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News

Bok gives city an update on ballpark project

The Batavia Muckdogs, the Hartford Yard Goats and the Reading Fightin Phils might soon have another team joining their ranks as much-loved home teams in minor league baseball.

Alexander Bok, the founder and force behind Malden’s proposed 6,000-seat Field of Dreams baseball stadium, met with the City Council this week to provide an update on the project. “I know a number of you have been skeptical,” Bok told councillors. “I’m here to start the process of earning your trust.”

Bok said that he is continuing to pursue the purchase of a minor league team affiliated with a major league ball club. League rules do not allow Bok to discuss any details of the purchase, and he apologized to the council for not being able to offer more information.

However, he did say the process was going well. “We have talked to several potential teams,” he said. “We are where we need to be.”

While Bok shops for a home team, he is also making other plans to move the project forward. Appraisals are being done on three privately owned parcels of land adjacent to the National Grid site where the park will be built. Those parcels are needed to build the park.

“We will have full-market value offers ready by Feb 17,” Bok told the council, adding that he and his team will do everything possible to complete private sales.

Councillors have said in the past they have no intention of supporting an eminent domain taking of property for the project.

Bok said Eastern Bank and East Boston Saving Bank remain interested in financing the ballpark, which will be built with $60 million in private funding and $20 million in state aid. The City of Malden will not be tapped for any additional funding.

Since the ballpark proposal was first introduced, it has frequently been described as the best use for the site, which has a history of industrial use and contamination.

Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley said that huge amounts of contaminated soil were being removed to make way for the casino in Everett. O’Malley asked if there were similar plans for the ballpark project.

Bok said National Grid has a plan to cap the property and monitor the soil, adding that it was the preferred solution to the environmental challenges at the site.

“I think the Malden community deserves to have the site fully restored,” said O’Malley.

The latest deign for the park, which Bok said will be built by Turner Sports Construction, calls for a “Bubble” to be built over the field, not the seats, so it can be used year-round. The field will also be designed to accommodate professional soccer games, and Bok has been negotiating with the Boston City Football Club to make the park their home base.

Ward 6 Councillor Neil Kinnon questioned Bok on the acquisition of a minor league team, the project’s most significant hurdle. “I look at this as a private transaction,” said Kinnon, adding that government has no place in any attempt to take private property for the sake of the project’s success. “My curiosity is around affiliation.”

Kinnon said major league baseball teams have the power to quash minor league start-ups within a 75-mile radius of their ball barks. “Do you have the approval of the Boston Red Sox?” Kinnon asked. Bok said he did not, but added that he was involved in talks with major league baseball.

Bok, who said he hopes to begin construction of the ballpark this year, said he would be back on April 11 to update the council on the progress of project.

 

Cops for Kids with Cancer come to aid of Malden teen

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HELPING HANDS: Malden teen Haley Ledbury is shown high-fiving a police officer as she walks up to the Malden Police Headquarters to receive a check from charitable organizers Cops for Kids with Cancer at a recent ceremony to aid in her battle against a rare form of bone cancer. Haley and her family were given a police escort from their home to the station, where Haley received a special reception from several dozen police officers. The check presented to the Ledbury family will help offset medical costs. If you want to lend your support, visit her GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/32lwm40. (Advocate photo by Ross Scabin)

   

New grants fund home improvements at Forestdale

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Тew doors, windows, roofs, outdoor lights, heating systems and bathroom and kitchen updates are just some of the home improvements residents at the Malden Housing Authority’s Forestdale development will see thanks to a new $6.7 million state grant. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay were in Malden last week to drop off the check and celebrate with residents and city officials.

“The funds will allow us to save this asset,” said Malden Housing Authority Director Steve Finn, adding that the state opened the Forestdale development in 1962 under its official name, the Roland D. Graham Apartments, and it has been fully occupied ever since. The development was named for a former director of the city’s housing authority who pushed hard to get Forestdale built but died before it was completed.

“It’s a beautiful site,” said Finn, who said the will money pay for upgrades and renovations that will insure housing for local seniors for years to come.

Finn applied for the grant last September through Housing and Community Development’s Modernizing Public Housing and Supporting Elders (ModPHASE) Program. In addition to repairs and upgrades, the ModPHASE Program fosters partnerships among local organizations that provide resources for seniors. Mystic Valley Elder Services and Cambridge Health Alliance will be providing services to residents at Forestdale.

Finn said that the upcoming work won’t cause any hassles for residents. “It won’t require any relocation for residents,” he said, adding that even bathroom and kitchen rehabs aren’t expected to cause any serious disruptions.

The grant improves the odds for local seniors in search of affordable housing. “In time, we would have lost that asset,” said Finn. “With it remaining in place, residents will continue to have quality housing that lets them live their lives with dignity and independence.”

Still, the demand for affordable senior housing and families in need is outstripping the supply. Last fall, local seniors dominated a public hearing on a proposal for inclusionary zoning which would have required developers of new multifamily construction projects to offer 20 percent of the completed units at affordable rates. One woman who spoke at the hearing talked about waiting for two years for an apartment in Malden’s senior housing. Others described friends and neighbors who were forced to leave the city because they couldn’t afford local rents.

The Planning Board felt the proposal needed more details and fine-tuning and unanimously rejected it, but the message was heard.

“There’s a great need for housing,” said Finn, adding that the growing population turning to temporary shelters reflects the severity of the problem. “It’s up to Congress, the Legislature and elected officials to do something about the problem,” he said.

   

The Malden Evening News prints it last edition this week

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The Malden Evening News will end its 125-year run as a hometown paper for the city this week, and Friday is the last scheduled print edition of the daily.

Publisher Daniel Horgan, who owns both the Malden Evening News and its sister paper, the Medford Daily Mercury, has been unavailable for comment this week, and as of Thursday, the Malden Evening News has not released a statement on the decision to stop the presses. However, some who are close to the paper say decisions about continuing as a digital publication are still up in the air.

In 1952, Elbert Taitz, a graduate student at Boston University, wrote his dissertation about Malden’s newspaper industry and the rise of the Malden Press, another major community newspaper. During the early years, the Malden Evening News competed for readers with the city’s two other newspapers, the Malden Mirror and the Malden Headlight. Those smaller papers eventually folded and by the 1930s, the Malden Evening News was the city’s only paper. Still, according to Taitz’s research, the Evening News had some problems.

“Despite the fact that the News had been publishing steadily since 1896, in 1933 it was only reaching from 20 to 30 percent of the people,” wrote Taitz. “The News had other drawbacks too. Its publisher was the acknowledged social leader of the town’s higher echelon which kept its distance with the newer elements of the community.”

Shopping changed that. By the 1940s, Malden had a thriving downtown retail district, and consumers were opting to spend their money in Malden rather than deal with the congested roads and inconvenience of downtown Boston. Merchants who were eager to advertise sparked healthy competition between the Malden Evening News and the Malden Press which, from the start, had a mission to be more responsive to the community’s interests and needs.

But the heyday for the Malden Evening News began in 1953 when David Brickman, publisher of the Medford Mercury bought the Malden Evening News and introduced his brand of community journalism to the city. Brickman believed that newspapers should report the facts of daily events and try to place them in the context of the past. His goal was to reach all readers with news about issues that affected their daily lives.

Brickman went on to become a force in local journalism. A year after acquiring the Malden Evening News, he introduced and helped pass the state’s Open Meeting Law, which gave the public access to government meetings. Brickman described the law as “One of the most significant pieces of journalistic freedom that could ever be enacted.”

Brickman also shared his views on the news and newspapers as a panelist on the WBZ-TV program “Starring the Editors,” which also featured the newsroom bosses of the Boston Herald, the Boston Record and the Christian Science Monitor.

Brickman was also a charter member of the state Ethics Commission, which was launched in 1978.

Brickman sold the Malden Evening News and the Medford Mercury to Warren Jackson in 1989, but continued to write for the papers until his death in 1992. Jackson introduced a number of cost-cutting strategies that led to labor troubles with the typesetter’s union and briefly shut the paper down.

Horgan bought the News and the Mercury in 1996, several years before the internet began its slow and effective chokehold on the newspaper industry. Horgan published the papers until the recent decision to sell the home office on Commercial Street and end the print edition.

While Malden residents have a pick of local newspapers and plenty of online and social media sites that offer accounts and updates of current issues and events, for many, the Malden Evening News has been the city’s paper for generations, and it will be missed.

   

Forestdale students hold food drive for Bread of Life

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Mayor Gary Christenson recently congratulated Forestdale School 7th and 8th grade Student Council members for their commitment to collecting more than 1,200 food items. The project was coordinated by Social Studies Teacher Matt Patrie. The food will be donated to Bread of Life and will go toward replenishing cupboards after the holiday season. Forestdale School 7th & 8th grade Student Council members are shown above with Mayor Christenson and Patrie (far right).

 

   

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