By Melissa Moore-Randall
With an agenda to make a positive difference in Ward 6 and the City of Revere, freshman City Councillor Richard Serino knew he had an incredible legacy and near impossible shoes to fill. Those shoes were of former City Councillor Charlie Patch who served on the Revere City Council for 12 years.
The day he was sworn in, Serino’s father gave him a piece of advice that he says he will always carry with him, “As Revere’s Ward 6 Councillor, you will do good work, but you can’t save the world.” However, at the end of the day, like Councillor Patch, Serino knows that when he makes any given decision, in his heart of hearts, he is taking that position or action because he feels it to be the correct course of action for Ward 6 and the City of Revere.
Serino, 28, is a lifelong, fourth generation, West Revere resident. He attended the A.C. Whelan Elementary School, played baseball at St. Mary’s, and was a member of Revere Cub Scout Pack 15 at St. Mary’s and then Boy Scout Troop 15 at St. Anthony’s. After graduating from Malden Catholic High School in 2010, Serino attended Saint Anselm College where he received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Politics.
Upon graduating from St. Anselm’s College in 2014, Serino was hired as a legislative aide to State Representative RoseLee Vincent. As the only staffer for Vincent, his wide spectrum of responsibilities include tracking the legislative and budgetary priorities to researching legislative issues in order to brief Vincent on matters pending before the House to help constituents navigate the vast web of state government.
As a City Councillor representing Ward 6, Serino said his main role is to represent the views of residents in making legislative decisions and policies that guide the direction of the city. “It is our job and duty to the residents to review and enact the city budget, to craft and revise municipal ordinances, and to act and check on the Mayor to hold the Chief Executive and his administration accountable to the residents. However, in practice, the bulk of the work of a city councillor is constituent-service based. It is answering the phone or emails, responding to residents’ needs and helping them to navigate various municipal departments in order to access city services.”
Serino’s biggest concern as a Ward Councillor is overdevelopment. Ward 6, which includes West Revere and North Revere, has traditionally been an area of the city with mostly one- and two-family homes. Linden Square and Squire Road are the primary commercial areas for the neighborhood. Serino said, “We are not like the beach in that we have not had, and do not have an appetite for, large-scale residential buildings. The people of Ward 6 have overwhelmingly expressed to me, on their doorsteps last year and in conversations since becoming their Ward Councillor, that they want to see commercial development, not residential, and especially not rental apartments. I can advocate for certain things, but cannot demand what redevelopment looks like. It appears that zoning ordinances tend to work in favor of property owners who seek to develop their parcels into residential units.”
During the Covid quarantine, Serino enacted The Revere Reads program. “Throughout the spring, after school shut down and children did not have access to books due to the Library and neighborhood Little Libraries being closed due to Covid, I began a virtual reading program called #RevereReads. Over the course of a month, over forty stories were shared on social media and on RevereTV, with participation from many people in our community, including famed local author Roland Merullo.”
He also led efforts, in coordination with Director of Veterans’ Affairs Marc Silvestri and the RHS JROTC, to place 1,000 American flags on the lawn of the American Legion Building to commemorate and honor the lives of Revere veterans who passed away and the men and women from Revere who were KIA throughout our nation’s wars. “Knowing that this would be a unique Memorial Day, without the traditional ceremony, I wanted to make sure the day was still observed and as perfect as it could be,” said Serino.
Serino is proud of a motion he sponsored that was adopted which allows the City of Revere to designate a spot on municipal tax bills whereby taxpayers of the City may voluntarily check off and donate to a municipal account designated for Revere’s veterans. The purpose of the Revere Veterans’ Fund will be to provide support for Revere veterans and their dependents in need of immediate assistance with food, transportation, heat and emergency lodging. This remains in the works, but will be coming to fruition soon.
According to Serino there is nothing more satisfying or rewarding than when you can make a positive difference in someone’s life. Sadly, because of resources or the nature of a request, he sometimes finds that he is not able to fulfill a resident’s request, but the reality is sometimes things take time or they just aren’t feasible. “However, be it something as mundane as getting a speed sign installed or a street light dimmed or replaced to something as meaningful as working with the police department to step up patrols in an area to protect a street, when I get the call that a matter was resolved, that someone feels safer, or that their street looks better as a result of an action I played a small part in I am happy.”
Serino said being a freshman Councillor, in a year with a pandemic in which Revere is one of the most impacted cities in the entire state, has definitely hindered some of the plans he had when he took office in January. However, he feels that he has adapted well. Prior to the pandemic, he was moderating the North Revere Neighborhood Group, which held monthly meetings. When the pandemic is over, and it is truly safe to hold in person meetings, he looks forward to resuming the North Revere Neighborhood Group and beginning again the West Revere Neighborhood Group. These groups are great forums for residents to come and discuss issues happening on their streets, as well as to plan and execute neighborhood projects.
One big change coming to Ward 6 will be the replacement of the decades-old and highly popular movie theater with a new Amazon distribution center. Serino said, “The Amazon project is going to be a game-changer for our area. Of course, I am sad to see the movie theater close and recognize that we are losing an entertainment space/destination for families and people of all ages. However, the reality is that Showcase Cinemas would have been closing the Revere location soon because of COVID and ever-increasing streaming services. The movie theater site is zoned as an “industrial park,” and the property owner is placing the Amazon distribution center as a matter of right,” said Serino.
Serino also added, “Although I would have liked to have seen something of an entertainment venue, I am pleased that the site will remain commercial and that the owners did not propose any residential component. The redevelopment of the movie theater site is going to bring job opportunities for Revere residents, revenue from increased property taxes and new excise taxes paid to the City.”
One of the main concerns Serino have heard so far about the prospect of Amazon coming to Ward 6 is increased traffic. However, preliminary traffic studies are showing that the Amazon site will actually have less of an impact on traffic than even the current movie theater. “Think about it! When a popular movie would let out on a weekend, you would get approximately 100 cars exiting at once. Amazon staggers the exit and entrance times of their delivery vans to the site, as well as conducts its deliveries outside commuter peaks. Nonetheless, I have already begun advocating that Amazon be upfront in addressing concerns about traffic impacts, particularly to Copeland Circle and Squire Road, “ added Serino.
He is also cognizant that the Showcase Cinema property is, in a sense, the gateway to Revere. “It is the first thing people see entering our city when they get off Route 1 from points north. I do not want people looking down from the off ramp to just see a vast parking lot with vans. I am elated that from preliminaries, it appears that Northbridge Partners, which owns the property, and Amazon are looking to add greenery to the site.”
When asked about his political aspirations beyond the City Council, Serino said, “In life, you never say never about anything. But honestly, I have no plans at this time other than continuing to do my job by serving the people of Ward 6 in my role as their Ward Councillor. As we look past the craziness of the 2020 elections, Team Serino is already gearing up for re-election to represent Ward 6 in 2021’s municipal election. I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention the incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know during my tenure so far. From the residents of Ward 6 to the amazing city staff who dedicate their professional life to making Revere a better place to live to my colleagues on the Council, Revere really is filled with wonderful people.”