By Adam Swift
Mayor Brian Arrigo fielded questions and provided updates on a number of city projects during a community conversation with the mayor at the public library last week.
Ward 1 City Councillor Joanne McKenna joined Arrigo on Thursday, Nov. 10, for the discussion, which also included updates on infrastructure projects in the city from Chief of Infrastructure Don Ciaramella.
One of the highlights of the evening was Arrigoâ€™s announcement that as of Monday, Nov. 7, the city owns McMackin Field.
Once seen as a jewel of the city, the Little League field has been overgrown and unused for years.
â€œWe have been in conversation with McMackins since the day I took office, and I know folks know that was an ongoing thing prior to my arrival in the mayorâ€™s office,â€ said Arrigo. â€œBut we got to the point, finally, where they made the decision to grant us access and ownership of the McMackin Field. So now, the eyesore is my and the cityâ€™s problem.â€
Arrigo said he plans on there being a community process centered around the future of the field and space.
â€œIâ€™ve already heard rumblings that oh, they are going to build apartment buildings and they are going to do this and they are going to do that,â€ said Arrigo.
But while there might not be the demand for a purely baseball field, Arrigo said there is the possibility it could serve as a multi-purpose recreational field, and that the residents of the neighborhood will be part of the discussion.
McKenna said she has heard the rumblings, too, about building apartments or condos on the property.
â€œ(The mayorâ€™s) intention from the very beginning was to have this as a sports recreational field,â€ she said. â€œWhether it would be baseball or soccer, I mean, there is a high demand for soccer right now â€¦ but going forward, this is going to cost millions of dollars. We have to get it up to code on ADA regulations, and we probably have to lift it because there are water problems.â€
Arrigo thanked McKenna for her efforts in addressing the issues at McMackin and being persistent in getting the land cleaned up and put to a better use.
Arrigo also talked about the progress being made at the Suffolk Downs development, noting that HYM Development was close to having a tenant in place for the life sciences building that highlights the initial construction phase of the project.
â€œItâ€™s an exciting time that we are going to potentially have overflow from Kendall Square and companies looking at Revere as a whole is exciting,â€ Arrigo said.
The mayor also highlighted the recent approval of funding for the taking of land at the Wonderland property by eminent domain for the new Revere High School.
â€œThis project probably wonâ€™t be done until 2028, roughly, so we are in the first phase, which is really picking a location, having a location and starting to dig into what that location looks like,â€ Arrigo said.
Also on the development docket, he added, is the process of imagining what Squire Road can look like and bring to the city.
Ciaramella spent a good amount of time talking about the future water and sewer infrastructure projects in the city, and showed how many of the existing water pipes in the city are nearly a century old, impacting water flow to residents and safety when it comes to fighting fires.
In the next year alone, Ciaramella stated that the water lines will be replaced on 16 streets with over 11,000 lineal feet of new lines.
He said the current focus is to replace infrastructure and utilities in conjunction with road paving, so that everything is done at once and not in a disjointed manner.
â€œOnce thatâ€™s done on the street, once everything is good underneath our feet, we can put in new sidewalks and we can pave the street and we can leave that street alone for hopefully 20 years without anyone having to put new services in or any disruptions of the pavement,â€ he said.
Kathleen Heiser, president of the Beachmont Improvement Committee, spoke for many in the audience when she raised concerns about traffic issues in Beachmont and the need for greater enforcement.
â€œFor one thing, there is a lack of enforcement especially at the right-turn only sign at the eastbound entrance to Tomasello Drive, itâ€™s a major problem for people,â€ said Heiser. â€œDrivers who do not obey the right-turn only lane create traffic problems for people who do obey, and subsequently need to merge into the right-hand lane.â€