Delivered on Thursday, March 3, 2022 by Mayor Brian Arrigo
Good evening and thank you. It feels really good to be back in the same room with you all.
I’m grateful to our hosts tonight, the Springhill Suites by Marriott. We’re here together at the first full-service hotel to open on Revere Beach since the 1950s, when people from all over New England flocked to the restaurants, attractions and amenities that lined our shore. Tonight, we mark the achievement of what we always knew Waterfront Square could and should be: a first-class welcome for visitors and residents alike, a powerful contributor to our commercial tax base and a slate of new employers eager to tap into our local workforce.
Less than 300 yards from where I’m standing lies the next chapter in our story of resiliency and resurgence. A transformative, state-of-the-art Revere High School will anchor the new identity of Wonderland. And we will acquire and build it without asking our residents to approve a tax override. What would have been a fantasy just a decade ago is our reality today.
Because when we grow here, we can deliver the best urban education in the country for our young people right across the street.
When we welcome national and international brands to reimagine long vacant parcels, we can deliver new local jobs – 1,000 and counting – that provide a living wage and tap into our residents’ talents.
When we challenge conventional thinking about what’s possible, we can deliver the high-quality services that our residents deserve.
Indeed, Revere has changed and grown dramatically since we began our work together in 2016. Change and growth: two words that carry a lot of weight in this city. Change can be scary. Growth does not often come without some pain.
When you elected me as your mayor, you chose vision and growth over stagnation. You embraced change to move past the status quo. You put your trust in me. That I would ensure, in Revere, change means a better life for our residents. And that growth is met in equal measure with a commitment to the fundamentals.
Today, we are emerging from some of the darkest times in our modern history poised to accomplish for our residents things we haven’t been able to do in decades. We do not find ourselves here by accident. For the past six years we have worked intentionally, collaboratively, diligently. To achieve the strongest financial position in our city’s history. To control our own destiny as we develop. And to build a modern, efficient and honest city government that, put simply, improves lives.
We will continue to aggressively pursue economic opportunities that help us deliver on these promises. The redevelopment of Suffolk Downs will put Revere on the map as the region’s next frontier for the life sciences and biotech industries. $130 million in private investment will be the catalyst for state and federal funding to transform underutilized Riverfront land into open space, a community boating center and a revitalized Gibson Park – all designed in alignment with our climate resiliency work. As Amazon readies its second Revere facility for operations, we will explore opportunities for smarter land use along Squire Road. A roadway long regarded as uninviting and inaccessible will combine housing, transit and infrastructure improvements to form a vibrant, mixed-use corridor. Here on the beach and across the city, a strong return of the restaurant and hospitality industry has generated millions in tax revenue and will only continue to flourish.
We are no longer a pass through but a city of destinations. This spring, we will launch Next Stop Revere, by Land, Sea or T. It will be the city’s first intentional initiative to capture millions more in revenue from visitors to Revere Beach. The office will promote all of the characteristics that make our city great, and act as a connector to support our businesses in reaping the benefits. Year-round event programming – from ice skating to kite surfing, and holiday markets to lighting installations – will make Revere the place to be, no matter the season.
All of our growth has laid the groundwork for more. We have done it the right way. And it has given us the ability to invest in our greatest asset – our people – and their quality of life.
First and foremost, we will invest so that families that have called Revere home for generations can afford to stay, while at the same time welcoming new residents who want to put down roots. It’s a challenge facing every growing city, and our work is well underway.
In August, in partnership with our city councilors, we established our first ever Affordable Housing Trust Fund, seeded with $100,000 and an annual commitment of 10% of our free cash. This year these funds will begin providing residents with mortgage relief, home buyer assistance and support in completing critical home improvements.
We will again ask the Council for its support this spring, in approving our first ever inclusionary zoning bylaws, and requiring developers to join our efforts in creating and maintaining affordability.
And we will develop our first ever Housing Production Plan, to help us fully understand the community need, and smartly identify properties for affordable housing development.
At the same time, we will continue to find new ways to put money back into the pockets of homeowners.
For the first time in 50 years, we are sharpening our pencils on commercial property assessments to lessen residential tax burden. By summer, every owner-occupied property in the city will receive $250 to help support housing costs. And our senior tax exemption program will continue. Since its establishment in 2019, we’ve returned more than $500 each year to hundreds of homeowners over the age of 65.
Our growth will also power investment in world-class public facilities and services befitting a city with a future as bright as ours.
It starts with a responsive government, one that has resolved more than 33,000 service requests from residents since we launched Revere311 five years ago.
Over the next three years we will invest more than $50 million in our public infrastructure. Upgrades to our roads, sidewalks, and drainage systems will keep pace with our growth. And in the spring we will break ground on a new Public Works facility to support a revitalized department that has never worked harder for our residents.
Construction of the long-awaited Point of Pines fire station will also begin this summer. And for the first time in three decades our fire department, led by Chief Chris Bright, will be fully funded to staff every position.
The Revere Police department will continue its legacy of pioneering modern policing strategies. For the first time, behavioral health specialists will provide our officers with crisis response support as needed, reducing unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system and helping residents in need of mental health or substance use services. Thank you Chief Callahan for your leadership in this area.
Finally, an additional $7 million in annual funding through the Student Opportunity Act will help us better engage our Revere Public Schools families, close achievement gaps, and provide more holistic services to our students. Dr. Kelly, you have guided our students and families through the challenges of a pandemic with an ever-steady hand, and as we emerge on the other side, you have positioned us to do even more to empower the next generation of Revere leaders. Thank you.
Municipalities like ours across the nation are facing difficult decisions as a result of the pandemic. We are charting a different course. Our strong financial management and steadily improving bond rating has positioned us to seize on opportunities, not just at Wonderland, but across the city. And we’ve heard our residents loud and clear when they’ve asked for more programming for our families and children, and more health and wellness services for all ages.
On January 1, the City of Revere took control of the space at the former Greater Boston Fitness, where we will operate the Robert J. Haas Health and Wellness Center. With an anticipated Spring opening, our first ever health and wellness center will support residents’ physical and mental health – with access to low-cost gym memberships, free recreational programming, nutritional counseling and more. We’re joined tonight by the Haas family. I want to thank you for sharing him with the city he loved for so many years. His legacy will be felt by generations of Revere residents.
At the former McKinley School, we will engage community members in a visioning process to reprogram 36,000 square feet of space for early education, child care and community use.
In Beachmont, we will reimagine parkland to provide state of the art, year-round recreational space.
And at the former League for Special Needs we will offer culinary workforce development training, a commercial kitchen to support the launch of new products and businesses, and continue to operate the weekly food pantry that has been vital to our most vulnerable community members. This food systems hub will address the root causes of food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic.
COVID-19 has shown us the importance of good health, and the role of city government to ensure our residents are safely able to work, live and pursue happiness, now and in the future. This year we will learn to live with COVID as we do with other illnesses; it will no longer disrupt our daily lives, our kids will stay in their classrooms; and our businesses will keep their doors open. Our public health team will finally be able to shift its focus to prevention, through education, sound policy and critical services. To the nearly 54,000 residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect our community and make a healthier future possible: thank you.
Together we will heal from the tremendous loss we’ve experienced over the past two years and navigate the growth and opportunity that lies ahead. As we have come back together in this room tonight, we must continue to reach out to one another – to find common ground, overcome the divisiveness that has dominated our screens for too long, and support each other through yet another time of uncertainty and collective grief brought on by war. Our Administration will practice what we preach. Beginning in May, my team and I will go ward to ward to engage with residents in person, listen to your hopes and expectations for our city, and seek out the perspectives that don’t always find their way to City Hall.
In June of 2020, I committed to calling out and eliminating racism in our city. In 2022, the call remains the same. Racism is not welcome in the City of Revere. Our actions speak louder than words. Meaningful work to right decades of injustices must continue for years to come.
Today 55 percent of our residents identify as a race or ethnic group other than white, compared to 38 percent just a decade ago. Over the past 21 months, we’ve developed a racial equity action plan to create a municipal government that better represents the growing diversity of our city. We must continue to work together to build a city that embraces the changes required to become the inclusive and welcoming city that we aspire to be. When our residents look to City Hall for support, at every level, they see people who look like them, can speak their language, and understand their lived experience.
We are a changed city, in so many ways, and the fastest growing in the Commonwealth. If we do not adapt to change, we will be left behind. Tonight I assure you that we will not measure our growth simply by the number of people who live here, but in the quality of life we provide to our residents, and in our readiness – and willingness – to capitalize on every opportunity that our growth brings. We will lean in to our growth mindset, and emerge from the COVID era with new energy to execute on thoughtfully laid plans. We will unapologetically continue to raise the bar. This is the state of our city.