By Seth Daniel
Introduced by the soothing sounds of string music, and filled with ideas and dreams, Mayor Carlo DeMaria in his State of the City Address took residents in the standing-room-only Council Chambers on a tour of his vision for the City – which includes swimming in the Malden River, having trolleys on Broadway, analyzing all of the properties in the city to make sure they’re being used for the best things, and even the possibility of a golf course down the Line, a suggestion that came with a wink at the Wynn Boston Harbor team that was in the audience.
Suffering from a cold but pushing through, DeMaria was welcomed by the Council to report on the State of the City and embarked on a 35-minute speech that detailed plans as much as it took those listening on a ride of possibilities.
However, the mayor started off with a nod to the City’s 125th Anniversary, noting that the first mayor of Everett, Alonzo Evans, quoting part of his speech. He said the state of Everett was strong in 1893, and it has returned to that same growth and strength in 2017.
“He stated that the Town of Everett has ‘grown in population and in wealth far beyond the experience of any other town. And that, ‘beginning of a new form of government …marks an epoch in the progress of the community.’ Tonight, in accordance with custom first established by Mayor Evans 125 years ago, it is my duty to report to you, members of the City Council, that the state of our city is strong.”
After listing off several achievements and highlights from 2016 – which included the $5 million payment from Wynn for its Building Permit and the construction of the enVision Hotel – he invited residents to dream about a vision for the City that could be better than most would think.
Ideas that could seem crazy – such as the Wynn casino once was – might be a real possibility in Everett’s future, he said.
“Imagine a tourist landing at Logan, taking a water shuttle to Everett, and a trolley up Broadway to a hotel where the Whittier School is now, and then walking to a restaurant in a re-designed and vibrant Everett Square,” he said.
“Some of the ideas to improve transit in Everett are innovative; others require looking only to our city’s own past,” he continued. “Remember the old trolley system that once ran up and down Broadway? We could re-establish a modernized trolley transit system once again, moving residents and visitors alike through our city easily and efficiently.”
Other things he touched on were the idea of students taking walking paths thorough the restored GE site over a bridge to a new MBTA Orange Line stop, where they could take the train to Northeastern University. Also, he spoke about the Silver Line and being able to utilize the new stop coming to the Chelsea/Everett Line to have a one-stop ride to the Seaport District in Boston.
However, DeMaria also spoke at length about getting residents prepared for the jobs that will come with Wynn in 2019. He said now is the time to prepare Everett people to get those jobs and be qualified for what Wynn needs.
“Since my earliest talks with the Wynn team at the beginning of the casino licensing process, I was promised that these jobs- totaling nearly 4,000 when the resort opens in 2019- would go to Everett residents, and I will hold Mr. Wynn and Bob DeSalvio to that promise,” he said.
“To make sure our residents are ready for these jobs, we must make a collaborative investment in workforce development and training programs,” he said.
He called on Wynn to create a website with job descriptions of what Wynn will need and the qualifications required for those jobs. He called for those job opportunities to be linked on that site to training programs offered at community colleges, vocational schools or other institutions.
“It is smart business sense to ensure that we have a ready workforce in Everett given the competitive nature of recruiting and retaining employees within greater Boston’s hospitality industry, and investment in training is needed now,” he said.
He also focuses in on land-use – which he did last year, but in a different way. He said the time has come for the City and property owners to begin to take a “hard look” at the land and facilities. He said the City is growing and now is the time to determine if the land is being used for its highest and best use.
He said they would start with municipal properties, such as the Police Station, the Old High School and the Wellness Center. He also singled out the Everett Shops building on Lower Broadway, which is owned by the MBTA.
To that end, he indicated that they have hired RedGate to consult with them about looking at the sites along the Malden River – and perhaps beyond.
“Now is the time for a greater vision and exploration of what is possible in our city,” he said. “We all know that the Wynn development is a game changer, the type of transformative opportunity for a place that comes up maybe once in a generation, and we cannot throw away our shot. To truly improve our community, we must take a hard look at our land and facilities and think broadly about potential highest and best use. Simply put, we want better.”
In the end, DeMaria summed it up in saying 2016 was a good year for the City, but that it was just the beginning.
“This past year has been nothing short of amazing, but my greatest excitement is in the knowledge that there is more yet to come,” he said.