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News

Town committee charts a course for Lynnfield’s future with first CFAC forum

Master Plan, capital facilities discussed in presentations

The first Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) meeting of the year was sparsely attended, but it did reveal a few more important facts. The meeting combined a few committees: the CFAC, obviously, but also the Master Plan Steering Committee (MPSC) and the Library Building Committee.

The Master Plan Steering Committee is looking to update its nearly 20-year-old current Master Plan with fresh data. Heather Sievers, chair of the committee, led off the night with a nearly hour and a half long discussion of the Master Plan Survey issued in January, which saw 906 responses on 58 questions, slightly over 10 percent of town residents (excluding those too young to participate). Sievers elaborated on the data that was initially presented at a MPSC meeting a few months ago. The newly deciphered data is available in PowerPoint format on the MPSC website at www.lynnfieldmasterplan.org.

Despite satisfaction with schools, community and heritage, respondents were nevertheless vocal about a number of issues. As present in the results that were issued a few months ago, and which may or may not come as surprise, Lynnfielders’ main concerns are over high taxes, disappearing or not enough open spaces, poor condition of sidewalks and roads, and what is perceived as a lackluster government. Other issues that received considerable attention include a desire to improve the downtown commercial space, to limit the number of “mega mansions” in town, to improve public transportation, including access to commuter rails, to develop a rail trail, and to build a new library. A fair amount also decried the “close minded,” “conservative” ideals that the town espouses, which some believe limit the amount of racial and economic diversity.

Taxes

A large majority of respondents complained about high taxes, which they cited when choosing not to support potential projects, including the popular desire for greater access and improvements to open spaces. Despite resounding calls to preserve and expand open space and recreational opportunities, respondents mostly rejected the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which would combine 1-3% of real estate tax (as determined by voters) with state funding to purchase property for open space, outdoor recreation, affordable housing and historic preservation.

In the same vein, on a scale of 1-10 (1 indicating least desire to 10 indicating most), respondents said that they were only 3/10 willing to pay more for projects, the highest two being to preserve open spaces and build a new library.

The town just approved a $53 million budget, which is up 4% from last year. Of the $53 million, a little more than half will be spent on schools. An aggressive capital facilities budget will make up for a lack of spending in previous years and contributes to a higher cost.

Recreational space

Respondents overwhelmingly preferred that the town focus its energies on maintaining and providing more open space and recreational opportunities, specifically playgrounds and hiking/walking trails. The high school fields, while popular and a source of recreation, are subject to a strict policy which prevents use by anyone other than students during school hours. Other current open spaces include Newhall Park, Jordan Park, Bennett Keenan Conservation Land, Beaver Dam Brook, and Reedy Meadow and the Partridge Island Boardwalk, although the first two require significant improvements. Of those listed, 37% of respondents said that they did not even know that these areas exist. Of those that did, most said that they visited Reedy Meadow and Partridge Island.

The survey offered the idea of repurposing Reedy Meadow Golf Course, which is currently owned and operated by the town and might share part of its space with a library, if approved. The majority of respondents were strongly opposed to repurposing the golf course, although if it were to be repurposed, they prefer that the space be converted to accommodate more senior housing or be the new home to walking/hiking trails or a playground.

The town is currently taking a hard look at relocating the DPW, which is currently located next to Town Hall, which would free up space for potentially a playground or other recreation space. Of the options to repurpose the DPW space, survey takers preferred it be converted into recreation space over housing. Seniors were less enthusiastic about the idea of it being changed at all, with 53% responding no.

The survey also asked if respondents would be in favor of converting the old Bali Hai restaurant into the home of a potential playground or recreation facility, with most respondents indicating yes.

In line with the desire for more recreational opportunities, respondents also indicated support for a rail trail in town. The plan to bring a rail trail to Lynnfield is still in its early stages, although it has gained considerable momentum with the approval of an article that would allow the town to sign a lease with the MBTA, which currently owns the rail bed that would be converted into trail.

In terms of opportunities for recreational activities, survey respondents praised Recreation Director Julie Mallett’s work in expanding the program to include more options. However, some asked that the town include more “community spirit” events, like festivals, block parties, concerts, parades, celebrations and farmers markets.

Roads/sidewalks/transportation

Improvements to roads and curbs were highly preferred over sidewalks. One respondent complained that South Lynnfield in particular is significantly neglected. Potholes were a common complaint, along with curbing. Sidewalks, especially on Walnut Street, were also a point of issue. Market Street traffic, Middle School traffic, and access to a Rail Trail were also high priority issues.

Another moderate issue was the need for better transportation options. Of those, a moderate number suggested that the town obtain a shuttle to the commuter rail in Wakefield. One respondent wrote, “The lack of public transportation options has caused my family to consider relocating to a community with better options because both parents commute into Boston 5-days/week. A shuttle to the commuter rail in Wakefield – logically timed – would be a gamechanger.”

Housing

Survey takers by and large rejected any new housing developments in Lynnfield, although if there were to be new housing, they preferred that more senior housing be built. Survey takers in particular decried the rise of “McMansions” or “mini-mansions” in the town, which they feel detract from the town’s heritage and community feel and are chewing up the town’s few remaining open spaces.

Government

Respondents were generally dissatisfied with the performance of the government. One respondent complained of “no proactive planning.” Most people preferred that the Board of Selectmen expand from three members to five, with 56% of respondents in favor of five members, while 30% preferred three.

“Government run by a cliche of people who keep the circle tight and prevent newcomers from getting involved. Too townie controlled,” one respondent wrote.

“Things happen too slowly,” another wrote. “I have been in this town for over 15 years now and we are still talking about the rail to trail concept.”

Others asked that the town consider introducing “private voting” as an alternative to the Town Meeting, which one person called “a big buddy system.”

The survey also showed that 92% percent of people do not serve in government, which they mostly attributed to “not being able to,” but also in large part to a fear of government culture. “I think the small negative group in town is a major factor why people don’t step forward [sic] to serve. I think we need to remain positive as a town to attract people willing to step forward to serve.”

Another factor that prevents people from wanting to serve is that there are so few women already serving.

Other

Despite an aversion to spending additional money on projects, the majority of respondents preferred that the town remain open to the idea. Asked whether the town should consider hypothetical investments, 50% said yes while 38% said no. Along similar lines, respondents said that the town should develop a 10-year timeline for capital facility projects (70% yes, 11% no).

CFAC and library project

In other news relevant to taxpayers, the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) also presented its findings that night, approximately two months after releasing its annual report on the town’s facilities. Chair Ted Caswell made an emphatic plea that stakeholders support a gradual but steady overhaul of town public facilities, which Caswell said are in deplorable shape. The committee had hoped that more members of the public would show up to the meeting to help determine which projects are most important to them, although only a handful did.

Caswell in particular condemned the town’s public safety buildings, which reportedly are outdated and have not kept up with growth, resulting in overcrowded spaces and safety hazards. There is only one restroom in the whole building at the South Lynnfield Fire Station, and modern fire trucks do not fit in the bays. Further, inadequate space at Town Hall results in overflowing file cabinets and piles of documents cluttering desk spaces. At the Police Department, the “evidence room” is a padlocked drop box, and the only women’s facility is located next to the jail cell.

Going forward, Caswell stated that the committee, if it is to get any significant work done, will need the help of a consultant to engineer a comprehensive plan and to chart out cost estimates. Caswell operates a development firm, while the rest of his committee serves in various capacities in town administration.

On the heels of Caswell’s report, Library Director Holly Mercer and member of the Library Building Committee updated the committee’s signature project, which is to secure funding for a new library. The library is one of the first facilities the CFAC recommends be tackled in the 20-year plan it set forth.

The committee reiterated that it had submitted its 450-page proposal for state funding, which would fund around $8.1 million of the library’s estimated $21 million cost. It’s a waiting game, according to Mercer, as the state decides which of the 31 communities that applied for funding deserves the monies.

For those wishing to state their opinion, the next CFAC forum will be held on June 8 at 7 p.m. at the Merritt Center (600 Market Street).

By Melanie Higgins

 

Local leaders jailed for a great cause

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‘Reid’s Ride’ hosts ‘Jail and Bail’ to fight Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers

It was an unusual sight last week on the lawn at Market Street. Many members of the community, including town leaders and government officials, were locked up in jail! For a good cause, of course.

Thanks to a few dedicated members of the community including the Lynnfield Rotary, the Jail and Bail for ‘Reid’s Ride’, a nationally recognized cancer fundraiser in honor of the late Reid A. Sacco, added to the more than $2 million dollars the cause has raised so far to fund cancer research. All you had to do was write a warrant for an offending party, arrest the perpetrator, and if they valued their liberty, paid the bail and were sent on their way. Anxious offenders could also purchase ‘immunity cards’ to prevent the possibility of being hauled away at work, as a few were.

Across town, more than a dozen community members rolled in the pay their fines, including all three selectmen, Town Clerk Trudy Reid, a few troublemaking Lynnfield High students, and more. A few led in handcuffs by appointed ‘cancer cops’ donning official-looking badges and uniforms, paid their fines to noted attorney Jay Kimball, who played a wacky, gavel-wielding judge, chomping to lock everyone up. An unfortunate few languished in a realistic jail cell constructed by LHS students while they called their friends and family, waiting for them to bail them out.

Reid’s Ride is an annual 28 mile bike-a-thon in honor of Reid A. Sacco, a promising soon-to-be Lynnfield college student who passed away from cancer in 2005. Reid was a star student, a member of the National Honor Society, a musician, and was accepted to Columbia University. He was also a talented swimmer who co-founded the Lynnfield High swim team and competed nationally. After a two year battle with cancer in which he bravely endured rounds of chemotherapy and even amputation, he succumbed to his illness.

According to Lorraine Sacco, Reid’s mother, the culprit was Reid’s age. AYA (Adolescent and Young Adult) cancers, which exist in adults ages 18-39, are trickier to beat than others. Reid lacked the same kind of clinical care, clinical trials, and short and long term care that other types of cancer patients receive. The survival rates for these types of cancers haven’t changed in 30 years. In the hospital ward where Sacco was treated, not one of his adolescent peers survived.

As the result of an aggressive campaign by the Sacco family and countless friends and supporters, “the gap” is starting to fill. In 2013, recognizing the obstacles AYA patients face, Tufts Medical Center launched the Reid A. Sacco Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic for Cancer and Blood Diseases, located at the Tufts Cancer Center in Boston. The center provides advanced clinical care and research into AYA cancers that was lacking before. Today, doctors recommend their patients to the program from around the country. It is the dream of Sacco, who when she began fundraising set out to “fill the gap” so that there is “not one crack” in the system for people like Sacco to fall through.

So far, Reid’s Ride has raised more than $2 million dollars to the AYA cause, and great strides are being made to make sure that AYA people have the same, if not greater chance of survival. But for Sacco, the buck doesn’t stop there. Hoping to keep Reid’s spirit alive and help fight cancer at the same time, the team organizes regular fundraisers like the Jail and Bail throughout the year. Another popular event includes ‘Reid’s Run’. This year, the 13th annual Reid’s Ride will be held on July 16th and starts in Lynnfield. To donate or register as a team, visit www.firstgiving.com/reidsride.

By Melanie Higgins

 

A Mother’s Day Reflection: Letters of Ruthe Tapley Hewes

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Ruthe Tapley Hewes

“I feel so anxious about you, my dear son, that when I should be cheerful, I feel sad … I do want you to come home. Be careful won’t you?”

So wrote Mrs. Ruthe Tapley Hewes (later Swain) of Lynnfield to her youngest son, David Hewes, who had been lured to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. She also begged him to send word of other Lynnfield adventurers, including the Cox and Bancroft sons, whose families had not heard from them.

The uncertainties of transcontinental mail, and the stories of physical and moral dangers that threatened Western bound ’49ers, disturbed Mrs. Hewes. She admonished her child, “… try to live so that you will be prepared for sudden death if that should be the will of God. Don’t be too anxious to be rich.”

She need not have worried: David, a Yale student who had graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, had toted his Sunday School materials across the Isthmus of Panama on his way to the Golden Gate. Soon he became involved in the building of a church. Contributions poured in from fortunate prospectors and solid businessmen alike.

Success in San Francisco

Hewes was primarily an entrepreneur. Undaunted by a market failure in Sacramento, he settled in San Francisco, where he made millions in real estate, not only by buying land but by moving it, too. Under his supervision, many hills were leveled to fill the Bay area.

Nevertheless, these triumphs were unimportant to his mother, who longed for her son’s return. Mrs. Hewes wrote often, describing church socials, farm news, family occasions and local gossip. She even suggested that one local damsel, Emily Parsons, was “looking better every day.” (A family plot must have existed to encourage David’s interest in Miss Parsons. Later his sister Sophia wrote, “Emily Parsons has just been to Lowell, and had a new set of teeth. She looks first rate.”)

Gold dust in Lynnfield

Visits to the post office and the elation of receiving news from the West are frequently mentioned in his mother’s writings. David was generous and sometimes sent gold dust to the family. In one letter Mrs. Hewes explained that his recent gift would enable her to pay six dollars that she owed for a bonnet and two dollars that she owed to the post office. No doubt, the sight of gold dust must have greatly excited her Lynnfield neighbors.

News of home and his mother’s pleadings, however, were not enough to entice young David from the unique opportunities of California in the 1850s. Unfortunately, he did not see home again until after his mother’s death in 1851. He settled permanently in the West, where he amassed a fortune. Later David Hewes donated the “Golden Spike” for the 1869 ceremony in Promontory Summit, Utah, celebrating the “wedding” of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads. This gesture assured him a place in American history.

Ties to home

Although he was married twice, Hewes was childless. Through the years, he maintained close contact with his relatives in Lynnfield. Many accompanied him back to California after one of his trips east. In memory of his ancestors, David improved the family farm at 665 Lowell St., and restored the Tapley Tomb across the way at “Three Corners.”

His interest in family history resulted in his commissioning an exhaustive genealogy by his kinsman Eben Putnam. The study, “Descendants of Joshua Hewes,” contains these letters from his mother, which he treasured. This correspondence provides a rare glimpse into village life in Lynnfield in the 19th century against the backdrop of the Gold Rush. Moreover, it illustrates the ageless concern of a mother for her wandering child and the extent of a son’s devotion.

Like other men of achievement, David Hewes attributed much of his success to having had a good mother.

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By Helen Breen



   

Heeding call, Lynnfield establishes Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition

Lynnfield is on the forefront of fighting the opioid abuse crisis. With last Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, the town officially adopted its Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, aimed at doing exactly what the title suggests.

The move comes as the state has issued a mandate to all cities in towns in the Commonwealth to take the lead on tackling substance abuse, which has become a nationwide epidemic. As a result, the town will be taking a number of steps to limit substance abuse and keep its citizens, particularly its youngest ones, safe and healthy.

The charges are as follows:

1. Take the lead to increase public awareness and engagement

2. Designate a municipal point person on substance abuse–prevention

3. Encourage intra-community, regional and statewide collaboration

4. Develop a one page resource guide for families and those seeking treatment or assistance

5. Pilot innovative programs based on local needs

6. Publicize the Good Samaritan Law

7. Partner with schools to implement programs aimed at prevention

8. Create prevention curriculum and education programs

9. Provide first responders with Narcan to prevent overdose deaths

10. Create Safe Disposal sites in the community for the discarding of prescription drugs

“The Lynnfield Board of Selectmen is dedicated to meeting the Governor’s challenge and is focused on doing everything within our power to make sure Lynnfield exceeds expectations,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Christopher Barrett. “This Coalition will be instrumental in providing a healthy community in Lynnfield by increasing awareness, promoting education and providing the resources necessary to address substance abuse problems.”

First responders currently are equipped with Narcan, in the event of an emergency.

The coalition is still in its early stages, and needs the input of local community members in order to thrive. The coalition is supported by state funding, which can be accessed only if the town demonstrates that it has involved the community in each of the following 12 sectors: youths, parents, law enforcement, clergy and faith-based groups, schools, health care, media, businesses, civic or volunteer groups, youth-serving organizations, government agencies with expertise in the field of substance abuse, and organizations involved in reducing substance abuse.

Thanks to Selectman Phil Crawford for his work in spearheading the task, the coalition is now comprised of community members Kevin Cyr, Director of Teaching and Learning at LPS; Brian Bates, Vice Principal at Lynnfield High School; Mary Homan, Director of Nursing at Lynnfield High School; Dave Breen, Chief of Police; Mark Tetreault, Fire Chief; Jim Boudreau, Town Administrator; the Lynnfield Rotary Club; and Lahey Health.

With work to be done to round out the coalition, the town asked interested parties to contact Robert Curtin at the Town Administrator’s office to sign up to volunteer. Contact is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

By Melanie Higgins


 

Lynnfield receives Chapter 90 funding boost for road repairs

Lynnfield will be getting a boost from the state in the form of $423,192 for road-related projects. A Chapter 90 funding bill was filed in February and approved by the legislature just last week. It is the fourth time the Baker-Polito administration has filed for Chapter 90 funds for cities and towns across the Commonwealth, with $500 million given out so far. Chapter 90 is an established mechanism used to help out cities and towns across the Commonwealth with road and other infrastructure repairs to supplement their DPW budgets.

“We know [cities and towns] are going to be able to use it and put it to good use starting right away,” said Sen. Thomas McGee, who represents Lynnfield and sits as the chairman of the Transportation Committee.

“Prioritizing aid for our cities and towns has always been at the forefront during our budget planning process, and the administration has continued this commitment this year,” said state Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration Kristen Lepore in a release. “Local aid, including Chapter 90 funding, is key to ensuring all communities across Massachusetts thrive.”

Town Administrator Jim Boudreau said that the Board of Selectmen will be meeting with DPW Director John Tomasz soon to discuss a paving schedule for the construction season this summer. Roads, according to the recent 2017 Master Plan Survey, are the number one priority among Lynnfield residents. Talk among residents has placed Walnut Street sidewalks (near Market Street) among those deserving greatest attention.

This upcoming fiscal year (beginning July 1), highways in Lynnfield will be receiving $125,000 extra dollars, while $25k will go towards sidewalks (0% increase). According to the FY 2018 Operating Budget, the DPW will receive $7,008,424 to go towards operating expenses, which is up 5.27% from last year’s budget of $6,657,819.

The select amounts of Chapter 90 funding are given out according to a formula that takes into consideration the size of a community, miles of road and employment. According to 2013 data, Lynnfield has 77 miles of roads (250+ lanes miles) and 91 miles of sidewalks within its borders.

Last year the Town received $423,192 from Chapter 90 funding, which combined with existing DPW funds, was used to repair Perry Avenue (Main Street to Ford Avenue), Ford Avenue, Windsor Road, Candlewood Road, Driftwood Lane, Grey Lane, Hidden Valley Road, Lowell Street, Maiden Lane and Perkins Lane.

By Melanie Higgins


   

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