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Countdown Till Town Meeting

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Editor’s Note: The 2024 Annual Town Meeting convenes on Monday, May 6. As a special service to our readers and the registered voters of Saugus, we will reach out to the Town Meeting members in each precinct, focusing on one precinct each week, in the weeks leading up to the start of Town Meeting, asking members about their expectations for the upcoming Town Meeting. This week we received responses from three of the five Town Meeting Members in Precinct 1.


  Question One: What do you consider the top priority for the town as you prepare for the opening of the 2024 Town Meeting session?


Mark J. Bell

As a Town Meeting Member, it’s always difficult to pick just one priority for Saugus. If I had to pick the top priorities in Saugus, I would say the first would be a west side fire station. I am in agreement with the Municipal Resources, Inc (MRI) study that showed that Saugus would benefit greatly by having a fire station west of Route 1. Last year, Town Meeting allocated the funding for a west side fire station study. Hopefully we have one in the future. A second priority is the use of the neighborhood schools that came offline once the new SMHS project was opened. Many ideas have been floating around about what the best use of these schools would be, such as a new Saugus Youth and Rec. I for one would like to see a committee formed soon (whether through the Board of Selectmen or Town Meeting) to start the process of determining the best use of these schools, with neighborhood input being a priority. The third priority is developing a plan on how to respond to the MBTA Communities Law. Under this law approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 177 communities, Saugus being one of them, must come up with a plan to implement a zoning change to allow more multi-family housing by right. Saugus has definitely seen its fair share of new housing in the past few years (Essex Landing and Saugus Ridge). Most Saugus residents, myself included, would like to see a strong pause on any new housing. However, the town needs to at least have a plan ready to comply with this law, and post that plan online for public input. I definitely encourage all Saugus residents to familiarize themselves with this law and pay attention to any new developments concerning it.


Stacey Herman-Dorant

Maintaining our fiscal stability while focusing on positive growth in approving the Town budget is a top priority. It’s important to know the short-term and long-term vision of our Town. The new budget will set those and lay out priorities for the future. Positive growth includes: safe and prosperous educational environments; continuing the beautification of Saugus by improving sidewalks and green space; smart growth, and improving our recreational facilities. We have a very solid bond rating which allows the Town to save millions of dollars that can be directed toward our priorities. Continuing and improving on that rating will allow us to look toward our future needs.


Sue Palomba

As we prepare for the opening of the 2024 Town Meeting session, my top priority is to work together collaboratively with all other town meeting members. It is essential that we engage in active dialogue, research the information that other town meeting members, constituents, and other Saugus residents have provided, and carefully consider all perspectives.

Listening to the voices of our community is paramount. We must ensure that every concern, suggestion, and idea is heard and taken into account. This means creating an environment where all viewpoints are respected and valued.

By fostering open communication and a spirit of cooperation, we can address the needs of our town comprehensively and effectively. Our goal should always be to make decisions that benefit the entire community, now and for generations to come.

As we approach the 2024 Town Meeting, I am committed to this collaborative approach, working hand-in-hand with my fellow town meeting members, to create a Saugus that we can all be proud to call home.


  Question Two: What do you consider the top priority for residents in your precinct as you prepare for the opening of the 2024 Town Meeting session?


Mark J. Bell

One of the main concerns in Precinct 1 that I have heard from residents is improvements in Stackpole Field. The bleachers are an accident waiting to happen! There is still a need for the bleachers at Stackpole since Saugus Youth Football and Cheer as well as lacrosse parents still use them, but replacing the bleachers with something smaller and safer would be a start, as well as obvious improvements to the playground and baseball field. Second would be what happens to the Roby School. One precinct 1 resident had an idea of the Roby School, seeing its historical significance to many longtime Saugonians, be developed into a Saugus Historical Town Museum with a small cafe inside. Residents have also stressed some much needed sidewalk repairs throughout the precinct. Sidewalk repairs are a big concern for a lot of residents in the precinct.


Stacey Herman-Dorant

As a new Town Meeting member, I plan to reach out to the constituents and find out what is going well in Precinct 1 and what we can work to improve upon. I welcome input and can be reached at staceyhermandorant@gmail.com


Sue Palomba

The top priority for residents in Precinct 1 as we approach the 2024 Town Meeting session is the revitalization of Stackpole Field Park. This beloved park holds a special place in our community, serving as a hub for recreation, gatherings, and cherished memories.

Residents have expressed a strong desire to see Stackpole Field Park reconstructed and redone, ensuring that it continues to be a welcoming and functional space for families, children, and individuals of all ages. This includes updating facilities, enhancing green spaces, and creating a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.

Furthermore, the preservation of Prankers Pond, the surrounding trees, and the historic elements of the area are of utmost importance to the residents of Precinct 1. These natural and historical features contribute significantly to the character and charm of our neighborhood, and we must work diligently to safeguard them for future generations to enjoy.

As their representative, I am committed to advocating for the interests of Precinct 1 residents in the upcoming Town Meeting session. I will work collaboratively with fellow town meeting members to prioritize the reconstruction of Stackpole Field Park, the preservation of Prankers Pond, the protection of our trees, and the maintenance of the historic integrity of our beloved precinct.


  Question Three: Are you working independently or in collaboration with other members on articles to be introduced for this year’s Town Meeting? Could you please elaborate? Summarize your article and what you hope to accomplish.


Mark J. Bell

If I can submit the article on time (my wife and I have a habit of filling our calendar with kids activities), I would like to submit an article that Town Meeting Members running for re-election must submit a minimum of 10 signatures from residents in their precinct supporting their re-election. Currently, Town Meeting Members just need to sign and submit a piece of paper confirming they are running for re-election, which was surprising to me as I ran for re-election this fall. Town Meeting holds two very important responsibilities: allocating funding and being the eyes and ears of the Board of Selectmen/Town Manager for their constituency. Due to the fact that Town Meeting has such an important representative and fiduciary responsibility, I hope to submit an article at the 2024 Annual Town Meeting that all Town Meeting Members running for re-election, need at least 10 signatures from their precinct supporting their re-election. The Board of Selectmen and School Committee need signatures from residents for re-election. Town Meeting should be no different. If any Town Meeting Member reading this would like to help me in crafting, co-sponsoring, or offering input on this potential article, please feel free to reach out.


Stacey Herman-Dorant

As a new Town Meeting Member, I’ll be doing a lot of learning and outreach to fellow members. Networking and relationship building is paramount. I’ve been attending trainings and enjoy the advice and mentorship from so many dedicated Town Meeting Members. One of many issues that span the Precincts is the role of our changing climate, and how this change is affecting our town. We need to plan and work together with our state legislators and neighboring communities to advocate for a plan for our future.


Sue Palomba

I am currently working independently on an article in collaboration with Steve Carlson from the Saugus Historical Society. Our goal is to preserve two historical properties in Precinct 1. These properties are not just buildings; they are a part of Saugus’s history and character that we believe should be maintained and preserved for future generations.

The article aims to secure a grant that will allow us to undertake necessary preservation efforts for these properties. This includes conducting repairs, ensuring structural integrity, and maintaining the historical authenticity of these landmarks.

Preserving these historical properties is not only about honoring our past but also about enriching our community’s identity and providing educational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. It is a step towards ensuring that the unique heritage of Precinct 1 remains a vibrant part of Saugus’s landscape for years to come.

Through this collaboration and the introduction of this article, we hope to accomplish the crucial task of safeguarding our history while also enhancing the appeal and cultural significance of our community.


  Question Four: Please feel free to share any other views about the upcoming Town Meeting.


Mark J. Bell

One of the things I hope for the upcoming Town Meeting is that residents in all precincts contact their Town Meeting Members on how they would like them to vote on articles before Town Meeting begins. I cannot stress enough how important it is to your elected Town Meeting Members that they hear your opinion and concerns on any upcoming articles.


Stacey Herman-Dorant

I look forward to our upcoming meetings starting in May. We will be voting on important issues that affect our Town’s future, and I take those seriously and welcome your input.

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