Mayor Brian Arrigo gave his State of the City Address on Monday night in the City Council Chambers before a standing room only audience of citizens and elected officials.
Mayor Arrigo laid out his accomplishments for the past year as well as his plans for the coming years. He stressed the need to continue transparency in city government’s decisions by using technology — and doing what is right, as opposed to doing what will gain political advantage. Both of these measures are to be applauded.
He touched briefly on the water and sewer rates that are ever-increasing. He noted that Revere is under the Department of Environmental Protection’s consent degree that imposes fines and an accelerated work schedule to meet the stated goals. Noting that this important city service was too long neglected, he promised to make sure that Revere will never fall behind again in the maintenance of the system. This commitment has long been needed and we commend Mayor Arrigo for recognizing this fact.
Perhaps the Mayor’s two most important agenda items for the coming year that he stressed in his speech were the possible development of the former Wonderland Dog Track site and the call for citizens of Revere to become more involved in the planning and maintenance of the City.
Though the details of a possible development project at Wonderland were necessarily general in nature because of ongoing negotiations, we feel that Mayor Arrigo is on the right track to recognize that the proper development of this site will be beneficial for Revere in the short term. Building a project on the 34-acre that is similar to the Assembly Square model, where there would be more commercial and retail spaces, and less residential development, would be crucial because there presently is no room in our schools to accept another large influx of new students.
The proper development of this site could be a blueprint for what could happen to Revere’s 42 acres (out of the total of 160 acres) at the Suffolk Downs site that developers are rumored to be eyeing. We might add that whether the present owners of Suffolk Downs are considering selling the site is only in the conjecture stage.
The call for citizens to become more involved in the city on issues such as open space, zoning, and shared visions of developments is the most ambitious part of Mayor Arrigo’s vision for the City of Revere. The Mayor has set the priority of having city services, such as street and sidewalk repairs, be based on need, not on politics. He also has established a code of ethics for city employees and vendors seeking to do business with the City. And he has delivered on running a city budget below projections so that taxpayer dollars are not spent just because they were in a department’s budget.
The Mayor has been able to couple a developer’s investment in a project to access state funds to improve the quality of life for area residents. For example, the city was able to leverage a $3.6 million state grant for sidewalk and street repairs in Beachmont, at no cost to local taxpayers, in conjunction with the development of the former Shaw’s site.
In short, Mayor Arrigo has been fulfilling his promise to operate our city in a manner that is beyond reproach. However, now is the time for a new group of typical, everyday citizens to step forward to volunteer for the city’s good beyond the same, small number of individuals who have raised their hands to volunteer in the past.
There are many challenges facing our city. The new immigration laws that President Donald Trump is seeking to impose will affect some of our residents. The need for more school buildings is another challenge as the construction of new schools that are needed today are years away to relieve the overcrowding in many classrooms. And there a host of other issues that need ideas from all of our residents.
We urge all residents to think about how they can help bring out the best in Revere. We need residents who will step up and understand that the Revere of 20 years in the future will be influenced by all of us today.