New Thinking: Planning Forum: a Great First Step

Thursday, December 13, 2012
By Transcript Staff

The town planning and development forum held Tuesday night was everything that Town Manager James McKenna, Assistant to the Town Manager Joseph Domelowicz Jr., and Planning Board Chairman Peter Roche could have hoped for: It was a well-attended event featuring a cordial and professional exchange of ideas for Winthrop’s future development and direction, and a major first step in determining what type of town our residents want Winthrop to be in the years to come.

The last point — the shaping of Winthrop’s future — is something that Councilor Craig Mael has been talking about at recent Council meetings. Craig said that he was pleased by the turnout at Tuesday’s meeting and urged those in attendance to bring two more people with them to the next meeting.

McKenna said he wants to introduce some “new thinking” about developing Winthrop properties with an eye toward re-creating a new look and a gateway to certain areas of the town, notably Winthrop Center. McKenna said he took a walk past some of the outlying establishments leading into the Center and agreed with those at the meeting who felt the look could be improved.

One idea raised at the meeting — and Winthrop attorney Jim Cipoletta was among those making the suggestion — was the potential hiring of a part-time or full-time planning or community development director to help developers through the process and to plan for Winthrop’s future. The idea of a volunteer from Winthrop stepping in and serving in a planning/community director director position was also mentioned — but it was conceded that having a volunteer¬† in such a vital position might not work well.

Superintendent of Schools John Macero was right on the mark when he tied in the construction of a new high school/middle school with the future development of the town. Should a new facility be built, the present Middle School site then would emerge as a superior location for development.

McKenna has guided the town through tough fiscal times. He has consolidated the school department and town government, brought life to the E.B. Newton School, and changed the image of town government in the eyes of our citizens. Bringing in two established professionals from the MAPC,¬† Cynthia Wall and Mark Racicot (who did a great job moderating the meeting and eliciting suggestions from the audience),¬† was another positive step for the town. What we like most about James McKenna is that he’s not resting on his past accomplishments. He’s moving forward energetically in an effort to make Winthrop the best town it can be and one we all can be proud of. Those who brought McKenna on board expected that level of excellence when they selected him as town manager and he is delivering on that promise

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