Crossfire : Board of Aldermen goes head-to-head with mayor on capital projects

August 29, 2012
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After a thorough crossfire between Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. and the Board of Aldermen, favorable action was taken to grant $2.1 million to be spent on Glendale Park improvements and $500,000 to be spent towards repairs for the Parlin School. The remaining items listed under capital projects were sent to the Committee on Finance where they can be discussed in further detail. The committee will meet at its earliest convenience in order to address the pertinent issues, including crosswalk installation, roadway and sidewalk reconstruction, repairs and design for the fire department, 911 stairs and police station renovations.

The Board aof Aldermen amended the piece so that they would not have to vote on the capital improvement projects collectively, which is appropriated at $7,015,767. Members decided to vote on the projects they deemed most inherent to the city of Everett. Although, even then, not all agreed. Alderman L. Charles DiPerri voted against funding for Glendale Park.

“I agree with borrowing money for things that we need it for,” he said. “I do have to disagree with where we are spending some of the money…As our debt reduces we’re borrowing right back to that limit again. Can we borrow not quite that much and use it just for what is needed? Maybe it’s something we can put off until a better time,” Alderman DiPerri said.

Mayor DeMaria Jr. believes there is no time like the present and urged council members to recognize that all of the recommended repairs are vital to the city’s current and future success. “The construction season is dwindling down on us and we want to go forward right away,” he said of the time sensitive projects. “We’re keeping the same amount of money in your budget…We figured out by not impacting residents, we would just keep to the same debt schedule that’s in the budget book. We need values of property to come back. If we don’t approve this tonight…we’ll keep patching sidewalks and patching streets. By having deplorable streets, the value goes down…At the end of the day what we’re trying to do is maintain our infrastructure at a small amount.”

Alderman Michael Marchese said that there are two ways of doing things, reparations and redoing things completely. This was the core issue on which the mayor and council members disagreed. Senior citizens in Everett would like to see taxes and mortgages decrease. They don’t care about new sidewalks being installed according to Alderman Sal Sachetta and DiPerri.

“I can’t see spending $200,000 for crosswalks so we can have a fancy crosswalk,” said Alderman DiPerri. Alderman Sachetta agreed, adding that he would gladly waive new plans in order to see current problems be addressed. “Being an elderly here…there are elderly people who ca’t afford to pay their mortgage and here we are spending $14 million. I’m 82 [years old]. I won’t be here in 2020…They’re worried about what they can’t afford today,” Sachetta said.

“These streets and sidewalks we have to go back and maintain every year, how many senior citizens have lost their front axel on a pothole?” Mayor DeMaria Jr. contoured. “This is our infrastructure, we have to maintain it…To not invest on our infrastructure is not a good idea. We’re trying to make people want to live here in Everett, and finally say ‘Woah, my neighborhood’s a nice place.’ I’m not one to build something and allow it to dilapidate. This is a program we can afford, and it will make a lot of people happy,” he said.

The mayor did have one council member on his side who expressed similar views. Alderman Michael Mangan agreed that property values won’t see an increase until certain measures, including sidewalk and roadway reconstruction, are taken. “Over the past three weeks, I had 11 or 12 phone calls from residents asking me to support it [this item]. If you want a good price if you’re selling your house, you’re not going to get it if the street is deplorable…Trees, better sidewalks, [and] better streets would enhance the neighborhood,” Alderman Mangan said.

The idealistic solution would be to lower taxes for Everett residents while simultaneously engaging in the aforementioned capital improvement projects. And while Mayor DeMaria Jr. would love to lower taxes, as he stated during Monday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, Everett taxes are already competitive, being lower than most surrounding towns. Everett’s elderly residents don’t see the point in some of the proposed capital projects, while those looking into the city’s future, do. SoEverett residents, should it be out with the old and in with the new, or, plan for today and live for tomorrow?