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A Mid-Year Review of 2024

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Selectmen cite accomplishments during the first six months and their remaining priorities for the year


By Mark E. Vogler


SAUGUS – Half way through 2024, a majority of Saugus selectmen are proud of several accomplishments by the town. They are particularly pleased with approval of another balanced budget by the Annual Town Meeting which maintains the town’s fiscal stability, the issuance of two new liquor licenses to local restaurants and the appointment of several experienced professionals to volunteer boards.

Meanwhile, pursuit of a third fire station to serve the west side of town tops the list of priorities for the remaining months of this year. They also want to see the town continue with the revitalization of Cliftondale Square, proceed with improvements in parks and playgrounds and fill key vacant positions in town government – including the replacement of the economic development director.

With July 1 marking the beginning of the 2025 Fiscal Year and the halfway point of 2024, The Saugus Advocate reached out to each of the five selectmen for their assessment of the key accomplishments on the town government front and what they consider to be priority projects they would like to see achieved by year’s end.

“I feel the town’s continued progress with its financial stability while also expanding the personnel in the key areas of need – namely DPW and Public Safety – is a reflection of balancing financial stability with maintaining and fulfilling the needs of our town,” Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Jeffrey Cicolini told The Saugus Advocate.

“We recently put a $6mm bond borrowing out to bid and had six investors bid on it at rates that were super competitive. This had not been the case several years ago. Saugus continues to be an attractive community for financial investors to compete to loan money which in turn saves our residents tax dollars due to reduced borrowing costs,” Cicolini said.

Board of Selectmen Chair Debra Panetta noted a number of priorities that selectmen need to address by year’s end. “The Board of Selectmen have set goals, and these goals will continue to be our priorities. These goals include working towards a third fire station (West Side fire station), the water meter replacement project, the Town-wide public safety communication infrastructure project, and improvements in our parks and playgrounds,” Panetta told The Saugus Advocate.

“We also need to deal with how we are going to pay for the new Northeast Regional Vocational School. Once we move forward with these projects, we need to continue our discussions on repurposing the schools that have gone offline. It’s also important that the Town continues with the Cliftondale Revitalization work,” Panetta said.

Selectmen are scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. on July 16 in the first floor conference room at Saugus Town Hall to get an updated briefing from Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree on goals and objectives that had been set and discussed in previous meetings.

Here’s how selectmen responded to the newspaper regarding top accomplishments so far this year and their top priorities:


Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Jeffrey Cicolini

“I am also pleased to see so many wonderful programs being put on at our senior center by the amazing staff there. Our Youth and Recreation Department and library continue to offer such a wide array of services and programs to our children,” Cicolini said in his response to The Saugus Advocate. “Having such programs available to our seniors and our children is critical to be a welcoming and sustainable community.

Cicolini mentioned several top priorities he’d like to see accomplished by the end of the year. “The top priorities will be to continue to fill open positions, continue with planned investments in improving and enhancing town amenities for residents of all ages and hopefully we will be able to award the contract for and have the winning contractor begin the feasibility study for the 3rd fire station on the West side of town,” Cicolini said. “I am also excited for various planned announcements identifying additional planned investments and enhancements to our parks and playgrounds and open spaces.”


Board of Selectmen Chair Debra Panetta

She said her list of highlights over the last six months includes:

  • The Town Manager, Selectmen, Finance Committee, Treasurer/Collector, Accounting, Department Heads, School Committee, and Town Meeting working together to pass a balanced budget. There is a great deal of time and effort that goes into preparing a budget, and then there is a lengthy review process after it is prepared.
  • Saugus being awarded the Green Communities grant for $200,000 in January was significant. These are competitive grants that fund projects that save taxpayer money while being environmentally focused.
  • We have appointed / confirmed some excellent new members to important Boards this year.

“For example, the Board of Selectmen unanimously confirmed the appointment of Joe Dorant to the Board of Health. This was a great appointment since Joe worked as an environmental engineer for 25 years for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“Another important appointment was Bob Long to the Planning Board; where Bob was a past member of the Board of Selectmen and served as Moderator of Town Meeting for many years.

  • There have been many wonderful events that have been held in Saugus over the last six months. The Saugus High School Time Capsule opening was one of these events, where residents filled the Town Hall auditorium to see what was placed in the capsule back in September 1954. The Veteran’s Council coordinated a spectacular Memorial Day parade and heartfelt ceremony. The Historical Society held its annual Strawberry Festival in June, which was well-attended. There was an open house at the MEG building, where historical information was on exhibit. The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a beautiful and heart-warming Wreaths Across America Day. The Senior Center had several great events, including their volunteer luncheon, which recognized the dedication and hard work of so many Saugus residents. The Town also facilitated the annual Tree Lighting ceremony and festivities at town hall, which always draws a huge crowd, along with hosting a celebration of Hanukkah with a Menorah Lighting Ceremony. High School graduation and scholarship night were great events for our Graduates and their families, along with other scholarship events like the Harold Vitale Scholarship Ceremony that was held at Vitale Park on June 15.
  • The Selectmen gave out licenses for several new businesses in Town. We also recently gave two all-alcoholic licenses, something the Board hasn’t done in quite some time. The Board also created a policy for outdoor seating at restaurants.
  • I was pleased that the Rail Trail bylaw I submitted passed Town Meeting unanimously. This bylaw is very important for the safety of the people using the rail trail as well as the people that live near the rail trail. This bylaw adds a layer of protection for our community.
  • The MassDEP attending the last Board of Health (BOH) meeting was of special importance since I don’t remember the MassDEP ever attending a Saugus BOH meeting. They awarded Saugus an EPA grant for a much-needed air quality monitor due to the concerns surrounding the WIN Waste facility.


Selectman Corinne Riley

“As far as the Board of Selectmen on accomplishments, we gave two available liquor licenses to establishments that will greatly improve their businesses, Paolo’s and Flogolf Lounge.

“We appointed many new and reappointed volunteers to our boards and commissions. There have been projects that have been worked on, such as the Riverwalk, the American Legion Building and the wall at Veterans Park. Also, the improvements in the Lynn Fells Parkway area with flooding, and repaving of Walnut Street in conjunction with the State.

“My top goals remain the West Side Fire Station, a subscription service communication mechanism for residents and replacement of the Golden Hills playground. I’d like to see real progress on each of these this year. I look forward to the July 16 update from the Town Manager on these and other projects.

“The same priorities I’ve been speaking about which need completion sooner than later, specifically the West Side Fire Station, communication mechanism for residents and Golden Hills Park. It seems like we keep speaking of these needs, but haven’t had significant changes or information. I’m hoping that changes at the Town Manager’s update report to the board.

“Additional priorities include addressing economic development, which is now more difficult since our Economic Development Director left a couple of weeks ago, cemetery space, and revitalization of Cliftondale Square.”

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