By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Monday night, the city council approved numerous easements as part of the Safe Routes to School construction project around the Garfield School.
Officials held a public hearing on easements for Avalon Street, Blake Street, Centennial Avenue, Dix Street, Fitzhenry Square, Garfield Avenue, North Shore Road and Waverly Avenue. The hearing notice stated that â€œit was determined that public convenience and necessity requires taking by eminent domainâ€ certain areas.
City Solicitor Paul Capizzi explained that there are eight permanent easements and 44 temporary easements which will expire in three years. The easements will allow contractors to make improvements or to enter private property to make improvements. The total cost for the easements is $36,350. The council already appropriated the funds at a May meeting.
The Safe Routes to School project is intended to improve pedestrian safety and access around the Garfield School. There will be new sidewalks, curbing, crosswalks and drainage improvements.
Mayor Brian Arrigo said he supports the eminent domain takings. They are required by MassDOT to acquire the easements.
â€œThis is a $1.3 million investment in the Garfield School area,â€ Arrigo said. â€œWe will see that area become a lot safer.â€
Discussion of the work around school in the city prompted discussion of the safety around other schools. Questions arose about the safety of walking to any Revere school.
Julie DiMauro, of Revere on the Move, said work on this project began back in 2012, with surveys and studies about studentâ€™s walking and transportation habits.
â€œWe are looking for additional funding to expand the work,â€ DiMauro said.
The project around the Garfield School is expected to begin in the spring of 2018. Work will begin around the school and radiate through the neighborhood. Several planning meetings are expected to be held.
Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna asked if other schools were being considered, especially the Beachmont School which also has to contend with Donnelly Square.
â€œOver 95 percent of the students at the Garfield walks to school,â€ DiMauro said, adding that the Beachmont and the Hill schools could be next. â€œSince 2010 the number of walkers has risen.â€
But the flow of walkers varies from school to school. The Whelan School has a low number of walkers. Not only were the number of walkers noted, but also the number of students who walk alone. DiMauro said the last survey in the school district was done in 2014. There are plans to resurvey the district.
â€œIâ€™ve been working on this with Julie for the past five years,â€ said Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky. â€œItâ€™s amazing to see the group of kids at Costa Park, a 150 walking together like itâ€™s the Pied Piper.â€
Councilor-at-Large George Rotondo said heâ€™d like to see the use of pedestrian bridges from the high school to the NECCO site to Wonderland and at the top of Shirley Avenue.