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City officials answer councillors’ infrastructure questions

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By Neil Zolot


EVERETT – Councillor-at-Large Guerline Alcy Jabouin asked city officials how they would handle infrastructure improvements, particularly related to water, wastewater and sewage services as a result of rapid development, at the City Council meeting on Monday, March 25. “Everybody wants to build in Everett and we feel we’re being suffocated and won’t be able to breathe,” she said. “I feel like I’ll wake up and won’t be able to turn on my water.”

“We have plans to accommodate future needs,” stated City Engineer Erik Swanson. “We’re focused on areas with new development. Additional development in already established areas is not as critical as areas of new development, such as the Commercial Triangle south of Revere Beach Parkway/Route 16. There’s enough redundancy in areas already developed, but not in areas south of Revere Beach Parkway.”

He also said existing pipes are “substantial. The pipes were installed with a build-out in mind. Pipes are sized to accommodate a full build-out. We’re working with consultants to understand our needs. That study isn’t done yet.”

“We’re working with developers to tell us what we need to do for future development,” Swanson said regarding a question related to any future development. “It’s being worked on now. There are also plans to replace existing pipes in existing sections. There are plans to replace lead service lines in the next 18 months. Plans are not finished for undeveloped sections.”

Jabouin asked about financial obligations to homeowners should pipe replacement be deemed necessary. The City’s Chief Financial Officer, Eric Demas, answered, “The City is fully insured.”

“If it’s determined it’s the City’s fault, the City would be financially responsible,” City Solicitor Colleen Mejia added. “If it’s determined it’s the homeowner’s responsibility, the City wouldn’t be.” The determination would be made by City officials and insurance adjusters.

“Where do the City and homeowners’ pipes meet?” asked Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese, who, ironically, has owned multiple properties throughout the city for many years. Swanson answered that homeowners are responsible for pipes for their house to the main.

After the meeting, Jabouin felt frustrated. “I feel like we’re not getting ready for what’s about to happen,” she said. “I’m not against development, but I’m against having all these new units no one can afford and want to know if we’re dealing with the infrastructure to accommodate all the development. What are our plans? Everett is an old city and we’ll have backups because of all the additional development our infrastructure won’t be able to handle.”

Also addressed at the meeting, the councillors approved a proposal for the Police Department to execute a contract with software developers Equature for five years for servicing and maintaining the 911 Dispatch equipment. On Monday, March 18, the Ways and Means Subcommittee recommended approval on the matter, which was referred to them at a full Council meeting on Monday, March 11. The cost will be approximately $13,857 for the first year and $2,438.53 for each of the remaining four years, with funds already in the budget for the plan.

City councillors also approved a request to transfer $7,552,930 from Budgetary Fund Balance (Free Cash) into the following funds: General Stabilization Fund ($2,265,879), Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Liability Trust Fund ($2,265,879) and Capital Improvement Stabilization Fund ($3,021,172). “These funds are going into stabilization funds,” Ward 5 Councillor and City Council President Robert Van Campen informed his colleagues after reading the motion. “Appropriation will require additional action.”

“The City Council has full authority on spending,” Demas elaborated further. “It’s just a transfer to build reserves.”

Before the transfers the OPEB fund totaled $11,379,025; the General Stabilization Fund, $8,262,033 and the Capital Improvement Stabilization Fund, $5,027,184.

Jabouin and Marchese voted against approval of the transfers. “I’m not against the transfers, but we usually ask for detailed information, which we didn’t get,” Jabouin said about her vote.

A discussion about borrowing $3,000,000 to fund Everett Square improvements was tabled until a Special Meeting at a later date.

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