Revere 2018 Year in Review

January

Jake the Turkey

Jake the Turkey welcomed in 2018 at one of his favorite intersections –  Broadway, Park and Central. He stopped traffic, he posed for pictures, raised some blood pressure, but mainly he made people of all ages smile.

“Everybody stops and take his picture,” said one woman rushing through the cold.

“We get a lot of calls about Jake,” said Police Chief James Guido. “I might put in a call to the wildlife folks and see about relocating him. I’m just not sure yet. He is certainly well known around the city.”

Some smiled especially New Year’s Day because he was alive in the Arctic temperatures chilling us to the bone and making him bolder than ever. He watched the sun set as he pecked at the tire of a Jeep Wrangler. The driver, clearly not knowing what to do, sat there as horns blared and Jake let the young lady pass.

Some Jake fans were nervous when the last day they had seen Jake was after Christmas but he had safely hunkered down near his Cooledge Road stop. Earlier in the week he began his day hunkered down in the doorway of Volare’s before spending his afternoon strolling in and out of traffic.

Jake was eventually taken to Miles Standish Park and we have not heard from him since.

History Made

History was made when the city council elected two women to the top posts on the council for the first time in Revere’s history. Councillor-at-Large Jessica Gianinno was elected to the position of Council President and Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna was elected to the position of Council Vice President.

“I’m extremely honored for the vote of confidence from my councillors to be council president,” Giannino said. “And I am honored to be working with Joanne McKenna. She was my teacher in school and she has been a great colleague on the council.”

“Jessica and I made history tonight and that is a true honor,” McKenna said. “I’m really happy my colleagues put their trust in me.”

“This is a tremendous time to have two female elected officials that are in power and I’m looking forward to doing a lot of great work with her,” Gianinno said.

“It’s a historic statement for the city of Revere,” said State Sen. Joseph Boncore, who attended the swearing-in ceremony with Mayor Brian Arrigo, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, and State Rep. RoseLee Vincent.

Coastal flooding ravages Revere

  Residents are looking forward to this week’s thaw after getting whacked last Thursday with a Nor’easter (or Bomb Cyclone storm system) that dumped about 18 inches of drifting snow, flooded everything in range and then whammed the area with Arctic temperatures. Sunday morning it was a balmy 1 degree.

Just about everyone who was around for the Blizzard of 1978 said this storm was worse. Compounding the problems with this storm was the astronomical high tide cause by the Full Wolf Moon. In Ward 1 the lower portion of Pearl Avenue, which overlooks the Belle Isle Marsh and Short Beach, was flooded with six feet of water mixed with the snow. The waters started rising around 11:15 a.m. and high tide hit at 12:36. Anything that was not pumped out or dug out just froze.

“We are in decent shape but there is still work to be done,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo on cable television. Despite the frigid temperatures he said crews will continue the clean up. He noted that the clean up of the frozen chunks of ice will take time.

Snow removal from private property is the responsibility of the owner,” Arrigo said. “Please be conscious of your own snow removal. I urge residents to be patient as we deal with the aftermath.”

Arrigo said the city had out nearly 60 pieces of equipment working on clean up for over 20 hours. He commended the police, fire, DPW crews and contractors for their work before and after the storm. Arrigo added there were over 400 calls to the cities new 311 center.

Suffolk Downs Development

 HYM Investments, developers of the former Suffolk Downs site in Beachmont, has been busy making visits to various surrounding communities, sharing its plan whether or not Amazon makes its new HQ2 in Boston on the former Suffolk Downs site.

People are really starting to take notice now that Amazon has narrowed down its picks for it’s east coast headquarters, which includes 161-acre Suffolk Downs site located in East Boston and Revere.

“I’m proud and excited that Boston has made Amazon’s short list for its HQ2. With a highly educated, technology-friendly workforce, Boston is the perfect place for Amazon to put down roots,” said Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.

There were originally 238 cities in the pool and now there are 20.

The Seattle-based giant is seeking to expand with a second headquarters primarily on the east coast.  Boston, including Revere, made the list as did a proposal from Somerville. Other northeast sites include New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington D.C.

“We’re thrilled. It really puts things in perspective,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “I have been saying, even before I became mayor, we have great potential – the beach, public transportation, sites like Suffolk Downs. There’s a lot of potential in the city of Revere

“It’s important for us to put our best foot forward,” Arrigo said. “I’m working with (Boston)Mayor Martin Walsh and HYM to make sure we do that. But, it also has to be noted that we’ve been through this high stakes process before. One of the things that we learned from that was not to put all your eggs in one basket. That’s why we’re moving forward with an overlay district. I’ve said time and time again that this will be a transformational development with or without Amazon.”

Revere was one of two potential casino sites when it lost it’s bid to Wynn Casino in Everett a few years ago. The city is now also looking at setting up a long-range financial plan that could reach well beyond 50 years.

“We have to have a plan whether or not Amazon happens,” Arrigo said. “It’s humbling that we are in a place to chart a course for our community for the next several decades.”

February

Blizzard Anniversary Memories

Even though 40 years have past since the Blizzard of ’78 the memories of what happened are fresh in the minds of those who lived through it.

The blizzard, actually a historic nor’easter, formed on Sunday, Feb. 5, 1978 and broke up on Feb. 7. It covered all the New England states and the New York metro area. It left $520 million in damage with 100 fatalities and 4,500 people injured. Boston received just over 27 inches of snow. Route 128 was a sea of snow buried abandoned cars.

Former Revere Police Chief James Russo was just a Sargent at the time but he distinctly remembers working throughout the storm. He was assigned to patrol the East side of the city, Beachmont. Not only did the snow pile up, but the Atlantic at Short Beach unleashed its fury, knocking homes off foundations and creating waterways from one end to the other on other homes. Russo said Dolphin Avenue was under three to four feet of water. Bucket trucks were needed to reach to the second floor of homes for rescues.

“There was a complex for old people on Dolphin Avenue and their generator went out. People were stranded until the owner of the Surf Club (a strip club) offered to take in the elderly,” Russo said. “He had heat, electricity and bathrooms.”

The main shelter for the city was the field house at the high school. In Beachmont it was at Our Lady of Lourdes church.

On Tapley Avenue a woman gave birth in her home. The ambulance was sent to get her, but it could maneuver through the snow-covered streets, so two volunteers on snowmobile got the woman and her baby and brought them to the ambulance waiting on Broadway.

Revere landmark goes up in flames

 Sozio’s Appliances on Squire Road has been a landmark for decades and on Saturday a five-alarm fire has destroyed the Squire Road establishment.  Chuck Sozio, owner of the store said that he will rebuild.

Firefighters were called to 61 Squire Road at 4:17 p.m. Saturday for a blaze that consumed the showroom full of 1950s vintage furniture and appliances. Several 1950s cars stored there were also damaged.

“I left here to go to the store and minutes later I got a call from my wife saying the place was on fire,” Sozio said, adding that he believes “the fire started in a cardboard box with some papers.”

When firefighters arrived they found heavy smoke and the right side of the building on fire, according to Capt. Tom Todisco.

“It was small (the fire) then it turned into the entire building,” Christian Sozio said. “It doesn’t make sense that it spread so fast.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined, both state fire marshals and local investigators have been on the scene. Jennifer Meith, of the state Department of Fire Services, said damages are between $4-$5 million. Explosions heard during the fire are suspected to have come from appliances inside the store.

Todisco noted that Tuesday investigators were still processing the scene that is heavily filled with all sorts of furniture, appliances and building materials.

Seeking marijuana tax

 Even though the city has banned to the sale of recreational marijuana, a medical marijuana facility is slated to open on Railroad Avenue and at least one councillor wants to make sure the city can charge a three percent tax on any sale.

Councillor Steve Morabito presented a motion at Monday night’s City Council meeting to do just that.

The motion was to accept Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64N, Section 3 as amended by chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017.

The acceptance of the provision imposes a three percent local tax option on marijuana sales. The revenue generated from the local tax option shall be used to fund education on substance abuse and to help with addiction recovery.

“This is a gateway drug,” Morabito said. “I’d like to see the funds go to education and addiction recovery. As a city we should take advantage of this.”

Look back at 2017 real estate

 The Revere real estate market in 2017 was definitely a good one with higher prices for homes than in 2016, but a drop in the number of new listings, making home buying an adventure.

“These are the highest prices we’ve seen in the last eight years,” said Maureen Celata, owner/broker of MCelata Real Estate. “And 2018 is going to be another banner year. Inventory is low now, but everyone is looking to the spring.”

According to figures from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, the median sales prices was $376,250, a 4.9 increase over prices in 2016.

Homes also were also on the market 41 days, a 26.8 percent increase over the 56 days on the market in 2016.

The number of listings in 2017 also dropped to 265, 10.8 percent down from 297 in 2016. The good news for sellers is that the original listing price was matched 100 percent of the time.

The condominium market saw similar trends with the median sales price at $315,000, up 16.7 percent over 2016. Days on the market also dropped from 67 in 2016 to 47 days on the market

Polito awards $50K to Neighborhood Developers Revere

 The Baker-Polito Administration awarded $500,000 to nine projects through the Urban Agenda Grant Program. The Revere arm of the Neighborhood Developers was one group given $50,000 in funding to help establish workforce development services in Revere to support local residents to acquire newly created jobs.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito along with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash came to Revere City Hall to present the check to the Neighborhood Developers.

“Our administration understands the importance of local leadership and its impact on the lives of residents,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The Urban Agenda Grant Program relies on the strong partnerships between local government, non-profits and the business community that are critical to fostering economic success and building stronger neighborhoods in every region in Massachusetts.”

Revere is rebuilding its economic and employment base by utilizing large-scale and high value assets including Suffolk Downs, Wonderland, a soon-to-close NECCO plant, and the MassDevelopment TDI Waterfront District.

Vincent calls again to shut down Wheelabrator

  With both the Wheelabrator – Saugus incinerator behind her along with the unlined landfill Wheelabrator seeks to expand and the Saugus River, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent once again called for the plant to be closed as about 30 people looked on.

The Department of Environmental Protection is considering a proposal from Wheelabrator to uncap 39 acres in two drainage valleys, and filling them in over the next five to 10 years.

“We stand together as an Alliance to call upon Governor Baker and DEP Commissioner Suuberg to deny Wheelabrator’s request to expand this coastal landfill,” said State Representative RoseLee Vincent.  “If this part of the landfill becomes reactivated for the first time in decades, the river and the neighborhoods across from it would be susceptible to alleged contamination in the event of an intense storm.  Major flooding events in Revere and Saugus last month highlighted the urgency of permanently capping this site to protect people and the environment from the risks of an active unlined coastal landfill.”

A new billboard ordinance was passed

 The new ordinance, prohibits the future proliferation of billboards in Revere. Digital signage (not just billboards) will be regulated, and converting a static billboard to a digital billboard will require a special permit, and no new billboards will be allowed.

The city currently has 31 billboards, with six in the Technology Enterprise District, three on the highway and 22 in other districts around the city. He noted that safety and maintenance standards have been put into the ordinance.

Mayor Brian Arrigo gives state of the city speech

 Mayor Brian Arrigo gave a confident, forward looking, state of the city speech address last Thursday night at the Susan B. Anthony Middle School.

Stressing that Revere is a place to invest in, Arrigo also cited the work of the city employees, calling out a math teacher and several firefighters.

Dignitaries who attended included Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, State Sen. Joseph Boncore, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent, and State Rep. Evandro Carvalho and the City Council and the School Committee, as well as city department heads and employees.

“A year ago I promised to professionalize city services, build a 21st century economy and strengthen our neighborhoods,” Arrigo said. “The goals I set forth tonight will become the target for next year’s state of the city address.”

Focusing on numbers, Arrigo stated that the population of Revere is now 53,157 and that over 1,000 building permits were issued last year, and another 210 permits for commercial construction. Altogether, he said, the permits generated nearly $1.5 million.

March

Suffolk Downs developer visits Chamber of Commerce

 Tom O’Brien, principal of the HYM Investment Group, owners of the 161-acre Suffolk Downs site, spoke in Revere once again last Thursday afternoon at the invitation of the Revere Chamber of Commerce.

O’Brien has made several visits to Revere, appearing in front of the City Council and other community groups.

O’Brien anticipates that on the Revere side of the Suffolk Downs project, between 2,500-3,000 residential units will be built, also included will be commercial development. Overall, between East Boston and Revere there are 7,500 residential units planned. The front door of the project will be Beachmont Square, with an innovation center, along with a new Belle Isle Square at the current Suffolk Downs station.

Council approves development zoning

 The City Council has approved the Suffolk Downs Overlay District proposed by HYM Investments, owners and developers of the 161-acre site that is shared with East Boston.

The overlay district covers the 52-acres on the old site on Winthrop Ave. of the racing track facility and sets the stage for the rest of the development.

Monday night HYM head Tom O’Brien sat quietly in the back row as the council took up the issue.

The overlay district is part of phase one of this massive project, and will include a 48,000 square foot innovation center, also known as a co-working place and a hotel. The will be improved Blue Line stations at Beachmont and Suffolk Downs. The first phase includes 900 housing units and retail space. O’Brien has said that the 52-acre section in Revere would 2.9 million square feet of residential building would be balanced off by 2.9 million square feet of commercial/office space. In the end there would be between 2,500-3,000 residential units. He noted that no commercial office development has been proposed in Revere in decades.

Renderings show is that “allowed” heights will vary between 50 feet and up to 200, staggered as developers said like a “wedding cake.” There will be an allowance of 50 feet on the corner of Winthrop Avenue and Washburn Avenue.

NECCO employees may face layoffs

  If NECCO doesn’t find a buyer then upwards of 400 employees could face layoffs. There are roughly 40 employees from this number who reside in Revere.

Last week NECCO’s CEO Mark McGee notified Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo that without a buyer by May 6 for the 171-year old confectionary company, he would have to lay-off employees.

NECCO, the New England Confectionary Co., moved into a building at 135 American Legion Highway in 2003 after being a Cambridge for years. Last year Atlantic Management Corp. purchased the 810,000 sq. foot building and the 55-acre site for $54.5 million. Atlantic Management Corp. owns and manages more than five million square feet of commercial properties in New England.

DeMaria wants digital billboards considered

 Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria came to Revere Monday night to attend a City Council meeting, but he wasn’t there as a public official, he was there as a businessman concerned about billboards.

DeMaria, who owns a Honey Dew Donuts on Squire Road, spoke for the first time on this issue and asked if it was possible to consider digital billboards in his business area. The regulations as proposed only allow digital billboards in the Lee Burbank Highway district.

He suggested perhaps reducing static billboards with digital billboards. Digital billboards have the capacity to have several billboards that change ads every few minutes.

For the past few years a committee has been working on the billboard zoning ordinance with the most recent public hearing being held in February.

 “I have a business for the past 20 years and I have a free-standing sign that’s been there before Santoro’s,” DeMaria said . “So I’m asking if Squire Road could have the opportunity to advertise some businesses. I ask you to consider my business district.”

Air BnB tackled

 With over 300 AirBnB listings in Revere, the city council is going to tackle the job of implementing regulations overseeing the trend of short terms rentals.

The issue of short-term rental housing has been building over the past few years and many cities and towns have implemented local regulations.

Boston is working on new rules covering short-term rentals, but is a few weeks away from adopting them. The Boston City Council has asked for more time to develop the technology to enforce new rules,

Last year, the Winthrop council approved a special permit process for transient housing. Under the ordinance, anyone who wants to rent out a room is required to have a permit. The main concerns in Winthrop were cooking privileges, fire code enforcement, health codes, bathrooms, parking and more.

At last week’s Revere City Council meeting, Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso brought the issue to the table, asking for an ordinance to be created by the mayor, the city solicitor and the building inspector.

“We are allowing another intrusion into our community,” he said, adding that residential parking in the city could end AirBnB.

April

City’s bond rating goes up

  Last week it was announced that the city of Revere has more than $11 million in free cash, and this week Mayor Brian Arrigo and Finance Director George Anzuoni announced that the city’s bond rating has gone up to AA stable from AA-negative.

“On top of the certified free cash, this shows we’re moving in the right direction,” Arrigo said. “It’s great news for the city.”

He noted that one area of the report addressed the city’s retirement system and OPEB (Other Pension Post Employment Benefits) obligation. OPEB is mostly health insurance and life insurance benefits. He said the city is continuing to make an investment in OPEB and reduce the obligation over the next couple of years.

According to Standard and Poors, the rate reflects the city’s improved market value and budgetary performance. It was noted that the city has a strong economy and strong budgetary performance with operating surplus in the general fund and more.

In its summary, Standard and Poors also said Revere beach was once known as the Coney Island of New England.

Firefighters deliver baby

 Friday afternoon, March 30, Revere Fire Dept. Engine 4 was dispatched for a woman in active labor. (Happy Birthday Kiddo!)

When firefighters arrived along with Cataldo Paramedics, they realized the mother’s contractions were coming quickly and needed to decide if they had time to transport her to the hospital.

That’s when the infant made the decision for them.

Lt. Mike Conley, firefighter Jamie Nadworney, firefighter Nick Russo, along with Paramedics Derek Ashbridge, Paula Gageiro and Bonnie Reilly, worked together to deliver an infant baby boy.

Mother and child appeared to be in good health and were transported to the hospital. Great job was done by Revere Fire Department and Cataldo Paramedics. Pictured are firefighter Nick Russo, firefighter Jamie Nadworney and Lt. Mike Conley.

Another new hotel proposed

  A new five-story hotel with 104 rooms is being proposed for 405 American Legion Highway, the current home of the Revere Car Wash.

Engineers and architects were in front of the Site Plan Review Board Tuesday morning to go over the site that abuts Abruzzi Street.

The hotel, owned by IHG, is known for its Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express and for this particular project, the brand name AVID, will be used in Revere. There are 35 AVID hotels in the south and one in Oklahoma.

Clean up resumes at Wonderland

 After months of work at a standstill the owners of Wonderland Dog Track have resumed work, taking away piles of rubble containing asbestos.

In a letter to the council from Chip Tuttle, representing the property owners CWB Lending, regarding an update on the demolition of the site, he outlined how work will proceed.

Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said there was a meeting with the principals of Wonderland and the Department of Environmental Protection two weeks ago.

Much of the work relies on DEP inspections as the project goes along. Tuttle expected a calendar of work to come in the next few days.

DEP has implemented some conditions. CBW plans meetings with abatement and demolition contractors. Movement forward will rely on DEP inspections.

Tuttle stated that they would be continuing work for the next three to six months.

May

NECCO quietly closes

 One man’s attempt at crowd-funding for a beloved candy company may have fallen short of the May 4 deadline date, but the call for help continues. Just under 100 employees will say goodbye to their jobs this week at NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) on Friday.

Up in the air are also the recipes of NECCO wafers, candy hearts, Sky Bars, Squirrel Nuts, Mary Janes, candy dots, and more. In addition, what will happen to the specialized machines, some that date back to the 1940s.

Attempts to reach CEO Mike McGee were unsuccessful.

The building was purchased by Atlantic Management and VMD Companies who teamed up to buy the 50-acre site for $54.6 million last year. The lease for the 830,000-square-foot building expires in August.

City Recognized for Budget Preparation Efficiency

 The City of Revere has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for it’s current budget from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

 “We are grateful for this recognition,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo, “This is a testament of our current financial strength as a community, especially since this announcement closely follows Revere’s historic bond rating upgrade and certification of 11.2 million in “Free Cash”.”

 According to the GFOA, the award reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive the budget award, the City had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communication device.

“The city is in a good position,” said Ward 4 Council

Police Department recommendations made to Council

 The following are recommendations that Ryan Strategies Group identifies as 37 distinct recommendations for the Revere Police Department, they have been grouped into five different categories. The report is public and will be shared with every member of the department. The report is available online at Revere.org and can be found under the city council meeting packet for May 7. The recommendations are as follows:

1. Restructure Organization to Promote Accountable and Reflect Priorities

Move Internal Affairs Unit to the Office of the Chief

Eliminate Executive Officer Position

Select Acting Chief from Captains

Organize the RPD into Four Major Divisions

Amend the Ordinance to allow Four Captains

Modify Patrol Operations Division

Modify Criminal Investigation Division

Create a Professional Standards Division

Create a Community Services Division

Create sworn Community Resources Officer

Create non-sworn Community Engagement Coordinator

2. Restructure Staffing, Shifts and Sectors to Align with Goals

* Reduce Lieutenants and Sergeants by Attrition

* Conduct Annual Review of Specialized Assignments

 Create Impact Shift Pilot Program

 Replace Split Shifts with Straight Shifts

 Increase Foot Patrols

 Change Schedule for Canine Unit

 Change Schedule for traffic Unit

 Reduce the Number of Sectors from Seven to Five

 Discontinue Special Operations Unit and Use Regional Resources

 Transfer Civilian Crossing Guards to School System

3. Invest in Workforce Development

 Update and Refocus Training Plan

 Establish a Leadership Development Steering Committee

 Conduct Mentorship/Goal-Setting Meetings

 Implement Line Staff Uniform and Appearance Inspections

 Return to Traditional Municipal Policy Uniform

 Establish an Early Warning System for Officers at Risk

4. Take Proactive Steps to Engage the Community

 Create a Community Engagement Plan

 Establish/Formalize Community Partnerships

  Create Community Action Teams

Change of the guard at the DPW

The City Council thanked one long-time city employee and welcomed another in to a new role as the Superintendent of Public Works.

Paul Argenzio who has worked in the department for 38 years , rises to superintendent from general foreman.

Argenzio replaces Don Goodwin, 62, who said there is a reorganization in the department but he would not go in to details. He has worked in the department for the past 20 years. He said most of the work done during his time was on infrastructure, water, drainage and dealing with flooding. He’s looking forward to see the new DPW building come to fruition.

June

Suffolk Downs Development Advisory Group Holds First Meeting

 Mayor Brian Arrigo welcomed the Suffolk Downs Development Advisory Group to its inaugural meeting Wednesday night, commencing an important phase as the project developers craft the Planned Unit Development proposal that will be submitted to the City Council later this year.

 With the vast Suffolk Downs racetrack visible through the windowed wall of the former Suffolk Downs Topsider Lounge as a backdrop, Mayor Arrigo began his remarks to the group “Welcome to history.”

 “It’s not hyperbole,” he said. “The ideas and opinions that will be shared in this room over the next three months will contribute to the most significant real estate development in the City’s history.” 

He said to the group, “Let’s get ready to go from horse barns to history.”

 The Development Advisory Group was created by Mayor Arrigo to gather community input and feedback before the Suffolk Downs construction gets underway.   The Group, though not mandated under the Suffolk Downs Overlay District legislation approved by the City Council of this year, will meet six times through August and address various phases of the Suffolk Downs project at each meeting. 

Getting serious about rats

 Mayor Brian Arrigo announced that he is undertaking taking aggressive steps to reduce the number of rats that since many people are complaining about. Kicking the battle off is the mayor’s budget request for FY19 that includes $150,000 for pest/rodent management.

Part of fund will go toward a uniform trash barrel program and an integrated pest management program. (See Mayor’s OpEd on page 4.)

“Longstanding efforts to combat rodent infestation, overseen by the City’s Inspectional Services Department have existed,” Arrigo said. “The Department’s resources and manpower, however, have been insufficient to implement a large-scale approach to rodent control.”

He added beginning within a week several contractors will fan out to designated areas of the City and begin their assessment of the city’s rat problem. This is a mandatory first step to a comprehensive plan.

Mayor decreases water and sewer rate

Mayor Brian Arrigo presented a check to the residential water and sewer ratepayers for $2 million during Monday night’s City Council meeting.  He then announced the new rates for the next fiscal year.

“This represents a 3.09 percent decrease in rate-payers bills and is the city’s first water rate reduction in 19 years,” Arrigo said.

For fiscal year 2019, which begins on July 1, the residential water and sewer rate will be $15.99 per 100 cubic feet of use, down from $16.50 in FY18, and commercial payers will pay $25.99 per 100 cubic foot, up from $25.60 in FY 18.

Developers tweak building plans

RBP Hotel, LLC, developers of the former Shaw site on the Revere Beach Parkway, came before the City Council Monday night asking for an increase for its hotel by 20 rooms and a decrease in the number of “extended-stay” units by eight.

Christine Thomas, a partner in the development, said they would like 132 rooms total.

“As a group we focus on transit-oriented development,” she said, predicting a low use of personal transportation due to the bus a Blue Line at the doorstep.

Back in April, Thomas came before the council with a proposition for 160 rooms total and was knocked down.

This time the council seemed more willing. but the request was sent to the Zoning Subcommittee before it is voted on by the council next month.

Two years ago when Gate Residential/Transdel/RBP Hotel purchased 205 Revere Beach Parkway, the City Council voted 8-3 to grant a special permit for the project that was partially apartments and partially an extended stay hotel.

Now the development is dual branded with 72 Staybridge Suites and 80 Holiday Inn Express units.

Another hotel proposed for Revere

 Developers are eyeing the construction of another hotel in Revere, bringing the total to nine projects from Squire Road to the beach.

Ning Lu, the architect working with JBX Developers (the Lixi Group) came before the Site Plan Review Board last week proposing another hotel be built by her group at 58 Revere Beach Boulevard. The 12-story, 156-room hotel project will require a special permit from the city council to proceed.

There have been hundreds of proposed hotel rooms for Revere including the Marriott Springhill Suites at Waterfront Square by the Lixi Group.

Northshore Road land sells for double in a year

In 2017, the 31,000 square foot former Rent-a-Tool building and surrounding 9.4 acres of land around it, was sold for $6.25 million to Alterra, of Philadelphia, a property development company.

The Massachusetts-based, Calare Properties acquired the property on June 7 of this year for $12.4 million.

The 9.4-acre parcel located on Route 1A in Revere a short drive to Revere Beach, Logan Airport, and Downtown Boston. A two-story, 31,950 square foot office and warehouse building built in 1920 stands on the parcel. About 25 percent of the building is comprised of office space, with the remainder of the building comprised of warehouse space with 23-foot-high ceilings and 10 overhead doors. 

July

City hall roof

It’s been four years since the tornado hit Revere on July 28, 2014 yet damage to the City Hall roof still has to be done according to George Anzuoni, head of the tornado damage committee that still meets on a regular basis.

In a meeting the committee discussed roof repairs for city hall and other damage. The total cost of the roof repair is $1.246 million, $280,000 under budget. Work to the roof by Gibson Roofing, will also include repairs to the cupola for $42,000 and cornice costing less than what was estimated. The clock on the cupola is also included in the work. The roof will be covered with an asphalt fiberglass shingle with a lifetime warranty.

Melnik tenured

Following in the foot-steps of other city clerks before her, City Clerk Ashley Melnik has been granted tenure by Gov. Charlie Baker on July 18 when he signed a special act approved by the House of Representatives and by the State Senate.

Melnik, 35, has been the city clerk since 2010, also serving as a justice of the peace and notary public. She graduated from Revere High School in 2000 and from Salem State University in 2005.

August

NECCO shuts doors

New England’s oldest continually operating candy company closed its doors for good. At one-time NECCO had 400 employees, but was down to 200 at closure. Employees had expected closure but not until November.

State Denies Former Chief’s Appeal for Civil Service Reinstatement

The Massachusetts Human Resources Division last week dismissed former police chief Joseph Cafarelli’s appeal for reinstatement to his previous Civil Service position as a Lieutenant on Revere’s police force and for approval of a “past leave of absence.

Cafarelli, who became acting chief in February 2012 and full chief in July 2012, had filed an appeal with the state human resources division after Mayor Brian Arrigo opted not to renew his contract in June 2017 as chief at the end of a five-year term.

NECCO Job Fair

Former employees of NECCO and other companies had a chance last Wednesday to visit a job fair held at the Rumney Marsh Academy that was organized by Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo.

Businesses like Kettle Cuisine, Kelly’s Roast Beef, TSA and Hood accepted applications from the unemployed workers with most offering jobs paying around $14 an hour, similar to what NECCO paid its employees.

Nora McCarthy, vice president of human resources, for Kettle Cuisine, offered openings on all shifts at its Lynn facility. They have over 100 employees and are stocking up on help for the soup season.

The mayor’s office heard from over 80 employers about the job fair. Openings for machine operators, food production, mechanics,

machinists, shipping/receiving, sanitation, warehouse workers, packaging workers, transportation, production workers, general maintenance, bookkeeping, manufacturing, supervisors/general managers, were represented at the job fair.

New England’s oldest continually operating candy company at one-time had 400 employees and was down to 200 at closure. Employees had expected closure but not until November.

September

Bianchi’s and Renzo wedding

The end of the Labor Day weekend Bianchi’s sold its last slice of thin crust pizza at 322 Revere Beach Boulevard.

But don’t shed a tear, Bianchi’s is moving to 381 Revere Beach Boulevard inside Renzo.

It’s no secret that Jack Gatemen, owner of Renzo, which has a wood fire pizza oven, is a frequent customer of Bianchi’s.

“What can I say, they make a better pizza,” Gateman said.

Bianchi’s was opened in the early 1950s and has been the go to point for pizza on Revere Beach since.

Resident killed by shark

Friends and family are mourning the loss of Revere resident Arthur Medici, 26, after he was bitten by a shark in Wellfleet and died on Saturday.

The attack happened off Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet around 12:15 p.m. Medici, of Beachland Avenue, was an active boogie-boarder and was on his board with his future brother-in-law Isaac Rocha nearby, riding the waves about 30 feet off shore when a great white shark came from behind and bit him. He was wearing a wetsuit and swim fins. Medici’s femoral arteries were severed when the back of his legs and the calves were bit and he bleed to death. His friend and another bystander and park ranger pulled him on to the beach where CPR was performed.

RCN comes to town

Residents have been noticing RCN trucks on local streets and special mailers in the mail from RCN.  Soon they’ll be able to choose their cable service from Comcast or RCN.

RCN obtained its license from the city in the past year and since then RCN has been establishing its fiber optic network.

Jeff Carlson, senior vice president and general manager for RCN, said that this is a $10 million investment in the Revere network. RCN expects to have 11,000 homes active by the end of this year, roughly half the city. RCN is working from the south side of Revere, extending its network from Everett.

Whale comes ashore

It was an interesting week at America’s first public beach, first, millions of clams washed onshore and  a badly decomposing juvenile humpback whale washed up on the beach near the state police barracks.

A curious crowd gathered to inspect the 25-foot male juvenile humpback whale. Some covered their mouth and nose to fend of the smell. It was so badly decomposed that a vertebrae was exposed. Another whale also washed up on Little Brewster Island in the outer Harbor on Friday afternoon.

The juvenile whale on Revere Beach had been floating around the waters for a while, first floating off Gloucester, then washing up on rocks in Cohasset. Officials there decided to pull the whale out into the harbor and it ended up landing on Revere Beach.

Mayor Arrigo Cracks Down on Illegal Activity in Water and Sewer Department

 As part of Mayor Brian Arrigo’s ongoing efforts to review the operation of all city departments that handle people’s money, a former employee of the Water and Sewer Department has been charged for allegedly pocketing cash for outdoor water meters. 

There is a long-standing program in Revere that allows residents to purchase a separate meter designed to measure the water used outdoors to receive a credit against the sewer rates for water usage typically not directed through the City’s sewer system.  The newly appointed Superintendent of the Water & Sewer Department discovered that some of these outdoor water meters had been distributed without any record of distribution or payment. The Mayor’s Office initiated an internal review into the unaccounted for water meters.

Franklin Street fire

Fire officials don’t believe the five-alarm fire at 10 Franklin St. on Sept. 16 was suspicious, but they also do not yet have a cause. “The fire seemed to be in the top right of the building between the ceiling and the roof,” Fire Chief Chris Bright said, adding that he believes the damages could be around $5 million.

Capt. Tom Todisco said when firefighters responded to the initial alarm that no fire was showing, just a light haze of smoke at the ceiling on the fourth floor.

The blaze displaced 100 residents. City officials and the Red Cross, as well as CAPIC have helped find housing for the victims.

October

ConCom chair calls for cease and desist any beach burials

When the clams and the whale washed up on shores of Revere Beach a few weeks ago, Interim Conservation Chairman Nick Moulaison Sr. gave the okay for everything to be buried on the beach in deep holes.

Now since a dead seal washed up on shore, he’s called for a cease and desist on any beach burials.

“How much more are we going to bury,” Moulaison asked. “We need a better game plan.

Troy Wall, DCR spokesman said prior to burying any sea life at Revere Beach Reservation, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) seeks recommendations and guidance from the City of Revere’s Conservation Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Because the 30 foot whale carcass was in a state of advanced decomposition, towing it back out to sea was not a realistic option. Thus, the decision was made to bury the whale 10-plus feet below the beach surface, above the intertidal zone, in accordance with recommendations from NOAA, MassDEP, and the Revere Conservation Commission. It was buried just north of the Massachusetts State Police barracks, following permission from the local Conservation Commission to conduct the operation.

Sargent Street Mural unveiled

The unveiling of the Sargent Street mural brought back a lot of memories for those who grew up in West Revere and for those who remember Revere’s rich agricultural roots.

That’s exactly what artist Deb Barrett-Cutulle was reaching for when she planned the mural with the help of the Revere Society for Cultural & Historic Preservation. The project also had the support of Mayor Brian Arrigo and Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch.

Barrett-Cutulle is locally known as one of the sand sculpture artists at the Revere Beach competition. Elle Baker, project planner with the city’s Office of Strategic Planning and Economic Development, and Revere Community Liaison Priscilla Nickerson had tried three times to get the project off the ground and finally did with Barrett-Cutulle.

“They wanted an old-style look to it with a historic piece of what used to be here in West Revere,” Barrett-Cutulle said, of the mural hung the length of the Sargent Street underpass to Route 1.

Suffolk Downs developers have the traffic talk

The HYM Investment Group will be making an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of the 151-acre Suffolk Downs site and $50 million will be going toward investment for traffic flow on a local and regional level.

For expertise in the area of traffic and transportation, John Kennedy, Sr. principal with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) Inc. and Doug Manz, HYM partner and director of development to explain the traffic study that they are currently working on.

November

Amazon rumors don’t favor Suffolk Downs

Rumors persist to fly around about where Amazon will land its HQ2, and according to the Washington Post, it’s not going to be in the Boston area or part of the proposed Suffolk Down development in East Boston and Revere.

According to the New York Times this week, Amazon may split its HQ2 site with offices in Queens NY and Crystal City, Va. for its east coast headquarters. Crystal City is an urban neighborhood in the southeastern corner of Arlington County, Virginia, south of downtown Washington, D.C. Due to its extensive integration of office buildings and residential high-rise buildings using underground corridors, travel between stores, offices, and residences is possible without going above ground; thus, a large part of Crystal City is an underground city. It has 16,000 residents and 60,000 people who work there every day. Amazon picks New York, Arlington, VA as sites for its HQ2

Bus driver fired

The bus driver who left special needs student alone on a school bus in Revere for four hours has been fired. The bus monitor, an employee of Revere Public Schools (RPS) employee, who was working that day has been placed on administrative leave.

The Department of Children and Families and the Revere Police are both investigating the incident.  

The incident happened after the bus driver, who worked for VSP Livery Services and is contracted by RPS, and the monitor completed their morning pick up rounds. They told investigators that after they were done with their morning route they did not notice the boy because he was asleep in his booster seat.

The boy is autistic and nonverbal.

The driver parked the bus for four hours and when he returned later in the day to begin his afternoon pick up and drop offs he noticed the boy and called RPS’s Transportation Department and drove to Revere High School at which point 911 was called.

Luckily the boy was unharmed.

Tax Rate set

Revere Board of Assessor Chairman Dana Brangiforte and Assessors Mathew McGrath and John Verrengia appeared at a City Council for the purpose of submitting the city’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 tax rate.

The assessors announced the residential tax rate at $12.11 per $1,000 of value and the commercial rate at $23.68 per $1,000. Last year’s rates were $12.96 for residential and $25.36 for commercial so the new rates represent an approximate decrease of 6.5 percent. The rate has been dropping in recent years while Revere property values have been going up.

Suffolk Downs project finalized

The Revere City Council voted by a 10-1 margin to give the go-ahead to the proposed 161-acre development project at Suffolk Downs, with 40 percent to be developed on the Revere portion and 60 percent on the East Boston portion of the land.

Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo cast the lone ‘no’ vote at Monday’s Council meeting.

The vote follows a professional, 18-month process during which Tom O’Brien, founding partner and managing director for The HYM Investment Group, and HYM representatives held numerous public meetings with Revere officials and community groups.

O’Brien said he was pleased with the Council’s positive vote for the redevelopment project that includes condominiums and apartments, retail and office spaces, a hotel, an Innovation Center, bicycle trails, and recreational areas.

December

Mayor Arrigo Launches Next Stop, Revere

 Mayor Brian Arrigo announced Monday the launch of Next Stop, Revere — the city’s first comprehensive master plan in more than four decades. The master plan will set a course for the future of Revere, a city that offers unique opportunities for transit-oriented development, amenities for visitors and residents alike, and the ability to accommodate forward-looking industries to grow with the city.

 The City will team with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for a six-month long community engagement process to inform policy, which will incorporate the community’s vision for maintaining and improving quality of life, and will span topics including housing, economic development, natural resources and open space, as well as transportation, climate resiliency, land use and zoning. The plan will identify a set of actions for the City to take over the next 10-20 years.

 A kick-off event will take place on January 15 from 6-8PM at the Rumney Marsh Academy.

Eastern County ditch to be dredged

A notice of intent has been approved by the city’s Conservation Commission to dredge the Eastern County ditch (once known as Diamond Creek), which runs from the old Wonderland property to Revere Street and in the Northshore Road area.

During last Wednesday’s meeting of the Conservation Commission, Eurovest Development that owns Waterfront Square and has given mitigation money to clean the ditch was represented by Joe Peznola of Hancock Associates. Bob O’Brien, head of the city’s Economic Development Department said there is no final figure yet, but he expects it to come in under $1 million.

Dredging is expected to begin soon and must be completed by Jan. 15 according to the Army Corps. of Engineers.

“Revere’s Angels”

Garfield student Adrianna Mejia-Rivera, 5, was struck and killed on the scene as she and her family tried to cross Winthrop Ave. near the opening of Suffolk Downs.

Also injured were two adult females, and another child were also hit by an impaired driver whose car jumped the curb. A two-month old baby Natasha died three days later.

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