MAYOR SCOTT D. GALVIN
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
JANUARY 1, 2018
Good evening. It’s a sincere honor to be here tonight with my wife Eileen and our family and friends. Their support, along with the confidence of Woburn voters, has allowed me to continue our work together in a job I truly love. I’m grateful to them, and to those dedicated City employees who consistently give the best of themselves to help make the City of Woburn a better place to live, work and raise a family.
To the honorable members of the City Council and School Committee, congratulations on your re-elections to another term of service. We are also happy to have State Representatives Jim Dwyer and Jay Kaufman here this evening. I look forward to working with all of you over the next two years to ensure Woburn remains affordable, progressive and prosperous.
It is my pleasure to participate in the Inaugural Exercises for the City of Woburn’s Government on this first day of 2018, and present my inaugural address to the hard-working citizens of our great City. I am truly grateful for the opportunity.
We are closing a great year filled with fun and meaningful community events and projects in celebration of our 375th Anniversary—thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our local businesses, civic groups and residents. The memories will last a lifetime.
I’m happy to say that Woburn is stronger and more vibrant than ever—considered to be one of the best cities in which to live in the Greater Boston area.
Our ability to execute on smart development and economic growth strategies has attracted a wide range of development and great companies to Woburn—from retail and dining services to fledgling biotech and life sciences companies and global technology and advanced manufacturing firms. Woburn’s economic growth is the envy of surrounding cities and towns.
These businesses will continue to deliver quality job opportunities and help bolster our already strong tax base moving forward. We will continue to deliver the highest quality education and training programs to ensure our children have access to the best and highest paying positions—right here in Woburn.
We have and will continue to invest heavily in public education, public school buildings and the classrooms that serve as incubators of the kind of knowledge our children need to serve as leaders of government and industry in the future. The construction of our fifth, new state-of-the-art elementary school will combine students from the Hurld and Wyman schools, and is set to open this September, on time and under budget.
We celebrate our growing diversity and take pride in being a welcoming community, as demonstrated by a wide range of annual cultural, community and family festivals and celebrations across the City, and 54 different dialects spoken at WMHS.
A dynamic preservation and expansion construction project is under way at the historic Woburn Public Library, that will not only save the iconic building for generations to come, but will also help deliver the kind of educational, cultural and community gathering place that will support efforts to continue revitalization efforts in Woburn Center. We are planning a January 2019 completion and opening.
As a community, we’ve always treasured our city sports and recreation programs, parks and open space, and that is underscored by recent major upgrades at Gonsalves Field and Leland Park, and the acquisition of 72 acres of open space at Whispering Hill.
We also consider it our duty to be responsible global citizens and continue to explore ways to create renewable energy, improve efficiency of municipal buildings, and pursue aggressive goals to reduce our energy consumption.
A number of successful green projects were completed, including the completion of a giant, 3.5-megawatt solar energy field that transformed an essentially unused landfill off of Merrimac Street into a reliable, clean energy source that will result in a solid revenue stream for the City.
In terms of location, our residents and businesses enjoy the benefits of Woburn’s close proximity to Boston and our location at the intersections of Routes 93 and 128. The Anderson Regional Transportation Center is a major hub transit system with train and bus service to places from Boston and Logan Airport to Portland, Maine.
That’s one of the many reasons we see such strong growth in the construction of new homes and condominiums. The average assessed home is now valued at just more than $440,000. Some homes have recently sold for more than a $1,000,000.
Over the next two years, we will focus on maintaining and improving our strong financial position, providing police and fire with the equipment and training required to ensure the safety and protection of all residents, funding and building infrastructure and recreation projects that improve quality of life and reduce annual operating costs, embracing and expanding the use of smart city platforms that allow us to operate more efficiently and transparently, encouraging economic development with thoughtful planning strategies and funding responsible school budgets that foster improvement throughout the entire school system.
Our commitment to conservative budgeting and spending practices, maintaining healthy reserves and the implementation of a number of operational best practices, has helped to strengthen our financial position and retain our Aa1 bond rating—the second highest rating available. Our excellent bond rating is an asset that saves taxpayers substantial money on costly infrastructure projects that require significant borrowing.
We continue to face budgetary challenges with pension funding, OPEB liabilities and health insurance costs. However, I believe that working collaboratively with the City Council and School Committee, we can formulate and approve a responsible budget that is cognizant of these and other financial obligations and limitations.
In addition to our continued commitment to relining aging water lines, addressing I&I in our sewer pipes and investing in green-minded upgrades, there are a number of important infrastructure and planning initiatives that we will undertake over the next two years.
The Montvale Avenue widening project is scheduled to begin construction this April and completed in 2020. We’ve worked hard to secure $4.7 million in construction costs via state and federal funding for the critical project. The results will help alleviate traffic congestion leaving and entering the city on Montvale Ave and Washington Street, reduce vehicle emissions, and reduce fuel consumption. The need for this long-awaited traffic improvement dates back to the 1990s.
Since the closure of the New Boston Street Bridge in the 1970s; travel and access to and from Interstate 93, as well as economic development, have been negatively impacted. We have been working to reopen the bridge, and recently completed the 25-percent design phase and assigned a project manager. To further position the City to receive state and federal funding for the $18 million bridge project, I will be requesting the City Council approve an appropriation for $400,000.00 to allow us to move design plans for the construction of the New Boston Street Bridge to the 100-percent design stage.
We remain committed to improving recreational opportunities for all Woburn residents, and next up is the construction of a new $1 million multipurpose park at the Fleming Field/Clapp school site. Thank you to the members of the City Council for your strong support for this endeavor, which will further improve the quality of life and serve passive and active recreational needs for all Woburn residents.
Our collective efforts to increase parking in Woburn Center will result in the addition of 60 new parking spaces at the intersection of Main and Salem streets. This new parking lot is scheduled to be fully operational by the beginning of May 2018. In addition, and with cooperation from the Woburn Housing Authority, we will construct 100 new parking spaces behind the Woburn Public library by the end of this year.
The 160 new parking spaces will enhance the revitalization and economic development efforts in Woburn Center and will be created at a fraction of the cost of a parking garage.
It is no secret the working conditions at a number of our fire stations are less than ideal. As part of this year’s capital plan, I will seek the approval of an appropriation in the amount of $400,000 for designer’s services to prepare a feasibility study—similar to the process undertaken for the construction of the Hurld/Wyman, to identify the best options to modernize stations in the Woburn Fire Department.
We have made significant progress in our goals to become a “smarter city” using information and communication technologies and data to operate more efficiently and transparently. To further these goals, preparation of the operating budget will undergo a transformation to focus on providing a document that is more than a mere collection of numbers. The budget will be created in a format useful for citizens, elected officials, staff and other interested parties, which allows readers to easily find answers to their specific questions.
Last year, we completed a redesign of the City website to create a more transparent, easy- to-navigate website that provides interactive, one-stop shopping for city information, documents, services, online bill pay, licenses and other services. And I am pleased to announce our efforts have been recognized by the Massachusetts Municipal Association with an award for best municipal website. The award for best website is hardly the end of our efforts to enhance the utility of the website. We will continue to meet with department heads on a monthly basis with the goal of providing more useful content and options to enhance the utility and usability of the website for all users.
When it comes to our roadway improvements, the City is grateful for the $1.2 million annual Chapter 90 funding our state delegation secures on Beacon Hill, however, this money, alone, is not enough to address and repair a number of roads throughout the city.
The City will embark on an aggressive plan to resurface and/or repair 100 roads over the next five years. I will be requesting an additional city appropriation, up to $1 million annually to support the upgrade of streets in need of repair.
The use of a pavement management program will allow the City to determine the best tactics to be employed for each street. The DPW is working on next year’s pavement list with contracts being bid over the winter for spring construction.
Resurfacing contracts will be developed for a full range of street repair tactics, from pavement preservation to full reclamation, if required.
Meanwhile, the City is embarking on three initiatives geared toward proactive planning for the City’s future economic development. All of the studies are being undertaken simultaneously, and together they will create a holistic planning vision that will guide growth and permitting in two of the most promising business districts.
The first and largest initiative in terms of scale and effort is a study of the Commerce Way area, stretching from Mishawum Road to the Anderson/Woburn Regional Transportation Center. The study will be a community-driven planning process that will identify strategies leading to a mixed-use vision for the area around the transit station.
The second planning initiative related to economic development involves the industrial area along New Boston Street. This area is home to dozens of businesses of varying types and the proposed construction of a new bridge over the commuter rail tracks will re-establish connections between this area, the Commerce Way district and the industrial park in Wilmington by 2022.
The third initiative is a study of the Woburn Mall site, which has recently been acquired by a firm that hopes to redevelop the property in the near term for a mix of commercial and residential uses. The City will be working with the state planning council and the site’s new owners to draft a proposed 40R District for consideration that will capitalize on the site’s proximity to underutilized Mishawum Station while complementing the findings of the broader Commerce Way area study mentioned above.
I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished, the investments we’ve made in our community and the foresight in our progressive plans for the future. It’s with that same sense of camaraderie that we’ll continue to carry on our traditions, take pride in our rich history, and, at the same time, embrace the diversity and change that move us forward together in a way we can all make a positive difference.
Thank you for being here. Good night.