Ayers Asks T to Extend Shuttle Bus Services To Squantum Point Park

State Rep. Bruce J. Ayers (D – Quincy) has sent a formal request to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, imploring the extension of shuttle bus services to Squantum Point Park to provide relief for frustrated commuters.

The letter notes the success of the bus service that has shuttled customers from the Wollaston Station area during the 2-year construction period. Ayers suggested that the success of this service could be extended from the North Quincy MBTA Station to the state-owned parking lot in Squantum Point Park, providing parking relief during the construction at North Quincy while also encouraging use of the Marina Bay Ferry.

Over 600 spots are lost at the North Quincy lot. With the Wollaston project ready to open this month, Ayers believes the shuttle buses could be used to bring relief to the North Quincy project, while also encouraging use of water transit.

“Water transportation is an economically responsible, environmentally friendly means of transit, and this area is a prime location for it,” Ayers said. “This area’s marine infrastructure makes this a unique opportunity.”

Ayers cited the “failure” of the MBTA to provide adequate mitigation for the ongoing construction along the Red Line stops in Quincy, coupled with the disruptions in service the Red Line has experienced in the past 2 months. Prior to the derailment in June, Red Line trains were running 14 trips per hour; that number is now at 10 trips per hour.

“My constituents have reached out to me repeatedly to express their frustration over the delays, overcrowded platforms, and overall lack of options,” Ayers said. “This could provide a recovery of parking spaces, as well as a reliable alternative means of transportation for those who no longer trust the MBTA. It’s a way for the MBTA to earn their customers’ faith back.”

The parking lot at Squantum Point Park consists of over 800 parking spaces, and is owned by DCR. Ayers suggests that the MBTA work out an agreement with DCR to provide free commuter parking in the lot during the North Quincy construction project.

The Marina Bay Ferry is in its 4th year of seasonal operation. It is owned and maintained by the town of Winthrop, and service from Quincy will run through November.

Along with GM Poftak, copies of the letter were also sent to Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack; Joseph Aiello, Chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal & Management Control Board; and Leo Roy, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation & Recreation.

A copy of the letter was also provided to The Quincy Sun. The letter appears below.

NQ Library Branch Closed For Two Months Due To Renovations

The North Quincy Branch Library closed Monday, Aug. 12, for building renovations. The work is expected to take at least two months to complete.
Improvements will include a new roof, new ceiling, new flooring and carpeting, and some electrical upgrades.
For library services while the branch is closed:
  • Return books and other materials in the North Quincy Branch outside book drops located at the front and rear entrances.
  • Pick up your holds at the Main Library (40 Washington St.) or call 617-376-1300 x3 to have them sent to another library location.
  • Check the library’s online calendar of events at thomascranelibrary.org for programs held at other library locations. Some North Quincy Branch children’s programs will be relocated to other Quincy libraries.
  • The Wollaston Branch Library (41 Beale St.) will have special Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to noon while the North Quincy Branch is closed.

For more information, visit thomascranelibrary.org or call 617-376-1300 x3.

Pedestrian Struck By Police Cruiser

By SCOTT JACKSON

A 79-year-old man remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon after he was struck by a Quincy police cruiser responding to an emergency call earlier in the day.

Quincy police said officers were responding to a medical call with CPR in progress at approximately 7:21 a.m. Wednesday. As officers responded, with emergency lights activated, an officer struck a male pedestrian as he crossed Independence Avenue near Goddard Street, police said. The pedestrian was taken to Boston Medical Center in critical condition, police said.

Sgt. Karyn Barkas identified the pedestrian as Giovanni Angelucci, age 79. She said Angelucci remained in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon.

A portion of Independence Avenue was closed following the crash as the Weymouth Police Department’s accident reconstruction team began its investigation. The road has since re-opened, but Barkas said Weymouth police are continuing their investigation.

The officer involved in the crash has not been identified. Barkas said the officer has been placed on temporary paid leave, which she called a standard procedure.

Quincy Ferry Resumes Service

By SCOTT JACKSON

The boat that has ferried passengers between Quincy, Winthrop and Boston since 2016 resumed service this week.

The Valkyrie, the 73-passenger ferry, was taken out of service in June after one of its engines overheated and was deemed beyond repair.

A spokeswoman for the town of Winthrop, which owns the ferry, said the engine has been replaced. The town received permission from the Coast Guard to sail again after passing inspection.

Quincy began partnering with Winthrop to provide ferry service to and from Squantum Point Park in the summer of 2016. The ferry has run each summer since then.

The Valkyrie’s schedule for this summer includes three weekday morning departures from Squantum Point Park. The first leaves Quincy at 6:50 a.m. and arrives at the New England Aquarium at 25 minutes later. The second leaves Quincy at 7:40 a.m. and arrives at the Boston Seaport at 8:25 a.m., with an intermediate stop in Winthrop. The third trip leaves Quincy at 10:50 a.m. with stops at both the Aquarium and Seaport.

In the afternoon, the Valkyrie stops at Quincy at 4:40 and 6:25 p.m.

This year’s schedule also includes a Saturday trip between Squantum Point Park and Spectacle Island. The ferry leaves Quincy at 10:30 a.m. and arrives on the island 20 minutes later, then continues on to the Aquarium and Seaport stops, then returns to Quincy and Winthrop. The return ferry leaves Spectacle Island at 2:50 p.m. and arrives in Quincy 20 minutes later.

Saturday evening service is also available between Boston and Quincy; the ferry offers Sunday trips as well between Boston, Quincy and Winthrop.

Quincy Residents Hit Hard By Competitive Electric Suppliers, AG Says

A report released Thursday by Attorney General Maura Healey shows that even while rapid growth of municipal aggregation programs continues to improve choices for electric customers, Massachusetts residents who contract individually with competitive electric suppliers continue to lose millions of dollars per year. Quincy is among the cities with the most residents hit hard by those companies.

With the release of the report, Healey is renewing her call to stop these companies from making direct solicitations to residential customers.

The AG’s new report, which expands upon her office’s original report on the industry from March 2018, found that Massachusetts electric customers who switched to a competitive electric supplier paid $76.2 million more than if they remained with their existing service during the one-year period from July 2017 to June 2018. This new data brings the total net losses to $253 million for Massachusetts customers over the course of three years (July 2015 through June 2018). The AG’s report also showed that low-income residents and communities of color are disproportionately impacted.

“Our concern remains that too many customers are being falsely promised big savings on their electricity bills and then overcharged month after month,” Healey said. “The results of our new report highlight the need for legislation to protect real competition and stop these predatory companies from scamming residents in Massachusetts.”

The report also shows that of the 500,000 residents in the state that receive their electricity directly from a competitive supplier, low-income minority residents living in many of the state’s gateway cities including Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Quincy, Springfield, and Worcester are continuing to be hit particularly hard by these companies. Low-income households participate in the individual residential electric supply market at twice the rate of non-low-income households, and on average pay rates that are 25 percent higher. The new report found that low-income households lost an average of $166 in the one-year period from 2017 to 2018.

Mayor Thomas Koch said he supports the steps Healey’s office has taken to address the matter.

“Attorney General Healey continues to be a national leader in taking on unscrupulous competitive energy suppliers who bilk some of the most vulnerable families in Quincy and across the Commonwealth out of millions of dollars every single year. Through aggressive legal action and legislation, unprecedented resources have already been dedicated to protect consumers from these practices, and the city of Quincy will stand together with Attorney General Healey every step of the way,” Koch said in a statement released by Healey’s office.

In the last four years, residents in Massachusetts filed more than 1,000 complaints with the AG’s Office about competitive suppliers engaging in aggressive and deceptive tactics. Complaints include suppliers pretending to be a utility company to induce customers to turn over sensitive information; suppliers harassing customers with repeated calls or home visits; and door-to-door salespeople forcing their way into elderly customers’ homes and refusing to leave without a signed contract.

In January, Healey filed legislation that would ban suppliers from contracting directly with residential customers for new contracts after Jan. 1, 2020. The legislation would not change Massachusetts’ cities and towns’ municipal aggregation programs or the markets for commercial and industrial electric supply.

As the state’s ratepayer advocate, Healey’s office has supported reforms to basic service and supported competitive products and services in the electricity market, including the expansion of power purchase agreements by large-scale commercial and industrial users of electricity—like manufacturers, hospitals, universities, and office parks—and by cities and towns that purchase power on behalf of their residential customers.

As of 2019, over 120 cities and towns in Massachusetts provide electricity to their residents through municipal aggregation programs. Dozens more are in the process of setting up municipal aggregation programs—including Boston and Worcester—with the goal of providing competitive and often cleaner electricity options for residents.

Since Healey first called for reform in the competitive electric supply market, other states have undertaken similar efforts to protect consumers from these deceptive practices. In October 2018, then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called for the Legislature to stop residential market contracting for competitive electricity suppliers in her state. In February 2019, the Connecticut consumer counsel and the chairman of the New York State Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee each introduced legislation similar to Healey’s.

The recent report is part of Healey’s ongoing efforts to address unfair and deceptive practices in the individual residential electric supply market, which includes investigating and taking action against suppliers who violate the state’s consumer protection laws.

In March 2018, Viridian Energy LLC agreed to pay $5 million in restitution to consumers for allegedly engaging in various deceptive and unfair sales tactics to switch consumers into costly contracts. The AG’s Office also reached a $4 million settlement with Just Energy in December 2014 for deceptive marketing and sales, entering consumers into agreements without their consent, and charging costly termination fees.

In October 2018, the AG’s Office sued Starion Energy for allegedly falsely promising consumers electricity rate reductions in unsolicited telemarketing calls and pre-recorded robocalls and then charging those consumers tens of millions of dollars more than they would have paid if they stayed with their utility company.

In March 2019, Healey filed extensive comments with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), calling on the DPU to enact a series of regulatory measures that would help mitigate consumer harm for as long as suppliers continue to directly contract with residential electric customers, and requesting that the DPU investigate the impact of the individual residential electric supply market on the various low-income assistance programs and their participants.

Any resident or retailer with concerns about these deceptive marketing practices should file a complaint with the AG’s Office or call the consumer hotline at 617-727-8400. Residents with questions can also contact the Consumer Division of the Department of Public Utilities at 877-886-5066.

Barry J. Welch Soccer Field Dedication Ceremony Aug. 24

Varsity Soccer Field in Merrymount Park will be dedicated in the name of Barry J. Welch, the city’s long-time recreation director who served in the Quincy Recreation Department for 55 years, at a ceremony set for Saturday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m., announces Mayor Thomas Koch.

BARRY WELCH, the city’s longtime Recreation Department director who retired earlier this year, will be honored Aug. 24 when the city dedicates Varsity Soccer Field in his name. Welch served the department for 55 years including 37 years as director. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

The ceremony will be followed by a celebration at Pageant Field starting at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Former Quincy Recreation employees are encouraged to attend the “Rec Reunion” at Pageant Field that day. There will be a contest for the “oldest rec shirt” from leaders that saved their old work shirts. The celebration will include a barbecue, music, games, and fun.

Mayor Koch presented the proposal to name the field in Welch’s honor to the Quincy Park and Recreation Board six months ago. The board unanimously supported Koch’s initiative to recognize this outstanding public servant.

“Barry epitomizes what public service is all about,” Koch said. “He is a pioneer in the recreation field and has provided thousands of Quincy young people with a great experience in our playground, clinic, swim, and gym programs. Recreation in Quincy is synonymous with Barry Welch and this dedication will ensure that his work is forever remembered.”

Welch was first appointed in June, 1964 as an assistant recreation playground leader. In 1975, he was appointed as the assistant director of recreation. Mayor Frank McCauley named Welch the director of the Recreation Department Feb. 1, 1982 where he served until his retirement 37 years later to the day.

Added Mayor Koch, “We encourage all those that worked with and for Barry to join us in saluting his service to Quincy. It would great to bring back as many former Rec leaders as we could to celebrate his incredible career in local government.”

Varsity Soccer Field is adjacent to Veterans Memorial Stadium across from Collins Rest-A-While playground and the Mitchell/McCoy softball field on Merrymount Parkway.

23 Candidates Running In Quincy Election

By SCOTT JACKSON

The 23 candidates who submitted their nomination papers to run in Quincy’s municipal election have qualified for the ballot, including the three candidates running for mayor, the five candidates seeking an at-large seat on the City Council, and the four candidates running for School Committee.

The election will also feature contests for the Ward 1, 3, 5 and 6 seats on the council.

The deadline to submit nomination papers, along with the signatures of 50 people registered to vote in the city, to the Board of Registrars of Voters passed on July 19. The 23 residents submitted nomination papers before the deadline; four others who pulled papers did not return them.

City Clerk Nicole Crispo said all 23 candidates had their nomination papers, including the voters’ signatures, certified. In addition, all 23 submitted their statements of candidacy ahead of the Aug. 6 deadline to do so. The deadline for withdrawals and objections is 5 p.m. on Aug. 9.

Two preliminary elections will take place on Sept. 10 to whittle down the number of candidates running in the races for mayor and Ward 1 councillor from three to two.

The preliminary election will cost between $80,000 and $85,000, Crispo said, inclusive of all costs such as printing ballots, advertising for the election, and pay for election workers and police details. The money to pay for the preliminary election was included in this year’s municipal budget, the city clerk said; she anticipated holding a citywide preliminary when she drafted the budget for the election department.

Crispo said turnout in the preliminary election could be somewhere in the range of 30 to 35 percent. She based the estimate on the 2015 citywide preliminary, which included a four-person mayoral field and council races in Wards 2 and 3.

“We had a 30.2 percent turnout that year,” Crispo said. “Ward 1 is active, so I would say in the end it will be in the same range – 30 to 35 percent.”

A drawing to determine ballot position for the preliminary election is scheduled for Aug. 16. Crispo said she would ask the candidates for permission to move the drawing up to Aug. 12, so the city can get ballots printed sooner.

Absentee balloting for the preliminary will begin as soon as the ballots are ready, Crispo said, and will end at noon on Sept. 9. The deadline to register to vote in the preliminary election is 8 p.m. on Aug. 21.

The three candidates who qualified for the ballot in the mayoral race are: incumbent Thomas Koch of 249 Newbury Ave. and challengers Tracey Dorgan of 108 Sherman St. and Brenda Ryan of 14 Cranch St. Koch was first elected mayor in 2007 and was re-elected to two-year terms in 2009, 2011 and 2013. In 2015, he was elected to a four-year term – the first in Quincy’s history after voters approved doubling the mayoral term in a 2013 referendum.

A win for Koch would make him the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. Two other mayors – Amelio Della Chiesa and James Sheets – each served for 12 years. Della Chiesa served for four years under a Plan E form of government and then eight years under Plan A; Sheets’ entire tenure was under Plan A, the city’s current form of government.

The three residents to qualify for the ballot in the race for the Ward 1 seat on the City Council are: incumbent David McCarthy of 48 Whitney Rd. and challengers Danielle Kempe of 1 Adams St. and Joseph Murphy of 18 Macy St. McCarthy is seeking his second two-year term on the council.

The top two vote getters in each contest will advance to the Nov. 5 final election. The deadline to register to vote in November is 8 p.m. on Oct. 16 and absentee balloting ends at noon on Nov. 4.

All three incumbent at-large councillors – Noel DiBona of 70 Chickatabot Rd., Nina Liang of 2 Williams St. and Anne Mahoney of 12 Ferriter St. – qualified for this year’s ballot, as did challengers Frank Rubino of 5 Whiton Ave. and Joann Sullivan Cantor of 316 Fenno St. DiBona and Liang are seeking their third two-year terms and Mahoney is running for her second term.

Two residents – William Burke of 28 Rice Rd. and John Rodophele of 62 Grenwold Rd. – pulled papers to run for an at-large seat but did not return them. A preliminary election would have been necessary if all seven candidates qualified for the ballot.

The four candidates in the running for the three School Committee seats available in the fall election include incumbents Paul Bregoli of 80 Willow Ave. and Kathryn Hubley of 44 Marion St. as well as challengers Courtney Perdios of 86 Ruggles St. and Frank Santoro of 14 Lois Ter. Bregoli and Hubley are each seeking their third four-year term on the committee. Santoro previously served on the committee for two terms as well.

The third incumbent school board member, James DeAmicis, is not seeking a second term.

The two candidates to qualify in the race for the Ward 3 seat are incumbent Ian Cain of 8 Highpoint Cir. and challenger Eriberto Soto, Jr., of 627 Adams St. Cain is seeking his third two-year term.

Kirsten Hughes, the incumbent Ward 5 councillor, is not seeking re-election to the seat she has held since 2012. Two candidates are vying to replace her: Stephen Christo of 42 Standish Ave. and Charles Phelan of 298 Fenno St. Phelan formerly represented Ward 5 on the council from 1988 to 1996.

Two residents who had pulled papers to run for Ward 5 councillor did not return them: Mary Lally, 10 Weston Ave. and Christopher DeCambra, 25 Langley Cir.

In Ward 6, incumbent William Harris of 74 Ashworth Rd. and challenger William Isenberg of 36 Carle St. both qualified for the ballot. Harris is seeking his third term.

Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall of 92 Viden Rd. and Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci of 16 Cross St. will be unopposed in the fall. Croall is seeking his fifth term and Palmucci is seeking his sixth.

House Advances Bill For Air Monitoring Station In Fore River Basin

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to install an air quality monitoring station in the Fore River Basin, adjacent to the site of the proposed natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth. The bill, H.4008 An Act relative to air monitoring stations, was advanced by South Shore lawmakers in response to the troubling process that resulted in the granting of an air quality permit for the project.

“Generations of residents in the Fore River Basin have been exposed to a disproportionate level of industrial pollution. This legislation seeks to answer a basic question that has gone unanswered for far too long in the Fore River Basin: ‘What is in the air we are breathing?’” said House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano. “I understand federal preemption limits what the state can do in this space. But, at time when FERC is increasingly held captive by the industry it is intended to regulate, surely Massachusetts can do more to protect its residents and its interests.”

The bill would install an air quality monitoring station on the Fore River Bridge to measure a comprehensive list of air contaminants, including nearly 100 volatile organic compounds, as well as meteorological factors that might worsen exposure to surrounding communities.

Importantly, the bill also adopts the recommendation made by the Hearing Officer during the recent administrative appeal of the air permit that MassDEP change its current practice of ignoring background levels of emissions when evaluating whether a proposed source’s emissions exceed acceptable standards. This will ensure that the air permitting process for future natural gas compressor stations is truly reflective of the station’s impact on ambient air quality.

The bill now must be approved by the Senate and the governor before becoming law.

North Quincy Big Y Closing Aug. 28

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Big Y store in North Quincy will close its doors for good on Aug. 28 after the company was unable to negotiate a lease extension.

A spokeswoman for the Springfield-based chain of supermarkets said it would be closing its location at 475 Hancock St. because it was unable to negotiate a lease extension with the owner of the property. The company is looking at other possible locations in Quincy and nearby communities.

Current store employees will be offered positions at other Big Y locations, the spokeswoman said, or a bonus if they do not wish to work at a different location.

Big Y first came to Quincy in September 2016 when the company purchased eight stores from Hannaford, which formerly operated the grocery store on site. Big Y purchased the Hannaford locations following the merger of the parent companies that own Hannaford and Stop & Shop.

Quincy ‘Neat Neighbors’ Contest Underway

Mayor Thomas Koch announces the return of the City’s “Neat Neighbors” contest that recognizes property owners that do an excellent job maintaining their home or business. Friends, relatives, neighbors, or strangers can nominate an address for recognition from now through Labor Day by calling (617) 376-1251 or emailing pdoherty@quincyma.gov.

“Beautification is a team effort and I appreciate the hard work and time that go into keeping a lawn, yard, and home beautiful,” Koch said. “We have thousands of residents who have made this a labor of love and I think we should recognize their contribution to the overall aesthetics of our city.”

Each nominated property will be reviewed to ensure it meets the requirements for property maintenance. Once the property qualifies, winners will be selected at random to avoid competitive judgments. Qualifying properties will have maintained lawns, plantings, and homes in good repair.

A special category will be added for business and commercial properties this year.

Added Koch, “Many businesses do a fine job presenting their properties, but some could definitely do more. We are hoping that this endeavor creates a city-wide conversation about beautification that helps lift the overall aesthetics of our residential and business districts.”

There will be 25 residential properties and 10 commercial properties chosen as winners. Those properties selected as winners will receive a $30 gift certificate at a Quincy-based garden center to recognize their efforts.