2017 State of the City Address
Delivered by Her Honor, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken
Dear Citizens of Gloucester,
In January of 2015, I took the oath of office to be Gloucester’s Mayor and I promised to represent all of our citizens and to work with you to keep our city moving forward, together. Over the past two years, we have strengthened our city government through honest and transparent policies, meetings and forums. We have also worked with our state and federal delegations to ensure relief money is received and high value grants are awarded. While we have new businesses helping expand our seasonal tourism, we have also embraced new initiatives designed to benefit our workforce. As we reflect on the efforts this administration has made, I want to assure all of you that the state of our city is strong and our future is brighter now more than ever.
Much progress has been made in the short time that we have been in office. We work as a team and we are committed to operating within a balanced budget while limiting the use of one-time revenue for salary increases and unsustainable budget policies – for the first time in a decade. Financial stability is the foundation in which a city can grow and under the leadership of Chief Financial Officer John Dunn and returning Chief Administrative Officer Jim Destino our fiscal policy is one that guarantees that we live responsibly today, maintain our existing assets, and save for the needs of tomorrow. Our approach has been praised by Standard & Poor’s Rating Group, with Gloucester receiving another ‘Double A’ bond rating for the third straight year, and by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, for providing a solid path for future projects and investment in our community.
Our planning efforts are led by a talented Community Development team. They are innovative, forward-thinking and action oriented. They have energized strategic planning so that we can capitalize on new ideas being generated across the city. From the Fuller School site, which will bring in new tax revenue, additional housing and a state of the art YMCA facility; to a renewed Maplewood School project and a Housing Production Plan which will help us with our housing needs; to significant financial assistance for future schools through the Massachusetts School Building Authority, helping to ensure that another landmark school like the West Parish School may be built in our community in the near future – we are moving Gloucester forward.
Our waterfront is one of our most important assets. In order to take care of it, we have hired a new Harbormaster and Assistant Harbormaster who continue to excel in their roles. Whether it was dealing with unexpected vessels washing ashore, finding new revenue for moorings, working with our Waterways Board to establish best protocols and seasonal boating pricing, or finding partnership opportunities within the Coast Guard, our Harbormaster’s Office continues to help our citizens navigate our waters in the most professional manner while providing a consistent benefit to boaters and citizens alike.
Our Human Resources Department has successfully completed negotiations with multiple unions that have resulted in the signing of fiscally responsible contracts. We have completed agreements with AFSCME A, AFSCME B and GMAA and we are in varying stages of negotiating contracts with our police and fire unions. The HR team has rolled out “Workplace Safety” initiatives using employee input to create policies that will benefit our employees’ overall well-being and attract new job candidates to our city. Performance standards and management training are being introduced across the city to ensure we have the highest standards and that they are always being met.
In our Inspectional Services department, we continue to expand our services in order to keep up with the demands of our citizens. We unveiled a brand-new online permitting system so that our process is easier to understand and we can respond more quickly and easily. We also launched a new public records system to continue to realize our goal of transparency across all functions of city government. These online systems join our popular reporting site and app “SeeClickFix” which continues to help citizens report potholes, power outages and other related matters right from their smartphones.
Our Department of Public Works team continues to provide superior results while maintaining an aging city infrastructure. Their hard work is felt across the whole community, from beach parking, to snow plowing, to custodial services, to coastal repairs, the team operates at the highest levels despite a limited budget and an ever-expanding scope of work. They continue to find innovative ways to deliver services to our residents through regional partnerships and shared services that will benefit Gloucester. We are also working with dedicated volunteers within our city boards and commissions to improve open space areas, ensuring that we have extra funding dedicated to enhance Lucy Davis Walkway, Stacey Boulevard, and the Legion Hall. Additionally, efforts to improve the bandstand at Stage Fort Park will continue, while FEMA and MEMA funds will contribute to the repairs at Lane’s Cove Seawall, proving that our beautiful beaches and historic parks are in great hands.
Our Veteran’s Services office has been a strong leader for veterans advocacy. We have expanded partnerships across the Cape Ann region, all sharing the same goal: to provide the best services for our heroes. They have launched a regional clinic on Main Street that will help support the roughly 4,000 U.S. veterans living in Gloucester as well as another nearly 200 from our community serving on active duty around the world. Offering resources and affordable housing to our veterans and active-duty military will remain a top priority of this administration. We continue to receive generous private donations and support from non-profit groups who have stepped up to ensure our city can meet these demands and provide the necessary resources and housing to all those in Gloucester residents in the armed services community.
In our Health Department, our new director has met and exceeded expectations. From the recent undertaking of educating, monitoring, improving and removing lead traces within the city’s drinking water, to an A+ perfect rating on our tobacco compliance checks, to the installation of new sharps container boxes throughout the city, the public health team has provided positive results to our community. By researching and discussing all aspects related to recreational marijuana, Gloucester is clearly ahead of the curve in presenting accountable solutions within this rapidly changing industry. Their educationally based outreach has provided support for addiction and recovery efforts, our first ever “Vote and Vax” campaign to help fend off the flu, and deeper coordination between emergency teams, local non-profits groups and – for the first time ever – the National Medical Reserve Corps to ensure that our seniors, homeless and our most vulnerable get the support and care when they need it, especially during emergencies. The department has even improved dental and medical service access for our children, demonstrating that our administration cares about the well-being of all of our citizens.
Our Fire and Police Departments consist of dedicated professionals who serve our city diligently. Both departments are always there for us and we depend on their life-saving services, but they do more than what you see. They volunteer, they get involved in our community and they help all of Gloucester – across ALL of our people – in our time of need. This past October, City Hall brought back the annual Halloween event and both fire and police volunteered their time to help, showcasing a true community spirit. Additionally, our Gloucester Night Out program was expanded and included events that promoted our stand against homophobia, against domestic violence and to help end the plague of addiction. The City’s ANGEL program initiative remains strong and actively helps those who need it the most. Our public safety departments serve and protect all of our citizens no matter who they are or how they arrive here, and for that, we salute our professionals.
This administration believes that we must not just look internally, but externally to continue to succeed. We have engaged in discussions across the region and the state in order to explore innovative ways to remain competitive. Both Discover Gloucester and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce saw new leaders joining their ranks. We have returned to the New England Food Show, North of Boston Travel Expo, as well as the National Seafood Expo. We have created new concierge workshops conducted by locals to help create meaningful connections across the service industry. The newly launched state license plates are helping to return money back to the Cape Ann community, which is especially important as we continue the Gloucester 400th anniversary planning, expanding our art colony programs with assistance from the Mass Cultural Council, and growing the young, yet passionate Tourism Commission Board which is helping manage our busy event calendars, providing cruise ship itineraries and a deeper promotion of seasonal events. Tourism continues to blossom thanks to the hard work from so many people.
Our offices always remain open and accessible to all and we proudly work with our colleagues on the School Committee and the City Council – thank you, everybody for all that you do. From our board and commission members, to our volunteers, to the local non-profit groups, we are all working to move Gloucester forward.
We are extremely grateful for the continued guidance from our new City Clerk who has taken extra time to provide assistance to the administration, the City Council and the public at large. The clerk’s office is crucial to all of the hard work happening across the city and we extend our gratitude again to their department.
I am committed to an open city with open communications, so I want to hear your thoughts – not just online or over the phone but in person as well. Our recently created constituent services director position has proved to be invaluable in helping me get answers to your questions and provide direction when needed. I am always available – I am YOUR Mayor – and I look forward to working WITH you to strengthen our beautiful city.
My administration is a team; we work for you. But I believe that we are much more than that – we are a family, a Gloucester family. I am humbled to serve as your mayor and I am confident now – more than ever – that Gloucester’s best days are ahead of us. Why? Because I see all of us, from every Ward and every neighborhood coming together and solving problems. In a world that feels divided at times, our community pride sends a strong message to all that we will stand together and help everyone enjoy the best that life has to offer.
I am honored to continue my leadership as your Mayor, but this journey isn’t about me. This is about all of us – achieving so much over the past year. We did this by working together as a team; by working as that Gloucester family. That’s who we are here and that’s why I will always love Gloucester. I know our city will shine even brighter in the months and years ahead with this love, dedication, passion and perseverance.
As I end the 2017 State of the City address, I want to thank you all for making me a very proud Mayor and to truly thank you for all the good that we share, together.
Want to grow awesome veggies this summer? Come learn how at our Seed Starting Workshop at 7 pm, Thursday March 2 with local gardening expert Suzanne Gosselin to learn the ins and outs of starting seeds indoors. Also, join us at 6 pm as a local artist Jane Keddy shares tips for using natural materials to make prints. You’ll leave this workshop with new inspiration and knowledge for gardening and designing into the spring and summer! Sign up here!
Thu, March 2, 2017
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST
6 Wonson Street, Gloucester, MA
FRESH is a six-week exhibition, with accompanying workshops and presentations, hosted by the Rocky Neck Art Colony (RNAC) and Backyard Growers.
In this exhibition, artists from all over New England will present works that reflect on the theme FRESH, exploring the ways in which food connects us to the earth, nourishes us, and ties us to warmth, family, friends, and memories. Join us in celebrating the new life that emerges as we leave the dark of winter for the optimism of spring! Contemporary, experimental and traditional art in all media will be on view.
Thank you to our sponsors:
Also sponsored by:
WEDNESDAY DELAYED OPENING
Due to a staff development meeting the Library will open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1st. Toddler Time will begin at its normal 10 a.m. start time. Thank you for your understand and sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
Books & Brews Book Club
Tuesday, February 28 from 6-8 p.m. at the Azorean Restaurant, the Books & Brews Book Club will meet to discuss this month’s read, Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller. Enjoy an evening out meeting new friends, good discussion, and treat yourself to a beverage and appetizers. Bring your ideas for books for the coming year.
Volunteers from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide will be at the Sawyer Free Library every Wednesday through April 12 from 12:30-3:30 p.m. They offer free tax preparation particularly for those over 50 or who can’t afford their own tax preparation. Space is limited and goes fast…
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USDA Wildlife Services (WS) will be conducting a crow roost dispersal at 128 Rogers Street, Gloucester, MA on February 27th – March 2nd 2017. This is a non-lethal technique that will require the use of pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics have a very similar sound to “bottle rockets” or similar fireworks. With this comes the inherent risk of many noise complaints and although we do not foresee it happening, an increased fire risk. WS staff will begin dispersing crows at approximately 17:00 (or earlier if they show up then) on Monday and will continue after sunset or until the last crow comes into the area. Dispersals are most successful when they are conducted numerous days in a row and that is why we have planned the dispersal for four (4) days. There is the possibility it does not require all of the days, but we have to prep in case it does.
We cannot stress enough this is a form of non-lethal control and we do not intend to cause harm to crows in the process. That is the most important talking point to stress with individuals that are not familiar with what we are doing.
If anyone has any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact myself or anyone at our State Office (413) 253-2403. We hope that by having everyone in the loop on this operation it will ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.
Thank you all,
Colby E. Cousineau
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services CT, MA, RI Program
463 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Dear Good Morning Gloucester Community,
I am an author in Gloucester and the president of the League of Women Voters of Cape Ann. I have just finished my first book about a suffragist/mountain climber/author named Annie Smith Peck published by St. Martin’s Press (https://www.amazon.com/Womans-Place-Top-Biography-Climbers/dp/1250084008).
Now, I am on to my next project about the League of Women Voters. For this, I need your help. I am starting with a history of the league in Gloucester and am trying to find any connections that you may know of to the following women who were in the league during the 1950s. If you have any information about the following women, I would appreciate it if you could contact me at Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org. Any information at all is welcome. I’d love to be able to highlight the history of the women in our community on a national stage. Many thanks in advance.
Elizabeth Day of Riverdale (raised on Harbor View Court in East Gloucester)
Dot Whiteman of Riverdale
Sybil Kippen of Riverdale
Clara Legace of Middle Street (ran a beauty salon and served on Gloucester Planning Committee)
Jane Brown of East Gloucester
Constance Davis of Annisquam
General and Mrs. Cunningham of Annisquam
Peg Ferrini (office worker and later a school teacher)
Josie Costello of Washington Street (worked in City Hall)
Mrs. Lodge (a doctor’s wife from Pleasant Street)
Dr. Lois Fesler of Hancock Street
Dorothy Burnham Rose of Riverdale
~ Hannah Kimberley
Wouldn’t it be great to uncover photos of Gloucester women in the League of Women Voters like these Wellesley women, below?
League of Women Voters, Wellesley, Massachusetts circa 1950.
On Sunday, February 26 at 10:00 AM, all are invited to a special music service featuring the singing of Gordon Michaels and Darlene Wynn, accompanied by pianist Mark Rasmussen.
The Az One Duo will stir your soul and rock your boat with their contemporary Gospel style that is full of tenderness, vocal prowess and humor.
The Reverend Janet Parsons will address the challenges we face to become an authentic anti-racist voice in her homily: Confronting Our Whole History: Trying, Failing and Trying Again.
Child care is available during the service. All are invited to the community hall immediately following the service for refreshments and socializing.