Friday, May 27, 2011


Danvers Town Meeting

After a series of Finance Committee meetings over the last six weeks, their recommendations were made to the Danvers Town Meeting earlier this week. Due to a series of scheduled therapy sessions, I was unable to attend any of the Fin Com hearings this year so I was anxious to see the recommendations to the Town Meeting and their dispositions of the items to be considered. The Town Meeting met on Monday, May 17th and an $87.5 million operating budget for the Town was approved. The only article that created any discussion was the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust that will initially funded with a $500,000 that was set aside by the developers who created the Avalon Housing Development in Danvers. The article passed even though it carried a negative recommendation from the Fin Com. This the second year in a row that this article came before the Town Meeting body, and after failing to be passed last year, the article was passed after a standing vote, rather comfortably 76 to 35. It appears that the proponents of this initiative that hopefully will produce some additional affordable housing in Danvers re-tooled the proposal and generated additional support for the plan that has now been adopted.

Sailing Program to Begin in Salem

Sail Salem is gearing up to once again offer a community sailing program in Salem. The program was offered for the first time in 2008 and was expanded in 2009 to include adult lessons. The program will begin this year in early July and will be offered at the city owned Winter Island property. Last year the program offered lessons to 300 youngsters. This year the youth program is already booked but there are still openings in the adult program. The program that is run by volunteers is now looking for former students who would like to be trained as instructors. The volunteer program has a fleet of 19 boats and information about the program can be found at

Beverly Chamber of Commerce Hires new Director

The Beverly Chamber has announced the hiring of a new Executive Director to lead that community organization. John Somes, who previously served as a youth in family services at the Danvers YMCA, has been named the new Director of the local business group. Somes brings substantial experience in the not for profit sector, and the Chamber is confidant that the experience will serve the Chamber well in the future.

Local Communities Still experiencing Financial Difficulties

Local communities in this region are still finding it difficult to balance budgets in these difficult financial times. Mayor Kirk of Gloucester has presented a budget for approval, and to fill a $3.6 million shortfall the plan calls for the elimination of 70 full and part time municipal positions. The reductions will, if approved, eliminate 39 city positions and 37 positions in the school system.

The Town of Hamilton has a ballot question that calls for a temporary $2 million dollar property tax increase to cover the costs of a onetime big ticket expense to capping the Town Landfill.

In Marblehead, voters will be asked on June 14th to vote for a proposition 2 and ½ override to build a new elementary school. The Town has a landfill capping project, a recycle center and transfer center to consider creating.

It is clear that the many projects that are on the agendas of local communities and the strains on local revenue streams will be under stress, and those two issues will continue into the future. That single issue should encourage local communities to look at opportunities to consolidate programs and to look at ways to work collectively with neighboring municipalities to find ways to build coalitions that could impact a reduction of expenses.

Work on Danvers Swamp Walk Continues

Congratulations to George Saluto and his team of dedicated volunteers that have devoted many hours and energies to the creation of the observation and teaching platform that they have been creating over these last several months. All of the work has been accomplished at no cost to the Town, and the resulting 320 feet of boardwalk and a 16 by 30 foot observation platform, that looks over a pond in the middle of the swamp. This improvement will become a spectacular asset for the town into the future. The team of volunteers are not yet finished with the total improvements and will continue to extend the boardwalk in the months ahead. Grants have been obtained that helped procure much needed materials, but all of the labor has been volunteer. The work being done can be accessed from the rail-trail effort and the educational experiences that will be offered at the site will be a wonderful addition to the recreational assets that already exist in the town of Danvers. Once again congratulations to the wonderful team of volunteers that have given so much time, skill and experience to insure that this project will be completed. This truly has been a labor of love for the swamp walk team, and they should be commended.

Hospital Renovations

The leadership at Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport recently gathered at a ground breaking to celebrate the start of a $15 million renovation. Several improvements are planned, that will improve patient services. This is the first major project undertaken by the hospital in 40 years. The Hospital is a wonderful resource for this region, and several people on the leadership team of this initiative including our Development committee Chair. Charlie Cullen are also Commissioners at Essex Heritage.

Visit to Cornell Prosthetics

Please let me have a moment to post some personal material about my continuing road to full recovery.
As a reward for climbing the ramps at the Prep graduation and crossing the stage with son, Mark, and Grandson, Brendan to receive the legacy award, and not messing up the transit, I received a surprise the following day. I visited Cornell Prosthetics and had my artificial limb upgraded with a new foot that has an ankle connected to it. The improved leg will now allow me to walk quite a bit easier as it has some flexibility built into the foot and ankle. The foot now has some bend to it, and it will me to have much more control as I can “linger” a little longer on the artificial leg and take longer more controlled steps with my remaining good leg. This was a most pleasant surprise, and I would expect that it will certainly help with the ongoing plan to get me off my walker, onto crutches and sometime down the road onto canes, and then finally onto my own two legs. Using a very bad play on words, this is a great “step” forward for me in the recovery process.

Hockey Success

As a hockey fan, it would be nice to see the Boston Bruins poised to get to the Stanley Cup round of the playoffs. It has been a long time since they went this deep into the playoffs. One more win will get them to that level.

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