nor can they be maintained properly. Since I was a student at Melrose High School, 24 years ago, and I’m sure before and since, one of the top criticisms of that building has been its ventilation, its air quality, and the learning and working environment as it pertains to temperature and air flow. That running joke by former graduates and current students no longer has to be accepted. It can be fixed, finally.

Green Communities: This ongoing work continues our eligibility for another $250,000 in Green Community grant money for Fiscal 2014, which will go toward this high school project as well as funding additional hours for our outstanding Green Energy Coordinator.

Economic development: This budget supports the process, which we have already begun, of looking at the Essex/Tremont Street corridor for potential overlay and rezoning to promote mixed-use development opportunities. This corridor, which runs from Main Street to the Melrose Highlands, is close to public transportation and has incredible potential for growth that is being embraced by private developers looking to regentrify the area. It is our hope that this new zoning and additional interest in private investment will qualify us for over $1 million in infrastructure improvements to Melrose Highlands, as was the case at the Cedar Park and Wyoming stations.

The Zoning and Planning Boards, as well as my Economic Development Committee, have been inundated with meetings with private developers who seek to invest in our community, from the further expansion of Washington Street that went through a similar overlay/rezoning process in the beginning of my term to continued development in our downtown business district.

Ambulance: Thanks to the excellent leadership of Chief Leary and his senior staff, we anticipate that we will be bringing in enough revenue to cover our projected costs from the ambulance service in Fiscal 2013. The funding in this budget targets a movement to 50% Advanced Life Support services by the end of Fiscal 2014 and 100% ALS for all Melrose ambulances by the end of Fiscal 2015.

Police vehicles: This budget proposes the purchase of five new police vehicles, as well as a new motorcycle to upgrade a police fleet that is in need of updating.

Regionalization: We need to continue to pursue opportunities to work with other communities to improve services and cost savings. We are pleased to announce an IT agreement with Saugus that will make it the second community that pays the City of Melrose for various IT services; the other community is Essex. This fiscal year, we also plan to bring Reading into our Veterans District, which also includes Wakefield and Saugus; Reading would pay Melrose quarterly to bring administrative services to their Veterans Department.

Critical Contracts: This budget includes two critical contracts that have been negotiated and signed that lock in long term agreements with two service providers with budget implications. Our Comcast contract is a ten-year contract that has been negotiated to provide a substantial infusion of revenue to upgrade all our school websites and improve the video production and educational facilities at the Middle School and Melrose High School. It also stabilizes revenue for MMTV, which provides critical governmental and emergency notification services for the city of Melrose now and into the future.

I have just signed a new contract with Golf Management for the management of Mount Hood Golf course. If we choose to renew the contract, it will last through 2017. Our partnership with Golf Management has allowed us to rebuild athletic and recreational facilities throughout the City that are among the best in Massachusetts. It is now time to pay for those facilities as well as continue to upgrade and maintain golf, passive recreation, and catering and event services at Mount Hood. I believe this contract, as well as the continued investment in things like a new commercial kitchen, which opens for its first full year, will allow us to exceed projected revenues yearly at this facility.

Roads, Water, and Sewer: We continue in this budget to make major improvements to roads as well as our water system with the proposal in this budget of a three-year plan. We anticipate getting approximately $800,000 in Chapter 90 money, which is state funding for roads. On top of that, we are requesting that the Board of Aldermen pass a three-year, $1.5 million road bond, which will equate to $1.3 million worth of road work every year for the next three years.

To support this major investment, over the past year our DPW staff has surveyed every road in the city and categorized each one according to its condition and the amount of traffic it gets. We will use that list to prioritize, so road work is targeted to roads that need it most. In addition, we will be proposing a water bond to upgrade water infrastructure on Linwood Avenue from the cemetery to Grove Street and East Foster Street from Lebanon to Melrose Common. It will include replacing major water mains and reconstructing roads. This will be funded with an interest free loan from the MWRA. I am pleased to announce that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has awarded Melrose $4.25 million in transportation improvement monies for the Lebanon Street corridor, from Robinson’s Funeral Home to Lynde Avenue, which will include total reconstruction of sidewalks, curbs, roads, lights, signs, and trees. This project will go out to bid in the fall, and work will begin in 2014.

DPW Consolidation: This budget also reflects continued benefit from privatization of trash pickup and formation of the Green Team to do work around the city. We were able to reduce our landscaping line item by $50,000 compared to last year’s budget and street sweeping by $40,000, now that we have in house staff to do the work.

Library: This budget also continues to support the Melrose Public Library to meet state expectations of funding as well as our library card program, which successfully gave every child in the city of Melrose a library card and lessons on how to use our library.

Council on Aging Minivan: This budget continues to fund a second van, which is not only bringing hundreds of seniors a day to medical appointments but also giving them access to reasonably priced healthy food options.

Veterans: This budget continues a record amount of services for veterans as well as a $7,000 commitment, coupled with private donations of $5,000, for improvement of the World War I monument at the Knoll.

Girls’ Sports: This budget includes startup costs for Melrose High School girls’ hockey and lacrosse.

Playground Improvements: This budget includes an investment in the full renovation of the Lincoln and Roosevelt school playgrounds.

Social Media: This budget supports year two of a social media program that has changed the way my office and the City do business in one short year. City government is now using my blog and Twitter to get the word out about events and provide real-time updates on snow emergencies and other public safety situations. They provide a means of direct communication to citizens from my office and are used daily. The Mayor’s Blog gets 100 hits a day on a regular basis, but when there is a particular City event, the traffic goes up to as much as 1,000 hits a day. We have over 600 followers on our Melrose Twitter account, with constant real time alerts, news, and announcements that support public participation in the governmental process. Every month we have seen increased use of the iPhone and Android application for DPW work orders that was brought to Melrose through a partnership with the City of Boston. There has never been a more constant flow of information, opinion, and dialogue between government and its citizens, and this will expand in FY 14.

I would like to finish with the most critical investment in this budget. This budget should be defined as an education budget. It is the largest investment in public education in the history of Melrose by over half a million dollars, including $1.3 million added to the base of the Melrose Public Schools budget, which will be permanent.

As long as I have been mayor, the priority has been building around public education in a responsible way but understanding in a community like Melrose the public schools are the foundation on which the city is built, regardless of whether or not you have children in the schools.

We have seen, year after year, a steady inflow of new residents with young children investing and staying in this community, involving themselves on boards and commissions, volunteering their time, creating a buzz about this community that has propelled our real estate market, which has in turn propelled private investment in record numbers to regentrify dilapidated properties and reinvest in more tired ones.

It is critically important that the City do what it can this particular year due to the massive reduction in education funding, which in turn is due to the withdrawal of the federal stimulus of well over a million dollars, the federal sequester that took $100,000 this fiscal year and will take an additional $100,000 next year, continuous reduction in the special education Circuit Breaker and other line items in the state budget, stagnant local aid–which is all education aid–and incredible increased regulatory demands on teachers, staff, and students as well as higher expectations from the public. From a funding standpoint, given the fact that this is a community that is 96% residential, the city is doing absolutely everything it can–everything–to support public schools, teachers, and students.

In a city that is now competing from a real estate standpoint with communities with much higher property taxes and greater industry, this will continue to be the great challenge of this city, not just its government but predominantly its citizens. And where do those citizens want our public schools and our city to go? I am confident in the abilities of our Superintendent and our new administrative team, and this investment, coupled with our continued investment in our elementary schools and our high school and the investment in new curriculum, will provide the tools for the administrative team–principals, students, teachers, and parents–to work together to bring Melrose to the next level.

This budget reflects a series of meaningful advancements in all areas of municipal operations in challenging times. It should also be noted that this budget was created with an eye on an unstable economic future for this Commonwealth and this nation. I remain unsure whether the most challenging times for cities and towns are behind us or in front of us. I without hesitation submit this budget to the Board of Aldermen with confidence that it is reflective of the high standards and strict budgetary guidelines set by my administration as stewards of this City of Melrose, with the long term financial stability and security of this community as the absolute priority. I hand it to this Board of Aldermen for review and consideration and ask for your support.

Thank you.

May Events: Healthy Melrose and More!

We have plenty to keep you busy this weekend! Tomorrow, May 4, is Healthy Melrose. Come down to Fred Green Field and enjoy fitness activities, sample some healthy foods, and get a bracelet that will get you discounts on healthy living products and services for the next month.

Then Saturday evening, come to Pizza-Palooza, from 5-8 p.m. in the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Cafeteria. For just $8, you can sample pizzas from 11 local establishments. The proceeds go to Melrose Rotary and the Melrose Band-Aiders.

The Melrose Symphony has their final Pops Concert of the year at 8 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Hall.

And don’t forget to come to Kids Club at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 10, at Memorial Hall. Kids Club is an opportunity for preschool children and their caregivers to get together and enjoy entertainment and conversation. This month’s featured performer is Dara VanRemoortel, of Music With Dara.

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