Five Councillors Oppose Pine Island Bridge

By SCOTT JACKSON

Five city councillors will introduce a resolution on Monday voicing their opposition to a proposed pedestrian bridge inside Merrymount Park that would connect Pine Island to Ryan Boathouse.

Councillors Charles Phelan Jr., Anthony Andronico, Noel DiBona, Anne Mahoney and Brian Palmucci are sponsoring the resolution against the proposed bridge inside Black’s Creek.

In the resolution, councillors say they are concerned about chemicals leaching from the wooden bridge into the salt marsh and say the island should remain untouched.

“At this point we do not know the type of pressured treated wood being used and that could cause great leaching of hazardous chemical into the salt marsh,” they wrote.

“The area known as Pine Island is one of the last untouched and undeveloped parts of Quincy and home to several different species of wildlife that call Black’s Creek home.”

The proposed bridge would be 450 feet long and 17 feet wide, the councillors state in their resolve. It would require 66 pile towers driven into the salt marsh to support it.

Monday’s City Council meeting is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be preceded by a series of public hearings starting at 6:30 p.m. and an ordinance committee meeting at 6:40 p.m.

The meeting is being held remotely via Zoom. Those wishing to watch the meeting on the Zoom app can do so by entering the meeting ID 951 4678 9655 and the password CY0j2M. Those wishing to listen by phone can do by calling 929-436-2866 and entering the same meeting ID and the password 198931.

Three New Developments Seen In Quincy Center

Artist’s rendering showing the three new announced developments along Quincy Center in Hancock Street. The building at the top left would house a performing arts center and 350 residential units. The other two buildings are located near the bottom right, separated by a proposed new green space, and would contain residential units and new restaurant and retail spaces. Quincy Sun Photos/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

Mayor Thomas Koch on Thursday unveiled plans for three new developments along Hancock Street in Quincy Center featuring nearly 600 residential units between them.

One of the buildings would also be home to a performing arts center.

Koch announced plans for the new buildings at a City Hall press conference joined by Sam Slater and Joey Arcari, the developers behind the projects. The three buildings represent private investments of $300 million into Quincy Center, Koch said, and will include 800,000 square feet of new development. The projects will also generate $2 million in new tax revenue each year.

Mayor Thomas Koch (center) was joined by developers Joey Arcari (left) and Sam Slater (right) at Thursday’s announcement.

The mayor said the new developments would help transform the section of Quincy Center between Hancock Street and Burgin Parkway.

“It is time for that side of Hancock Street over to Burgin to be developed. It is time to transform that area,” he said. “That is what we are talking about today.”

Koch said he understood some of his critics might take issue with the additional development in Quincy Center, but noted there is a shortage of housing in the Boston area.

“The economy of Boston is heavily based on education and medical, and a lot of young people come to this region in need of a place to live, and that is a challenge right now. We are helping to meet that demand,” the mayor said.

“This creates new vitality, new vibrancy. It creates new jobs, it creates new taxes. And, it is on the spine of the tracks – we are right by the Quincy Center Red Line station…it checks a number of the boxes off, why it makes perfect sense.

“This is where we want density, this is where we want height, this is the center of commerce in our city. This isn’t in the middle of a neighborhood.”

Slater, who is a partner in the NHL’s Seattle Kraken expansion team, would develop two of the buildings.

The first building would be located at 1469 Hancock St., presently home to the Adams Arcade. Slater is proposing a 15-story, 200-unit residential building on that site with 4,000 square of retail space and 4,000 square feet of restaurant space.

The second building would be located on the site of the city-owned parcel of land at 1565 Hancock St., also known as the Messina Lot, where a 14- or 15-story building would be constructed. That building, which is still in the early planning stages, would house the new performing arts center and somewhere in the range of 350 residential units. Koch said the venue would be named in honor of First Ladies Abigail and Louisa Adams.

Arcari, whose firm, the Broadway Hospitality Group, operates the Tavern in the Square restaurants, would construct a seven-story building at 1445 Hancock St., now home to a Family Dollar. The building would include a restaurant on the ground floor, a coworking space on the second floor, and 40 residential units on the upper floors.

Koch said he plans to ask the City Council to acquire the two buildings at 1461 and 1453 Hancock St. which are home to a Tae Kwon Do studio and a coffee shop, among other businesses.  Those buildings, which are located between two of the proposed new buildings, would be razed to make way for a new green space.

The council would also have to approve of a land disposition agreement for the lot at 1565 Hancock St. The three projects would all be subject to review by the city’s Planning Board.

Closer look at the performing arts center, which would be located at 1585 Hancock St. Some 350 residential units would be located on the building’s upper floors.
Another look at the buildings proposed for 1469 Hancock St. (center) and 1445 Hancock St. (far right). A new green space is proposed for the land between the two new structures.

Quincy Budget Hearings Postponed

By SCOTT JACKSON

A series of hearings to review Quincy’s proposed fiscal year 2022 scheduled for this week have been postponed.

The City Council’s finance committee had been scheduled to hold budget hearings Wednesday and Thursday evening, but both have been cancelled.

Chris Walker, the chief of staff to Mayor Thomas Koch, on Wednesday morning said those hearings would be rescheduled for next week.

The postponement of this week’s budget hearings comes after the finance committee narrowly approved Koch’s proposed $475 million pension obligation Monday evening, casting doubt over whether the measure would have enough support to pass.

The  finance committee voted 5-3 on Monday in favor of giving a positive recommendation to an amended version of the bond. While only a simple majority was needed in committee for the bond to advance, it cannot be approved at a regular council meeting without the support of six councillors.

Councillors Anthony Andronico, Noel DiBona, William Harris, David McCarthy and Brian Palmucci voted in favor of the bond at Monday’s committee meeting while Councillors Ian Cain, Nina Liang and Anne Mahoney voted against it. Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr. is recused from the matter because he is a current retire, he told The Sun on Tuesday; Phelan was formerly the city’s IT director.

Koch had drafted his proposed $346.65 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1, based on the assumption the pension bond would pass, saving about $15 million next fiscal year.

Walker on Wednesday said the administration would wait until councillors take a final vote on the pension bond on June 21 before determining what happens to the budget proposal.

“The council meeting and report out of committee will come Monday and we will take it from there,” he said.

Commonwealth Launches “Mass VaxMillions” Vaccine Lottery Program

The Baker-Polito Administration, Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg and the Massachusetts State Lottery announced Tuesday the Massachusetts VaxMillions Giveaway for residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Fully vaccinated residents 18 and older will have the opportunity to enter to win of five, $1 million cash prizes. Fully vaccinated residents between 12-17 years of age may enter for the chance to win one of five $300,000 scholarship grants.

Eligible residents will be able to enter the drawing beginning July 1. Drawings will be held once a week for five weeks beginning the week of Monday, July 26 and continuing through the week ending Friday, Aug. 27.

“The Commonwealth leads the nation in vaccinating our residents, with almost four million people fully vaccinated, and our goal remains ensuring everyone that wants a vaccine has access to one,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The VaxMillions Giveway is one of the many ways our administration is encouraging people to get the vaccine, and we are grateful for the partnership of Treasurer Goldberg and the Mass State Lottery in developing the program.”

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are hopeful that this new initiative will encourage even more residents to get the COVID vaccine and help return our Commonwealth to a new normal.”

“The Massachusetts State Lottery is proud to join Governor Charlie Baker and the Department of Public Health to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every person across the Commonwealth,” said Deborah B. Goldberg, Massachusetts State Treasurer. “The Lottery has decades of experience and know-how to hold drawings with the upmost integrity and our team is excited to fulfill an essential role in this initiative.”

“We greatly appreciate the trust that Governor Baker, his administration and Treasurer Goldberg have in the Mass Lottery to assist in the implementation of this important public health initiative,” said Michael Sweeney, Executive Director, Massachusetts State Lottery. “The Mass Lottery has worked diligently to build a reputation as one of the most successful lotteries in the country and it is an honor to be entrusted with this responsibility.”

The Commonwealth is launching the Massachusetts VaxMillions giveaway as one of many strategies to increase awareness of the availability and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage residents to get vaccinated to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe. Beginning July 1, Massachusetts residents will be able to enter the VaxMillions Giveaway online. If you do not have access to the internet or require assistance, there will be a call center available. Sign up information and call center contact info and hours will be made available prior to July 1.

Massachusetts residents 18 years of age and older, who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will have a chance to win one of five, $1 million cash prizes.

Massachusetts residents between 12 and 17 years of age who have received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will have a chance to win one of five $300,000 scholarship grants via a 529 College Savings Plan managed by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). Funds in a 529 plan can be applied to cover tuition, room and board, and related expenses at any college, university, or technical or trade school or other post-secondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Winners with a qualifying disability may elect instead to receive an equivalent financial contribution to a special needs trust or federally qualified ABLE account to cover qualified expenses.

Only lawful, permanent residents of Massachusetts who are fully vaccinated can apply. Residents must have received their vaccine doses within Massachusetts. Residents must be fully vaccinated prior to submitting their entry.

There are over 900 vaccination locations across the Commonwealth, with appointments and walk ins widely available. Residents seeking a vaccine can visit mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to find a vaccine location that is convenient for them.

For more information on the Mass VaxMillions Giveaway, visit mass.gov/VaxMillions.

MassDOT, MBTA Launch Survey To Understand Travel Needs Of Region

MassDOT and the MBTA have launched an online survey in support of Bus Network Redesign, which is a data-driven process that uses Location-Based Services data to understand how the bus network can better reflect the travel needs of the region. Through the survey, MassDOT and the MBTA hope to hear from riders to confirm the data is reflective of their travel experience. The survey is focused on answering two fundamental questions:

·       Does the MBTA take you to the places that you need or want to go?

·       Is riding the MBTA a good option for you when you need to get somewhere?

The results from the survey will directly inform the design and evaluation of the new redesigned bus network.

The survey is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and is also available in a fully accessible format. MassDOT and the MBTA are also partnering with the MBTA’s Office of Systemwide Accessibility, Mass Senior Action Council, and other local community-based organizations to plan for targeted outreach to seniors and people with disabilities. The survey will remain open until July 30, 2021, and is available at here on the MBTA website.

More Information:

An initiative of the Better Bus Project, the MBTA and MassDOT’s Bus Network Redesign project is a complete re-imagining of the MBTA’s bus network to reflect the travel needs of the region and create a better experience for current and future riders.

The redesign reflects rider feedback collected during one of the early phases of the Better Bus Project. It builds on the work already accomplished through the 2019 route changes, and guides recommendations for an improved bus network that aims to create a more equitable network, simplify a complicated network, maximize access to opportunities, and make transit a competitive alternative to driving. This project prioritizes riders in transit-critical communities and is a once-in-a-generation attempt to make bold, foundational improvements to the bus network for the people who depend on it most.

For more information, visit mbta.com, or connect with the T on Twitter @MBTA, on Facebook /TheMBTA, or on Instagram @theMBTA.

City of Quincy Agrees To Remedy Discharges Of Stormwater Containing Sewage; Remedial Measures Expected To Be In Excess Of $100 Million

By SCOTT JACKSON

The US Attorney’s Office and the US Environmental Protection Agency New England regional office has entered into a consent decree with the city of Quincy to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act regarding the city’s stormwater and sanitary sewer systems, federal officials announced Wednesday. Water sampling indicated untreated sanitary sewage discharging from numerous Quincy stormwater outfalls, including outfalls discharging at beach areas.

The settlement requires Quincy to implement extensive remedial measures to minimize the discharge of sewage and other pollutants into Quincy Bay, Dorchester Bay, Neponset River, Hingham Bay, Boston Harbor and other water bodies in and around Quincy. The cost of the remedial measures is expected to be in excess of $100 million. The City will also pay a civil penalty of $115,000.

Chris Walker, the chief of staff to Mayor Thomas Koch, said the remedial measures Quincy would undertake as part of the proposed settlement are on par with what the city currently spends on similar infrastructure improvements on an annual basis.

“The Mayor felt strongly that the original action was a broad overreach that ignored the City’s history going back decades of investing tens of millions of dollars into water-quality improvements. This agreement, negotiated over the course of several years,  clearly reflects that the EPA and US Attorney’s [Office] took his concerns seriously and to a great degree recognized the City’s past efforts and its planning for the years ahead,” Walker said in a statement.

“The work contemplated in the agreement is well within the City’s existing budgetary framework for water-quality improvements, and will not require any substantive increase in annual expenditures.  The agreement calls for between $6 and $8 million in capital work to be completed annually through 2034 – a range already included in City’s Water and Sewer Enterprise budgets for the last several years.

“This is the same process that many communities have gone through over the years – including Boston, Hull, Revere, Swampscott and Lawrence to name a few.  We believe this agreement fares well against prior similar actions based on the good-faith negotiations that recognized the City’s record over the years.”

Negotiations between the city and federal officials regarding the scope of work to be done were “truly productive,” Walker added.

“We think the EPA learned a number of things about what’s been done here and what’s planned, and we also took their concerns and ideas very seriously. The end result is an agreement that took into consideration those varying perspectives and priorities, and did so in a way that fits within a manageable schedule that will not create additional stress to ratepayers or City finances,” Walker said.

“The civil fine component was a major sticking point for Mayor Koch. He felt that based on the City’s history of work and the City’s willingness to continue making capital investments to reduce pollution, that any kind of fine would unfairly characterize the City’s track record.  The agreed upon fine – to avoid a lengthy and costly court proceeding – was lower than many other communities that went through a similar process.”

Under the proposed consent decree, Quincy will implement a comprehensive and integrated program to investigate, repair and rehabilitate its stormwater and sanitary sewer systems. The proposed settlement is also consistent with EPA directives to strengthen enforcement of violations of cornerstone environmental statutes in communities disproportionately impacted by pollution, with special focus on achieving remedies with tangible benefits for the community.

“This settlement builds on work done over the past three decades to address pollution in Boston Harbor. The work required under the proposed settlement will achieve cleaner and healthier water in Quincy and nearby areas. This will protect people’s health, making it safer to enjoy beaches or other recreation in or on the bays and rivers in the area,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro.

“This settlement is a reminder that municipalities must comply with the law and environmental standards to prevent and address pollution caused by defects in their stormwater and sewage systems,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “This is a matter of environmental protection and public health.”

In March 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil complaint alleging that the city of Quincy inadequately controlled sewage leaking from its sanitary sewer system, allowing sewage to mix with stormwater and be discharged from the municipal storm sewer system into nearby waterbodies, including at beach locations. The complaint also alleged that Quincy’s sanitary sewer system has overflowed on numerous occasions, resulting in discharges of sewage.

Raw sewage overflows from sanitary sewers and discharges of stormwater mixed with sewage from municipal storm sewer systems introduce a variety of harmful pollutants, including disease causing organisms, and can contribute to illnesses and beach and shellfish bed closings.

Water sampling indicated untreated sanitary sewage discharging from numerous Quincy stormwater outfalls, including outfalls discharging at beach areas. The proposed consent decree establishes a schedule for Quincy to investigate the sources of sewage being discharged from its storm drains. Quincy will first complete its investigations of drainage areas discharging to beach areas, including Wollaston Beach and the Adams Shore area. Quincy will prioritize the rest of the investigations according to the sensitivity of receiving waters and evidence of sewage.

The proposed consent decree also requires Quincy to remove all identified sources of sewage as expeditiously as possible. In addition, Quincy is required to conduct frequent and enhanced monitoring (in both dry and wet weather) of its stormwater outfalls. Until pollutants are removed from its storm drain discharges, Quincy will be required to post notices to warn beachgoers of contaminated stormwater at such storm drain outfalls. The remedies under the proposed consent decree also include the investigation and repair of Quincy’s sanitary sewer infrastructure, and the integration of that work with its stormwater investigations.

Some portions of Quincy’s sanitary sewer system are over 100 years old. Numerous studies conducted by Quincy have identified significant and widespread defects in the sanitary sewer system, including cracks that allowed sewage to leak. While Quincy has made some repairs to the sanitary sewer system, the proposed consent decree will require future work to be conducted on a fixed schedule and coordinated with its stormwater investigations. The proposed consent decree requires the City to conduct all investigations and complete remedial work by December 2034.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval after it is published in the Federal Register. It is available at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

Mahoney Critical Of Munroe Building Purchase

Councillor Anne Mahoney on Monday criticized Mayor Thomas Koch’s plan to purchase the Munroe Building in Quincy Center (seen here) using federal pandemic relief money. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

Councillor Anne Mahoney on Monday said she was disappointed with Mayor Thomas Koch’s plan to use federal pandemic relief funds to acquire the Munroe Building in Quincy Center and a nearby parking lot.

Mahoney also said the city might not be able to use money earmarked for the college for property acquisitions.

Koch on May 27 announced he would use $15 million in funds the city and Quincy College, which is municipally owned, will receive from the American Rescue Plan to purchase the Munroe Building at 1227 Hancock St. and the parking lot at 1177 Hancock St. The mayor said the city should acquire those two parcels while they are available and was optimistic the land could be used to provide a new home for the school in the future.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Mahoney said she has heard from a number of residents – who have called her, emailed or stopped her in public – that are opposed to Koch’s plan to purchase those two properties with the pandemic relief funds.

“People are upset, and they don’t want the Munroe Building purchased for Quincy College. They are even more outraged at the thought that pandemic relief funds are being used to take another building of the tax rolls of the city of Quincy,” Mahoney said.

“I must agree with the outcry. I am personally disappointed by the mayor’s choice to use federal pandemic money to purchase the Munroe Building. I do not believe the American [Rescue] Plan is intended for use for purchasing buildings to take them off tax rolls.”

Koch had previously sought council approval to borrow money to buy the Munroe Building and the parking lot, Mahoney noted, but withdrew the request before a possible vote on the matter on May 17.

“Listening to the overwhelming voice of the Quincy constituents, I believe a majority of the City Council was really ready to vote and reject the appropriation that was put before us,” Mahoney said. “Yet, this administration just did not want to hear the word ‘no’ and they removed it from our ability to vote and now he is using pandemic money for the mayor’s vanity project.”

Mahoney also said that colleges and universities cannot use money they receive from the American Rescue Plan’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for construction or purchase of real property. She encouraged residents to raise their concerns with the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general.

“I think this is a misuse of pandemic relief funds,” Mahoney said.

“This no longer resides in the City Council, but I still feel it strong that I needed to speak about it. For the folks at home, for the people who stopped me, do not let the ARP funds for schools and students end up in the wrong hands. You asked what you needed to do – you can file a complaint online with the inspector general or call their hotline at 1-800-MISUSED.”

Chris Walker, Koch’s chief of staff, on Tuesday said the mayor’s plan to use the federal money for the land acquisitions had been vetted by outside auditors.

“The use of ARP funding for this purpose was fully vetted by the City’s independent auditors, so any claim to the contrary is at best mistaken and at worst purposely misleading to score cheap points,” Walker said in a statement.

“Site control for this parcel is critical to the future of the entire corridor so the City can determine its own destiny – as we have done multiple times in multiple areas when it comes to economic development in the downtown.  If Mayor Koch listened to chronic naysayers who would oppose a 75-degree sunny day if he proposed it, the City would look a lot different today and not in a good way.”

The city received $46.3 million in aid from the American Rescue Plan. Quincy College will receive $10.7 million from the ARP, half of which must be set aside for the benefit of the school’s students.

20 Candidates Have Pulled Nomination Papers

By SCOTT JACKSON

Twenty Quincy residents have taken out nomination papers to run for office in this fall’s municipal election, including each of the incumbents up for reelection this year.

Preliminary elections would be required in the race for Ward 2 seat on the City Council and the School Committee if all candidates who have taken out nomination papers qualify for the ballot.

Three candidates have pulled papers in the race for the Ward 2 seat on the council: incumbent Anthony Andronico of Endicott Street as well as challengers Steven Perdios of Ruggles Street and Jorgette Theophilis of Norman Road. Andronico was appointed to the seat in January following the resignation of longtime councillor Brad Croall. Croall was first elected in 2011, when he defeated Perdios by 56 votes.

Another race is possible for the three at large spots on the council. All three incumbent at-large councillors – Noel DiBona of Chickatabot Road, Nina Liang of Grand View Avenue, and Anne Mahoney of Ferriter Street – have pulled papers to seek reelection.

William Burke of Rice Road and John Rodo Rodophele of Grenwold Road have also taken out papers to seek an at-large seat on the council. Both pulled papers to run for councillor at-large in the 2019 municipal election, but neither returned them. Burke ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2018 and had run for Congress two years prior. Rodophele ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 5 seat in 2017 and ran for School Committee twice before that.

Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy of Whitney Road, Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain of Forbes Hill Road, Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci of Cross Street, Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr. of Fenno Street and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris of Ashworth Road have taken out nomination papers to run for reelection. No challengers had emerged in those races as of Tuesday morning.

In the race for School Committee, all three incumbents whose seats are being contested this year have taken out nomination papers. They are: Douglas Gutro of Arnold Street, Emily Lebo of Highland Avenue and Courtney Perdios of Ruggles Street.

Joining them in the race are Ellen Patterson O’Donnell of Hatherly Road, John McDonald of Quincy Shore Drive, Liberty Schaaf of Howe Street, and Liz Speakman of Merrymount Road.

Courtney Perdios was appointed to the committee in February, filling the remainder of Andronico’s term. O’Donnell, Schaaf and Speakman were also nominated for the seat during the joint convention.

Courtney and Steven Perdios are married, and this is believed to be the first time a wife and husband have both sought municipal office in the same election in city history.

There is no mayoral election this year. Mayor Thomas Koch was reelected to a four-year term in 2019.

The deadline to return nomination papers to the Board of Registrars is 5 p.m. on July 27 and certified nomination papers, including a statement of candidacy, must be submitted to the city clerk by 5 p.m. on Aug. 10.

The signatures of 50 registered voters are required to run for each office in a municipal election. Residents seeking one of the six ward councillor seats must obtain the signatures from within their ward.

If needed, a preliminary election would be held on Sept. 14. A preliminary election would be required if more than two candidates run for one ward council seat, or if more than six ran for either councillor at-large or the school board.

The final election is slated for Nov. 2.