More Safeguards, Better Options
Dear Editor and fellow residents:
Many people have reached out to me about my recent lone dissenting vote on the Suffolk Downs overlay changes. Yes, in the 9 -1-1 vote, I was the lone vote not to approve the proposed changes for the potential 3,000 residential apartment units for Suffolk Downs.
I voted not to approve the zoning changes and stated “my no vote is not a reflection on the developer, but the City of Revere needs more safeguards and guarantees”. One office building built on speculation does not warrant the 3,000 additional apartment units, not to mention the other 6,000-7,000 that will be on the Boston side of the property bringing the total to 10,000 apartment units just at Suffolk Downs!
We all believe in progress, however, the city’s continued desire to build apartments on every available parcel of land is not the type of progress I think most people want.
Large developments are great- mostly for the developer. We need to ask the questions as to how this rush to increase Revere’s population is good for us. Are we developing just for development sake or for the good of our neighborhoods? How do our existing residents actually benefit from all of these apartments? And, what are the impacts to our schools? What are we doing now to handle our existing student population? Should we continue down a road with a strategy that adds even one more child to our school system? Has there even been a study to reflect what the proposed 3,000 apartments would add into an already overcrowded school system?
And, notwithstanding the tax revenues we’d derive from these apartments, what are the actual costs and impacts to our current residents regarding traffic? What are the impacts to our water and sewer rates and the delivery of those services? How will flooding in neighborhoods be impacted? And, how will thousands of new residents impact our police and fire departments? Again, I have not seen or been presented with any studies or guarantees that mitigation is in place. I have never been a big believer in blind faith.
In closing, I am not, nor have I ever been obstructionist. It is not how I live my life, run my business, or serve our community as a public official. As an example of that, I am thrilled at the prospects of Amazon II coming to Suffolk Downs. The city of Boston in conjunction with the city of Revere and HYM have put together a tremendous application. Amazon would bring jobs, significant commercial tax revenues, and much less strain on city services than apartments would. And, in spite of all of that, we will still need strong mitigation. But with Amazon, the rewards far outweigh the risks. I can’t say that with regards to the vote for 3,000 apartment units just approved last week.
Amazon and Beautification
As many know Revere has a history of snowstorms, floods, and ice storms throughout the decades. Every administration in City Hall responds to municipal services during these storms have been well recorded for many years. Former mayors such as William Reinstein, George V. Colella and Dan Rizzo have passed the test, and were able to deal with the storms during their administrations. Examples going back to the Blizzard of 1978, or to the Revere tornado in 2014, which heavily affected this city.
Now, we have a chance of being the second headquarters on the East Coast for Amazon. Amazon will bring in needed commercial dollars to the City of Revere. In order to have Amazon choose Suffolk Downs, as their second headquarters we need to help the power grid in Revere, by cutting and pruning trees and we need to start beautifying our city.
Recently a young couple just purchased a house on Vane Street that was in need of some repairs, so they pulled a building permit and updated not only the inside but the outside of their house as well. The power lines to their new house were in contact with the trees in front of their house. They called for professional help with the tree, so that they could trim the branches. The young couple knew by doing this they were helping to avoid a power outage during a wind or snow and ice storm.
This is what the City of Revere needs to plan for. We need a tree maintenance program to reduce storm damage and power outages. There should be maintenance program set in place that can care for the cities environment during natural disasters. For instance, a tree should be removed if the tree is uprooting or leaning toward in power lines. When trees are in contact with power lines, or if a tree is near power lines, this tree or branches should be removed. The City of Revere needs to reach out to phone, cable and the electric company with a plan to determine, if trees are too close to power and utility lines.
In addition, it is important for the city to set forth a beautification plan. Abandoned buildings are extremely common in some of our neighborhoods. A burnt or damaged building, that remains without being torn down or repaired, is a sign of a city in distress. If we want to attract Amazon to the City of Revere, we need to make the city look nice. We need to adopt some type of property maintenance code, that lists standards and that these standards should not be violated. If windows or doors are broken in, by all means they have to be replaced. If buildings are burnt down to the ground, then the debris has to be cleaned up. You cannot have a burnt building lying on the ground for months.
We need to show Amazon, that if they invest in the City of Revere, that’s it’s going to be a good investment. If someone invests money to buy real estate in this city and is committed to spending their time, trouble, and money into a project, then the City of Revere needs to do the same.
I believe this will make a difference for this city, for the better.
John R. Correggio
Former School Committee member, Revere City Councilor and Retired Revere Fire Lieutenant