Tuesday, May 23, 2017
   
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  • Two alarm blaze rips through Highland Ave. building

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • RHS senior receives $5,000 Hood® Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • Mayor submits $227 million FY18 budget

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • Playground Dangers

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • Community ’N Unity Celebration

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00

News

With “Green Fest,” Peabody reaffirms its commitment to the environment

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Sustainability fair coincides with Peabody Pride Cleanup Day

Peabody isn’t the only community that’s “gone green.” The city is the envy of the North Shore as of recently, following a number of initiatives over the weekend that helped promote sustainability and make Peabody a cleaner, greener place.

On Saturday, the GreenPeabody committee threw its 7th annual “Green Fest.” GreenPeabody was formed by the city in 2009 by then-Mayor Michael Bonfanti and champions the cause of making Peabody more sustainable and energy efficient. Hosted at the Brown School, the event was a one-stop-shop for all things “green.” Some attendees received advice on sustainable technology, energy-saving, and recycling, while others partook in educational exhibits by a number of area businesses and nonprofits, such as the Stasinos Family Farm, Tupperware, the Environmental Protection Agency and the MDAR Forest Pest Outreach Project, to name a few. Some perused arts and crafts for sale made by Brown School students, while others benefited from courtesy services, such as electronics recycling and confidential paper-shredding (provided by JRM Hauling & Recycling Services). The event also offered a “computer building” clinic, hosted a sustainable science fair and built an outdoor Pop-up Café for visitors to enjoy.

“We are encouraging people to make a day of it and have fun,” said Kelly Noonan, chair of the GreenPeabody Committee. She also praised the cleanup effort earlier that day for making a big difference in helping Peabody be a sustainable place to live.

That same day, the city celebrated the annual “Peabody Pride in Motion,” an event mainly consisting of cleaning up the city’s streets, which in turn hopes to spread hometown pride. Inspired by the spirit of community former Mayor Peter Torigian (1979-2002) sought to spread, Mayor Ted Bettencourt created the event in the hopes of doing the same.

Fanning out throughout the city, hundreds of community members swept the streets, picking up whatever trash and debris they could find and having it hauled away by DPW trucks. In all, volunteers filled two whole DPW trucks with trash collected off the city’s arteries, side streets, and open spaces. In addition to the myriad community members out in force, City Councillors Jon Turco, Tom Gould and Ed Charest and School Committee Member Tom Rossignol helped out as well, cleaning up the trash near the entry of the Cedar Grove Cemetery and along the Peabody Sunset Trail down to Sunset Drive.

Gould, happy about the outcome, called the initiative “a real grass roots effort … for folks from across our city to come together and be part of civic pride.”

Likewise in a statement, Mayor Bettencourt praised the event as a paragon of community spirit. “Many of us who grew up in Peabody remember the deep feelings of pride which came with being part of this unique community,” the statement reads. “As Mayor, I have strived to restore that sense of Peabody as a special place to live, work, go to school and raise a family. These clean-ups have proven to be a great occasion to get together with family, friends and neighbors and do something positive and constructive towards making Peabody a better place.”

After cleaning up, volunteers were treated to a pizza lunch at the Leather City common. Thanks to savvy planning by organizers in hosting both events the same day, many volunteers stopped by to celebrate GreenFest after the cleanup activities.

“It’s really positive that [the city] is getting people to give back to the community, and taking care of what’s around us,” Noonan said. “Hopefully, we can learn from it so that it becomes a regular habit and part of our lifestyle.”

To cap off the ceremonies, the committee presented two Peabody High School seniors, Diana Carbone and Isabella Valencia, with a small scholarship towards college. Any and all Peabody students who are residents and demonstrate an interest in green initiatives, while also working actively to promote sustainability, are eligible to receive the award. Valencia has been working with GreenPeabody for the past year, while Carbone has been volunteering with the committee since middle school. Noonan praised Carbone as a climate champion who has regularly attended meetings and brought forth many ideas to the committee. Both girls could not attend the festival due to out of state school trips but are said to be honored by the recognition.

The host of Saturday’s events, the Brown School has a long history of championing environmental sustainability. A certified “National Green School,” it is a winner of the “Massachusetts 2015 Recycle Bowl Award” and multiyear recipient of the “Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Environmental Education” presented by the state. Earlier this month, the Brown’s “Environmental Eagles,” a 4th and 5th grade group of 30 students, received the “Green Up New England Challenge Award” from the Boston Bruins in the “Best Green Schools Practices” category.

Over three dozen schools from across New England participated in the competition. The award recognizes schools and students who work to transform their schools and communities into “Green Spaces.” To earn the award, the Eagles demonstrated sustainable practices, such as recycling and conserving energy. This year, their work on waste reduction and keeping water clean helped them win the award.

Not limited to it’s “Eagles,” the school also offers free recycling to the public, taking paper and plastic, cans and bottles, ink cartridges, and more. The full list is available up on the school website.

Hoping to continue off the momentum gained from the doubleheader last weekend, GreenPeabody asks that the residents take simple steps to help the environment by recycling, composting and conserving energy. And of course, picking up trash when they see it.

“We have that responsibility.” Noonan said.

By Melanie Higgins


 

Bettencourt announces candidacy for 4th term

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Peabody’s 2017 elections are heating up. Not long after the nomination papers became available on March 6, papers for all of the available City Council and nearly all the School Committee positions, Light District Commission positions, and now the mayoral seat have been pulled. Hopefuls have a few more months left before nominations close on July 21. The last day to return papers is July 25.

Incumbent Mayor Edward Bettencourt, Jr. announced his candidacy for reelection as the city’s mayor on April 26, the fourth time he is seeking the role. The mayor was first elected in 2011 over current Swampscott Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald, taking the reins over from then Mayor Michael Bonfanti. Since then he has run unopposed in all other elections.

In a statement, Mayor Bettencourt drew on his list of accomplishments over more than half a decade to bolster his cause, foremost among them the construction of the state-of-the-art, widely praised Higgins Middle School. Bettencourt also cited his role in securing aid to repair the addled roof of the Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, and in spearheading the ongoing effort to beautify and revitalize Peabody Square, which has received broad acclaim from investors and visitors alike.

“I am committed to maintaining Peabody’s affordability while still investing in our future and delivering the core services that residents expect,” Mayor Bettencourt said. “I love this city and I love this job. If the voters see fit, I will continue to give it my very best every single day.”

Councillor-at-Large

In the legislative branch of the city’s government, the recent emergence of a few more contestants has rounded out the race. New faces Ryan Melville, Stephen Collins III and Peter Bakula will all also be seeking the seat, which is limited to five slots and comes with a two-year term limit.

The at-large position will see a few familiar returning faces, with Tom Gould, Dave Gravel and Anne Manning-Martin all seeking reelection. Current School Committee Member Tom Rossignol will also be seeking the councillor at-large seat.

Current Councillor-at-Large and State Rep. Tom Walsh has stated that he intends to forgo reelection and instead focus on his position at the state house. Current Councillor-at-Large Michael Garabedian has not yet pulled papers.

Ward Councillors


For the ward seats on the council, Ward 1 Councillor Jon Turco, Ward 2 Councillor Peter McGinn and Ward 3 Councillor James Moutsoulas are running unopposed as of yet. Ward 4 Councillor Ed Charest is experiencing a challenge from newcomer Bukia Chalvire, a Peabody resident and chair of the Peabody Republican City Committee. In Ward 5, returning Councillor and current City Council President Joel Saslaw is being challenged by James Jeffery and Andrew Diamond.

Ward 6 Councillor Barry Sinewitz has stated that he does not intend to run for reelection, making room for hopefuls Margaret Tierney and Michael G. Geomelos. Like council-at-large, ward councillors serve a term of two years.

School Committee Members


Current Member Beverley Ann Griffin Dunne is the only familiar face in the School Committee race so far. Committee Member Jarrod Hochman, who is also up for reelection, has not pulled papers as of yet. As stated previously, Rossignoll is pursuing the at-large position this year.

All other members – Olimpio, Amico and Carpenter – are currently serving their second year of their allotted four-year term. If they so choose, they will be up for reelection in 2020. Three other contenders so far include Andrew Arnotis, Laurence Aiello and Linda Quadros-Lopez.

Light Commissioner


The light commissioner serves a term of six years and oversees the daily operations of providing electricity to the city’s nearly 26,000 customers, among many other responsibilities.

Chair Tom D’Amato and Vice Chair William Aylward are both seeking reelection. Aylward has served as light commissioner since 2012 and in various capacities, serving once as chair in 2014. D’Amato, a veteran on the board, had previous served as chair in 2004, 2009 and 2013 and vice chair in 2008, 2012 and from 2016-present. Raymond Melvin and Laurence Olcott are also seeking Amato and Aylward’s positions.

By Melanie Higgins


 

City tackles Downtown parking

Not being able to find parking space in downtown Peabody is frustrating, but according to Mayor Ted Bettencourt that means things are looking up. During last Thursday’s Industrial & Community Development Committee meeting as the Committee of the Whole, Bettencourt said, “We want to create a parking problem. It means we have people coming to stores and restaurants.”

The real problem is managing the situation. The two-hour meeting incited a lively discourse of the Mayor’s proposed zoning amendment to reduce parking requirements in the B-C Zoning District and to allow for residential parking overnight in municipal lots.

Councillor-at-Large Dave Gravel suggested imposing steeper fines for meter violations. “One of the arguments for strengthening parking meter fines is to force cars from long-term parking … The idea was never to burden businesses,” Gravel said. Currently, many area business employees, as well as residents, are taking up valuable parking spaces.

One example of the burden to businesses was noted by Councillor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin concerning residential parking on Washington Street by Kelley’s, Buddha’s and Paddy Kelly’s. “Just losing two spaces really hurts these businesses,” she said. With plans for developing the downtown, she said, “Are we helping the developers to the detriment of existing businesses?”

“If you build it, they will come,” Manning-Martin said, “and if they come, they will come with cars.”

Bettencourt added, “It’s a very difficult process for an area that’s struggled. We want to remove the impediments.”

Bettencourt said the creation of a parking management plan is critical. The essential components of the proposal include reducing the allotment of parking spaces in the Central Business Districts from 2.3 per residential unit to 1 for a one-bedroom apartment, 1.5 for a two-bedroom, and 2 for three or more bedrooms. Overnight parking in municipal lots, he said, “should have some fee attached.”

The Committee Chairperson, Ward 6 Councillor Barry Sinewitz, said, “We can have all the plans in the world, but if there’s no enforcement we’re going to be in trouble.”

Ward 2 Councillor Peter McGinn said the police need to play an active role, as do the building owners. “The building owners should manage the parking requirements of the residents,” McGinn said.

Bettencourt said approving the proposal is a “bold step” to take, but the “right decision.” The City Council supported the proposal, but Sinewitz and Manning-Martin issued “no” votes, with Gravel opposing a parking management plan.

By Pam Wehbi


   

Ward 6 Councillor Barry Sinewitz set to step down in December

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After 10 years on the Peabody City Council, Ward 6 Councillor Barry Sinewitz says he will step down from his position at the end of the year.

Sinewitz says he’s pleased with what Peabody has achieved during his tenure – most notably the Crystal Lake project. “I’m very proud of that: working with the residents, with Aggregate Industries, protecting the quality of life in the neighborhood,” he said. He also noted that the Higgins Middle School was built while he was in office.

“I’ve tried to be attentive to the needs of the residents in Ward 6 and answer them when they call,” Sinewitz said. He also mentioned that he’s looking forward to finishing his term and to his last July 4th party. “I usually get about 300 residents showing up at Symphony Park, so we’ll have one good party,” he added.

The Ward 6 councillor wanted to notify his constituents of his decision so that others have an opportunity to run. “I wish whoever takes over the best of luck, and I’m looking forward to transitioning and helping them any way I can,” he said.

As for Sinewitz’s future, he hinted that he might not be finished with politics. “Mayor Bettencourt mentioned that he might ask me to serve on a board, and maybe I’ll do that,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity and I feel refreshed and am ready to go, it could be a higher seat.”

By Pam Wehbi


 

With Jen Davis, director of the Peabody Recreation, Parks & Forestry Department

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Summer is right around the corner, which means more residents will be taking advantage of the green space and recreational opportunities the city has to offer – if they haven’t already. For this week’s “Advocate Asks,” we spoke with Jen Davis, director of the city’s Recreation, Parks & Forestry Department, about the available opportunities within that department and some of the ways people can enjoy the city’s natural resources.

Q: With summer around the corner, what can Peabody residents expect for offerings from the Recreation Department?

A: Folks can expect an extensive list of special events and programs all spring and summer long. We have some fantastic family-fun events coming up. Our newest event is Kids to Parks Day that will take place on Saturday, May 20th. It’s a national initiative sponsored by the National Park Trust to get kids and families outdoors and visit parks. My team has put together six different events throughout the city. We’ve staggered the starts so folks can spend some time at each event. The day kicks off at 9 a.m. with a Giant Kids Garage Sale at James St. Park (registration required), then it’s off to Brooksby Farm for a Touch-a-Truck event from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Next head to West Peabody to Ross Park/Cy Tenney Park for Parking Lot Picasso’s from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (registration required). After that, meet us at the Bike Path on Lowell Street (between Speedway and Bonkers Plaza and the 95 underpass) for bike safety, free helmets (while supplies last) maps and a family bike ride from 12-2 p.m. Then head over to Scouting Woods Disc Golf Course to test your skills with Frisbee golf from 1-3 p.m. Lastly, join us at The Meadow at Peabody from 2-4 p.m. for an introduction to golf. More details and registration can be found on our website at www.peabodyrecreation.com #kidstoparks day.

Of course we have many other programs and activities planned for this spring and summer. It’s not too late to take part in our last hike of the Family Adventure Hiking program. We are heading to Jaffery, N.H., on Saturday, May 13th to hike Mt. Monadnock. Make sure to register for the Great American Camp Out at Brooksby Farm set for June 9-10th; no experience necessary! A citywide scavenger hunt is being planned for June and/or September, so keep your eyes open for details on that.

Q: Some of the easiest ways to get active can simply be getting out and enjoying the public spaces in your own community. Can you comment on the many open/public spaces available in Peabody?

A: We have over 40 parks and play spaces in Peabody to enjoy and explore. We encourage everyone to get outside on a daily basis to play. Peabody has some amazing resources. Did you know we have a nine-hole disc golf course at Scouting Woods? Brooksby Farm is open to miles of trails, pick your own orchards, picnic areas, adventure programming, fishing and more. We also have the new South Peabody Trail linking close to two miles of trails between Syds Pond and Lower Spring Pond. Don’t forget to check out the new extension of the bike path connecting to the Danvers Rail Trail. In addition to these trails we now have six pickleball courts at Corbeil Park. Check out the league that plays there every Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. all summer long! Looking for a playground to play on, make sure to visit Farnham Park, Lakeshore Park and MacArthur Park, as they have the newest and coolest playgrounds. A new playground will be installed at Lalikos Park this summer! Watch for details: #playinpeabody.

Q: From the golf courses, to the recreational path, to the Torigian YMCA, Peabody has a lot of recreational opportunities to offer; however, sometimes others may go unnoticed. Is there any particular outdoor space you would like to make residents aware of?

A: Scouting Woods Disc Golf Course is a hidden gem. It’s a nine-hole disc golf course hidden in the woods between Forest Street and Summit Street. It’s free! Just bring your own discs. If you don’t have discs go to the Peabody Public Library to rent a set. Check them out like a book! It’s as easy as that.

Tillie’s Farm is a new venture for the City of Peabody. My department took over operations in February. We are focusing on the greenhouses and the farm stand for now. We will be adding farm education to the mix within the next year. Tillie’s offers 12 acres of land and wooded area to explore. New adventures await!

Two of our most popular programs are Summer Outdoor Adventure Programs at Brooksby Farm and the Summer Playground Program being held at Forest Street Park (Center School) and Jubilee Park (West School) all summer long. We also offer the Special Needs Playground Program, an eight-week program for children with special needs ages six to 12 years. For the child who loves sports or wants to try a new one, we offer a program, clinic or a league for just about every sport: tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, dance, volleyball, and track & field. Not into sports? Check out our CSI for Teens, Take Two! Movies & More with Peabody Youth Television, Teen Leadership Training, and Counselor In Training Programs. Have a little one? We’ve got two great programs for ages three to five. Nature Nuts Playground Program and ages four to seven Mini Stars Tennis Playground Program.

We haven’t forgotten the adults! We offer Summer Adult Tennis Lessons, Acrylic Painting with Jeanette Lerner, Morning or Evening Boot Camp, Fencing and Taekwondo. New this year we are offering Fly Fishing for youth and adults.

We are currently accepting registration for all summer programs online or in our office. For details on these programs and to register please visit our website at www.peabodyrecreation.com or stop by the Rec Office at 50 Farm Ave. to pick up a spring/summer brochure. #playinpeabody

Q: In your opinion, what is the best recreational opportunity the city has to offer?

A: That’s a difficult question to answer. I think they are all amazing opportunities. We try hard to offer something for everyone. The mission of the Recreation, Parks & Forestry Department is to develop, preserve and maintain safe and accessible environments and play spaces while providing year round recreation, enrichment and adventure-based activities and programs for residents to experience healthy living in the city of Peabody. With that being said, I am a fan of experiential learning and the great outdoors, which the Peabody Outdoor Adventure Summer Program focuses on. The lessons learned in these types of programs become lifelong skills and promote overall wellness and healthy habits.

Q: For some, getting up and out can feel like a chore. What’s the best way to get kids active? Adults?

A: Options are key. Introductions to a variety of activities and trying new things. You never know what’s going to stick. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for someone else, but exposure to a variety of offerings gives them a better chance of finding something they will like to do and continue to participate in for years to come. #playinpeabody

Q: The city celebrated Green Fest and “Peabody Pride Cleanup” just last week, which were aimed at making the city more sustainable and accessible. What does it mean to you to have such large numbers out in force helping make Peabody a better place to live and recreate?

A: Volunteerism and community service is extremely important and is invaluable to our operations. We rely on it to improve our streets, parks and play spaces and to assist in our special events. They make for safer environments to play and recreate in, create a visually appealing community, which, in turn increases the economic benefit for the city and enriches the lives of our community.

Q: Thanks Jen!

   

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