The Time is Now: Everett’s Capital Improvement Plan

August 22, 2012
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With outlined improvements for Glendale Park finalized, residents have been waiting for an official appropriation of costs for the project. At this week’s Everett Common Council meeting, Councilors voted unanimously to use $7,015,767 towards capital projects, with $2,100,000 specified for Glendale Park.

Everett High School students and teachers attended the meeting solely for this agenda item, and left in high spirits when it was concluded that reconstruction for the recreational space would soon be underway.

Matthew Hawk, an Everett High School baseball player, thanked the council for their consideration to appropriate funds to the restoration of Glendale Park. “If there’s anything you guys can do…I just want to have a good year,” Hawk said. His baseball coaches also attended the meeting to speak on the issue, drawing attention to the field’s improper draining. Three home games were played away because of the field not being drained properly, and with the proposal Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. set forth, a newly designed natural turf baseball field would be created, and two softball fields with engineered root-zone material, all with subsurface drainage layers and an updated irrigation system.

Also included in the design is new lighting, both for the fields and the perimeter around the park where pedestrians will be able to walk around a new track. Aside from league sports teams, the park overhaul will hopefully be a motivational catalyst for sedentary Everett residents to get active.

Jodi Lava, a Health and Wellness Coordinator for Everett Public Schools made a case for the park using the argument that most of Everett’s youth is severely overweight, and the remodeled Glendale Park would help push children off of the couch and onto the grass. “We use the park for physical education, sports, extracurricular activities…it’s such a great sense of community. Right now there’s a huge childhood obesity problem going on…so any free space to work out is a great thing.”

“We need to start taking care of our community…little by little we can do it. You need to keep this community in movement, get kids off their Gameboys,” said Councilor Sergio Cornelio who attributed the success of his slim physique to Everett’s wellness options at Glendale Park. “It’s very vital to our community in every single way, so I’m going to rise in favor of this,” he added.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. and his financial advisors devised a thorough capital improvement plan, detailing a transparent trail of where the money would be going so Everett residents can feel at ease knowing they won’t be responsible if the budget increases.

“We just want to make sure you know we’re not raising tax on residents,” assured DeMaria. “The goal is to do a park. We’re just spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on maintenance of old infrastructure…We keep repairing time and time again,” he said of Glendale Park, explaining that it makes more sense to build new features. “Improvements are new lighting, new walkways, new fencing around the perimeter,” he highlighted.

Financial consultant Tony Rossetti also spoke out on the budget for the four-month Glendale Park project and other infrastructure projects, to explain the math in a conceptual way in which residents would understand. “How we began this process was by asking, ‘What can the city afford on an annual basis?” Textbooks say five percent is a good number to be at, so we’re striving to stay within five percent (right now the city is at 4.4 percent)…I said okay, let’s strive not to increase taxes at all, and see if First Southwest can get all this capital done and still stay at 4.4 percent,” he said.

Right now, Everett holds a AA3 bond rating, which Rossetti approved as being very good in this area. “The key is to maintain that level,” he said, adding that, “school debt is being reduced at approximately $100,000 a year until 2017. It will be completely off the books by 2021.” Rossetti also said that the city of Everett could be in debt up to $35 million in the next six years, and taxes still would not be increased.

Councilor Leo McKinnon was pleased with Rossetti’s explanation. “People can understand where we’re going with this now. I know taxes is a sensitive area, the goal is not to let taxes go up,” he said.

Along with the redesign of Glendale Park, the Capital Improvement Plan also included other infrastructure projects such as road and sidewalk reconstruction. The streets that are currently proposed per the pavement management plan are Ashland Street, Bradford Place, Emery Place, Garland Place, Garvey Street, Hancock Terrace, Highland Court, Locust Park, Robin Street, Russell Place, Silver Road, Young Terrace, B Street, Beacon Street, Bettinson Court, Bolster Street, Clark Street, Clifton Ave, Coolidge Street, Edith Ave, Fleet Court, Glen Street, Grover Street, Hancock Street, Hatch Street, Hawthorne Street, Irving Street, Miller Street, Norwood Street, Otis Street, Park Terrace, Parlin Street, Pleasant View Ave, Proctor Road, Prospect Street, Thurman Park, Vale Street, and West Street.

In addition, funds from the Water-Sewer Enterprise Fund are to be allotted for the installation of new residential water meters, new water department vehicles, and the no-interest MWRA Bond for water main replacements. Over 8,000 residential meters will be replaced throughout the city. “The new water meters will be automatically read,” said DeMaria of the promising new meters. “I had a resident in my office who got a $16,000 water bill because the water meter was reading slow,” said DeMaria, eager to get started on the new projects.

“Here’s the economy in its present state to be taken advantage of,” said Rossetti. “You can leverage twice as much now.”