By Neil Zolot
The City Council is requesting Mayor Carlo DeMaria to consider a $15,000 appropriation to fund a Transportation Planning Division to study “the public transportation needs of community members not adequately addressed by current services” at their meeting on Monday. “There are pockets of the city not well served, especially if you’re far from Broadway or Main Street or disabled or elderly,” City Transportation Planner Jay Monty admitted.
The situation could become even more acute if the area around Riverside Playground is developed. Wynn Resorts, operator of Encore Boston Harbor, bought land in the area to swap open land back to the city to compensate for casino land use. Not all the land is being returned, however, and there are as yet unformulated plans on how it will be used.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria envisions part of the area as the site of a new Everett High School. “If that area grows, we’ll have to find a better way to serve it.”
Any new service would be separate from the Transportation Management Association, which Monty explained is a sort of subscription service for some businesses and developments, or the Encore casino shuttle. “Encore was required to have employee and customer shuttles, which were ill defined,” Monty remembers. “It evolved into a fixed route shuttle, which also stops at Everett Square. The TMA is a similar mitigation requirement for new developments.”
He estimated it would take six months to complete the process, including hiring a consultant and “outreach to people who might use the service.” Money might be found in his department budget or they’ll have to go to the City Council for an appropriation.
During the City Council meeting and the Ways and Means Subcommittee meeting that proceeded it, a resolution introduced by Ward 3 Councillor Darren Costa “requesting the administration and Engineering Department appear to discuss flooding issues in the River Front Overlay District and how the proposed Site Plan for the area would affect flooding on Air Force Road and abutting roads” near Riverside Playground was discussed.
Costa wants the issue addressed in any renegotiation of the Host Agreement with Encore. “I want to make sure infrastructure is in place as part of site plans,” he said.
Flooding is a problem all over the city. In discussion, Engineering Director Erik Swanson said there is a drainage infrastructure in place, but “it was designed hundreds of years ago and it rains differently now. It rains more and the pipes can’t handle it. When we have storms like we did last summer, it’s going to flood,” a reference to short duration of heavy rain.
He feels a solution is for “developers to design a site in such a way it absorbs water. That will minimize flooding.”
In other news, the Council appropriated $130,000 to the Health Department to hire additional school nurses to assist current school nurses at various schools, including the High School and Keverian, Lafayette, Madeline English and Parlin Schools. “These nurses will try to alleviate some of the paperwork so the full-time nurses that know the complicated cases can attend to students,” Public Health Director Sabrina Firicano explained.
The hires will be for the next month or two until more full-time nurses can be hired. “We’re trying to fill shortages,” Firicano said. “If there are three or four callouts, we have an issue.”
“I support this,” Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins reacted. “I’m glad this is happening. I support this 100%.”