Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Matewsky spoke once again about his ongoing effort to construct a public safety complex to service Lower Broadway and Encore Boston Harbor.
He said that during the past year, more than 1,500 emergency calls originated from that part of the city. “That’s a lot of calls,” Matewsky said during the February 14 City Council meeting, adding that there is currently no synchronization between the response times from the Fire Department and Cataldo Ambulance Service. “Cataldo’s service is not what it used to be. From my own experiences and observations, the Fire Department arrives almost 10 minutes before the ambulance.”
Matewsky also said the proposed East of Broadway development underscores the need for a public safety building. He said the facility would need to house police and fire services as well as an ambulance. “This is a $25 million item we’re talking about, maybe more,” he said.
Matewsky also mentioned a possible site for the building. “As we all know, Exxon is moving out; that’s almost 100 acres,” he said.
Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins said a public safety building is long overdue. “The population is growing, development is growing – this should’ve been there since the casino was built,” she said.
Lieutenant Craig Hardy, president of Everett Firefighters Union Local 143, said the department desperately needs a new fire station. “We’ve needed it for a long time,” he said.
Although the union supports adding an ambulance to the Fire Department, it will not be the ultimate solution. “Just understand it’s not a cure-all,” said Hardy.
However, Hardy said manpower is what the Fire Department is really lacking. “We have a grant sitting on the shelf right now from the federal government for eight members,” he said. “We need to use that grant.”
The City Council voted unanimously to refer the matter to Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his administration.
Glendale Towers mural
In other news, the councillors pledged their support for artist Kevin Angulo to create a mural at Glendale Towers on Ferry Street.
“This project isn’t just about me,” he said, adding that the project could take up to five weeks to complete. “This is for the arts and the growth of the arts in the city.”
Angulo said he may also request assistance from fellow artist Stephanie Mills and Annette LeRay, a longtime art teacher at Everett High School.
Angulo also presented the idea of establishing an Arts Commission. “I’ve thought about an Arts Commission solely dedicated to the pursuit of public art in the city,” he said, adding that the Arts Commission in Cambridge has been quite successful.
Martins expressed her support for the endeavor. “I love your vision, I love your ambition,” she said. “I love to hear a voice for the arts in our Chambers.”
Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas said the city has made “no firm commitments” as to how it will use the $46 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). However, he said the city is working with Anser Advisory to determine the best use of the funds. “There’s not a lot of companies that do this,” said Demas.
He also said the U.S. Treasury Department has released ARPA’s Final Rule, which provides greater flexibility for acceptable uses. The Final Rule will take effect on April 1.
Demas said part of the funding could be used for the vaccination clinics. “The vaccine program that the state was offering – they basically passed that on to communities,” he said. “We’re the ones that are running and funding those vaccine programs.”
There will be an ARPA page on the city’s website and a series of outdoor community meetings that will be held when the weather gets warmer.
The City Council also voted to reappoint five members to the Library Board of Trustees. They are Mark Correia, James LaVecchio, Mary Fiorentino, Janet Colameta and Robyn Kelly.
Correia’s term expires on March 1, 2023, while LaVecchio and Fiorentino will serve until March 1, 2024. Kelly will serve a three-year term which expires on March 1, 2025.
In addition, James Booker was reappointed to the Council on Aging for a two-year term ending on March 1, 2024.