Quincy Salutes World War II Veterans

World War II veterans from Quincy were honored by the city at a special ceremony Dec. 7 at the Lloyd Hill Auditorium at Quincy High School. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

By ROBERT BOSWORTH

The City of Quincy honored 30 living veterans of World War II and paid tribute to dozens more who were among the “Greatest Generation” but have passed away during an emotional tribute at Quincy High School Dec. 7th – the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust this nation into war.

The veterans were introduced with biographical sketches of their service in the nation’s military and were seated together on stage before a packed Lloyd Hill Auditorium. They were lauded not only for serving during World War II but for helping to create a strong city and nation as public servants, entrepreneurs, teachers, business leaders and other professions when they returned home from the war.

Each veteran was presented a service medallion and hat as a token of the city’s appreciation. The veterans honored were:

Carl Awed, U.S. Navy; John I. Barr, U.S. Marine Corps; Francis X. Bellotti, U.S. Navy; Robert Connolly, U.S. Army; Mildred Cox, U.S. Marine Corps; John Coyne, U.S. Army Air Corps; Russell D’Angelo, U.S. Army; Pasquale Dimattio, U.S. Army; Russell Erikson, U.S. Army Air Corps; Barbara Gilliland, U.S. Navy; Fred Grenier, U.S. Army; Manual Horvitiz, U.S. Army; John S. Kelly, U.S. Army; Richard F. Morrissey, U.S. Navy; Edward O’Toole, U.S. Navy; James Papile, U.S. Navy; Ralph Papile, U.S. Navy; Louis Pasquale, U.S. Army; Joseph Ralph, U.S. Army Air Corps; Charles Santoro, U.S. Navy; Dean E. Schaeffer, U.S. Marine Corps; Bernard Schnaper, U.S. Army; Thomas Shephard, U.S. Navy; Peter Sorgi, U.S. Army; Americo Speranzo, U.S. Marine Corps; James Uvanitte, U.S. Navy and Arthur Wahlberg, U.S. Army.

Quincy’s Russ Erikson, a decorated World War II Army Air Corps veteran who flew 33 missions over Germany and France as a B-24 pilot, admires a special medallion presented to Quincy’s World War II veterans at a ceremony Dec. 7th at Quincy High School. Looking on is fellow Quincy World War II Navy veteran Edward O’Toole. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

Two video montages produced by Mark Carey, the city’s media specialist, were displayed on a large screen above the stage. The first segment showed photos of the living veterans while in the service and today. The second video showed photos of Quincy World War II veterans who have passed away but are not forgotten. Many in the auditorium waved flags and applauded as the photos were revealed as a patriotic soundtrack played.

Guest speakers included Capt. Starlet E. Baker, U.S. Army Boston Recruiting Office; Capt. Derek Smith, USCG Executive Officer Base Cape Cod; and Mayor Thomas Koch.

Also speaking were George Nicholson, director of Quincy Veterans Services; and George Bouchard, the city’s Graves Registration Officer.

Approximately 8,500 Quincy residents served during World War II; 255 were killed in action.

More on the World War II veterans’ tribute appears in the Dec. 12th issue of The Quincy Sun.

Lou Pasquale, a U.S. Army veteran from Quincy, is escorted to his seat as fellow World War II veterans look on at the Dec. 7th salute to “The Greatest Generation” at Quincy High School. Pasquale has been a staunch and tireless advocate for disabled veterans for many years. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy Veterans Council Commander Robert LaFleur sounds taps in memory of all deceased World War II veterans at the City of Quincy’s special ceremony honoring the “Greatest Generation” at Quincy High School. Saluting at left is Quincy World War II Marine Corps veteran Mildred Cox. Also shown are George Bouchard (second from left), Quincy’s Graves Registration Officer; and Veterans Services Director George Nicholson. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
Quincy’s deceased World War II veterans were also honored in a special video tribute. Photos of the late veterans were played to a soundtrack of patriotic music. This photo shows Henry Bosworth and his brother, Richard Bosworth, who both served on destroyers during World War II, at their boyhood home on Chubbuck Street in Quincy Point. Twenty-three years after the end of World War II, Henry founded The Quincy Sun newspaper in 1968. Richard Bosworth also served in the Navy during the Korean War. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

Board Approves Project At Quincy Medical Center Site

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Planning Board approved a developer’s proposal to build 465 apartments on the site of Quincy Medical Center – a project that opposed by area residents and several city councillors over concerns about its size and impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

The board approved Quincy-based FoxRock Properties’ plan for the 14.97-acre site at 114 Whitwell St., which is located in a planned unit development zoning district, in a unanimous vote Wednesday. The 465 apartments would be split between seven buildings on site, the tallest of which would be six stories. The developer will include 590 parking spaces on site.

Gregory Galvin, the board’s vice chairman, said the project complies with the city’s zoning code.

“The bylaw would allow a more dense project than is being proposed,” Galvin said shortly before the vote, adding the project also meets the requirements for building height and setbacks from the property line.

Several of the 100 residents in attendance at the City Hall meeting jeered the board’s vote, shouting “shame on you.”

Ted Mulrane, president of the Hospital Hill Neighborhoods Association, called the decision a disappointment.

“It’s a disappointment,” he said following the vote. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Mulrane said it was too soon to say if area residents would pursue litigation. The board’s decision can be appealed within 20 days.

FoxRock, which is owned by Granite Telecommunications founder Rob Hale, purchased the hospital site in December 2016. Mayor Thomas Koch at that time also designated FoxRock as the developer for a portion of the Ross Lot in Quincy Center, where the company has proposed building a medical office building, hotel and housing.

The company’s first proposal for the Whitwell Street site, which was presented to the Planning Board in October 2018, included 598 apartments. In May, the developer presented a revised plan dubbed “Ashlar Park” with 490 units – 52 studios, 325 one-bedroom units, 196 two-bedroom units and 45 units with the three bedrooms.

The plan approved by the board includes 465 units – 65 studio units, 247 units with one bedroom, 278 two-bedroom units and 42 three-bedroom units. The total number of bedrooms, 632, is more than the 618 proposed in May.

FoxRock’s Josh Kleinman said the number of two-bedroom units was increased based on feedback the company received from neighbors. The project, he said, would be targeted at baby boomers looking to downsize while staying in Quincy.

“This is going to be a transformational project for a blighted site, the neighborhood and the city,” Kleinman said. “It’s going to be a site where project residents and neighbors alike can walk their dogs, sip their coffee and take evening strolls. This is going to be a great project…that will improve the quality of life for all parties.”

The units would be split between seven buildings on site, the tallest of which would be six stories. The developer will include 590 parking spaces on site.

The board attached 36 special conditions, as recommended by the city’s Planning Department, to its approval of FoxRock’s plan.

Those conditions include a payment of $1 million to the city for mitigation; that will include the installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection of Whitwell and Adams streets and other work, such as widened sidewalks to improve pedestrian access. The developer will also have to hire a full-time onsite traffic coordinator; offer new tenants a complementary MBTA pass for their first month; run a shuttle bus during rush hour between the site and the Quincy Center MBTA station for ten years, which the board could extend for another decade; and build an MBTA bus shelter on the north side of Whitwell Street.

The project is subject to the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance and FoxRock will be required to adhere to the decision of the Quincy Affordable Housing Trust Committee for the project. The developer will also have to make a payment to the city’s sewer rehabilitation fund.

Representatives from the Hospital Hill Neighborhoods Association and a dozen area residents spoke against the project before the board’s vote. The board also received letters from a dozen residents opposed to the plan.

Will Smith of the HHNA said the proposal was too dense and suggested the developer reduce its size to a maximum of 350 units with 500 bedrooms between them.

“I would like to emphasize that HHNA is not opposed to the redevelopment of this site. We believe it is in the best interest of the city and the neighborhood to get this done,” Smith said. “This proposal is overwhelming for a Residential A and B neighborhood.”

Jocelyn Sedney of Monroe Road said the $1 million the developer will pay the city would not cover the amount of mitigation work to be done.

“It’s never going to pay for all of that,” Sedney said. “We, the citizens of Quincy, are going to underwrite this project so that this major corporation…can make millions of dollars.”

Ward 5 Councillor-elect Charles Phelan Jr. also voiced his opposition to the project, as did Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall and all three councillors-at-large – Noel DiBona, Nina Liang and Anne Mahoney.

Phelan said the plan remained too dense.

“This development is very dense. It doesn’t fit in the character of residence A and residence B, which is all around it,” he said. “It adds a lot of people to a congested area.”

One person, Taunton resident John Rodophele, supported the project, saying it would create new growth for the city. The board also received 21 letters in support of the plan.

Zoning Rules For Marijuana Establishments Approved

By SCOTT JACKSON

City councillors approved a zoning ordinance regulating where marijuana dispensaries can open in Quincy. The legislation also ties their business hours to those of liquor stores.

Councillors approved the ordinance, which Mayor Thomas Koch introduced in February 2018, on Dec. 2 in an 8-0 vote after making several amendments to the bill. Ward 6 Councillor William Harris was not present at the meeting.

In a separate vote, councillors voted 8-0 to impose a 3 percent local sales tax on recreational marijuana products, the maximum local sales tax allowed under state law. The local tax is in addition to the 17 percent state tax on marijuana products.

Koch planned to sign both measures into law, according to his chief of staff, Chris Walker.

The ordinance bars marijuana establishments from opening within 1,500 feet of a residential zoning district. They are also barred from opening within 500 feet of any school, playground, athletic field, beach, public park, library, skating rink, public transit center, day care facility, or youth sports facility. Those regulations would essentially limit recreational pot shops to the Fore River Shipyard, the vicinity of Ricciuti Drive or Crown Colony, unless an applicant obtained a variance to open elsewhere.

The ordinance requires anyone looking to open a marijuana establishment to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. A community meeting would be required prior to the application being filed. Applicants would also need to sign a host agreement with the mayor; those host agreements would include a community impact fee of up to 3 percent of gross sales payable to the city for up to five years.

The ZBA would be allowed to license one marijuana establishment for every five liquor stores in the city; there are currently 35 liquor stores in Quincy.

In the original version of the ordinance Koch proposed, marijuana establishments would have been permitted to open from 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Councillors on Dec. 2 voted to amend those hours to match the business hours of liquor stores, which are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays, according to City Clerk Nicole Crispo.

Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci had initially proposed making the marijuana establishments’ business hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, saying it would give customers more of an opportunity to visit the stores on Sundays, when there is typically less traffic.

Councillor Anne Mahoney then suggested a 7 p.m. closing time for the marijuana establishments, saying other communities, in particular Brookline, have experienced problems with pot shops. Palmucci accepted Mahoney’s suggestion as a friendly amendment.

Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain, however, said marijuana establishments should be treated the same as liquor stores. He said a 7 p.m. closing time would be too early because it would limit revenue for both the businesses and the city.

“We’re trying to allow businesses to operate and function, so you want to give them proper time to do so so that they are making some money and we’re able to in turn make some money. Limiting those hours to 7 p.m. doesn’t make much sense to me,” Cain said.

“People of all walks of life are going to enjoy this type of facility. It’s not just the stereotypical negative ne’er-do-well.”

Cain’s amendment to tie the hours of operation for the marijuana establishments to those of liquor stores passed in a 5-3 vote, after Palmucci withdrew his proposed amendment. Noel DiBona, Kirsten Hughes, Nina Liang and Palmucci joined Cain in supporting the change. Mahoney, Brad Croall and David McCarthy voted against it.

Croall, whose district includes the Fore River Shipyard and the nearby neighborhood, said Quincy should start slow based on the experiences of other communities, including Brookline, where recreational dispensaries are open.

“There has been noticeable increases to traffic and stuff like that,” Croall said. “I would feel more comfortable seeing…how it rolls out.”

Another amendment to the ordinance, introduced by Palmucci and approved by voice vote, requires the mayor to submit any host agreement to the council for review. Palmucci said his amendment would not require the council to approve such agreements but would ensure councillors are able to see them.

Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in a November 2016 referendum. Statewide, 53.6 percent of voters backed the measure, and 51 percent of voters in Quincy did so as well. Because a majority of Quincy voters approved the 2016 referendum, the mayor and City Council cannot ban marijuana establishments outright.

Average Residential Tax Bill Up $271

By SCOTT JACKSON

The average owner of a single-family home in Quincy will see their property taxes increase by $271 next year, with the average tax bill rising to more than $6,100.

Mark Cavanagh, the city’s director of municipal finance, on Dec. 2 told the City Council that the average single-family residential tax bill will increase from $5,855 in 2019 to $6,126.23 in 2020, a hike of $271.23. The average tax bill had increased by $119 from 2018 to 2019.

The residential tax rate will decrease for the seventh straight year, going from $12.55 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019 to $12.43 in the new year. While the tax rate is decreasing, home values continue to rise. Colleen Healy, the chairwoman of Quincy’s Board of Assessors, said the average value of a single-family home increased from $466,600 in 2019 to $492,900 in 2020.

Residential property values have risen each year since 2014, when the average single-family home was assessed at $315,800.

The tax rate for commercial, industrial and personal property will also drop next year. That rate will decrease from $25.18 to $24.84. The difference between residential and commercial tax rates is the highest allowed under state law.

The tax levy, the total amount of property taxes the city will collect, will rise by $12.57 million next year to $241.96 million, an increase of 5.48 percent, Cavanagh said. Homeowners will pay 75.09 percent of the levy, according to Healy.

Property taxes pay the lion’s share of Quincy’s general fund budget; other sources of income are local aid from the state and local receipts, a category that includes various revenue streams such as motor vehicle excise tax, the local option meals tax and fees from building permits. The city’s general fund budget for fiscal year 2020, which began July 1, is $329.78 million, an increase of $19 million over the fiscal year 2019 budget of $310.71 million.

City councillors approved a series of measures Mayor Thomas Koch introduced at the Dec. 2 meeting that determine the tax rate for next year.

Councillors voted 8-0 – with Ward 6 Councillor William Harris not in attendance – to appropriate $2.9 million of the city’s $8 million in state-certified free cash toward the general fund to reduce tax rates. The appropriation saved the average single-family homeowner $36, according to Cavanagh.

Councillors also voted 6-2 in favor of appropriating another $2.59 million in free cash to three reserve accounts. That includes $1 million to the city’s stabilization account, bringing the total amount in that reserve to $12 million, $1 million to the other post-employment benefits (OPEB) trust, bringing that account to $3 million, and $517,000 to the city’s inclement weather fund, which now includes $3.2 million. The allocations are in line with the city’s financial policies.

Cavanagh said the city has $2.5 million remaining in free cash following those votes on Dec. 2. That money can be spent by Koch only with the council’s approval.

Councillor Anne Mahoney and Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci both opposed the $2.59 million appropriation to the three reserve accounts. Mahoney said the city should use the outstanding $2.5 million in free cash to further reduce tax rates.

“That’s due back to the taxpayers,” she said. “I think we should be budgeting in our budget for things we want to spend and not just have free reign to spend money any place we want.”

Councillors also voted 8-0 to appropriate $1.8 million in funds set aside but not spent in previous fiscal years towards the 2020 tax levy.

Councillors then voted 8-0 in favor of a split tax rate that shifts the tax burden from residential to commercial property owners. The difference between the two rates is the highest allowed under state law.

The tax rate for both residential and commercial properties would have been $14.20 next year without the split, resulting in an additional $870 increase for the average homeowner, according to Healy. The city has used a split tax rate since 1984.

In a 7-1 vote, with Mahoney opposed, councillors then adopted a residential factor of 87.5597 for next year.

Several councillors who spoke during the meeting noted the setting of the budget in June and approval of other appropriations is what determines the new tax rates.

“This is the lowest tax increase we can put forth to the residential taxpayer based on the budget this body voted for and passed in the spring,” Palmucci said.

“Whether it was the budget or bonding, your time to say yes or no is at that time,” Councillor Noel DiBona said. “That’s your time to speak up, when the appropriations are coming down the pike.”

Palmucci also noted there are various programs residents can qualify for to reduce their property tax burden. Those include a tax deferral program that residents over the age of 65 can qualify for, provided they have lived in their home for five years and their household income is less than $58,000. There are also tax exemptions for seniors, veterans and their surviving spouses, legally blind persons, and surviving spouses of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty.

Residents had a chance to comment on property taxes during a public hearing earlier that evening. Patrick Alexis of Stedman Street said property taxes have become a burden for his family.

“We chose Quincy because we felt that Quincy was a nice working-class city, which I believe it is, but each year my property taxes…feels like it’s this big burden,” he said.

“I’m a city employee myself, so I believe in paying taxes…it’s just if my property taxes are based off valuation, my income is not keeping up. Even if my home is worth $1 million tomorrow, my income is not keeping up. It’s not money I can put into my pocket.”