US Attorney Opens Investigation Into Quincy’s Bridge Opposition

An architect’s rendering of the proposed new Long Island Bridge, as presented to the Quincy Conservation Commission in 2018. Moon Island, which is within Quincy’s city limits, is shown at right here. Rendering courtesy the city of Boston.

By SCOTT JACKSON

US Attorney Rachael Rollins has begun an investigation to see if Quincy’s opposition to Boston’s proposal to rebuild the Long Island Bridge runs afoul of federal law that provides protection to people with substance-use disorders.

In a statement, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said his office would cooperate with the federal investigation. He reiterated that Quincy does not oppose Boston’s proposed recovery campus on Long Island, and is willing to work cooperatively with its neighbor to the north on the “broader issue of opioid treatment and recovery.”

In a letter to Koch earlier this month, Rollins said her office was “initiating an investigation” to determine if Quincy had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provides protections for people with substance-use disorders, by opposing Boston’s proposal to rebuild the bridge. Boston has said the bridge is necessary to access a planned recovery campus on Long Island.

“Pursuant to our authority under the ADA, we are investigating the City of Quincy’s various efforts regarding the reconstruction of the Long Island Bridge,” Rollins said in her letter.

“This includes, but is not limited to, the Quincy Conservation Commission’s denial of an Order of Conditions for rebuilding the bridge, the Quincy City Council’s enactment of new permitting requirements for bridges, and the Quincy City Council’s enactment of restrictions on vehicular access to Moon Island.”

In her letter, Rollins said the investigation was in its “preliminary stage” and Quincy officials had 30 days to turn over the information she had requested to prosecutors.

A spokesperson for the US attorney declined to comment on the investigation.

In January 2018, then Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced plans to rebuild the Long Island Bridge and open a recovery campus on Long Island. The bridge would connect Long Island to Moon Island, the latter of which is within Quincy’s city limits, though fully owned by Boston, and accessible only via Squantum. The original Long Island Bridge was closed without warning in 2014 and demolished the following year.

In the spring of 2018, the Quincy City Council approved two ordinances related to Boston’s proposal to rebuild the bridge.

The first banned non-passenger vehicles from two Squantum streets that provide access to Moon Island. Boston Police and Fire Department vehicles traveling to and from Moon Island are exempt from the ban, as are delivery vehicles servicing residents of those two streets and the Nickerson Post.

Secondly, the council approved an amendment to Quincy’s zoning code that requires the Planning Board grant a special permit before any new bridge can be built in the city. One bridge – the Generals Bridge in Quincy Center – has undergone that permitting process since the change was made to the zoning code.

That same year, the Quincy Conservation Commission rejected Boston’s proposal to rebuild the bridge, saying Boston did not provide adequate information about the project. That rejection is the subject of ongoing litigation between the two cities.

In his statement, Koch said his office would cooperate with federal prosecutors.

“First and foremost, we’ll be happy to work cooperatively with the US Attorney’s inquiry and provide any and all information that has been requested,” Koch said. “All we have right now is an information request, so it is hard to speak on specifics, or what further action may lie ahead.

“We have told Boston officials we are willing to work with them toward a solution, and we have also said from Day One that the City of Quincy does not object to the plan to restore the treatment campus on Long Island.  The issues are access points through Squantum that Boston’s own analysis stated were inadequate and the flawed bridge proposal that poses practical and environmental issues that the Quincy community has every right to raise.”

Quincy has asked Boston for information relative to its planned recovery campus on Long Island, Koch continued, but Boston officials have not been forthcoming with that information. Koch said he was hopeful his administration could learn more about the proposal by working with the US attorney.

“The US Attorney’s Office is concerned that Quincy’s efforts relate to the recovery campus.  The fact is Boston has shared very little with Quincy officials about what they intend to do on the Island, and all we have asked for is information,” Koch said. “Much of what we learned has been through third parties, and Boston sought and won a court order to prevent us from discussing this information.  We hope that, working with the US Attorney, we can all learn more about what is planned, and together develop a plan that will work for Boston and Quincy and the broader issue of opioid treatment and recovery.

“On that broader issue, I simply will not accept any premise that suggests Quincy has not done its part to protect and support the most vulnerable members of our community. We take a backseat to no one on this issue, and the record is clear. That includes millions of dollars of investment for a treatment center and recovery services; nationally recognized, first-of-a-kind interdiction programs; and millions of dollars more to help create a housing resource center that will be a statewide model for ending the tragic cycle of homelessness.

“Far from discriminating against people suffering from addiction, this community is a leader in the Commonwealth and the nation in providing life-saving and life-changing services to our residents. It’s a story we will be happy to share as this process moves forward.”

Pine Hill Proposal Clears Committee Vote 5-2; Needs 6 Votes To Pass $16.4M Bond

By SCOTT JACKSON

Mayor Thomas Koch’s proposed $16.4 million expansion of Pine Hill Cemetery in West Quincy cleared its first hurdle on Monday with city councillors voting it out of finance committee with a positive reccomendation, and the project could receive final approval as soon as next week.

The committee voted 5-2 in favor of a bond to pay for the project at Monday’s meeting. Councillors Ian Cain, Noel DiBona, William Harris, David McCarthy and Charles Phelan Jr. voted in support of the proposal while Councillors Nina Liang and Anne Mahoney were opposed. Councillors Anthony Andronico and Brian Palmucci were not in attendance for Monday’s meeting.

Phelan, who is the chairperson of the finance committee, said a final vote on the bond could take place as soon as next Monday’s regular council meeting. Six votes will be required for the bond to pass at that meeting. Palmucci on Tuesday told The Sun he planned to vote against the bond request while Andronico declined to comment.

The finance committee first met to review the bond request on April 4; the committee had been scheduled to meet again on April 25, but that meeting was canceled after one councillor tested positive for COVID-19.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, David Murphy, the city’s commissioner of natural resources, said a lot has happened with the proposal since the April 4 meeting. Murphy noted he provided councillors with a 28-page package of information related to the project on April 21 in response to questions they raised at the initial meeting.

In addition, the city on April 15 opened bids for the cemetery grounds expansion portion of the project including earthwork, landscaping, fountains and artwork enhancements. The low bid for that work, which had been estimated to cost $12.75 million, came in at $16.485 million, submitted by C. Naughton Corp. Because the administration wants the project to be self-funding – meaning cemetery fees will pay for its costs – Murphy said the project was value engineered to reduce costs after the bid came in.

“Our goal for the project…was not only to create valuable interment space for Quincy residents that could last the next two decades, but also to make it a self-funded project with revenues generated from the sale of lots and other associated fees,” Murphy said.

“In order to stay self-funded, we set off on a pretty robust value engineering process to stay within the budget. Our goal was to have the budget drive the project and not have the project drive the budget.”

Joseph Shea of the consulting firm Granite City Partners outlined the changes made to the project as a result of the value engineering. The primary change, he said, was the removal of a committal building that would have been located near the Chickatawbut Road entrance. A new welcome center near the Willard Street entrance is still included in the proposal. The city has yet to go to bid for construction of the welcome center.

Other changes to the project include the replacement of granite curbing with asphalt berms, though granite will still be used for ramps, catch basins and parking areas; reductions to the landscaping plan and replacement of many trees with shrubs; using a different method to repair the existing roads within the cemetery; changing many of the retaining walls to pre-cast concrete blocks; and changing granite pavers in most sections to stamped concrete.

Certain aspects of the project remain unchanged, Shea said. The project still features 13,000 new interment and inurnment spaces, enhancements to the current veterans’ section within the cemetery, and a gathering area with a pergola and benches.

As a result of the changes, city officials said the cost of the work to be undertaken by C. Naughton would be reduced to $13.945 million and the overall project cost was brought down to $16.4 million – the same amount Koch requested to borrow for the project earlier this year.

Murphy said the sale of burial lots and cremation niches, together with associated fees, would generate $24.16 million based upon current fees; the Cemetery Board of Managers, which sets those rates, could increase them in future if necessary.

The city will pay back the $16.4 million bond taken out for the project over a 20-year period, Murphy said. With interest, the city will pay $23.45 million on the bond over that period, he said, resulting in a revenue surplus of $500,000.

During Monday’s meeting, Mahoney raised concerns about the cost of the proposed welcome center, among other things. The one-story, 17-foot by 34-foot building would house two offices and a bathroom and is projected to cost $912,000 to construct, not including architectural fees and contingencies, which bring the total to $1.195 million.

“What’s the interior going to be – is it going to be gold?” Mahoney said.  “$912,000 for a 578-square-foot building averages out to $1,577 per square foot. That seems astronomical to me.”

Liang said she was comfortable moving forward with the expansion of the cemetery, because of the effort put in by the administration to reduce those costs, but was not ready to move forward with the welcome center.

“I would be comfortable moving forward…with grounds expansion and the bulk of the project itself,” Liang said. “I feel confident that you have looked through that portion of the project to find out how you can come in as low as possible, but I don’t feel that way with the welcome center.”

Liang proposed cutting $1.965 million from the $16.4 million bond. She suggested the administration could come back at a later date with a second bond to pay for the welcome center and associated costs.

Cain asked if there would be any additional costs associated with the issuance of a second bond to pay for the welcome center. Eric Mason, the city’s finance director, said a second bond could cost an additional $50,000 to $100,000 if interest rates are raised again later this year.

“The intent would be to come back to request this if it were cut today,” Cain said. “It would potentially cost us more down the line anyway if we’re cutting this, is the point I’m trying to make.”

Phelan asked if there was a reason construction of the welcome center was projected to cost $912,000. Shea noted councillors were provided a cost estimate for that work in the April 21 submittal and said smaller buildings typically have higher costs to build per square foot.

“What we’ve been seeing is that smaller buildings that don’t have an economy of scale do have a much larger cost per square foot,” Shea said.

“This is a very durable, masonry building. It’s not made out of lightweight construction materials. It represents some of the things that the cemetery stands for with the construction materials of yesteryear – the bricks, the granite.”

Councillors rejected Liang’s proposed cut in a 5-2 vote. Mahoney joined Liang in supporting the cut. Shortly thereafter, councillors voted 5-2 along the same lines to move the $16.4 million bond out of committee with a positive reccomendation.

DiBona, the council president, welcomed the value engineering the administration undertook to reduce the cost of the project to the original $16.4 million request.

“You guys have really tightened up some of the particular areas here,” he said. “This is a much-needed project that we need in the city.”

Phelan, the finance committee chairperson, said he was convinced the project would pay for itself. He said there is an “extreme need” for burial spaces for city residents.

“It is actually a real need for the city – an extreme need. I see it every week. My family owns a business that deals with people all the time and they want to be buried in Quincy and they want to be buried here,” said Phelan, whose family owns the Hamel-Lydon Chapel.

“I think this is something that needs to be fixed up, needs to be addressed, and I’m confident in the vote.”

Mahoney said she supports improvements to the cemetery but not the proposed $16.4 million bond.

“I can’t support this because I just think it’s too much and it’s too much to put on the burden even though you say it’s going to be paid for by itself – so many things we say that about in the city of Quincy and it doesn’t always happen that way,” Mahoney said.

“I can’t support this. Although I support the idea of it, I can’t support this bond as it is tonight.”

City Council Meeting Cancelled

By SCOTT JACKSON

Monday’s meeting of the Quincy City Council has been cancelled because of COVID-19.

City Clerk Nicole Crispo said the meeting was called off because one councillor had tested positive for COVID-19 and several others had been exposed.

The council’s finance committee, which consists of all nine councillors, had been scheduled to meet in-person Monday evening to discuss Mayor Thomas Koch’s proposed $16.4 million expansion of Pine Hill Cemetery in West Quincy. The finance committee initially met to review that proposal on April 4, the first in-person council meeting in two years.

A regular meeting was set to follow the finance committee meeting, during which Koch planned to introduce a $53 million district-improvement-financing bond order for improvements in Quincy Center as well as taking orders for three properties. Those properties include 1455 and 1459 Hancock St., where the city would construct a new green space next to a proposed seven-story building at 1445 Hancock St., and 1620 Hancock St., a former pizzeria that has sat vacant since a fire in the 1990s.

The City Council is slated to meet again next Monday, May 2. In an interview earlier this spring, Koch said he planned to submit his proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, which begins July 1, during that meeting.

Crispo on Monday said it was uncertain when the next finance committee meeting to discuss the Pine Hill proposal would be held.

City Commissioning New Abigail Adams Statue For Hancock-Adams Common

Mayor Thomas P. Koch announced this week that the city will shift gears in its planning and will commission a new statue of Abigail Adams to be placed on the Hancock-Adams Common.

The mayor said creating a place of prominence to honor Abigail and her role as a defining voice of the Revolutionary Era has been through a number of iterations over the years as new public spaces in the downtown have taken shape. Most recently, Koch discussed dedicating a proposed performing arts center in the southern area of downtown for both Abigail and Louisa Catherine Adams, first lady to John Quincy Adams.

But he said listening to recent dialogue about Abigail’s absence from the current Hancock-Adams Common prompted him to reconsider the City’s plans. Last week, the mayor met with a group of residents leading the recent advocacy efforts for Abigail to be incorporated into the Common, which opened to the public in 2018.

“I listened, gave it a lot of thought, and really had a great discussion with the group. The bottom line is the arguments I’ve heard are right. That Abigail’s been part of our planning is not good enough.  She’s not there now, and she belongs on the Common near her husband. There is not a marriage that, as a couple, has had a greater influence on who we are as a people than John and Abigail Adams, and the Common is absolutely the right place for both of their contributions to be recognized,” Koch said.

Sergey Eylanbekov, the same renown sculptor responsible for the John Adams and John Hancock statues on the Common, will create a statue of Abigail on the same scale as his existing sculptures, and an area of the park will be redesigned for her to be placed along with the interpretive artwork detailing her legacy. Eylanbekov is already under contract with the City, and has the historic material and images necessary from existing plans for an Abigail statue.

Because the framework is largely in place and Eylanbekov is not starting from scratch, Koch said he is hopeful that the new Abigail statue will be ready for a fall dedication.  He noted that timeline is contingent on avoiding major supply chain hiccups. The planning pivot will only require reprogramming of existing funding sources, the mayor’s office said.

The original statue commission for the Hancock-Adams Common dating back nearly a decade contemplated an Abigail Adams statue, with its placement coming in a second phase to be finalized when redevelopment plans for the Quincy Center MBTA station and its connection to the Common became clearer. In the meantime, a pair of existing statues, one of John Adams and one of Abigail with a young John Quincy, commissioned by local business leaders in the Quincy Partnership, were incorporated into the design of the Common’s first phase.

The Partnership asked that those statues, created by Boston sculptor Lloyd Lillie, be eliminated from the park design and be located in a place of prominence of their own.  After several years pursuing locations not overseen by the City, the Partnership requested that the statues be placed on the Adams Walk of Upper Merrymount Park, part of a sprawling, centralized open space complex donated to the City by Charles Francis Adams. The statues are anticipated to be installed this year.

As the first concepts for a major theater and performing arts center in the downtown started to take shape, Mayor Koch eyed the location of the existing glass City Hall building for that facility and for the monuments for Abigail and Louisa Catherine Adams to be included there.  When plans for the performing arts center shifted further south down Hancock Street, so did the plans for honoring the First Ladies.

Koch said the various intricacies of downtown redevelopment and long-term planning can’t replace what people see with their own eyes.

“Here we have this wonderful new public space, befitting of the national monuments in Washington, honoring our founders. But there is no representation right now of very likely the most important woman of her generation, whose actions and words continue to hold great influence even today,” the mayor said. “Good intentions and planning for the long-term are fine, but I’m truly grateful for the perspectives shared with me and very happy to be moving forward immediately with a beautiful sculpture of Abigail on the Common.”

The City is also in the beginning stages of planning monuments in the downtown for John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams.

Bronze statues of John Hancock (left) and John Adams (right) will be joined by a new statue of Abigail Adams on the Hancock-Adams Common in Quincy Center. The new Abigail statue commissioned by the city will be created by Sergey Eylanbekov, the same renown sculptor responsible for the Adams and Hancock statues that bookend the park near City Hall and United First Parish Church. Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth

 

 

Baker Signs ‘Nero’s Law’

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday signed into law “Nero’s Law,” which allows emergency medical personnel to treat and transport police dogs.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito on Tuesday joined Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy, legislators and public safety officials at the Yarmouth Police Department for a ceremonial bill signing of An Act allowing humane transportation of K9 partners, also known as “Nero’s Law.”

The bill was sponsored by Representative Steven Xiarhos (R-Barnstable) and Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) in response to the line-of-duty shooting that killed Yarmouth Police Sergeant Sean Gannon and severely injured his K9 partner Nero in 2018. At the time of Sgt. Gannon’s death, Massachusetts law did not allow for Nero’s critical injuries to be treated by emergency medical personnel. Nero’s Law now permits emergency medical personnel to offer emergency medical treatment and transport of K9 partners, including first aid, CPR and lifesaving interventions.

“Nero and all K9 Officers like him deserve the same quality of care that we are able to deliver to all law enforcement personnel,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The swift medical treatment and transport now permitted through Nero’s Law will save lives, and we are grateful to the Legislature for their commitment to this important issue.”

“K9 Officers have an incredible impact on the communities and the departments they serve, and they risk their lives each day to keep residents safe from harm,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Nero’s Law fulfills our shared obligation to care for them as they do for us and reaffirms our administration’s dedication to supporting those that bravely protect and serve.”

“Police dogs perform vital public safety functions in communities across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy. “When an officer’s K9 partner is injured in the line of duty, they deserve the immediate access to life-saving treatment and transport that this law makes possible. Today’s bill signing protects loyal partners like Nero and renews our promise to never forget Sgt. Sean Gannon.”

“The Gannon Family is profoundly grateful to the legislators and veterinary professionals who took the initiative to draft the Bill that became Nero’s Law, which affords our beloved K-9s who serve us all with unfailing loyalty the expedient care they richly deserve if and when needed,” said Denise Gannon.

“I would like to thank Governor Baker for coming to Yarmouth today and for his leadership, as well as the many other people who were instrumental in seeing this bill become a law. As the former Deputy Chief of Police for the Town of Yarmouth, and as someone who therefore has a deep personal connection to the events of April 12, 2018, I am extremely gratified to see Nero’s Bill signed into law. This bill is evidence that good people can come together to do great things for the community. It is also evidence that Massachusetts is proud to stand by its first responders and to support them in their mission, and to protect them when needed,” said Representative Xiarhos (R-Barnstable).

 “Today, we honor Sean and all the K9 officers and members of law enforcement who have dedicated their lives to keeping our communities safe. I am immensely grateful to Denise Gannon, Governor Baker, and my legislative colleagues for ensuring we got this bill signed into law. As a native son of New Bedford, Sergeant Gannon, and by extension his K9 partner Nero, is forever a beloved part of our community. It has been an absolute honor and a privilege to help honor the life of such an incredible man and dedicated public servant. I hope today makes Denise, Patrick, Dara, and the entire Gannon Family proud,”said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford).

 “On this sobering 4th anniversary of K9 Sgt. Sean Gannon’s murder, we are humbled by the signing of Nero’s Law. It is legislation that we owe to our fearless K9’s who put themselves in harm’s way for our protection. Our K9 handlers also need to know that their K9 partners will receive the very best care available should they be injured,” said Yarmouth Chief of Police Frank Frederickson.

“We are thrilled with the passage of this legislation that protects these animals that do so much for us and ask so little in return. There are many examples of the sacrifices that Police K9’s make in protection of their human partners. We experienced this in Braintree on June 4, 2021, when Kitt saved the life of 3 officers during a violent assault. Although medical intervention would not have saved Kitt that day, there are numerous instances where timely medical treatment will save the life of a heroic K9. We feel that providing medical care is the least we can do for them,” said Braintree Chief of Police Mark Dubois.

Quincy Seeking Public Engagement On Housing Production

The City of Quincy, through an advisory committee, and in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), is continuing the process of developing a new five-year Housing Production Plan (HPP).  HPPs are plans that help municipalities better understand local housing needs and opportunities; and they set a vision for future development with a focus on affordable housing.
The city held a virtual public engagement session this past winter, which solicited over 175 survey responses.  The city has now launched a second online “open house” activity to solicit additional feedback about the plan.  The online open house will close on Friday, April 22.  Quincy residents, as those who work in Quincy, are invited to participate in the online activity to weigh in on goals to address housing challenges; potential strategies and actions to achieve those goals; and opportunities for new housing in Quincy.  Participants may pause and return to the activity at any point.
The online open house is available at mapc.ma/housing-quincy-open-house-2.
Additionally, the project team will host a webinar on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 P.M. to review the results of the online open house, recommendations for Housing Quincy, and to ask questions.
Those wishing to register for the webinar may do so at mapc.ma/housing-quincy-webinar-2.
Questions regarding the online open house or the HPP in general may be directed to Emma Battaglia, Senior Housing & Land Use Planner at MAPC (ebattaglia@mapc.org) or Sherry Zou, Housing Programs Manager at the City of Quincy (szou@quincyma.gov).
To learn more about the HPP, please visit mapc.ma/housing-quincy.

Firefighters Battle Blaze At Twin Rivers Plant in Quincy Point

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy firefighters on Tuesday extinguished a two-alarm fire at the Twin Rivers Technology plant along the Fore River.

Fire Chief Joseph Jackson on Wednesday said firefighters responded to the plant shortly before 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and a second alarm was struck soon after they arrived. Firefighters remained on scene for about five hours.

Jackson said the fire was caused by a malfunction in a hydrolyzer, a pressurized apparatus the plant was using that morning to treat coconut oil. The hydrolyzer leaked, aerosolizing the coconut oil before the oil caught fire.

Firefighters poured water onto a valve until it was cool enough that it could be closed, Jackson said.

No injuries were reported and the fire chief said damage from the fire was confined to the piece of equipment in question. He credited firefighters for their quick response.

“They did an outstanding job yesterday,” Jackson said, noting firefighters were able to bring a heavy stream onto the equipment within minutes.

“The outcome could have been different if they didn’t act so quickly.”

Coconut oil is a non-hazardous chemical, Jackson said, and there was no risk of exposure for the firefighters on scene or nearby residents.

Councillors Question Pine Hill Plans

By SCOTT JACKSON

City councillors on Monday raised questions about a proposed $16.4 million expansion of Pine Hill Cemetery, which would add 14,000 interment and inurnment spaces to the West Quincy burial ground, and put off a vote on the project until they receive additional information on the plan.

Mayor Thomas Koch in February submitted the $16.4 million bond request to the council. The council’s finance committee met Monday to review the request.

At Monday’s hearing, David Murphy, the city’s commissioner of natural resources, called the 7.5-acre proposal a “very exciting and historic project” for the city’s cemetery department.

“Tonight’s proposal is the most significant cemetery expansion that this city has done in decades. It will add over 14,000 burial spaces,” Murphy said. “It will also include the city’s first cremation niches to maximize some of the challenges the landscape presents, but also provide additional options to residents as well.”

As part of the expansion, the city would install more than 3,500 double-depth pre-buried vaults, each of which can hold two caskets plus an urn. Spaces for 650 graves would be added to the cemetery’s veterans’ section. More than 3,000 niches, each capable of holding two urns, will also be installed.

In addition, a new welcome center and office building would be constructed near the Willard Street entrance to the facility. A new committal building would be constructed near the Chickatawbut Road entrance, where the current cemetery office is located. A boulder fountain would also be installed in that area.

A pergola gathering area with columbarium walls – where the niches for the urns would be located – would be constructed in the new 7.5-acre section of the cemetery. A veterans’ memorial wall would be installed near existing veterans’ lot within the cemetery and a seating area would be added to the existing part of the cemetery as well.

Murphy said the revenue generated by the project – from the sale of lots and associated burial fees – would pay for its cost. He told councillors each lot in the new area will cost $1,200 plus a $1,000 fee for perpetual maintenance and a $25 fee for the deed. There is also a $1,100 fee for each burial in the lot – that fee could be charged up to three times per lot, twice for casket burials and once for an urn.

The cost for a single lot is currently $850, plus a $500 fee for perpetual care and the $25 deed. The current burial fee is $700.

Currently, lots at Pine Hill are only sold on an as-needed basis. If the expansion project were approved, lots could be sold on a pre-need basis for the first time in decades. Murphy said those sales could begin later this year and he anticipates high demand for the new lots.

“I think there will be a tremendous demand out there, especially because this is really the last spot that the city has for cemetery space,” he said. “I think the lack of supply is going to create a pretty substantial demand for the lots.”

Councillor Anne Mahoney said the administration’s presentation did not include an adequate breakdown of the project’s costs. Scott Salvucci, a project manager with the firm Woodard & Curran, provided a breakdown of the costs after Mahoney raised that concern.

According to Salvucci’s presentation, the cemetery expansion would cost $13.6 million, including $4.75 million for earthwork, $2.5 million for the installation of burial vaults, $2.5 million for paving and other hardscaping, $1.25 million for retaining walls, $750,000 for the columbarium walls, $500,000 for landscaping and $500,000 for the boulder fountain and other artwork. The remaining $2.7 million would pay for the welcome center and committal building; those costs were not further broken down.

Mahoney said that financial presentation did not contain enough information and was only provided to councillors at the finance committee meeting and not beforehand.

“I’m still concerned. This is broken out and there are six lines that are broken out,” Mahoney said. “Is everybody OK with that? I’m not because it came to us at 6:30, the first finance meeting, and I’ve been asking for breakouts.”

“I would have expected a little more detail,” she added.

Mahoney later questioned the ratio of graves to niches in the proposal. More and more people are being cremated, she said, and it would make sense to have more niches than burial vaults in the expansion.

Murphy responded that the city would have the ability to add more niches in the future, at Pine Hill and at other cemeteries.

Councillor Nina Liang said she was concerned about inflation and asked if the $16.4 million would include enough funds to account for rising construction costs.

“Labor is still exponentially expensive right now so are parts…materials and everything,” she said. “I am hoping with any construction project we build in contingencies. I would like to know what that contingency amount is and also if we are building in typical construction contingencies or factoring in the fact that everything has increased the last two years.”

Salvucci said the costs include a typical construction contingency of approximately 5 to 10 percent. He was confident the contingency would be enough to cover potential increases in costs given how advanced the planning for the project is.

Salvucci also provided a timeline for the project. He said bids will be opened on April 15 and construction could begin in mid-May, likely between Mothers’ Day and Memorial Day. The project should be substantially finished by November 2023 though final paving might have to wait until the following spring.

Liang also asked Murphy how long it had been since the city increased its burial fees – which are set by the Cemetery Board of Managers – and suggested they could be raised again in the future to keep up with inflation. Murphy said the new fees were set in April 2021 based on costs at comparable cemeteries but could not say when they were last set prior to that.

“We were far behind, I think, similar cemeteries when we did our analysis, so we actually had to come up a substantial amount,” Murphy said. “I’d have to do research to give you a specific answer, but I think it had been sometime since those fees had been increased.”

Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain asked about maintenance costs at the cemetery moving forward. Murphy said the pre-buried vaults would help reduce operating costs in the future, because graves won’t have to be dug when they are needed, while an additional worker might be needed for things like mowing grass and trimming plants.

Cain said he was prepared to support the bond request.

“This is a necessary project,” he said. “Having these available at Pine Hill, I think, is a big deal. I’m certainly in support of it and I appreciate the presentation tonight.”

Ward 6 Councillor William Harris said he knows Quincy residents who have struggled to find places in Quincy to bury family members. He made a motion to pass the bond out of committee.

“I’m thrilled with the fact that we’re opening up more spaces for our residents,” Harris said. “I respect my fellow councillors who have questions about this but at this point I’m satisfied, so I’m going to make a motion to approve.”

After Harris spoke, Ward 2 Councillor Anthony Andronico said he would like to see further details about the project before voting on it.

“I absolutely believe the city should be pursuing the expansion while at the same time I do understand some of the concerns that my colleagues have raised about some of the details in that and I do agree with them that I would really like to see a little bit more of a breakdown on what those costs are going to,” Andronico said.

“We do have a duty to the taxpayers to fully explore the options before us and I would love to see maybe another meeting on this.”

Harris then withdrew his motion to approve the bond and said the item would stay in committee.

Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr., who is the chairperson of the finance committee, said he would provide the administration with a list of questions from his colleagues that could be answered before the next committee meeting is held. That meeting has not been scheduled.

 

Local Legislators Seek Dedicated State Police Patrol

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy’s legislators on Beacon Hill are working to secure funds in the state budget to provide a dedicated State Police patrol in the city, Rep. Bruce Ayers said recently.

“We’re all actually working on it, because it covers all our districts,” he said. “That’s what is needed.”

Ayers noted that the State Police have three patrols from the South Boston barracks assigned to cover Quincy, the Southeast Expressway, and parts of Boston.

“We’re trying to get a designated patrol just for Quincy. Right now, just to give you a quick idea, there are three designated patrols that cover South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and ten miles of I-93. It’s a huge area for three cars to cover, especially during the summer time,” Ayers said.

“We’ve been successful in the past. I just met with legislative liaison, Lt. Kevin Baker, about the numbers that we’re going to be needed for the budget to make it a priority. We wanted to get to him early so that when the weather breaks in another month or so we’ll have proper protections, increased patrols.

“The phone calls we get, we made it clear to the State Police we want to clamp down on the littering, loitering, noise, undesirable behavior, speeding.”

The State Police are tasked with patrolling state-owned roads, including Quincy Shore Drive and Furnace Brook Parkway, Ayers said. State Troopers from the Milton barracks are responsible for policing the Blue Hills, he added.

“Mostly Quincy Shore Drive, but it goes further,” Ayers explained when asked about the State Police coverage area. “There are other areas that are densely populated that have their fair share of problems like Squantum Point Park, [Moswetuset] Hummock, Caddy Park.

“You go up Furnace Brook Parkway you’ve got Shea Rink and you go a little further up to Chickatawbut, like Houghton’s Pond, that area. There is drag racing on Chickatawbut Road there. They split there, that goes out of the Milton barracks, but those are the areas that we’re concerned with.”

The goal is to ensure people who visit those areas enjoy themselves.

“We want to make it clean and safe so if someone takes their family down there, they can enjoy themselves,” Ayers said.

In addition to the State Police patrols, Ayers said it is important that the state Department of Conversation and Recreation properly maintain and care for the parks under its jurisdiction in Quincy.

“We’re working with the liaison now to go out and do a site visit to each of the locations to find out what manpower and equipment is going to be needed for each spot,” he said.

“What do they need for manpower, what are they going to use for equipment, so they can’t say, ‘well, we needed more barrels, we needed more manpower.’ Whatever you need to properly do the job, tell us now, we’re in the budget, let’s go out there and determine what it is.”