By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria delivered his annual State of the City speech Monday night, focusing on recent initiatives to improve the overall health of Everett residents and children, improvements to parks and other outdoor recreational resources, investment in and improvement of city facilities and the growth of the city’s business sector.
“My vision for Everett is to make us the healthiest city in America and we are on our way,” said the Mayor.
He referred to the administration’s efforts to provide healthy eating options, through community gardens, the farmers market and the new Healthy Meals program, which so far has provided over 2,000 prepared meals to Everett residents.
He also highlighted the creation of the Municipal Health and Wellness Center in the gymnasium at the old Everett High School on Broadway, which features exercises programs and equipment for Everett residents at a cost of just $15 per month for a membership and the city’s partnership with the Malden YMCA, to create safe, positive afterschool programming for the city’s teens.
For the younger kids…we will be piloting an early morning activity program at the Keverian School,” DeMaria announced. The BOKS program includes movement drills, running, relay races, obstacle courses and strength movements to help kids exercise their brains and their bodies.
Mayor DeMaria was also careful to share the credit for the new programming.
“This is not my accomplishment alone,” he said. “the volunteers, agencies, city staff and non-profit partners” have helped bring these programs to life.
DeMaria also announced the city’s plans to invest in seven parks this coming year, with improvements already underway at Florence and Day parks, and construction set to begin at Meadows Park, Sacramone Park and Hughes Common. Additionally work is slated to begin at the Swan Street and Gramstorf parks later this year. The mayor also talked about providing greater access to Everett’s waterfront rivers and streams, by focusing on canoe and kayak launches at Seven Acre Park.
Mayor DeMaria also announced plans to launch a rain barrel program to help urban residents capture rainwater for urban gardens and to help keep storm water runoff from contaminating the rivers and streams that surround the city. Additionally, the city’s public works department will also be implementing strategies and programs to reduce contamination in storm water runoff, such as reducing the amount of asphalt and cement in the city.
The mayor also highlighted his and the City Councils’ independent efforts to continue to work together and with health services organizations and local community based-organizations, (CBOs) such as Everett Overcoming Addiction, TEASA and the Cambridge Health Alliance, to combat the on-going opioid epidemic that has gripped all of Massachusetts, including Everett.
“My administration is committed at every level and an at every department to work to combat this statewide epidemic,” said Mayor DeMaria. “I appreciate the City Council support and leadership in this issue. Together we will continue to do what we can to assist those I our community battling addiction.”
Finally, the Mayor turned his attention to the city’s fiscal health and the health of the business community.
Noting the city’s $5 million surplus, AA bond rating, low interest rates and the city’s award of “Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting,” last year by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States, Mayor DeMaria noted the city is in great shape to continue to invest in making capital improvements and attracting new businesses to the city.”
Perhaps the Mayor’s boldest announcement was his intention to once again seek the support of the city council in developing a plan to preserve and transform the old Everett High School to become the new Everett City Hall.
The mayor noted other recent Capital Improvement successes such as the completion of renovations of the Shite Memorial Library and the Central Fire House and said the Planning and development Department is working on a revitalization plan for Everett Square.
However, it is his bold vision for protecting the old Everett High School and making it the seat of a unified local government that is sure to have people talking.
The mayor also heralded the expansion of new technology in city departments the ability to soon pay all fees and bills online, the creation of an electronic work order system, a new system for applying for permits and licenses and a new 311 system to simplify constituent services and complaints.
The final minutes of DeMaria’s address highlighted the new businesses and employers that have come or are coming to the city, including Wynn Everett, which has to date nearly completed the remediation of the former Monsanto site and removed more than 300 truckloads of contaminated soil from the city.
The mayor also referenced the future construction of the Wynn Resorts hotel, as well as a new hotel planned for Route 16 (Revere Beach Parkway) and the recent announcement of a new Amazon Fresh that will bring 100 new jobs to the city.
The state of the city address is usually used as a platform to announce new initiatives and celebrate successes, and that was the case Monday night, as Mayor DeMaria staked out his vision for the city of Everett going forward.