Quincy To Study Municipal Broadband Network

By SCOTT JACKSON

Citing concerns from residents over the cost of internet service and a lack of options, Quincy officials on Monday announced they are taking steps to study the feasibility of operating a fiber-optic broadband network in the city.

Mayor Thomas Koch and Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain made the announcement during a press conference inside the McIntyre Government Center.

“I hear constantly from people about lack of competition – some related to cable, some related to slowness of access to get onto the network,” Koch said. “This is something we’re very serious about looking at.”

“This is really a constituent- and resident-driven project,” said Cain, who authored a 2018 resolution asking the city to study the feasibility of creating a broadband municipal network.

“There is something that we hear when we are out talking to residents and constituents all the time, it’s ‘when are getting, when are we going to get options, when are we going to get cheaper internet with better service?’”

Cain said the plan would be to create a city-owned fiber-optic network. The city would lay the cable for the network, and residents and businesses would be able to select from a list of internet service providers who would use that network.

“What this project is really doing is separating the infrastructure from the services. We’re going to look at providing a city municipally owned utility, in the form of fiber/broadband, and allowing for different companies, internet service providers, to compete on that network, which will offer competition and eventually to bring the price down,” Cain said.

“The goal would be to eventually provide residents in the city of Quincy with internet as low as $50 a month, which is something I think that every can get behind.”

Those who prefer to stay with Comcast of Verizon would be able to do so.

As part of the process, the city will be surveying residents to gauge their interest in participating in the new network. The survey is available online at quincyfiber.com, a new website launched to explain the municipal broadband concept to residents. Koch said questions regarding municipal broadband could also be sent to residents on next year’s city census.

Entry Point Networks is working with Quincy officials to complete the study at a nominal cost to the city, Cain said. The company worked with the city of Ammon, Idaho, to install a similar network there, which “Fast Company” on Monday called the best fiber-optic network in the country.

It will likely be a year or more before installation of the new broadband network could commence, he said, and it would likely be done on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis depending on demand.

The total cost of the installing the new network has yet to be determined.

Two Taken To Hospital After Friday Crash

By SCOTT JACKSON

Two Quincy residents were taken to South Shore Hospital following a three-car crash on Franklin Street late Friday afternoon.

The crash, near the intersection of Franklin Street and Independence Avenue, happened at 5:38 p.m. Friday, Sgt. Karyn Barkas said.

The driver of a 2002 Chevrolet SUV was headed southbound on Franklin Street at the time of the accident when he swerved into the northbound lane and struck two other vehicles, a 2018 Acura RDX and a 2018 Nissan Infiniti SUV, Barkas said.

The collision left the Chevrolet and the Infiniti stuck together, with the Infiniti pinned over the rock wall that separates the sidewalk from the Adams birthplaces. It took first responders an hour to clear the scene.

The driver of the Chevrolet, a 67-year-old Quincy man, had a medical issue that led to the crash and was taken to South Shore Hospital, Barkas said. The driver of the Infiniti, a 53-year-old Quincy woman, was taken to South Shore Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver and a passenger inside the Acura did not require transport to the hospital.

Barkas said no citations had been issued as of Monday morning.

Public Hearing Monday On Plastic Bag Ban

By SCOTT JACKSON

Members of the public will have a chance on Monday to voice their support or opposition to a proposed ordinance that would ban certain single-use plastic bags in Quincy.

The City Council’s ordinance committee is set to hold a public hearing on the proposal at 7 p.m. Monday in the Great Hall of the McIntyre Government Center, 1305 Hancock St.

A public hearing on a home-rule petition calling for early voting in municipal elections will also be held at that time.

Mayor Thomas Koch and Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci introduced the ordinance to ban the use of disposable plastic bags at the council’s June 17 meeting.  Koch had said he would introduce an ordinance to ban the use of disposable plastic bags during his State of the City address in January, citing the impact discarded plastics have the environment, particularly the world’s oceans.

“It is the purpose of this ordinance to achieve a reduction in the use of disposable plastic shopping bags by retail establishments in the city, thereby advancing solid waste reduction, protecting marine ecosystems, protecting waterways and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Koch and Palmucci’s legislation states.

“This ordinance seeks to reduce the number of plastic bags that are being used, discarded and littered, and to promote the use of reusable check-out bags and recyclable paper bags.”

The ordinance would ban all retail-checkout bags made from plastic, including bags made from petroleum or natural gas and those made from biological sources such as corn or other plants. Degradable and biodegradable plastic bags would be among those banned.

Violators of the ban would first receive a written warning, which would include a 14-day period to correct the violation. A $50 fine would be charged for the second violation, followed a $100 fine for subsequent violations. The ordinance would be enforceable by police officers, agents of the Quincy Health Department and members of the Board of License Commissioners.

Reusable bags – defined as machine-washable bags made from durable materials like cotton, polyester or polypropylene with a minimum lifetime of 125 uses and capable of carrying at least 22 pounds – would be exempt from, as would recyclable paper bags, provided they are 100 percent recyclable and made from at 40 percent post-consumer recycled content. Such paper bags would need be labelled as “recyclable” and “made from 40 percent post-consumer recycled content.”

Certain plastic bags would be exempt from the ban as well, including bags used to carry produce, meat, seafood or other food items to the point of the sale inside a store or to prevent the items inside from coming into contact with other food. Newspaper bags and laundry and dry-cleaning bags would also be exempt.

More than 80 communities across Massachusetts have enacted bans on single-use plastic bags in recent years.

Palmucci is also the author of the home-rule petition calling for early voting in municipal elections. As a home-rule petition, it would require approval from the council, the city’s mayor and state lawmakers before it could take effect.

Massachusetts has allowed early voting during the last two statewide elections in 2016 and 2018. Communities were required to have at least one polling place open during the 10 day weekdays leading up the November election those years. There was no early voting in the primary elections those years.

In Quincy, residents had the chance to cast their ballots during those 10 weekdays and a Saturday in both 2016 and 2018. In 2018, 4,339 residents cast their ballots during the early voting period. In 2016, 8,535 residents did so.

‘Christmas Around The World!’ Selected Parade Theme

“Christmas around the world!” will be the theme of the 67th annual City of Quincy Christmas Parade.

In what is believed to be a parade first, Dolly Di Pesa – who had her entry selected from 46 possible themes last year – came out on top again from the list of 31 entries submitted this year as part of the annual theme contest. The selection committee make their selection without knowing who submitted the entry.

The theme is an important part of the parade as it is used in the design and building of floats by the many community groups and schools who compete for prizes in a number of categories. The theme is also used for the poster contest, which is sponsored by QATV in all of the elementary schools in Quincy.

Community groups, nonprofits, and schools are eligible to participate in the parade by building floats which are judged for cash prizes. Commercial floats pay a fee to enter floats and are judged in a separate category and are awarded trophies. Persons interested in entering a float for this year’s parade should contact the committee at pdoherty@quincyma.gov.

Di Pesa, who is well known community volunteer and is active in the Quincy Rotary Club and other nonprofit organizations, is a CPA with an office at Marina Bay.

As the theme winner, Di Pesa a Quincy resident will have the honor of riding in the parade with some guests and will be presented a plaque at an awards ceremony at the conclusion of this year’s parade. The parade will be held on Sunday, Dec. 1.

Quincy Cleaning Up After Overnight Storm

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy is cleaning up Thursday after a powerful nor’easter struck the region overnight.

The storm brought high winds and rain to the area starting late Wednesday before letting up early Thursday morning. Gusty winds continued into Thursday.

Quincy police said they received more than 90 calls for service between midnight and 8 a.m. Thursday and continued getting calls for downed wires and trees through the rest of the morning.

National Grid reported scattered power outages throughout the city Thursday. The largest, as of 1 p.m. Thursday, was in the vicinity of Quincy Avenue where nearly 400 customers were without power. The other outages involved fewer than five customers each.

Police Seek Burglary Suspect

Quincy police say this man broke into a Squantum residence early Tuesday morning. Photo courtesy Quincy Police Department.

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspect who broke into a Squantum residence early Tuesday morning.

The unarmed burglary took place around 2 a.m. on Bellevue Road, police said.

The resident of the home was able to observe the suspect via surveillance camera as he exited the resident’s garage and entered her attached shed. She immediately contacted the Quincy police and spoke with dispatchers as she watched the suspect.

Officers were unable to locate the suspect upon arrival.

The resident does not believe the suspect stole anything.

Anyone with information that may assist in identifying this individual is asked to contact Det. James Karvelis at jkarvelis@quincyma.gov or 617-745-5765. You may also submit a tip using the MyPD smartphone app.

MA DPH Confirms Third Human Case Of West Nile Virus Infection

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday (Oct. 10) that state laboratory testing has confirmed the third human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection, a man in his 60s from Middlesex County. The man was exposed to the virus last month and there are no risk level changes at this time.

“We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Although mosquito populations are declining, some risk will continue until the first hard frost.”

The other two human cases of WNV this season involved a man in his 60s from Middlesex County and a man in his 50s from Plymouth County. There have also been 12 human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection, a rare but serious and potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease that can affect people of all ages. Eight horses and a goat have also been confirmed with EEE this season.

State health officials continue to remind residents throughout the Commonwealth to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Residents can learn more about mosquito-borne disease and ways to protect themselves on DPH’s website.

There are 15 communities at moderate risk for WNV. A map of the state’s current WNV and EEE risk levels can be found here.

People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours

The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites

Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools and change the water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals

Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should also speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.

For the most up-to-date information, Q&As, and downloadable fact sheets about EEE in multiple languages visit the DPH webpage www.mass.gov/eee.

Koch Announces 30 ‘Neat Neighbor’ Winners

Mayor Thomas Koch announces the winners of the City’s 2019 “Neat Neighbors”, a program that aims to recognize those residents that maintain their yard and property in a manner consistent with the themes of a cleaner and greener Quincy.

The 30 winners were chosen at random from more than 150 nominations from throughout the city’s many neighborhoods. The winners had to meet the qualifications of maintaining their yard and property and the program does not do comparative judging. Winners will receive a $30 gift certificate from a local garden center to help with their continued efforts next year.

“I want to thank all of the residents who were nominated this season,” Koch said. “Most of our residents do a fantastic job in keeping up their properties. This is our way of saying thanks and hopefully encouraging more people to do the same. The city can plant flowers, trees, and make our public property look nice but we need the cooperation of our residents to truly maintain the beautiful character of our city’s great neighborhoods.”

The 2019 “Neat Neighbors” are:

135 Sea Ave. Lois Murphy; 208 Merrymount Rd. The Cosgroves; 66 Edwards St. Tony Viapiano; 44 Cherry St. Mrs. Tinkham; 59 Bird St. John Keefe; 22 River St. Barry Wood; 65-67 Hughes St. Rick Wuori; 46 Curtis Ave. Dina Kyller; 33 Edison St. Janet Ochs; 44 Spaulding St. Marshall Whitehurst; 240 South Central Ave. Jeff and Deidre Hannon; 103 Grand View Ave. Mr. Patrick Curran; 69 Grandview Ave. The Boreks; 120 Farrington St. Donna Brown, 29 Eddie St. Frank Casper; 20 Taylor St. Kathleen Ryan; 35 Taber St. The Gaudianos; 88 Shirley St. Paul Cronin; 21 Presidents Ln. The McPhersons; 72 Elm Ave. Will and Susan Porter; 165 Fenno St. The Wilcoxens; 144 Marlboro St. Dave Hennessey; 118 Atlantic St. Kenny Xiong; 7 Andrews Rd. The Morrisseys; 39 Newbury Ave. Barbara Cilliland; 65 Colby Rd. Peter Regele; 71 Colby Rd. Susan Regele; 7 Sonoma Rd. Candace Golden; 619 Quincy Shore Dr. Eric Stoeckel; and 45 Marshall St. Dan Walty.

Council Clears Path For Self-Storage Facility

By SCOTT JACKSON

City councillors on Monday cleared the way for a proposed new self-storage facility that would be located on part of the Home Depot site in South Quincy.

The Planning Board must still approve of the project before construction of the new building can commence. The board held a hearing on the plan in September and is scheduled to take up the matter again on Nov. 13.

RJ Kelly Company of Burlington has proposed constructing the four-story self-storage building, which would include 1,280 units, at 465-480 Centre Street – the section of Home Depot’s parking lot closest to the Quincy Adams MBTA station. The site includes 149,000 square feet of land in an Industrial A zoning district. The developer has proposed including 25 parking spaces on site, plus four loading bays for its customers.

The self-storage facility would operate under the Stor-U-Self brand, which is a subsidiary of RJ Kelly. The company owns 35 Stor-U-Self facilities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Those locations include more than 20,000 individual storage units.

Councillors on Monday were asked to amend the 2001 special permit granted to Home Depot to allow development of the parking lot in question, by reducing the number of parking spaces the home improvement store is required to have on site. Councillors approved doing so in an 8-0 vote; Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain was not present Monday.

Gareth Orsmond, the applicant’s attorney, said the 2001 special permit required Home Depot have some 585 parking spaces on site. The city’s zoning code requires a store of Home Depot’s size, 136,000 square feet, in an Industrial A area to have 272 spaces on site, Orsmond said.

The section of the parking lot on which the new self-storage facility would be built includes 188 spaces, leaving Home Depot with nearly 400 spaces, including 30 used seasonally, Orsmond said, well above the number required in the zoning ordinance.

“Home Depot will have well over 100 more spaces than are required under the existing zoning bylaw and they feel that is more than sufficient to satisfy their needs for parking,” he said.

The Home Depot store would remain in compliance with all other aspects of the city’s zoning code after the loss of the 3.42-acre area to make way for the new storage facility, Orsmond added.

Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci, whose district includes the Centre Street site, said he would support the proposal. Palmucci hosted a community meeting on the plan this summer and said constituents he has heard from support the idea.

“The general sentiment from anybody I have talked to who have raised this issue with me or lives in the neighborhood, is that ‘thank God it’s not residential,’” he said. “Self-storage doesn’t knock my socks off, it’s not exciting, but it’s a Home Depot parking lot – also not exciting.”

Palmucci also noted Home Depot would remain in compliance with the parking requirements in the zoning code, the development would provide new growth for the city’s tax base, and the home improvement store’s customers would be unable to park in a residential area if there were not enough parking spaces on site.

“If they are wrong about needing the parking spaces, there is no particular neighborhood – or any neighborhood at all – that it’s going to bear the brunt of the mistake of that decision by having people parking illegally,” Palmucci said.

Councillor Nina Liang said it was important to add commercial development in the city.

“This is going to be a large-scale commercial development, so I am excited for that,” she said.

Councillor Anne Mahoney said a different use on site, such as residential, would have negative impact on traffic in the vicinity.

“That would add to the traffic congestion over there,” she said.

The public had the chance to comment on the proposal during Monday’s meeting. One person, John Rodophele of Taunton, did so, saying he supported the plan because it would generate new tax revenue.

“This will be a storage facility that will collect property taxes for next 20, 30 years, so we can fix the roads, fix the sidewalks and we can give money to the schools,” he said. “This is the new growth that we need.”

$8.5 Million Sought For Special Education Center

By SCOTT JACKSON

A request to borrow $8.5 million to purchase a Wollaston office building and convert it into a special education center was introduced at Monday night’s meeting of the City Council.

The bond request was referred to the council’s finance committee for consideration at a later date.

At a press conference last week, Mayor Thomas Koch and Superintendent Dr. Richard DeCristofaro announced plans to purchase the building at 180 Old Colony Ave. and renovate the three-story, 52,900-square-foot building into a new special education center that could open as soon as next fall.

The $8.5 million bond would cover the cost of purchasing and renovating the building. Eastern Nazarene College owns the building, which is located behind Central Middle School. It is home to several tenants, including the Woodward School, which is using the building on a temporary basis while its home in Quincy Center is being renovated.

The school system currently transports 152 special education students to schools outside the city, DeCristofaro said last week, at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000 annually per student, including transportation and tuition.

Koch said the new building would be able to accommodate 30 to 40 of those students, saving the city between $300,000 and $500,000 each year, even after accounting for debt service payments for the building and the cost to staff and maintain the facility. Special education students currently attended schools in Quincy could likewise be accommodated in the new facility; the building could potentially take in students from other school districts as well.

The facility would accommodate students from pre-kindergarten to middle school, officials said. Laura Owens, the assistant to the superintendent, said the categories of students with special needs who would move to the new building has yet to be determined.

“We are still in the process of figuring out what they will be,” she told The Sun.

Koch said he would like to see the City Council approve the bond before the end of December. The School Committee and school administrators would then work to determine programming for the building.