More projects added to citys stimulus wish list
More projects added to citys stimulus wish list
29 January 2009
published by www.wickedlocal.com
USA — Mayor Rob Dolan sits on the statesMunicipal Facilities Task Force a group comprised of municipal and state officials and chaired by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray that is reviewing projects submitted for federal stimulus funding. Those projects, per state requirement, must be shovel-ready meaning immediately ready to begin within 180 days and completed within two years.This week, Dolan said the task force spent four days going through the various criteria to weed out unready projects from the approximate 4,000 projects that were submitted, but added that city and state officials are currently focused on the budget in the wake of Gov. Devals Patrick local aid cuts announced last week and the governors proposed budget scheduled to be filed this week. Its hard for me to tell you a lot because were kind of in purgatory right now, he said. Cyndi Roy, communications director for the state Executive Office of Administration and Finance, said on Tuesday that the state has not finished compiling a comprehensive list of possible stimulus projects to send to Washington, D.C. The task forces are still working on their projects, Roy said. I think well probably have more to say about it next week. Theyre wrapping up their work now. For Melrose, 13 projects have been identified as a veritable wish list for federal stimulus funding. For starters, Melrose cant get water where it needs to be and has too much water where it doesnt need to be two problems city officials hope to address with the federal funding. Improving water flow to fire hydrants in the Mount Vernon Avenue and Boston Rock Road area, along with flood mitigation on Granite and Burnett Streets and in Ward 2, are among the 13 projects city officials filed this month for potential funding through the $825 billion federal stimulus package the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to take up on Wednesday this week. Even if the city cant secure funding through the stimulus package, the lack of water pressure at the Mount Vernon Avenue and Boston Rock Road fire hydrants needs to be addressed immediately, according to Superintendent of Public Works Bob Beshara. The mayors [Rob Dolan] committed to do this anyway because its a safety issue, Beshara said. Hopefully its funded by the [federal] stimulus. If not, we have to find out how to fund it through the city. In anticipation of the Mount Vernon Avenue reconstruction project slated for next year with state Chapter 90 money, the city performed flow tests on the streets fire hydrants to address any water issues before rebuilding the road. Beshara said those tests yielded disturbing results. What we found was there are a number of hydrants, quite a few hydrants, that just dont have the proper flow to fight a fire, he said. I expanded the tests up into Black Rock Road because we saw something was wrong and there were dozens of hydrants that dont have proper flow. Beshara said he immediately notified the Melrose Fire Department, which has taken the appropriate steps to ensure they have the capability to fight fires in that area, by alerting the Malden Fire Department of the need for immediate response in that area and putting extra hoses on the fire trucks that can run down to hydrants on nearby Main Street. Melrose Fire Chief John OBrien directed questions to Beshara, but did add, To their credit, they want to address it right away. In addition to addressing problems on those hydrants, Beshara said the city also wants to address poor water flow to hydrants on Willard Street and Forest Street by connecting those areas into the Park Street Pump Station as originally intended. Thats a much easier job to do for us, he said. Flood mitigation funding In March 2007, the Board of Aldermen approved $8.1 million for projects designed to alleviate flooding in Ward 2 and other critical areas of the city, but Beshara said he is constantly seeking ways to secure other funding that would allow the DPW to do even more. Weve already got some FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] for the Howard Street culvert that collapsed. They paid for that, he said. The triple pipes in Hesseltine Field, FEMA paid for about 90 percent of that. If we can get more funding for [drainage projects], that allows us to expand the repairs we can do throughout city. Drainage on Granite and Burnett Street is one of the projects Melrose submitted for possible stimulus funding. Beshara said the area was identified in a hazardous mitigation report compiled several years ago that the city uses to apply for FEMA grants and, along with Ward 2, Converse Lane and the Ell Pond area, was one of the worst hit areas of the city during the Mothers Day floods in 2006. There are several drains that are collapsed and there are ditches that are blocked by leaves, trees and brush slowing down flow or preventing flow, he said. Were going to look at that whole system, upgrade it, rebuilding manholes and hopefully get a positive flow down to Long Pond. Its a very low area, very difficult, but this system is very old and not operating properly. Another project is the third phase of upgrades to drainage in Ward 2 that empties into Bennetts Pond Brook, affecting the Hesseltine Avenue, Pearl Street and Boardman Avenue area. Costs for new police station Melrose also submitted a new police station facility for funding through the stimulus package and Mayor Dolan marked it as the citys second highest priority, after replacing the Melrose High School roof. Dolan has previously said he targets the year 2010 for construction on either a new or renovated police station, and last March presented a proposal to the Massachusetts National Guard that would create a join public safety facility at the current National Guard armory, 120 Main St., across from Pine Banks Park. Denise Gaffey, Melrose city planner, said a new police station is the type of project that would help stimulate the local economy by creating jobs and possibly creating additional parking downtown. Its totally necessary and something we need to do, Gaffey said, adding she believes the project could be competed in two years, meeting the requirement for stimulus projects. One potential hurdle could be the lack of a concrete plan and the need to develop that plan within the next 180 days. The city performed a public safety facility and police station study in 1996, which included the possibility of a combined police and fire headquarters, but some of the sites examined for a new facility in that study are no longer available. Gaffey acknowledged the study is a little outdated, but said the citys proposed stimulus projects are a wish list.