Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s goal to make the river waterfront more accessible to thousands of Everett residents took a big step forward when the City Council voted to accept a grant from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in the amount of $1,335,000 for construction of the Mystic Riverwalk Boardwalk at the council’s meeting last week.
Erin Deveney, DeMaria’s Chief of Staff, appeared before the council to explain the request. Deveney noted that the cost of the project could total more than $4 million, but that other sources of funding are being explored by the administration.
Councilor Stephanie Smith asked if there was a deadline to use these funds.
“There are no funding limitations,” Deveney said.
The proposed boardwalk would span the marshland between the waterfront park at Encore Casino and Gateway Center Park to the Rivergreen Park, providing for a round-trip trail of almost five-acres for residents to use. There also are plans to continue to link the path along the Mystic River into Malden.
In addition, a boathouse for residents is being discussed for the Rivergreen Park.
In other news from the meeting:
The council, with no discussion, unanimously approved a three-year contract for the reappointment of Eric Demas as the Chief Financial Officer and City Auditor. The new contract will run through June, 2025.
Lucy Pineda was re-appointed by a unanimous vote to the Cultural Council for three years, expiring in May, 2025.
Councilor Richard Dellisola, Jr. said he wants the temporary speed bumps to be re-installed on Chestnut and Clarence Sts. to Elm Street to Woodlawn. Dellisola noted that the speeding has started up again in this area and residents are concerned. The matter was referred to the Traffic Commission.
An order by Councilor Stephanie Martins to remove the Chairperson of the Licensing Commission caused considerable debate among the councillors. Martins was seeking to have the chair removed because of what she charged was his inappropriate treatment of minority business owners in the city.
The full text of Martins’s order stated: “That the administration consider removing the chair of the Licensing Commission due to his unfair treatment and targeting of black and brown businesses in Everett.”
However, Smith was vocal in her rebuke of Martins’s order, stating, “This item is inappropriate on the calendar.”
Councilor Michael Marchese noted, “The chair runs a clean ship,” and Dellisola added, “There is no evidence to sustain this charge.”
The councilors voted not to send the matter to the mayor’s office and then unanimously voted to send the matter “back to sponsor,” which effectively kills the motion.
The council delayed taking action on four orders pertaining to the FY 2023 budget, which totals $239,396,734, with a specific eye toward three of the budget line items: the Water and Sewer and Enterprise Fund Budget for $21,825,523; the Everett Community TV Enterprise Fund for $589,400; and the 2023 Capital Improvements Plan for $31,394,800.
Action on all four items was postponed until the next council meeting on June 27 to give residents more time to study the requests.
Martins said she wants a meeting with the police and Animal Control Officer to discuss the issues relating to emergency animal control calls.
“This is an on-going issue,” Martins said. “Someone should show up in an emergency.” The matter was referred to the next council meeting.
Councilors approved a grant for $38,280 for the purpose of providing utility relief to residents during the pandemic. Smith sought to clarify the procedure for residents to apply for a grant. She was told that residents should call 311 and speak to a counselor. Documentation is needed and there will be a cap on the amount that can be paid, as well as the list of utility companies for which residents can submit their bills. The program does not apply to water bills.