By Aaron Keebaugh
“One year ago I stood before you and made a promise, a promise to improve the quality of life for members of our community,” Mayor Dan Rizzo recalled Monday night for the audience packed into the Council Chamber. “I made a promise to make streets safe for children and [give] neighbors safe places to walk—a promise to make sure our children receive the quality education they deserve—a promise to work as hard as I could to make sure that every Revere resident who wanted to work and needed a job had that opportunity and that local businesses feel confident that the city of Revere is a place they can succeed [in].”
In his first State of the City address, Rizzo recounted his administration’s progress over the past twelve months and highlighted a few new developments that are geared to “improve the quality of life for members of our community.”
Filling the hall were city residents and many local and state officials, among them Treasurer Steven Grossman, Senator Anthony Petruccelli, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Perhaps the biggest news of the evening was Rizzo’s announcement of a $2.72 million grant from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to renovate the Harry Della Russo Stadium. “This will be a brand new state-of-the-art facility that will serve the needs of our community for decades to come,” Rizzo said. Formal announcement of the plan will take place during a February 5 press conference, he added.
At the start of his 20-minute speech, Rizzo stressed his commitment to public safety, emphasizing the appointment of Joseph Cafarelli as chief of police last February and the increase in patrol units on Broadway and other areas. “We want to make sure that the busiest stretches of our city remain safe and attractive…” he said.
The long-awaited police substation on Pleasant Street is due to open by the end of the month, the mayor said. He went on: “And through the reallocation of existing financial resources, and in conjunction with information gathered using our new CitiStat model, we have identified funding that will allow us to hire five new police officers, effective immediately.” In addition, Rizzo said that he intends to allocate money for Revere’s Drug Units “to make sure our community is adequately protected.”
As for city finances, Rizzo said that his administration is “committed to making sound fiscal decisions” through the use of “performance-based budgeting” and the new CitiStat system.
On education, Rizzo noted that the city has experienced unexpected growth in student population over the past year and touted the construction of the new 690-student Sgt. James J. Hill School (the name for the new McKinley School), which will sit at the current Hill Park site.
He also trumpeted the news that Revere students scored second only to Cambridge students on the MCAS in the total urban school district: “This is a real tribute to our dedicated teachers and results-driven administrators… Our children are the lifeblood and future of our city, and we share equal obligation as a community to give each and every child the best possible chance of a successful life.”
Of his economic initiatives, Rizzo cited the Economic Development Summit that his administration hosted at the Marriot this past fall as a major success. The event drew more than 150 potential developers, he noted. He stated: “I am pleased to say that all of our conversations with many of these participants are ongoing. “My office will continue to nurture these budding business relationships and incentivize new investments whenever possible to help spur job creation. We’ll offer a business-friendly environment and ensure that Revere is an economically stable city for generations to come.”
The prospect of a $1 billion casino at Suffolk Downs remains in the wings as Revere residents await the details of the mitigation package being hammered out between Suffolk Downs and negotiation teams from both Rizzo’s and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s administrations.
“This has been an arduous and at times frustrating process,” Rizzo said. “However, I am very pleased to say that I do believe we are very close, possibly just a few weeks away, from bringing this agreement to fruition.” He continued: “It is important to me and to my negotiating team that we have an agreement that is fair to the developer and to not put them out of business before they open—but also, [to] be fair to our residents, who will live with this agreement and subsequent impacts for at least fifteen years…”
He brought attention to the infrastructural work performed by the building department and DPW, work that is important to the city’s sustainability, though it often goes unnoticed, he said.
“The city of Revere is an incredible place to live, work, and raise a family,” enthused Rizzo.