Registration Underway For Ski, Snowboard Program

Registration is underway for the Quincy Recreation Department’s popular instructional ski and snowboard program, which is conducted at the Blue Hills Ski Area.

Registration can be done online at quincyrec.com or in person at the Quincy Recreation Department, 1 Merrymount Parkway, until Dec. 19. Gift certificates are available for this program.

This five-week program, which is open to Quincy residents age 8 through high school and costs $230, features a one hour and fifteen minute lesson for beginners to advanced, supervision, and transportation to and from the ski area each Tuesday beginning Jan. 7. The Blue Hills Ski Area can provide rental equipment at an additional cost of $85 for the five-week program. Arrangements for rental equipment will be done by the Recreation Department at the time of registration. Helmets are required and can also be rented for $3 for the five-week program.

The staff of the Recreation Department supervises the transportation and the lessons are provided by certified instructors from the Blue Hills Ski School. The program leaves from the office of the Quincy Recreation Department, 1 Merrymount Parkway at 3:30 p.m. and returns approximately at 7 p.m.

Participants are encouraged to register early for this popular program because the Blue Hills Ski Area imposes very strict registration deadlines in order to insure the proper staff to participant teaching ratio. Registration will continue online at quincyrec.com and in person at the recreation office only until Dec. 19. Please adhere to this registration schedule to avoid missing this exceptional activity.

Additional information can be obtained online at quincyrec.com or by calling the Quincy Recreation Department at 617-376-1394.

Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest Starts This Weekend

Quincy youngsters will have the chance to participate in the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest starting this weekend.

The event is co-sponsored by the Quincy Recreation Department and the Quincy Lodge of Elks.

The Quincy competition is the first step in a national contest for boys and girls ages 8 to 13.  Contestants are assigned to three separate categories in both boys and girls divisions. Age groups are 8-9, 10-11, and 12-13.  Contestants are grouped by their age as of April 1, 2020.

Each participant is awarded points for successful free throws. The boys and girls in age group 8-9 will shoot from a line four feet in front of the regulation foul line.

The program will be supervised in neighbor gymnasiums by their Quincy recreation leaders assigned to their regular recreation programs in the area.

The program is free, and contestants may participant even if not previously enrolled in the recreation program. Participants may choose any of the various times or sites to compete, but they may only compete in one Quincy qualifier.

The first round of the Quincy Contest will be offered at the following gymnasiums at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 14: Atherton Hough, Atlantic Middle, Beechwood Knoll, Broad Meadows, Central, Merrymount, Montclair, Point Webster, South-West and Squantum.

The program will be conducted on Monday, December 16, at 3 p.m. at the Snug Harbor School and on Wednesday, December 18 at 3 p.m. at Parker School.

“We are pleased that the Quincy Lodge of Elks has once again provided this program for the benefit of our participants,” said Michelle Hanly, the city’s recreation director.

“This is the 48th year of this program.  Many Quincy residents in have past have enjoyed the benefits of this activity at then local, regional and state level as well as the national championship. The Elks devote a great deal of attention to youth programs.  Their commitment to our children helps make Quincy a better place to live.  Last year over 50,000 children took part nationwide.”

The Quincy Lodge of Elks Hoop Shoot Chairman is Joseph Brill, who also serves as the chairman of the Quincy Park and Recreation Board.

For additional information, please call the Quincy Recreation Department at 617-376-1394.

Quincy Police Dog Dies After Medical Emergency

Major, the K-9 partner of Quincy police officer Ken Wood, died Saturday after suffering a medical emergency. Photo courtesy Quincy Police Department.

By SCOTT JACKSON

One of the Quincy Police Department’s dogs died Saturday afternoon after suffering a medical emergency.

Major, the K-9 partner of officer Ken Wood, suffered a medical emergency while at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium on Saturday, police said. Major was transported to the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in Weymouth, with assistance from Braintree and Weymouth police.

The department announced Major’s death on Twitter.

“We are saddened to announce that K-9 Major has crossed the Rainbow Bridge,” the department wrote.

Major, a German shepherd, was six years old, Sgt. Karyn Barkas said, and he had been with Wood for all six of those years.

The specific medical emergency Major suffered on Saturday is currently unknown.

Major was trained for patrol and explosives detection, Barkas said.

The department has a dozen other dogs.

Quincy Salutes World War II Veterans

World War II veterans from Quincy were honored by the city at a special ceremony Saturday 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 Saturday – 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 Saturday 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 will appear 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 Saturday’s 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 Saturday 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

Quincy Receives $2 Million Grant For Downtown Work

Quincy received a $2 million MassWorks grant Friday for the construction of a second driveway into a new Quincy Center garage. Mayor Thomas Koch (center) accepted the grant from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Gov. Charlie Baker. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy received a $2 million grant from the state on Friday that will be used to pay for the construction of a second driveway to access the new garage under construction on the former Hancock Lot.

Mayor Thomas Koch accepted the MassWorks grant from Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito during a ceremony held inside the new atrium at 1500 Hancock St. that links Hancock Street to the garage.

The money will enable the city to extend the road now known as Cliveden Street across Hancock Street into the new garage; the mayor has proposed to rename Cliveden Street General Dunford Drive in honor of Joseph Dunford Jr., the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Koch said the city could acquire three buildings – ­­­1534, 1546 and 1550 Hancock St. – and demolish them to make way for the new roadway as soon as next spring. Construction of the roadway would start next summer.

Funding to purchase and raze those buildings was included in an $80 million district-improvement financing bond approved by the City Council earlier this year.

Baker, in awarding the MassWorks grant, said he was happy the state had a chance to partner with Quincy as it redevelops the downtown.

“That reimagination of what you can do with a downtown and think differently, very differently, about how that downtown should be organized and structured for the 21st century…was a big move,” Baker said.

“It was one of many that I think in many ways have opened up significant opportunities across the city and we have been very pleased to be able to partner with the mayor and his team on a number of these initiatives.”

Polito said 92 communities submitted requests for MassWorks grants totaling $233 million this year. The administration will award 35 such grants totaling $75 million.

“That gives you a sense of how competitive this program is,” Polito said. “The major criteria is that the grants are shovel-ready…and high-impact. When you think about high-impact and shovel-ready, clearly this is an application that would rise to the top.”

That $80 million bond also included funding for the 712-car garage now under construction on Hancock Street. The opening of the garage had been delayed as the city waited for a new transformer to be installed. Koch said the transformer has been installed and the opening of the garage is imminent.

“The power now has been done, so that’s secure. They are just now doing the finishing touches,” the mayor said. “It’s literally any day – probably next week.”

The glass atrium connecting the garage to Hancock Street should also open at that time, Koch said. The atrium was built as part of the Nova Residences project and could one day be used by restaurants that move into the mixed-use building.

“We are envisioning a restaurant or two on this first floor that will spill out into the atrium area,” Koch said. “We think this is going to evolve into some kind of special space, particularly during colder months.”

Quincy received a $5.8 million MassWorks grant in 2015 to pay for the demolition of the Ross Garage and related sitework. Two years later, the city received a $2 million MassWorks grant to pay for part of the infrastructure work related to the city’s plans to develop the Ross Lot.

The state is also picking up the tab to build the $9 million Generals Bridge, which will connect Burgin Parkway to the west end of Cliveden Street.

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.”

Quincy To Ban Plastic Bags March 1

By SCOTT JACKSON

Most single-use plastic bags will no longer be offered at Quincy retailers starting in March, after city councillors voted to ban them.

Councillors voted 8-0 on Dec. 2 in favor of legislation introduced earlier this year by Mayor Thomas Koch and Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci to ban the use of most disposable plastic bags. Ward 6 Councillor William Harris was not at the meeting.

Seven residents, including members of the Quincy Climate Action Network, spoke in favor of the plastic bag ban during an October public hearing, citing the impact those bags have on the environment and on recycling programs. Those residents also suggested the city mandate that merchants charge 5 or 10 cents to consumers asking for paper bags, noting paper bags require more energy to produce than the single-use plastic ones, which releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Palmucci said he had heard from residents advocating for the ban of paper bags and said that could be considered in the future.

“What I said to those folks and what I will say publicly now is, ‘baby steps.’ Let’s get rid of the plastic bags first and then come make an argument about paper bags and we’ll see what happens,” Palmucci said.

The legislation was amended at the suggestion of Councillor Nina Liang, the chairwoman of the council’s ordinance committee, to have an effective date of March 1. Liang said she wanted a definitive date on which the ban would take effect; it was originally set to take effect 60 days after it was approved.

The ordinance bans 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 are among those that are prohibited.

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 will 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 – are exempt from the ban, as are recyclable paper bags, provided they are 100 percent recyclable and made from at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content. Such paper bags need be labelled as “recyclable” and “made from 40 percent post-consumer recycled content.”

Certain plastic bags are 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 are also be exempt.

More than 120 communities across Massachusetts have enacted bans on single-use plastic bags in recent years, including Boston, Milton and Hingham. Lawmakers on Beacon Hill are also considering legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide.