The City will begin a new effort to make sure all residents have their voice heard, and Mayor Carlo DeMaria said that will start with the opening of an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to make sure all programs and services are available to everyone in Everett – no matter what language or background they bring to the Hall.
The mayor made the announcement in his Midterm Address as part of an overarching initiative to make City Hall and City government more accessible to every resident of the city.
“In the interests of serving the needs of all of our residents, to give a voice to those not always so easily heard, my Administration is in the process of implementing the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” he said. “This office will work with all City Departments to ensure that all people can access the City’s programs, services, and buildings. They will also work toward addressing any racial and/or gender inequities in the City’s workforce, with the goal educating and encouraging our diverse populations to utilize the many opportunities for growth and advancement that exist in our City.”
The office will also oversee what the mayor said would be a new Immigrant Community and Learning Center. That new Center will be housed in the old Everett High School on Broadway – which the mayor announced alongside news of a community boxing gym there and space for the Everett Girl Scouts to meet.
The move was a nod to a much more diverse electorate that is checking in now at the ballot box, as well as new, active residents moving to Everett from Cambridge and Somerville. Those new faces, which the mayor spoke of several times in his speech, will be looking for services and greater inclusion in a City Hall – like many others – that has been “insider” territory for generations.
That, the mayor said, would all change – and not just in the sense of diversity and inclusion.
Along with the new office, the mayor said he wants to make City Hall into a dynamic and vibrant “heart” of the community.
“It is imperative that City Hall becomes a more dynamic, more accessible place,” he said. “This revitalized physical City Hall will focus on modernization and interior gathering spaces, offering free Wi-Fi and community spaces for our residents, with the goal of becoming the true home and heart of our community.”
DeMaria said that will come with a new design for the layout of offices at City Hall. Instead of walled-off departments, he hopes to have more open-space layouts that will streamline many of the “constituent-facing processes.” That, he said, would lead to better operating efficiency.
A reinvigorated City Hall will also mean not going to City Hall, he said.
He said the administration would be coming to the residents through an Ambassadorship Program, or Mobile City Hall.
“Select members of my Administration will be coming to you, the residents of Everett, to meet you, to hear your concerns, and to offer their assistance in any way that they can,” he said.
But it won’t stop there.
He said they have expanded 3-1-1 to be accessible via phone seven days a week, noting that they logged approximately 50,000 issues with phone calls and in-person visits at 3-1-1 in 2019. That expansion will allow people to call in concerns every day of the week, and not operate on City Hall time, but on their own time.
That idea will also be used for paying bills or submitting applications using a forthcoming new website. The upgrade will also allow residents not to have to come to City Hall for parking or code enforcement hearings – an announcement that drew applause from the crowd in the Chambers.
“Additionally, we will soon allow parking-ticket and code-enforcement hearings to be conducted via FaceTime and Skype, relieving the need for a person to physically come to City Hall to address their issue,” he said resolutely.
•The mayor said they are working with Mt. Vernon Group Architects to address the long-term needs of the school population. That group has determined that the best solution for the City and School Department is to utilize classroom space at the old Everett High.
Working with the School Department, the City will use the old Everett High as a space to expand the vocational program, he said.
“We intend to further expand the vocational programming for our high school, extending hands-on education for the trades, by utilizing existing vocational space in the old high school,” he said. “This expansion will serve as an additional measure to attain my goal of ensuring that every graduate from Everett High School has a clear future path for eventual employment upon graduation.”
•Scratch Kitchens? Mayor DeMaria said he is happy with the work of Whitson’s as the new school food contractor, but he wants them to take it further. He said he has spoken to the company about the idea of implementing scratch kitchens in the schools. That would serve as an educational opportunity, as well as a source of even fresher, healthier food, he said.
•The City has received designs for the long-planned updates to the Connolly Center. Mayor DeMaria said they plan to start construction later this year, with renovations including a bowling alley, exercise room, art room and other features in the basement of the Center.
•The mayor announced that the Mass Gaming Commission (MGC) has allocated $1 million to complete designs to make the Orange Line Station at Assembly Row accessible from the Northern Strand Path. That will unlock the promise of Encore to build the pedestrian and cycle path over the Mystic River.
•On the Malden River front, DeMaria said designs have been completed for a public canoe and kayak launch at RiverGreen Park. He said they expect to start construction on the launch this spring.
“Imagine an Everett where you can ride your bike along a dedicated bicycle path, head toward the waterfront, and hop on a ferry to the Harbor Islands or take a quick trip over to the aquarium by boat,” he said. “Imagine an Everett where crew teams gather in our backyard and skull down the Malden and Mystic Rivers. Imagine an Everett where parents spend the day with their children fishing off a public pier. This is not some far-fetched dream or disillusioned goal. This is a reality and this is our future. Our residents deserve nothing less.”