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~ The Advocate Asks ~ Town Meeting Member Thomas E. Traverse shares his views on what makes Precinct 8 special and the top issues facing the people he represents

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Editor’s Note: For this week’s column, we sat down with Town Meeting Member Thomas E. Traverse and asked him what makes Precinct 8 so special and what he sees as the top issues in the Saugus neighborhoods he represents. Traverse, 68, considers himself a lifelong Saugus resident and has lived here most of his life. He is a 1973 Saugus High School graduate and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Salem State College in 1983, graduating with Cum Laude honors. He is a retired mortgage banker, having spent 40 years in the field. Traverse and his wife Pamela have been married for nearly four decades and are looking forward to celebrating their 40th anniversary in November. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren.

  He has been active in local government for many years, having served as a Town Meeting member representing Precinct 8 for the past decade. He has served on the Board of Appeals for 15 years – the last two as its chair. He has also served as a member of the Town Manager’s Economic Development Committee for a decade. He has served for more than a decade on the town’s Affordable Housing Trust. He also serves on the Commission on Disability.

  He has also been very active in civic organizations for many years. He has been a member of the Saugus Lions Club for more than 30 years and is a past president of the organization. He is not a veteran, but he is an auxiliary member of the Staff Sergeant Arthur F. DeFranzo V.F.W. Post #2346 and is also a member of the Saugus Everett Elks.

  Traverse plans to attend the eighth in a series of “Saugus Over Coffee” forums set for 6:30 p.m. Monday (Aug. 14) in the Community Room of the Saugus Public Library. He is interested in meeting residents of Precinct 8 and encourages them to attend the forum, which is cosponsored by The Saugus Advocate and the Saugus Public Library. All citizens of Saugus – whether residents of Precinct 8 or not – are welcome to come down to the library and talk with Precinct 8 Town Meeting members informally over coffee or to ask them questions during the forum, which will be broadcast later on SaugusTV.

  Highlights of this week’s interview follow:


  Q: Are you a Saugus native?

  A: I consider myself a lifelong Saugus resident. I was born in Peabody and my family moved from Dorchester to Saugus when I was two and I have lived here ever since, so I guess you could say that I am a lifelong resident.

  Q: When did you first run for Town Meeting?

  A: My first term was in 1977. I was living at my parents’ home on the Fellsway [Lynn Fells Parkway]. I ran for one two-year term. My nephew, Kevin [Precinct 6 Town Meeting Member Kevin D. Currie], who I sit with in Town Meeting now, was born on the day I was elected. So, I ran for one term for two years and then backed off for 30 years. Then I got involved again and ran to get elected in Precinct 8, where I have been for the last decade.

  Q: What makes Precinct 8 special as far as features, history and landmarks? Please tell me a little bit about Precinct 8.

  A: It is the center of Saugus. How can it not be? It starts at the monument and runs up Central Street all the way to Adams Avenue.

  Q: What are some of the important landmarks within the Precinct?

  A: Part of the rotary at the Civil War monument is in the precinct. Town Hall is in Precinct 1. The First Congregational Church, also known as the Pumpkin Church, at the corner of Central and Hamilton Streets, is in Precinct 8. The Public Safety Building and Round Hill [an important Native American historical site in Saugus] are also within Precinct 8. Veterans Park, at the corner of Winter and Central Streets, is within the precinct. As far as popular businesses are concerned, the Hammersmith Family Restaurant [established in 1974] has been a very successful business in the precinct and will be celebrating its 50th year anniversary. There are a lot of residential houses in the precinct. It’s deeper than you think. You probably had no reason to drive down some of those roads. And some of the major Housing Authority properties are within the Precinct

  Q: Do you plan on running for Town Meeting again this fall?

  A: Yes, I do plan on running again.

  Q: What would your top priorities be for the precinct?

  A: Within the precinct, I still think there is some work to be done at the rail trail crossings. They still need some work. Why not put a traditional traffic light at each of these intersections? It’s still a very dangerous situation, especially on Central Street. It’s confusing and dangerous. I think it needs to be studied – the traditional traffic light.

  Q: What are your concerns about the current traffic signals set up at these rail trail intersections?

  A: At the location where the bike stops, the front wheel is in the roadway for them to be hitting the button.

  Q: What else would you like to see done to improve the precinct?

  A: I would like to see us change from personal services more towards professional services. Right now, we have about three barbershops, four or five hairdressers and a couple of nail salons. I would like to see the retail aspect of the business near Saugus Center improved. I’d like to see us get another nice sit-down restaurant somewhere. I’d also like to see us bring some better retail businesses to the area and provide some reasons to draw people down there.

Right now, we have the old Gregson Law Offices Building [at 325 Central St.] on the market. That could be repurposed, hopefully, for something that benefits the center.

  Q: The Douglas Waybright School, at 25 Talbot St., is one of three former elementary school buildings that the School Department turned over to the town last year. Isn’t the Waybright School in Precinct 8?

  A: Yes, it is.

  Q: Do folks in your precinct have a preference on its reuse? Do you have a preference on its reuse?

  A: I have not heard of any proposals. I would like the school and the large existing ballfields repurposed/continued for parks and recreation.

  Q: Thank you. Is it much of an issue for Precinct 8 residents?

  A: Not a big issue at this time. Most residents are waiting for the Town [Manager/Selectmen] to come up with a plan.

  Q: What are people talking about in your precinct?

  A: The trees that are ready to fall down in the yard, the potholes in the street, complaints or questions about the trash pickups – those are the calls that I get. I don’t get the calls on politics or political issues. As a Town Meeting member, it’s not so much that I get calls from people to solve their problems. It’s more a matter of being a facilitator, pointing them in the right direction – to connect them with somebody who can help solve their problems. I don’t receive as many calls as you would think. On average, I don’t get more than four to five inquiries per term [two years]. The real job for me is going to Town Meeting, listening to the debate, doing my homework on the issues and voting the right way.

  Q: What do you see as the big issue emerging in the town’s fall elections?

  A: I think the big thing is going to be the Town Charter Commission and who is going to get elected to the Charter Commission. I think a lot of people are talking about the need to change the form of government we have. Some people are concerned about too much power concentrated in the Town Manager’s Office. Some people are complaining about the lack of communication coming out of Town Hall and out of the Manager’s Office. There’s been a lot of discussion about the need to make town government more accountable to the people. That will be a big issue in the fall if the Charter Commission does get on the ballot.

  Q: Do you expect a big turnout on Aug. 14 [Monday] when we have the next “Saugus Over Coffee”?

  A: I don’t know, but I hope so.


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