By Aaron Keebaugh
As the New Year gets underway, leadership changes are taking place in several organizations around the city. Last week witnessed the election of a new city council president and vice president.
In a midday ceremony at Casa Lucia’s last Wednesday, the Revere Chamber of Commerce installed its executive officers and board of directors for the coming year. Mayor Dan Rizzo, serving as guest speaker and master of ceremonies, administered the oath of office.
“It’s always very comfortable for me at the Chamber of Commerce,” Rizzo recalled about his experience with the organization. “I can’t say enough about what it did for my business…and for me.”
Bob Upton took the helm as president of the Chamber. He follows in the footsteps of Laurie D’Amico, who moved into the advising position of immediate past president.
“It’s been a fabulous three years,” said D’Amico. “I am so honored and proud to be part of the board… I can’t wait to call Bob [Upton] fifty times a day.”
Upton said, “The face of our board is getting younger—I look forward to moving forward with the Chamber of Commerce.”
Other executive officers taking the oath were Kerri Abrams, who became vice president, Stephan Miliotis, the new treasurer, and Lila Kanj, who will serve as secretary. John Barry, John Beatrice, Manuel Bolivar, Karen Gallo, Justin Puopolo, James Williams, Jr., Sean Wilson, and Jim Velaquez were sworn in as the new board of directors.
To the small crowd gathered for the event, Mayor Rizzo gave a shortened version of his State of the City address, highlighting the main points from the 20-minute speech he gave in the Council Chamber last Monday.
He noted that he was able to set aside money in his first year for salary increases on union contracts, which, he explained, “makes a healthy relationship between city hall and its employees.” The city had a strong year with its revenue, he added, noting that the city has $1.2 million in its free-cash balance. In addition, the city’s bond rating was also upgraded, he said.
The mayor touched on the CitiStat model and performance-based budgeting, which he first used with the police department and DPW this past year. The system helped identify funding to immediately hire five new police officers, which are “desperately needed,” he stated. He added that the increased police presence on Broadway will enhance the revitalization of the business district, because people will feel safer walking the street. “There’s a difference between being safe and feeling safe,” Rizzo remarked.
The mayor also stated, “We’re becoming a more regional type of community.” He explained that the city will partner with neighboring cities on several projects, and Revere will split the cost with Winthrop for a librarian, and Revere’s Columbus Day Parade will have some help from neighbors in East Boston.
On the economic front, Rizzo discussed future development for the Wonderland TOD project, which will include a 300 room hotel and 300-plus-room upscale apartment complex to be financed with $80 to $90 million in public funds. The project, he said, will be a catalyst for further development in that area.
He also mentioned that he was still in conversation with The Kraft Group about bringing a professional soccer team to Revere. “Business is not the enemy. Business to me is a necessity,” Rizzo remarked, adding, “…things like that…make Revere a place to be.”