It’s been almost a year since the voters of Tewksbury provided me with a unique opportunity to serve a three-year term as a member of the Board of Selectmen. I ran because I wanted to accomplish three main objectives:
1) Increase the Economic Development opportunities in our town in order to reduce the tax burden on our residents
2) Support more town events to bring together our residents in order to make us more of a community.
3) Increase the engagement of more residents in the town.
In regards to the first issue, I’ve become much more informed, frustrated and determined since I was elected. One of the first things that I did was talk with Town Manager Richard Montuori and Director of Community Development Steve Sadwick. We identified some areas where we would like to see increased development. They are as follows:
- The area behind John Ryan’s Pub – The owners live outside the state and have leased the property to Stop and Shop. Their lease is in affect for another 14 years. The lease payments and taxes are paid year after year so there is no motivation from the land owner for that land to be developed.
- Funland – the land across from the Tewksbury Country Club – the land owner has valued his property at a level that has dissuaded others from purchasing this property. Unless that changes, we will deal with the status quo.
- 10 Acres next to Home Depot off exit 38. This land is owned by Market Basket and as of now, they are not interested in leasing or selling that land.
- Ames Pond – there has been a lot of interest in this property since the vote against the casino. I’m still very disappointed that we didn’t pass the casino as this was an incredible economic development opportunity and it would have been able us to lower taxes or at least not raise taxes on my fellow residents. With that said, I’m proud that we brought the vote to the residents and they decided at town meeting. I still firmly believe that we would have been chosen as the slots location and we would have benefited significantly by being a hosting community. Now it’s being viewed as a residential complex
- Our Town Manager Richard Montuori and Director of Community Development Steve Sadwick have been a huge help in driving new business and working with existing businesses. It’s been a big realization that a lot of the economic development is out of our control. When these opportunities come to Richard and Steve, we better be ready to address their issues and concerns.
In regards to the second issue, I talked with the Town Manager about having an events committee because of my interest in having a yearly town fair.
Based upon our discussions, we organized a Town Events Committee which is now responsible for the Christmas Celebration, the July 4th Celebration (in conjunction with the patriotic activities committee), and the Tewksbury Town Fair.
As an aside, I talked to a lot of residents about the beautification of our town. In response, we have put together a Town Beautification Committee so I’m looking forward to the work of this committee.
Last night, our two State Representatives, Jim Miceli and Jim Lyons came to meet with us. Just as an aside, we wanted to talk with the two reps separately and based upon our experience last night, our intuition was right. Moving forward, we want to hear from our reps separately.
I have called Representative Lyons about numerous Tewksbury Issues and he has supported each one, while, Representative Miceli, in my opinion, has not supported this board on any major issue during my tenure. It started when I was not a member of any board but a big advocate of the new high school. We wanted Representative Miceli’s support but he was unwilling to provide us with his support until the week before the vote. By then, it was all said and done.
In addition, Representative Miceli never called the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen when we were working with the Tewksbury Firefighters on their new contract yet he asked to speak at our Town Meeting. He spoke in support of the Firefighters’s Union after never talking with anyone from the Board of Selectmen or even the Town Manager regarding our point of view.
Finally, Representative Miceli never called any of the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen when we were working through the casino issue yet he asked to speak at Town Meeting. It was curious because the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief were all in favor, yet Representative Miceli never asked us why we were all in favor. I did talk to Representative Lyons before the vote. He told me that he was not supportive of the casino but if our community voted in favor of it, he would work with us to get it passed. That, to me, is the ultimate in terms of representation from our state delegation.
So, with that said, I will continue to provide information to my fellow residents regarding my experience as a Tewksbury Selectmen. I am proud to serve with Todd, David, Doug and Scott and I firmly believe that our town is very fortunate to have Town Manager Richard Montuori leading our departments in town. There were many issues that needed to be cleaned up and addressed and I am very confident in the leadership of all of our town departments as we move forward as a community.
I have reposted this blog after making some additions this morning.