This past Monday, January 6th, the City of Everett held its 2014 Inaugural Ceremony. Joined by his wife, Stacy, and his children, Carlo, Caroline, and Alexandra, Mayor DeMaria was sworn in for his fourth term as Mayor. The newly elected single-branch City Council, as well as the returning School Committee, were also sworn in for their respective new terms.
The Mayor, who will now serve for four years, delivered an inspiring Inaugural Address which focused not on his administration’s past accomplishments, but instead on his plans and goals for Everett’s future:
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Clergy, Family, Friends, and invited guests.
Let us welcome our State Senator Sal DiDomenico, our State Representative Wayne Matewsky, Superintendent Frederick Foresteire, as well as the members of our newly elected City Council and School Committee.
And of course a special thank you to my amazing family. To my wife, Stacy, and my children Carlo, Caroline, and Alexandra, thank you for the compassion, care, and support you show me each and every day.
I would like to thank you, the people of Everett for again honoring me with your trust, your hopes and your friendship. To serve you continues to be my highest aspiration.
I come to the office everyday with you and your family as my priority and with the City of Everett’s welfare, future and prosperity in my mind. Your family has become my family. Your street will always be my street. Your neighborhood is my home. I am proud to call you my neighbors and my friends.
I will never be able to fully express what it means for me, a kid from Fremont Avenue, a product of the Everett Public Schools, to stand before all of you and to have the opportunity to serve the City and the people I love so much.
I would like to congratulate the members of our newly formed City Council and School Committee. An inauguration marks a new beginning, and it is with great enthusiasm that I look forward to serving with each of you. We are at the beginning of a new frontier for the City of Everett. We are starting a new form of governance. Embarking on a new administrative code. Entering an era that will be the best and brightest for our city. I am excited to work with this new team, and I hope we can be just that. A team. Working toward the best Everett for residents who deserve no less.
Six years ago, we gathered together for my first inauguration. On that day, I made a promise that we would be a safer City, a more educated City, a City where businesses want to invest and create jobs, and a City that surrounding communities would look to for ideas and inspiration. With the hard work of our public servants, the dedication of our elected officials and the commitment of the citizens of Everett, I have kept that promise; and together we have put Everett on a path to greatness.
But we are not done yet.
I stand before you at the beginning of my fourth term as Mayor, not just to look back on what we have achieved, but also to look forward to what we can still accomplish. We will not be satisfied and rest upon our prior successes, but will be motivated by the vision of where we can go.
Imagine a City teeming with development; with a bustling downtown, full of quality shops and restaurants and a commercial corridor lined with respectable and responsible businesses. Imagine an even cleaner, safer City, with better parks and green spaces; a city known for its safe and friendly neighborhoods, not burdened by blighted properties or illegal apartments.
For the last six years we have endeavored so that this vision is not a figment of our imaginations but a goal within our grasp. We reach to our common future together, and we have laid the strong foundation for future success.
We have established a fiscally responsible Capital Improvement Program that last year alone allowed for 2.8 million dollars in street and sidewalk repairs,1.4 million dollars in water main replacements and the replacement of over 8000 new residential water meters – critical infrastructure for our city.
We have completed the renovation of major recreational areas such as Glendale Park and have invested over a quarter of a million dollars for long overdue updates to tot lots and playgrounds such as Shapiro, Baldwin and Florence Street. We have redesigned and repaired city facilities including the Police Station, Emergency 911, the Parlin School, and are currently reconstructing the Shute Library and the Council Chambers at City Hall.
In the coming years our Capital Improvement initiatives will bring repairs to more streets, more sidewalks, more parks and deliver a continually rising quality of life for our residents.
Any discussion of capital improvement is incomplete without talking about our continuing commitment to the children of Everett and their education. We are all aware of the pressures placed on our educational infrastructure, our teachers and our administrators by our ever-increasing school population. The next years are critical to the future of our schools and ensuring that the high standards we have built upon will continue for the next generation of students. We are commissioning an in-depth study of the current state of our educational resources so we can determine where we are, where we need to go and what steps are necessary. My commitment is clear – every student in Everett who wants to learn will have the tools they need to succeed. We will use every resource at our disposal to keep this promise to the children in our schools today and to the students that will follow tomorrow.
Community value cannot be created with infrastructure alone. With a continued focus on maintaining the health and safety of our neighborhoods and residents, we have seen crime in our City reduce by 28% over the last five years. By utilizing both collaborative efforts with other law enforcement agencies, as well as data-driven analysis and smart policing, the Everett Police Department will continue to increase its visibility and presence on our streets in order to maintain this trend.
In addition, we will work with social service groups in an effort to monitor, counsel, and educate those individuals once involved in criminal activity so that we can effectively combat and deter crime and drug abuse in our city.
To aid in our efforts, we have added twenty new public safety personnel to our police and fire departments. We know that we will never fully rid our City of all crime and all risk, but the addition of these men and women will help make an additional impact by reducing threats to our quality of life through crime and fire. We will ensure they have the training, tools and support to get their jobs done by adding new fire equipment, new police cruisers, state-of-the-art technology and the confidence that their Mayor and their city have their back, on the job and off.
As we continue to protect the value of our current neighborhoods, we also look towards new growth through our planning and development efforts. We have successfully created and acted upon developmental studies and proposals such as our award-winning Lower Broadway Master Plan, our Municipal Harbor Plan, our Commercial Triangle Plan and have led the way to host the largest private, single phase economic development project in Massachusetts history.
Over the past year, Everett has been a pioneer in Massachusetts, leading the way in the siting of a luxury, integrated resort gaming establishment. My team and I have worked diligently and tirelessly to put Everett – and Massachusetts – in the best possible position to host a world class gaming establishment, bringing with it revenue for our city, jobs for our residents and a method to build on our region’s already robust tourism economy.
The impact that Wynn Everett will have on the City of Everett and our almost forty-two thousand residents cannot be overstated. For decades, this city has been saddled with a contaminated, nearly undevelopable site that has long since been forgotten by those that poisoned it. Since my administration took office in 2008, we have worked to develop plans and goals for that site and for that entire area of Everett. With Wynn Everett accelerating our plans for that area, we will see our vision come to fruition before we could have hoped. Through our early efforts, Everett is now ideally suited to develop a new and vibrant economic development district replacing the old, tired and dirty uses that currently burden the area.
Wynn Everett is not about a casino and it is not about gaming. It is about giving back to the people of Everett control over their collective destiny by restoring access to their waterfront, finding themselves and their children jobs, cleaning up a polluted site, creating transportation connections, bringing in revenue for infrastructure and community enhancement projects, creating a new hospitality economy for their city and taking advantage of our close proximity to Boston.
Wynn is not the only part of our plan to move Everett into the future – with the adoption of new zoning regulations and the establishment of a Redevelopment Authority, and the creation of our municipal harbor plan, we now have the opportunity to incorporate appropriate developments that will foster smart, efficient urban renewal throughout our city, not just limited to our commercial areas.
Every day as I walk through our neighborhoods and squares, I am struck by the potential that is just out of our grasp. I see the condition some areas of our city are in, and like you, I too am bothered by the neglected homes and the properties not utilized for their highest and best use. Now, with tools like our redevelopment authority and our expanded Planning and Development Department, we can finally realize that potential, revitalize these neighborhoods, and move our city into the next step of our evolution.
In the coming weeks, I will send to the City Council the names of individuals for the Everett Redevelopment Authority. This essential administrative board will help us attain our long term development goals, so that we can achieve sustainable growth that will generate not only revenue, but value for our city. Innovative businesses, active community hubs, new market-rate housing and public transportation options are what will make Everett an ideal location to live, work and play.
We will continue to attract residential complexes like The Charleston Lofts and The Batch Yard that will compete with the high-end offerings of our neighboring communities of Boston and Cambridge. Current and unique urban businesses like Night Shift Brewery, who just recently re-solidified their commitment by expanding both their business and their operational facility here will continue to look to make Everett their home. And with the expansion of public transportation offerings such as Commuter rail or silver line stops, more young professionals will be drawn to our City.
These are the kind of developments that our City deserves, and these are the kind of developments a fully staffed and professional Planning and Development Office, an effective Redevelopment Authority, and well-thought out urban renewal planning can achieve.
With a bigger and busier City comes the obligation for more organized and efficient operation. Our City is a growing and thriving business. With over $5 million dollars in free cash, a stellar bond rating, healthy financial reserves, and increasing development, we must continue our fiscal responsibility now more than ever. We will continue adhering to our financial reserve policies that help guide our decisions regarding the Capital Improvement Plan, Stabilization Fund, and Free Cash. We will develop a prudent and realistic fiscal year 2015 Budget so that we can once again have the ability to save the taxpayers money by not taxing to the tax levy limit. And we will once again strive for a reduction in both residential and commercial taxes like the 3.4 percent reduction we achieved in fiscal year 2014.
Everyday, my administration seeks to make our finances stronger and to keep Everett in the best fiscal position possible. This year alone, we conducted a series of audits on big corporations that resulted in three million dollars of increased taxes. We collected millions of dollars in past due taxes and foreclosed on a business that had not paid taxes in a decade. Proactive financial maneuvers like these put the City in a good fiscal position while saving taxpayers money.
Everett’s taxpayers and Everett’s residents are my biggest concern. Over the next year we will be implementing a series of constituent oriented improvements and programs so that we can deliver the best services possible to our residents. I will be putting an emphasis on organizing and restructuring city services, increasing constituent services, enhancing the health and wellbeing of every Everett resident and providing a better overall customer experience for those doing business at City Hall and on the internet. We are restructuring our collector’s office to include our parking and water clerks – all of whom will be cross-trained – so that residents can come to City Hall and make payments all in one place. We are tearing down walls – literally and figuratively – to make government work better for the people of Everett.
In the coming year, we will expand our online payment and registration systems to include all bills and fees, as well as applications for city programs at the Recreation and Connolly Centers. We will complete the online access to building permit and inspectional services forms for use by both City Departments and residents. Our goal is simple – use technology to make access to government easier and more efficient in nearly every department.
And for those residents that like to visit City hall, we will still be open two nights a week and open more hours than any of our surrounding cities. This means that our residents have more access to trained and knowledgeable City staff.
With assistance from a grant from the Collins Center at the University of Massachusetts, we will begin using statistical analysis in order to provide the best, most efficient responses to our constituents. We will introduce the use of electronic work orders and have already begun to implement an interactive constituent services software – See Click Fix. In the coming term, we will also look to initiate the development of a citywide 311 system which will make reaching City Hall even easier.
The health and wellness of the people of our city has always been a top priority for me and this administration. In the next four years, we will move forward to ensure the continuing health and wellbeing for every resident, young and old. We will expand the already successful program that teaches people to cook wholesome and healthy foods at home. We will remain committed to offering techniques and methods to increase fitness and mobility. We will create a community Health and Wellness Center in order to give people the tools they need to live healthy lives.
Through creative programming like our Family Fitness initiative and city-wide healthy vending policy, we can, and we will, continue to play a role in enhancing the quality of life for every man, woman and child in Everett. This continuing effort between the Board of Health, Energize Everett, the Recreation Department, and the Everett Public Schools will strengthen our commitment to the health and wellness of all of Everett.
Each year we become a better and more effective government, more responsive to the needs of residents. The progress we have made has been nothing short of amazing, and I am energized for what the next four years will bring.
I have always held closely the belief that Everett is a world-class city. My last six years serving as your Mayor have been the most rewarding of my life. But our future lies ahead of us, not behind us.
We will continue to strive to ensure that Everett’s best days are before us and walk boldly into the future confident that our direction – our destiny – reaffirms the promise of those that came before us. That hard work, bold leadership and the courage to dream of a new day will bring with it a prosperous future.
Stand with me to fight for that future. Stand with me to fight for Everett’s future.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may God bless the City of Everett.
-Carlo DeMaria, Mayor City of Everett