Winthrop in 2015: The Year in Review

Thursday, December 31, 2015
By Transcript Staff

January

Hermon Street residents opposed a change in zoning for 60 Hermon St. Ocean City Development is seeking an SDOD (Special Development Overlay District) designation for the old church. They propose to convert the building into condos.

  • Representative Robert A. DeLeo was re-elected Speaker of the House by his colleagues. During the last session DeLeo and his colleagues raised the minimum wage, passed landmark gun safe­ty legislation, enacted a new domestic violence law and improved substance addiction treatment.
  • JW’s Restaurant on XX street opened
  • The Feldman Seaside Apartments built on the Temple Tifereth Israel property on Veterans Road held a grand opening.
  • WHS football players Sean Gillis and Dylan Driscoll were presented with the Irving P. Alexander Memorial Trophy from the Winthrop Rotary Club, the most prestigious award in Winthrop High School athletics.
  • The father of the late Marianna Fabiano presented an idea to the Town Council to build a handicap accessible playground in her memory.
  • A heroin/opioid summit was held at North Shore Community College. Community leaders and those who deal with the epidemic attended.
  • The Winthrop High School football tem heads to Logan Airport to see off the New England Patriots as they travel to Arizona to play the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLIV.
  • The Winthrop Board of Health begins the year by announcing that they will revamp the town’s smoking regulations. New regulations will prohibit smoking in certain public spaces.
  • The first blizzard of 2015 hits the area dumping 18-20 inches of snow a closing school for three days. Little did we know there was much, much more to come.
  • Town Council President Peter Gill announces he will not seek re-election in 2015 after serving four years.

February

  • Former Board of Selectmen member Robert Driscoll Jr. announces he will run for the Council President seat.
  • Another foot of snow whacks the area. Now five snow days have been used by the schools, town hall is closed local officials call for a snow emergency.
  • Crews beging the steel work at the new middle/high school. The $82 million project, which is costing Winthrop $42 million is expected to be completed by July 2016. Snow and ice did not stop construction crews from pressing forward.
  • Resident Richard Honan was recognized by the Good News Club for the work he does sending care packages to service members around the world. He is also an excellent photographer catching images of Winthrop.
  • Snow removal costs have risen to $330,000 even though the town has only budgeted $90,000. The town has entered into an agreement for snow removal with crews from Buffalo NY since the snow totals have also risen to 70 inches.
  • Friends of the late Sabrina Feudo gathered at the Larsen Rink for one of her favorite activities – ice skating.
  • Precinct 4 Councilor Craig Mael announces he is considering a run for Council President.

March

  • The school department is seeking a 6.18 percent increase in its budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015. Superintendent of Schools John Macero presented a budget packet last Thursday night that seeks $17,997,378. That’s $1,047,378 more than fiscal year 2015 budget of $16,950,000.
  • School officials are trying to figure the impact of snow days on the school calendar.
  • Officials in Winthrop and Revere will meet with the Department of Conservation and Reservation to discuss the closing of the tide gates on Winthrop Parkway the other day even when there was no weather threat. The closure caused snarled traffic in Revere and Winthrop.
  • The grand opening ceremony for the Feldman Seaside Apartments adjacent Temple Tifereth Israel on Veterans Road was held. Tara Mizrahi, vice president of Affirmative Investments, served as master of ceremonies for the program.
  • Heather Engman has announced that she will be a candidate for the Precinct 4 position on the Winthrop Town Council in the 2015 elections this fall. Engman, a 39-year-old attorney, said she made the decision to run for the seat after Craig Meal informed her that he would not be a candidate for reelection. Mael is recurrent Precinct 4 Councilor reportedly considering a run for council president.

Engman grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and attended Colby College in Maine. She worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after college and is an attorney with the Massachusetts Department of Health. She is a 2005 graduate of Northeastern University Law School.

  • Town Manager James McKenna said the town’s snow expenditures as of Tues­day before another dusting hit the North Shore is $630,000. The town had budgeted $90,000 for snow removal for this year. Like many cities and towns do the snow budget is minimally funded in hopes it won’t be used. But since over 100 inches of snow has fallen, and there has been a need for sanding and salting in between storms, the budget hasn’t seen the end yet. DPW Director said there will also be repairs of between $15,000- $20,000. He explained that his department uses 90 tons of salt for just one sweep of all the town’s streets. McKenna said the town is hoping for some reimbursement from the state.
  • The Town Council president Peter Gill appointed Joseph Boncore to the Ordinance Review Committee last week. It is charged with reviewing the town’s ordinances and suggesting any changes. Once the final report comes out in voters may be faced with voting on some changes. Appointed to the committee is Boncore, who will serve as chairman, just like he did five years ago when the committee was convened. Also serving on the committee will be: Karin Chavis, who has served on the School Building Assistance Committee; Heather Engman, who is an attorney with the Massachusetts Health Department and is running for councilor of Precinct 4; Mike Power, a returning member and attorney; Tom Reilly, former council president, selectman (under the former form of local government) and former member of the Charter Review Committee; David Stasio, an attorney and member of the Planning Board; Paul Varone, the Precinct 1 councilor and returning member to the committee; and Carla Vitale, the Winthrop Town Clerk. Peter Christopher had also been selected for the committee but has since withdrawn. He will have to be replaced by another appointment.
  • Ocean City Development, represented by attorney Rich­ard Lynds, has filed for a spe­cial development overlay dis­trict (SDOD) as opposed to the Residential A zone it is right now. The SDOD is a special zoning designation meant to encourage the reuse of prop­erty and must meet special criteria. This is the third time residents have heard from the developers and this time was more casual.

Set up by Town Councilor Paul Varone, Thursday night’s meeting was attended by eight abutters, Council President Peter Gill, Council VP Craig Mael and Fire Chief Paul Fla­nagan. This time pizza, sand­wiches and refreshments were also offered by the developers. Since this topic came up in January, neighbors have ex­pressed concerns about what was going in the vacant build­ing, parking, retaining walls, infringement on property lines and the general impact.

  • Winthrop High School Principal Eileen Belastock has resigned her po­sition that she held for a year and a half. Superintendent John Ma­cero said Belastock handed in her resignation on Mon­day, March 16 after she had been absent the week before. Before her resignation the of­ficial word was that she was taking care of some personal matters. Rumors regarding her resignation have been circu­lating around town and Mace­ro said he would not comment on them.

April

  • The Winthrop Board of Health signed and approved new and revised tobacco regulations for the town, which go into effect June 1. The new regulations include the no sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 and no smoking on playing fields or parks.
  • One thing is clear, Winthrop will have a bylaw that addresses the use of houseboats at area marinas, including Atlantic Marina off Pleasant Street. Officials ex­pect to start working on a draft on April 15.

The Town Council’s Rules and Ordinance Committee, chaired by Phillip Boncore, met last week to update res­idents on the progress of developing regulations for houseboats at local marinas. The lack of regulations came to light last year when several boats arrived at Atlantis Ma­rina and made themselves at home. Several residents of the Atlantis Condominiums, 550 Pleasant St., protested and pushed on the town for regu­lations.

Boncore said his commit­tee has been collecting by­laws from various towns and agencies including the Coast Guard, the Army Corp of En­gineers, California, Virginia, Seattle and Florida. Members have been reviewing the ma­terial and have also received legal advice from the town’s legal advisor, Kopelman & Paige.

  • After 20 years at the helm Patricia Milano has announced she will retire from CASA (Community Against Substance Abuse) and move to Florida.
  • The town hires two peer recovery coaches to work with addicts and their families.
  • A Quincy woman with over 30 years of experience in libraries has been selected as the new li­brary director at the Frost Li­brary in Winthrop.

Diane Wallace was select­ed from several candidates. The previous director left for another position. In the mean­time, Mary Lou Osborne has served as the interim director. Wallace comes to Winthrop after being at the Saugus Pub­lic Library for ten years as the director. Ironically, she begins work April 15, in the middle of National Library Week.

  • Thanks to a $25,000 grant applied for by Sgt. Steve Rog­ers, Clint and his partner David Brown, a 20-year veter­an of the department, are now able to embark on a collabo­ration that hasn’t happened in over 25 years in Winthrop. Years ago Sgt. Frank Mac­Donald was the K9 officer. Police Chief Terence Dele­hanty said Drake came to the department via Northeast K9 Unlimited which found Drake in South Carolina. He will un­dergo bite training, obedience training and narcotics training.
  • A topping-off ceremony was held for the new high/middle school American flag and a small potted fir tree. The tree is a Scandinavian and construc­tion tradition of not building anything taller than the tree. The 20-foot piece of steel was hoisted by Zichelle Steel of Leominster. Residents have marveled all winter long on how the steel workers worked through the snow, the bitter cold and winds.

The $81.8 million project is being partially funded through the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which will cover almost 60 percent of the project. Taxpayers will foot the rest of the bill.

May

  • Officials from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority met with Winthrop residents and offi­cials last Wednesday evening as part of its regular commu­nity outreach.

The first thing announced by MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey, was that the Deer Island facility has had no per­mit violations for eight years in a row. He also shared that the MWRA would be building a 250-foot “T” shaped pier for fishing. The MWRA also plans to add a 40-space public parking lot to supplement the current 34-space lot.

  • Cinco De Mayo celebration was held in French Square and organized by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce.
  • Since last spring the De­partment of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has been undergoing a $25 million renourishment of Winthrop Beach. The goal is to stop ocean water from going over the wall and into Winthrop Shore Drive, as well as all the side streets that abut the beach. Part of the project involved trucking in 91,643 tons of small to medium, round rocks called “tailings” by DCR. An­other part involved 538,141 tons of sand trucked in from Rumney Marsh in Saugus. But residents and officials are not happy with how the beach looks with thousands of little rocks instead of sand.
  • It’s been well over five years in the making, but the regional emergency dispatch center for Winthrop and Re­vere is coming along. If all goes well the center could be online in April 2016.

Executive Director Julie Davie said the complex tran­sition is coming along. At the regular monthly meeting held last week, members of the North Regional Emergency Communications Center, were updated on electrical work and on the fire services end of the project.

Members of group include Davie, Adrianne Javery (dis­patch supervisor), Winthrop Fire Capt. Richard Swartz, Winthrop Police Chief Ter­ence Delehanty, Revere Dep­uty Fire Chief Mike Viviano and Winthrop Fire Chief Paul Flanagan. Also sitting in is Christine Wingfield, the re­gional coordinator of the state 911 department.

  • During the May 12 sub-committee meeting, the Winthrop School Commit­tee and school principals discussed the establishment of anti-bullying programs throughout Winthrop Public Schools (WPS). Each of the school’s anti-bullying com­mittees meets to discuss the implementation and reduction of bullying, and education of students on how to report and address behaviors.

 Winthrop High School (WHS) Principal Matthew Crombie explained the im­portance of having Winthrop Police Detective Dawn Ar­mistead to support issues through mediation, following practices of bullying proto­col. Crombie hopes to bring back the advisory period to use for the bullying program. The meetings will occur once a month for 30-45 min., with 10-15 students per advisor.

There is an anti-bullying committee of five to 10 stu­dents who meet each Friday, initiating campaigns, and rais­ing awareness.

  • Well over 100 people packed the Winthrop cemetery for Memorial Day services on Monday. Graves were marked with flags. People wore red, white and blue. The Cummings School band filled the air with patriotism and there was no denying it was a somber cere­mony bringing back memories of veterans who have passed. Dignitaries included mem­bers of the town council, boy scouts, girl scouts, police de­partment and firemen. Mem­bers of the Elks Lodge 1078, American Legion Post 146, and the Emblem Club No. 15 were well represented. The principal speaker was Tyler Norris, a veteran of the United States Marine Corp. and a 2010 graduate of Win­throp High School.
  • After months of going back and forth with the Town Council the developers final­ly got the zoning designation that will allow them to convert an old church into condomini­ums. The Town Council voted Tuesday, May 19 to approve the change in zoning to SDOD (special development overlay district). The vote was 7-2 with Councilors Rich Boya­jian and Paul Varone. Varone lives on Hermon Street and worked closely with neigh­bors to have concerns voiced. But before the vote the council voted they heard from real estate broker Jim Pelino who said his real estate office would not be involved in list­ing the future condos. Coun­cilor Linda Calla, who works with Pelino, reiterated that she nor Highland Real Estate would not list the properties.

June

  • The Viking Pride Founda­tion (VPF) will form a com­mittee to help raise aware­ness for the need for a new multi-purpose, turf stadium on the site of Miller Field. Vincent Crossman, VPF chairman, presided over an organizational meeting held Monday night at the E.B. Newton School building. Crossman told the group that VPF is working in coordi­nation with Town Manager James McKenna on what they hope will result in a new stadi­um for the town.
  • At Monday night’s School Committee meeting Superin­tendent John Macero suggest­ed collaborating with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) to open a school-based health center at the new middle/high school to provide care for 6th-12th grade students during school hours. Since the school is in the process of being constructed, Macero is considering design­ing an area in the new build­ing specifically for EBNHC, who have offered to cover the cost of altering the scheme.
  • The Town Council postponed granting a zoning request to the owner of a project at 15-17 Walden St., pending a presentation to neighbors regarding plans for the development. Attorney David McCool, representing property owner Jack Anderson as PJP Realty Trust, LLC appeared before the Town Council Tuesday night with a zoning request for a Special Development Over­lay District (SDOD).

The SDOD designation is a special zoning area used to en­courage the reuse of a property and must meet special criteria. The process of obtaining one includes going to the Planning Board first, then to the Town Council and back to the Plan­ning Board for final plans.

  • By far, the Baby Bella story had to be one of the biggest stories in Winthrop in 2015. The local, national and international media told the story of a nameless toddler who had washed up in the rocky shore of Deer Island. Called Baby Doe for months, she was found by a Winthrop dog walker on June 25.

Michael Patrick of Quincy was charged with first-degree murder in the child’s homicide at 115 Maxwell St. in Dorchester. The indictments also charge Rachelle Dee Bond of Dorchester with being an accessory after the fact to that murder and with larceny over $250 by false purposes for allegedly continuing to accept public assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance after she knew of Bella’s death on an uncertain date in late May or early June of this year.

Officials said the two, known heroin users, killed Bella and placed her in a refrigerator until they put her body on a bag and dumped her in Boston Harbor.

The indictments move the case against McCarthy and Bond from Dorchester Municipal Court to Suffolk Superior Court, where it will be adjudicated. The two are tentatively expected to face arraignment there on Jan. 6.

Baby Bella was buried in a Winthrop cemetery.

July

  • Members of the Winthrop Air Pollution, Noise and Air­port Hazards Committee came before the Winthrop Town Council Tuesday night to re­quest a summary report be placed on the town’s website.

Committee member Rich­ard Bangs asked for the sum­mary of the latest risk as­sessment report to be placed online so the community at large can look at it. The last report was released in 2014 by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. At that time the committee hired an outside consultant to analyze the find­ings of the airport study. He added that the data only goes up to 2009 and he questioned how valid it is.

  • Residents packed the meet­ing room in Town Hall Tues­day night. A couple people had nice things to say about the Department of Conserva­tion and Recreation but for the most part people were upset with the condition of Win­throp Beach. To top off the frustrations, the DCR sent two representa­tives to speak about a project they knew little about. For over an hour and a half people vented and walked away with a “we’ll have to wait and see” answer. The Town Council plans to have the DCR come back in August or September to give an update.
  • Town Manager James McKenna has unveiled pre­liminary plans for a nearly $8 million project to solve the drainage problem at Lewis Lake and Miller Field. DPW head Steve Calla said the lake needs to be dredged, a new tide gate is needed and the drainage needs to be addressed. Miller Field next door is woefully out of date with a track that doesn’t meet MIAA regulations, flooding and drainage issues that turn the field to mud. In addition, the bleachers are old and need to be tested for lead paint. The track was deemed not usable for competition in 2006. The building at Miller Field also is not handicap accessible and is in general poor shape. Miller Field drains into Lewis Lake. Calla added that one-third of the town’s drain­age goes to this area of town. The project will also involve working with the Winthrop Golf Club and the replication of the wetlands. The project will also require permits from over eight agencies.
  • House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop), Sen­ator Anthony Petruccelli (D-East Boston) and Repre­sentative RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere) joined their col­leagues in the Legislature to enact a $38.145 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) which emphasizes economic growth, support for residents most in need, and reform of the state’s transpor­tation system. The spending plan makes investments in lo­cal aid, education, and human services including an acute focus on behavioral health and substance abuse. Building on a responsible yet proactive approach to bol­stering the state’s economy, this year’s budget increases the Earned Income Tax Cred­it (EITC) while maintaining a voter-mandated tax reduc­tion and without implement­ing new taxes or fees. For low-to-moderate households, EITC will increase to 23 percent on January 1, 2016. Increasing this credit is an ef­fective way to fight stagnant wages and lift working fami­lies out of poverty.

August

  • Rotary Club International has been around since 1905, when it started with three businessmen as a service or­ganization. In Winthrop, East Boston and Revere the club has been around since the 1930s.

Today, the three commu­nities find themselves work­ing together to form one club called the Belle Isle Rotary Club. Club president Stephen Miliotis said the merger was necessary to strengthen the club and refocus its energies in the area communities. Now with 31 members the offi­cers are set in place. Stephen Miliotis, president; Stephanie Scopa, president-elect; Jo­seph Fiorello, vice president; Maryann Russo, treasurer; Juan Lopez, secretary, and Ashley Melnik, immediate past president. The Revere and Winthrop clubs were founded in 1938. Revere and East Boston merged in 2006. All believe in the motto of “service above self.”

  • Winthrop beach remains strong as one of the cleanest beaches in the area on Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s mid-summer beach report re­leased this week. Last year at this point in the summer Winthrop Beach scored a 94 percent on the report, which means it was closed sic percent of the time by this point in the summer last year. However, this year the beach scored a 100 on the mid-summer report.
  • The Massachusetts Wa­ter Resources Authority (MWRA) and the town of Winthrop have come to an agreement for the mitigation payments to be paid to the town for the next 10 years.

According to the agree­ment the payments are for the impact the MWRA wastewa­ter treatment plant has on the town in regards to police and fire services, infrastructure and the residents. The pay­ments cover a 10-year period starting from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2025. All prior mit­igation agreements between the town and the MWRA are terminated.

As part of the agreement the town has agreed to pro­vide police and fire services as it has in the past.

The 2016 payment is $760,000; 2017 will be $779,000; 2018 will be $798,475; 2019 will be $818,437; 2020 will be $838,898; 2021 will be $859,870; 2022 will be $881,367; 2023 will be $903,401; 2024 will be $925,986; 2025 will be $949,136.

  • Proposed names for the new middle/high school, lo­cated at the corner of Main St. and Payson St., have been buzzing around town since School Committee Chairman, Gary Skomro, announced that names for the school were being considered. Sugges­tions include Winthrop Vi­king School and the William Hurley Middle/High School; however, many prefer that the school traditionally remain as Winthrop High School.

September

  • A week after 10 cheerlead­ers were sent to the hospital due to the complications from working out in hot and humid weather, the two women who coached the team to a national championship last spring have resigned. Superintendent of Schools John Macero has confirmed that head coach Rachel Mus­tone and assistant coach Steph­anie Bono have both resigned.
  • If you are looking to set up a houseboat in Winthrop you will now need a permit from the Town Manager. Tuesday night the Town Council voted to approve a new ordinance requiring a permit and other regulations. Packed with concerned res­idents from the 44 condos at Atlantis Marina Condomini­ums, 550 Pleasant St., who have waited two years for the new regulations. They sat through the reading of four pages of regulations. Residents expressed con­cern over the water and sew­er hook-ups for houseboats.
  • People showing up at a house after midnight, trailing a suit­case, not knowing where ex­actly they are and sometimes showing up at the wrong ad­dress. Many have come to Winthrop after signing up for Air BnB, a service that match­es travelers with available rooms in local homes. “This is the talk of the east coast,” said Town Manager James McKenna. “Winthrop is particularly poised because of its location.”

But in Winthrop the Air BnB locations have been told to cease and desist by Al Legee, head of inspectional services, after several officials questioned the safety and set up of these rooms. Some have had locks on the bedroom doors and some do not have proper means of egress.

  • Gary Skomro has already said he will not seek re-election to the School Committee, nor will fellow committee mem­bers Melissa Polino or Mary Alice Sharkey. Waiting in the wings for a chance to serve on the committee are Laura Cal­lis, Tino Capobianco, Christo­pher Hurley, Marcie Moline, Ron Vecchia and Jared Wick­ham. The other race drawing out the candidates is for the Hous­ing Authority. Incumbents Rich­ard Honan and Frank Ferrara will face a challenge from Matthew Callis and Jeanne Maggio.

Current Council Presi­dent Peter Gill will not seek re-election, opening the race to Council Vice President Craig Mael and Robert Driscoll Jr..

In Precinct 2, incumbent James Letterie will face a challenge from Michael Ber­tino and in Precinct 4 Paul Caruccio will face off against Heather Engman, who cur­rently serves on the Board of Health.

The race for two seats on the Board of Library Trustees will feature incumbent Ron Bergman and newcomers Tom Connolly, Stephen Hines and Donald Sullivan. Longtime trustee Jim Matarazzo will not seek reelection nor will trustee Maria Ferri.

Running unopposed are Phil Boncore for councilor at-large and Linda Calla for Pre­cinct 6 councilor.

  • The owners of the Kasbah have been called in to the next Board of Health meeting on Oct. 13 to discuss violations of the Town of Winthrop smoking regulations. According to the letter, “smoking of any combustible substance is in clear viola­tion of the Town of Winthrop Smoke Free Workplace Law.” On Friday, Aug. 14 the di­rector of tobacco control, which is a Board of Health regula­tion enforcement officer, ob­served the selling and smok­ing of hookah in the restaurant at 59 Putnam St. At the time a $100 ticket was issued for a first offense.

October

  • A videotape taken by a Winthrop High School foot­ball player of another player dressing in the boys locker room has gone viral on the in­ternet and has prompted offi­cials to suspend Friday night’s game against Gloucester. Wednesday afternoon Po­lice Chief Terence Delehanty, Superintendent of Schools John Macero, WHS Principal Matt Crombie and WHS Ath­letic Director Matt Serino held a press conference to explain and answer questions about the incident.
  • Town officials have decided to hold off on a debt-exclu­sion ballot question regarding the building of a new Miller Field Athletic Facility until they have better details on the project and can cite the accu­rate amount that needs to be borrowed. Tuesday night the Town Council voted to wait until the Presidential Primary on March 13, 2016. Delaying a vote will not effect the time table of the work to be done, but it will allow everyone in­volved in planning the project the time to plan well.
  • If anyone could get out of the situation the crew of the El Faro found themselves in was Winthrop High School and 2005 Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduate Keith Griffin.

“He was a beast on the football field,” remembers childhood friend Joe Boncore who played Pop Warner and Little League with the missing First Engineer of the doomed cargo shop that sunk 35 miles of the coast of the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin last Thursday. “He was a real strong kid. At the vigil Tuesday night everyone that knew him said ‘if anyone could pull through it was Keith.”

However, hopes are fading fast that any of the 33 crew members, that included Griffin, will be found alive. According to sources, the Coast Guard is already preparing next of kin that something catastrophic happened the night the 790-foot cargo ship hauling cars from Florida to Puerto Rico sank.

  • The School Committee, the Superintendent, and the teachers union have agreed on a new three-year contract. However, the three other unions represented by the Winthrop Teachers Union that include the educational support personnel, secretaries and nurses unions have yet to settle a contract but continue active negotiations. According to the contract, teachers will receive pay in­creases over the next three years. For the 2015-2016 school year there is a two percent increase; on June 30, 2016 there will be a one per­cent increase; for the 2016- 2017 school year there will be a three percent increase and in the 2017-2018 school year a four percent increase will be given
  • Over 340 years ago, during the King Phillips war (1675- 1676) the Nipmuc Indians were interned on Deer Island against their will by the Massachusetts Bay Colonists. October 30, 1675 the genocide of the Nipmucs began. Over 500 hundred men, women and children were move from their homeland in Natick to Deer Island in an attempt to keep them from joining other Native Ameri­can people who were at war with the colonies. Ironically, the victims were pro-English Christian converts known as the “Praying Indians”. They endured a harsh winter and only half of them survived.

This is why today descendants of the Nipmuc Indians held a traditional row from Deer Island to Natick.

November

  • Robert Driscoll Jr., a former selectman, will become the President of the Town Council starting in January. When current council president Peter Gill announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election Driscoll threw his hat into the ring along with Precinct 4 Council member Craig Mael. Tuesday the voters went for Driscoll with 1,977 votes over Mael’s 1,224 votes.
  • The custom-built commuter ferry known at the Valkyrie finally arrived in Winthrop. While no ferry service got off the ground this year, plans are to have it up and running in the Spring of 2016.
  • After getting approval from the finance committee, the town council approved funding to renovate the rink roof, construct locker rooms and purchase a new Zamboni ice machine. The town council granted permission to borrow $600,000 to renovate the roof at the Larsen Skating Rink at Eruzione Center and construction of new locker rooms. In addition $125,560 was approved to be taken from the town’s capitalization fund to purchase a new Zamboni ice grooming machine.
  • Last week, Town Manager James McKenna and Council President Peter Gill signed the Commonwealth Community Compact with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo joining in the celebration of Winthrop striving to commit itself to improvement and partnering with the Commonwealth for various state grants and programs. According to McKenna, municipalities that pledge to adopt best practices through compacts will get a bonus on selected state grants programs and will be prioritized for various technical assistance programs. Winthrop will be able to obtain extra points on certain grants, and a grant program specifically for “Compact” communities. Each contract is voluntary and runs for two years.
  • Winthrop’s Seaport Economic Council has received a grant of $950,880 for the construction a pier-supported wooden walkway and marine ecology park that borders Belle Isle Marsh. The marsh is currently used by only a small group of area activists and volunteers. Winthrop will use the new pier to allow locals, tourists, and educational groups to access the marsh, which is one of only four Great Salt Marshes in Massachusetts.

December

  • Winthrop property owners will see an increase in their tax bills for fiscal year 2016. The new rate will be $15.37 per $1,000 of valuation, which is a 7.2 percent increase over the fiscal year 2015 rate of $14.34 per $1,000 of valuation.
  • The town is ready for a new athletic facility and on Tuesday night, plans for a new Miller Field and the repair of Lewis Lake drainage were unveiled in front of the town council. While on the surface the projects may look like separateones, they are not. The drainage issues affect both the lake and the sports field. “There are hydrogeologic issues we have to deal with,” said Director of Public Works

Steve Calla, adding that Lewis Lake is the central drainage area for the town. There are also complex drainage swales with lots of overgrowth and a high saline level.

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