THE ADVOCATE ASKS: Board of Selectmen Chair Panetta reflects on the most significant town events in 2018 and looks ahead
Editor’s Note: For this week, we asked the five members of the Saugus Board of Selectmen to cite the town’s major accomplishments as they look back on 2018. We also asked that they share their expectations for the new year. Board of Selectmen Chair Debra Panetta was the lone member who responded.
Q: What do you consider the most significant events that happened in Saugus during 2018?
A: The highlights …
- New Middle-High School: Construction on our brand-new, grades 6-12 Middle-High School is right on schedule. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in July to celebrate the start of construction. Since then, approximately 1,649 pieces of steel have been erected. This equates to 671 tons of steel, or a whopping 1.34 million pounds. Approximately 9,800 cubic yards of concrete has been placed. The new Saugus Middle-High School is scheduled to open in September 2020.
- Green Community Grant: The Town of Saugus was awarded $250,000 in Green Communities Competitive Grant Funding through the Department of Energy Resources to fund several sustainability-related projects within the community. Saugus is one of only a handful of recipient communities to receive the maximum possible amount per municipality under the grant. This is the third time the Town of Saugus has received funding through the Green Communities initiative. The Town was awarded a grant of $242,903 in 2017, and a grant of $208,335 in 2015, when Saugus was first designated as a Green Community.
- Town Hall Restoration: The Saugus Town Hall underwent a restoration this year to preserve the building’s historic exterior for decades to come. This is the first renovation to the building in 20 years. The extensive restoration included the removal of all paint and repainting with historic colors, the reinstallation or removal and replacement of deteriorated wood, the removal of paint from the chimney and necessary repairs, and the rehanging slipped slate and the replacement of missing slate.
- Fuel Dispenser Upgrades: As an ongoing effort to make capital infrastructure improvements throughout the community, upgrades to the fuel dispensers at the Department of Public Works and the Public Safety Building were completed this year to ensure the systems’ reliability, consistency, and cost-efficiency. The fuel dispensers provide gas for vehicles from a wide variety of Town departments, including Police, Fire, Public Works, Building Maintenance, Youth and Recreation, the Senior Center, Inspectional Services, Custodial, Conservation, Solid Waste and Recycling, the Schools, and more.
- New Fire Engine: The Town was happy to welcome a brand-new fire engine to its fleet this year. The Pierce 1250 G.P.M Pumper built on an Enforcer chassis replaces a 22-year-old engine. This new engine will continue to prioritize the safety of the residents and visitors of Saugus, and the Town’s first responders.
- Tree Lighting: Each year, the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Festivities are bigger and better than ever. Thousands of Saugus residents gathered outside the Town Hall to meet Santa, ride a horse-drawn sleigh and trackless train, jump in the bounce houses, pet animals, listen to live entertainment, sip hot cocoa, munch on cookies and popcorn, and of course, watch the tree lighting. It was truly an unforgettable night for all involved.
- Rail/Bike Trail: The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Town of Saugus held two public meetings for the Northern Strand Community Trail Project to hear concerns and ideas about the rail/bike trail. This project is part of a commitment of at least $1.5 million by the Baker-Polito Administration to fund designs for the trail in Saugus, Everett, Lynn, Revere, and Malden. Both meetings were well attended, and a third meeting will be held in February or March of 2019. There were some great comments and ideas shared on safer crossings, signage, paving the trail, and landscaping amenities. The trail will span 10.5 miles through Saugus, Everett, Lynn, Malden, and Revere when completed. It was important to get the public’s input on the trail design.
Q: What do you see as the major issues facing the town in 2019?
A: I look forward to 2019, working with my fellow members of the Board of Selectmen, our Town Manager & Administration, the School Committee, Town Meeting, the Finance Committee, the Board of Health, the Planning Board, and all the other Boards, Commissions, volunteers, and residents of Saugus. We will continue to see great progress with the building of our new Middle-High School, which is very exciting. The Board of Selectmen are also working with the Town Manager and the Police Department on a traffic study for our town to ensure the health and safety of our townspeople. Lastly, we will continue to see additional economic growth in our town next year, especially on Route 1.
I wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year!!