2018 – Revere in Review
By The Advocate
Giannino and McKenna made history: first female City Council leaders
Jessica Giannino and Joanne McKenna made history during the city’s inauguration ceremony – becoming the first female duo in Revere to lead the City Council. On January 1, the City Council voted unanimously: Giannino became its president and McKenna became its vice president.
Giannino said she can’t wait to be City Council president again. “It is always an honor to do this and I promise to do my best,” she said. “This is my seventh year on the council and to be elected president twice is a pretty big deal.”
City Council wants City Clerk for the long term
The Revere City Council voted in favor of keeping City Clerk Ashley Melnik for five more years and was interested in having her for even longer. The City Council unanimously voted to extend her contract as city clerk for five years.
Suffolk Downs developer seeks zoning change
The HYM Investment Group met with the City Council to discuss plans for a zoning amendment for the Suffolk Downs Overlay District. Tom O’Brien of HYM addressed the City Council with respect to a proposal for a zoning amendment. The Suffolk Downs Overlay District includes the Beachmont portion of the 160-acre site.
His number one priority for the Suffolk Downs site, stated O’Brien, is to make it a mixed-use development featuring green space on the East Boston side, and in Revere, a landscaped amphitheater. In terms of commercial development, Beachmont Square will feature neighborhood retail. Belle Isle Square will be created at the Suffolk Downs MBTA stop that will also include neighborhood retail. Beachmont will also have an Innovation Station as a place to attract more startup businesses and entrepreneurs.
Amazon considered Revere
Although Suffolk Downs was considered one of 20 sites to be considered for the second headquarters for Amazon, it would not be picked.
Two-alarm fire displaces 10 people; GoFundMe page set up
A two-alarm fire for approximately four hours displaced 10 people from a multifamily home. Revere firefighters responded to 81 Central Ave. and found fire burning out of the back of the building. No one was injured in the fire, but 10 people were displaced, including five from 79 Central Ave. The Red Cross worked with the residents to find temporary housing. A pet bird perished in the fire, but the dogs and cats escaped. Chelsea, Everett and Malden aided Revere firefighters.
Cash Crop: City Council wants marijuana tax
A medical marijuana facility is expected to open in Revere on Railroad Avenue, and Councillor-at-Large Steve Morabito wants the city to charge a 3 percent tax. At a City Council meeting, he requested that the City Council accept Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64N, Section 3 as amended by Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017. This allows the city to have a 3 percent sales tax on anything that is sold at the facility. The money raised from the tax will be used to fund education on substance abuse and to help with addiction recovery. The City Council sent the motion to the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee.
Fire destroys Revere landmark Sozio store
The Revere landmark Sozio at 61 Squire Road was destroyed on Saturday night after a five-alarm fire demolished the building. The Revere Fire Department was called to the scene, where fire ravaged throughout the store; firefighters encountered flames and heavy smoke, which could be seen from Boston and as far north as Lynnfield, bursting out of the right side of the building. Chelsea, Everett and Malden responded to fight the five-alarm fire.
Sozio has been standing on Route 60 for decades. Sozio’s owner, Chuck Sozio, 91, opened the Revere store in 1945 as a Frigidaire dealer and expanded his showrooms to Cambridge, Danvers and Neponset Circle in Dorchester, becoming known as the leading retailer in collectibles of 1950’s and 1960’s retro and vintage furniture and appliances.
Damages have been estimated to be between $4 and $5 million. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Councillors want answers to Sagamore Street flooding problem
The City Council wants to meet with engineering consultants CDM Smith to discuss long-term solutions to Revere’s flooding problems. In a motion submitted by City Councillors John Powers and Dan Rizzo, Mayor Brian Arrigo is requested to set up a meeting with CDM Smith to discuss the longtime flooding issues at Sagamore Street, the meeting to be held in conjunction with the City Council’s Public Works Subcommittee and to include impacted residents.
“We have serious flooding problems down there,” Powers said. “We really have to sit down and talk about it. Let’s get this thing resolved.”
Residents upset over high property assessments
The Board of Assessors appeared before the City Council after several residents complained about new property assessments and the rising cost to live in the Beach City. According to Board of Assessors Chairman Dana Brangiforte, along with Members John Verrengia and Mathew McGrath, the city will have to raise $82 million on the tax levy to meet all budget requirements.
Brangiforte stated that the assessments reflect the current real estate market and his board has no control over setting the tax rate. Brangiforte said that for 2018 the tax rates are $12.96 for residential and $25.36 for commercial property. In 2017 the residential tax rate was $13.99 and for commercial property, $27.53.
In wake of Parkland School shootings, Dr. Kelly assures concerned parents
After the tragic school shooting at the Parkland, Fla., high school which claimed 17 lives, the Revere School Committee discussed school safety and what they’re doing to prevent such tragedies. “We want you to know our students are safe,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly said at the School Committee meeting. Dr. Kelly said the department could not tell the public the school department’s emergency plan, out of safety reasons, but she said the department has a relationship with Revere police and fire and is prepared for any situation.
In State of the City address, Arrigo says Revere’s future is bright
In his State of the City address, Mayor Arrigo said Revere is on the brink of “positive historic transformation.” On March 2 at the auditorium at the Susan B. Anthony School, Arrigo outlined his goals for the coming year. One of his main priorities was the School Department; he said there are currently 8,000 students enrolled, which is a 14 percent increase in five years. He believes families are flocking to Revere in part because of the quality education students gain.
Without a buyer, NECCO faces layoffs, then closes plant in July
Goodbye to the self-styled “country’s oldest continuously operating candy company” – NECCO, the 171-year-old confectionary company located on the American Legion Highway, announced they might have to lay off almost 400 workers and shut down their manufacturing plant if they can’t find a buyer by May 6. Last year Atlantic Management Corp. bought the 55 acres of the site for $54.5 million with hopes of turning that space into an area for robotics and biotech. NECCO’s would stun the city when it closed its plant in July without any notice – leaving hundreds jobless. The administration, along with area businesses, would host job fairs for workers.
Revere gets record $11.2 million in Free Cash
Mayor Arrigo announced $11.2 million in Free Cash for both the General Fund and Water & Sewer Enterprise Fund. At a City Council meeting, councillors accepted the Free Cash and were delighted over the news. “This amount certified is the highest Revere has ever seen,” said Arrigo.
Pot tax passes; Suffolk Downs overlay district moves forward
The City Council on March 19 voted in favor of accepting a state law that would allow the city to impose a three percent tax on any marijuana purchased. At the March 19 City Council meeting, councillors unanimously voted in favor of Mass. General Laws Chapter 64N, Section 3 as amended by Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017, which was first presented in a motion from Councillor-at-Large Steve Morabito. According to the state provisions, the law allows a not greater than 3 percent local tax option on marijuana sales. The state law imposes that the revenue generated from the local tax option be used to fund education on substance abuse and to help with addiction recovery, which is what Morabito’s motion desired.
“This will allow the city to reap the benefits of the only medical marijuana facility when it comes to Revere,” Morabito said. ”This will go to help the people of Revere.”
The new ordinance also allows for an additional 3 percent tax for five years as part of a host community agreement with any facility in the city.
Overlay district passed
During the same meeting, the City Council passed the Suffolk Downs Overlay District proposed by The HYM Investment Group. HYM plans to turn Suffolk Downs into a mixed-use development filled with residential, commercial and office space. Tom O’Brien of HYM Investments said one of the focal points of the project is the innovation center at Beachmont. The building will be a co-working facility for different offices and will be about 50,000 square feet. HYM plans to build this in the first phase of the plan, and it will be about a $50 million investment.
Despite protest, City Council approves special permit for beach development
In what appears to be an “about-face” to a longtime call for a residential development moratorium in the ward 1 and 5 areas of the Beach City, the City Council approved a development that would create an additional 145 apartments on Revere Beach Boulevard. At a City Council meeting, A Chara Development requested to develop a six-story mixed-use structure at 320-327 Revere Beach Blvd. The units will be comprised of studio/one-bedroom units and two-bedroom units and will offer parking in a lot below the residences. The space would also feature a bar or restaurant as well as the popular Bianchi’s Pizza on the beach boulevard. Despite the objections of nearby residents, most of the councillors seemed to approve the project.
Bianchi’s Pizza eventually walked away from the project and moved to Renzo’s Bar just down the street.
Mayor calls city’s upgraded bond rating “historical”
Revere’s bond rating has increased in a positive direction, according to the mayor. At a City Council meeting, Mayor Arrigo shared that the city received a bond rating upgrade from “AA-negative” to “AA-stable” from Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings.
Facing retrial, Revere man admits to off-duty officer’s ’07 slaying
More than a decade after he shot and killed off-duty Revere Police Officer Daniel Talbot, a Revere man admitted his guilt rather than face the new trial he was granted when an appellate court reversed his murder conviction, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said. Robert Iacoviello, Jr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and accepted a 14-year prison term rather than proceed to trial on April 30 for second-degree murder – the charge for which a Suffolk Superior Court jury convicted him in 2010, and which the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed in 2016 after finding flaws in the trial judge’s jury instructions.
Mayor releases police dept. organizational review
The City Council received the independent organizational review of the Revere Police Department authorized by Mayor Brian Arrigo in a communication on Monday evening. At a City Council meeting, he presented the review. “We are going to take a hard look at these recommendations,” said Arrigo, referring to what amounts to an overhaul of policies and personnel structure throughout the entire department.
Arrigo hired Ryan Strategies Group last year to see how the Police Department can improve. In a report, Ryan Strategies Group suggests there are 37 distinct recommendations, generally in three categories: 1) the department’s need to be intentional about engaging with the community and employing contemporary community policing strategies; 2) the department needs to be restructured so there are clear lines of accountability; and 3) the department needs to shift personnel resources and reconsider some of its methods of service delivery in order to free up resources that can be redirected to the frontline patrol officer function.
Council approves $22.5m loan order for new DPW building
The City Council unanimously approved a $22.5 million loan order for a new Department of Public Works building to replace the dilapidated and dangerous Charger Street building. The proposed new building has two-story structure that will have lockers, showers, a lunch area, space for certain equipment and an area for the administrative staff.
Councillors discuss city’s rodent issue
It seems like every few months the City Council attempts to tackle the rodent issue. At a City Council meeting, two City Councillors presented almost identical motions to do just that. Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe requested the city’s board of health and inspectional services department appear before the City Council with a plan and explanation of the ongoing efforts to attack rodent issues. In a separate motion, Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo requested the city take a three pronged approach to handle the rats that included purchasing 2,000 bait boxes, investing in placing box owls in areas of over proliferation and working with neighboring cities to follow similar techniques. The motions were sent to Mayor Arrigo’s desk.
City Council passes $206.9M budget
The Revere City Council made only one cut to the mayor’s proposed $206,992,903 FY19 budget, which was unanimously passed. During the Ways and Means Subcommittee meeting, the City Council proposed their budget cuts after a week-long meeting with department heads to discuss the budget. Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo was the only councillor to propose cuts.
Council again reluctantly approves loan orders
The City Council wasn’t happy about it but once again approved $11.75 million in loan orders for CDM Smith at the last meeting.
The City Council approved a loan order in the amount of $1,000,000 for Phase 10 Field Investigations, Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) Planning Project No. 4387; a loan order in the amount of $4,700,000 for Phase 9 Construction–Infiltration/Inflow, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Pump Station and Drainage, CWSRF Construction Project No. 4440; a loan order in the amount of $500,000 for the Illicit Connection Detection and Sump Pump Investigations, CWSRF Planning Project No. 4386; a loan order in the amount of $2,000,000 for Illicit Connection & Sump Pump Removal Program, CWSRF Construction Project No. 4439; a loan order in the amount of $550,000 for Planning and Design of Oak Island Water Main Improvements; and a loan order in the amount of $3,000,000 for Oak Island Water Main Improvements, DWSRF Construction Project No. 4405.
Survey shows people feel safe in Revere schools
According to a survey conducted by Revere parents, 90 percent of the Revere school community feels safe in Revere schools. There were 101 participants in the survey with 34 being students, 29 being parents, 21 being teachers and the rest identifying themselves as other. Ninety percent of the participants said they feel safe or somewhat safe in school. The survey revealed that 78 percent of people do not feel anxious about their safety; however, 22 percent do feel anxious.
Another hotel proposed for the Beach City
Revere seems to be a beacon for hotel developers, and another hotel would like to be a part of that hotel boom.
JBX Developers (Lixi Group) appeared before the Site Plan Review Board with plans for a hotel at 58 Revere Beach Blvd. The company is asking to build a 12-story hotel with 156 rooms, which will need a special permit from the City Council to get the go-ahead. This proposed hotel will be adjacent to another hotel JBX Developers is currently constructing. Ning Lu, of JBX, said JBX used the beach as inspiration for the new building design. The first hotel was like a sandcastle, and the second hotel’s vision would be reminiscent of the water
Mayor calls first phase of rodent control program a success
Over 560 property owners responded to Phase One of the City’s intensified effort to control rodent infestation in the past three weeks. “The four professional exterminators retained by the City have been provided with all the addresses; most have been addressed; and the remaining locations will be addressed in the near future,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “But this is not the end of our effort.”
Mayor: Dept. audits to continue in wake of parking dept. audit
Two placed on unpaid administrative leave during AG’s investigation
Mayor Brian Arrigo said his administration will be looking at five departments following the results of two reports, the first by CliftonLarsonAllen, a consulting service that reviewed the city’s policies and procedures and sparked a review of the city’s Parking Dept. by the CPA firm of Roselli, Clark & Associates. Subsequently, two of the department’s employees were placed on unpaid administrative leave.
Arrigo revealed to the City Council the results of the CPA firm’s audit that revealed the city finances and how the parking department has been in disarray for years. Arrigo said that he called for the audit in March 2016 after he first took office, seeking a review of all departments and finances. According to the mayor, $790,000 of the $2.2 million will be returned to the city’s general fund and the remaining funds will be returned to federal and state sources.
Annual Sand Sculpting Festival a success
It was estimated that over half a million people flocked to Revere Beach for the 15th Annual International Sand Sculpting Festival. The three-day festival showcased music, food, fireworks and impressive sandcastles. Fifteen artists from all around the world molded a 15-ton pile of sand into masterpieces.
$1.1M Homeland Security grant will boost Fire Dept. ranks
Mayor Arrigo announced that the Revere Fire Department has been awarded a $1.1 million SAFER Grant by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant will help the fire department increase from 102 to 106 firefighters.
Beach buildup continues: 200 residential units proposed for Ocean Ave., Boulevard
According to a posting on the developer website BLDUP.com, Boston-based Gate Residential, which purchased the property at 50 Ocean Ave. for $8 million, is moving forward in its construction of two levels of parking under five levels of residential spaces within a 0.74-acre area of land on Ocean Avenue beachfront. Plans call for a 127-unit mixed-use development at 21 Revere Beach Blvd. and 73 units in the rear building at 20-50 Ocean Ave. for a combined total of 200 units. The development includes a restaurant, a series of arcade/retail spaces, and an area that will have upgraded sidewalks and a rebuilt boardwalk. Initial plans call for 142 spaces. The company is also building 38 spaces on the Ocean Avenue parcel.
Also approved for possible development is the former Ming’s Chinese restaurant site at 90 Ocean Ave., which is adjacent to the proposed project. It is currently approved for 75 residential units.
Councillors voice frustration over lack of info on business manager suspension, outdoor water meter readings
During a City Council meeting, councillors expressed their frustration about not being officially notified by city officials that outdoor water meters were inaccurately read at approximately 120 homes, leading to a City Hall employee being placed on unpaid administrative leave.
“It is not my practice, nor is it an advisable personnel practice, to report on every administrative personnel/human resource issue that arises in the course of city business,” Mayor Brian Arrigo wrote in an email that was labeled as confidential. “Personnel matters are sensitive and frequently confidential. In response to several calls, however, I want to clarify an administrative/human resources matter that has generated inaccurate, misleading, and unfair gossip.”
Council President Jessica Giannino said no one should be getting their news on social media; although it was well intended, it should be from a body. “City Council should be made aware of issues, although it may not be our place to discuss them,” Giannino said.
Governor appoints Interim Suffolk County District Attorney
Governor Charlie Baker announced the appointment of Assistant District Attorney John P. Pappas as Suffolk County District Attorney to serve out the remainder of District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s term. Pappas will remain in the post until the next District Attorney, to be elected on November 6, is sworn in next January. A 24-year veteran prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Pappas has served since 2011 as Chief Trial Counsel in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Revere murder trial ends in guilty verdict
A Suffolk Superior Court jury on Sept. 28 convicted an East Boston man of murder and other charges for his role in the 2015 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Andres Jaramillo in Revere, Suffolk County District Attorney John P. Pappas said. Jurors deliberated for about three days before finding Luis Urbaez, 33, guilty of second-degree murder for killing Jaramillo, armed assault with intent to murder for shooting at but not hitting a second teen, and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Revere condo fire ruled accidental
Firefighters have ruled the cause of the five-alarm fire that broke out on Sept. 16 at approximately 2 p.m. along 10 Franklin Ave. as an undetermined accidental fire; 100 residents lost their homes in the 36-unit building, but none were injured. Four firefighters were injured fighting the blaze. State Department of Fire Services Spokesperson Jennifer Mieth estimated there was approximately $5 million in damage.
Sports: Football Pats take first-round in tourney over North Reading
The RHS Football Patriots started their season with losses on the scoreboard. But sometimes being the underdog with nothing to lose has its advantages, especially when you bring in some young talent with a “never-say-die” attitude. The Football Pats proved they belong in the tourney when they walked tall into North Reading for the Division 4 quarterfinal against the Hornets and walked out the victors in a 27-20 win to earn a second-round run against number 2 seed Gloucester. The Fishermen would end Revere’s tourney dreams.
Pornographic DVD inside Recreation Center donated by mistake
A pornographic DVD that caused a stir in the city after it was seen in the Recreation Department was donated to the Rec. Center by mistake, city officials said.
Police Chief James Guido said that in interviewing employees and custodians at the Recreation Center, staff told police that it wasn’t on the desk, but rather inside a box and quickly destroyed and thrown out. Guido said a Recreation Center employee donated the 375 DVDs, all of which he said were thrown out.
“We spoke to everyone, and they had no evidence that it was on the desk,” Guido said. “The allegations were unfounded, and it was an embarrassing situation. No one is denying that the video was there, but they told a police detective that the box was there for days or weeks before anyone went through it.”
Special needs boy reportedly left on bus for four hours
A bus driver and bus monitor won’t face charges because of a nonverbal, autistic boy, 4, who was reportedly left on the school bus for four hours.
“Since we don’t believe that there was any intentional criminal intent, there won’t be any charges,” Police Chief James Guido said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly said that the bus monitor, whose name she declined to release, will be on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation.
Human remains found along marsh, saddening residents
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office stated that bones found Friday morning along the Rumney Marsh are probably human remains, which has concerned area residents. According to Suffolk County District Attorney Press Secretary Jake Wark, troopers assigned to the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit, with additional State Police assets and Revere Police detectives, are investigating the remains, which were spotted behind a North View Terrace house by hunters on Friday morning. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will try to find out how the person died as investigators undertake identification efforts.
A new high school is on Revere’s horizon
Public education in Revere took a major leap forward when the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) announced its initial approval of the City of Revere’s bid for a new Revere High School.
“This is news we have wanted to hear for the past three years,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo, who appeared before the MSBA with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly. “This assures that future generations of Revere Public Schools students will have the opportunity to avail themselves of the technological features and accommodations that form the pillars of high school education in the modern age.”
Sports: Football Pats earn post-season honors
They put together one of the best seasons in school history this past fall, and head coach Lou Cicatelli’s RHS Patriots football team received a bundle of postseason honors for their performances. Six Patriots were named to the Northeastern Conference (NEC) First Team All-Conference squad for the Central Division for the 7-4 RHS team. The win total was the most for a Patriot team since the early 1980s.
Three senior captains from this year’s team were named First Team All-Conference: Devin Mathius, Darius McNeil and Frank Sims. Quarterback Jonathan Murphy, who led a very productive Revere offense, was also named All-Conference, as was placekicker Rayan Riazi, who was one of the most prolific in the NEC.