Monthly Archives: September, 2015

Police Chief to Host Information Session September 30

Please join Police Chief Michael Lyle for an information session on substance abuse prevention programs on Wednesday, September 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Milano Senior Center. Jennifer Kelly, head of the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, will be the guest speaker, and after the presentation Chief Lyle will also answer any questions audience members want to ask.

Great News! Lincoln School Named a National Blue Ribbon School

Lincoln School

We are excited to announce the Lincoln School has been named a national Blue Ribbon School by the federal Department of Education! We are so proud of the efforts of the principals, educators, and students who have achieved this incredible national honor. Here is the press release in which Secretary of Education Arne Duncan explains what this honor means.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today recognized 335 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2015 based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. These schools demonstrate that all students can achieve to high levels.

“This honor recognizes your students’ accomplishments and the hard work and dedication that went into their success,” Duncan said in a video message to the awardees. “Your journey has taught you collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in school and with your community. You represent excellence—in vision, in implementation, and in results—and we want to learn as much as we can from you.”

The Department will honor 285 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 9-10 in Washington, D.C. In its 33-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on more than 8,000 of America’s schools.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. The award plaque affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. The award flag gracing a school’s building is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.

All schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates are also at the highest levels.

Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years. Student subgroup performance and high school graduation rates for each subgroup are at high levels.

The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 420 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The U.S. Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

MHS Students Recognized as National Merit Honorees

Great news from Melrose High School! Elizabeth Hirsch has been recognized as a National Merit Semifinalist; she was among the top 1% of high school seniors that took the PSAT in 2014. In addition, four MHS students, Jay S. Franklin, Justin T. Hori, Avash Pandit, and Kylie J. Persons, have been named National Merit Commended Students, meaning they were in the top 5%. Congratulations to our students on their outstanding achievement!

Vote for MHS Football ‘Game of the Week’

We didn’t make it last week, but Fox 25 has included the Watertown-Melrose football game as one of the choices for this week’s GameDay Game of the Week. Head on down to Fox 25 and vote for our school.

Road and Construction Update for September 29

Mass DOT Lebanon Street Project:
Expect delays on Lebanon Street between Upham and Foster due to sidewalk work.
Sidewalk work on Lebanon Street between Laurel and Malvern.

National Grid
Gas service replacement continues on Adams and Chester Streets.
Crews will be working on Tremont Street between Lake and Emerson, then moving to the intersection of Emerson and Essex streets between 11:30 and 12 p.m.; they may be working late today.

Expect traffic delays because of water service installation at 130 Tremont St., between Melrose Street and the Lynn Fells Parkway.

Sewer main replacement work at rear of Stone Place.

Sidewalk and curb work on Whittier Street between Sanford and Baxter streets; may move on to Baxter between Whittier and Tappan.

Remembering Ed Cassidy

Ed CassidyWith the passing of Ed Cassidy, we have lost not only a great Melrosian but one of the visionaries for today’s Melrose, a man who gave generously of his time and talent in order to help create the thriving, beautiful city we are today.

I know many of you know Ed and his wife Joan because they have been so active in our community. What you may not know is how instrumental Ed was in guiding Melrose through almost four decades of growth and change. Ed served on the Melrose Planning Board for 37 years, and during that time he was a leader who guided development in a thoughtful and astute way. He had very high standards and high expectations for quality design, which is reflected in some of the more significant development projects in Melrose. He saw the big picture and could articulate planning and design in such a way that others could understand it as well. He leaves an incredible legacy, and his knowledge and passion touch every corner of the community.

Important Informational Forum on October 14

Please join City of Melrose officials on Wednesday, October 14, at 7 p.m. in the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Auditorium for a public information session regarding the proposed override ballot question. Mayor Robert J. Dolan, Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Dello Russo, and Police Chief Michael Lyle will answer operational and financial questions related to the proposed override, submitted in advance by the public. The event is open to the public and will be recorded for broadcast at a later time.

All questions for the information session must be submitted via e-mail by noon on Thursday, October 8, to questions@cityofmelrose.org. The e-mail must include the sender’s name and address. Any repeat or similar questions may be consolidated into one at the session.

Road Construction Update for the Week of September 28

Here’s work that may affect traffic in Melrose this week.

Mass DOT Lebanon Street Project:
Outbound detours on Upham Street at Dell and at Lebanon due to sidewalk work being performed between Bellevue and Lebanon and Lebanon and Main on the south side.
Minimal traffic delays at the Main Street island at Hospital Square as work wraps up early in the week.
Traffic delays on Lebanon Street between Foster and Grove due to sidewalk work.

National Grid/Keyspan
Road closures at Adams and Chester streets due to gas service replacement work.

Road closures in the area of Whittier and Baxter streets due to sidewalk work.

On Tuesday, fire service connection work at 130 Tremont Street will cause delays and closures on Tremont Street between Melrose Street and the Lynn Fells Parkway. Work will be scheduled around school traffic.

The Water Flushing Program continues in the area around the Hospital overnight on Monday of next week

Local Business Spotlight: October Specials at Bodyography

October 2015 specials flyer

Your Water and Sewer Rates

MWRA water and sewer bills have been a challenge for local communities since the MWRA’s creation in 1985 as a result of the federal court-mandated cleanup of Boston Harbor. Below is a chart showing the percentage of budget allocation to each of the following items in the water and sewer operating budget for FY16. As you can see, over 60% of a residential bill goes directly to the MWRA for their assessments to the City of Melrose as mandated by law.

The total FY16 water and sewer operating budget is $14,741,979 and is broken out into the following categories as shown in this pie chart:

  1. MWRA Annual Assessment: Direct charge to the City of Melrose as mandated by law
  2. Reserves and Abatements: Reserves as defined by the Board of Aldermen and abatement allotment for billing adjustments
  3. Salaries of employees and staff
  4. Indirect Costs: Health insurance, life insurance, Social Security tax, pension, city insurance, departmental administrative costs
  5. Capital Projects: Water and sewer projects (see related map below)
  6. Maintenance and Repairs: Materials and vendors used for maintenance and repairs of the water and sewer system

water and sewer pie chart

I also think it is important to show the major improvements citywide that have been directly funded through water and sewer rates, benefitting every corner of the City since 2003. This includes replacement and repair of many residential water mains and systems, inflow/infiltration repairs and inspections to eliminate ground water in our sewer system, and major pump station improvements to eliminate surcharges in our sewer corridors.

map of water and sewer improvements

In FY14 the Board of Aldermen, with the guidance of an independent consultant and a newly created Water and Sewer Commission, implemented a tiered system to help promote water conservation as well as control the rate of increase of rates. Below is a current breakdown of each tier. It should be noted that over 96% of residents fall into Tier 1 or Tier 2. The Water and Sewer Committee meets throughout the year, in meetings open to the public, to discuss issues relative to water and sewer that may arise.

Tier 1: 1–2,000 Cubic Feet
Tier 2: 2,001-10,000 Cubic Feet
Tier 3: Over 10,000 Cubic Feet

WHERE DO WE STAND?

Water and sewer rates are much different than a property tax rate for several reasons. For one, you can help control your water bill by conserving when possible. Also, infrastructure needs and conditions vary from community to community. Melrose was a city that did very little in terms of maintaining and improving its water and sewer infrastructure until ten years ago.

If you look at the charts below, Melrose is slightly above the average when it comes to water and sewer bills of full MWRA communities (water and sewer). Melrose ranks 9th of 23 communities when applying average Melrose consumption to bills of other MWRA communities. Melrose ranks 10th out of 23 in accordance with MWRA’s comparison looking at cost of actual consumption per consumer. The information provided below comes directly from the MWRA Advisory Boards Water and Sewer Survey for Calendar 2014.

It is also important to note that many of the communities you see ranking below Melrose in terms of cost have a much larger industrial base. Because we don’t have many commercial accounts, a larger percentage of the burden to fund our water and sewer system falls on residents.

rates comparison 1

rates comparison 2

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