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Good News and Bad...A Day in Massachusetts Politics

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  • EPD.Marine@comcast.net
    Hi all, As some of you may know Everett Mayor Ragucci and Somerville Mayor Curtatone along with State Sen. Barrios met with DCR Commissioner Kathy Abbott today
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2005
      Hi all,
      As some of you may know Everett Mayor Ragucci and Somerville Mayor Curtatone along with State Sen. Barrios met with DCR Commissioner Kathy Abbott today to discuss the Mystic Crossing Project (pedestrian access across and along the Mystic at the Earhart Dam). The meeting was held at Sen. Barrios office and Kathy Abbott was late.
      Commissioner Abbott was late because she responded to the scene of an accident on the VFW Parkway where 4 students had been struck by a small pickup truck. The students were walking in the street because the sidewalks had not been plowed. The VFW Parkway is the responsibility of the DCR. Kathy didn't say much about it but when asked she stated that the students were going to be okay as the worst of it seemed to be a broken leg. More about this later.
      The meeting itself was a mix of news. Dan Driscoll announced that the DCR has released a RFP for an Analysis and Conceptual Design of both the dam crossing and the MBTA pathway connection. (A soft copy will be forwarded to me next week and I will send it out) The design will look at both an at-grade crossing on the dam locks as well as a pedestrian bridge spanning the dam. The analysis will include looking at crossing Rt. 99 to the Ryan Playground. The cost of this Conceptual Design is $75,000 leaving $150,000 of the SEP. Dan stated that the remainder of the money will be taken up in creating the Construction Plans and permitting. The process will start in mid march and will take 6-10 months. There will be 3 public hearings as part of this process. If construction funds are found the opening of the crossing could be as soon as Spring 2007.
      Talks shifted to the Mystic Master Development Plan. Dan stated that prior to the reorganization a consultant had been selected and the money had then been reverted to the state before the contract could be put out. He said if the money could be found the process could start in as soon as a week as the preliminary work had been done. Discussion ensued about expanding the scope to include the Malden River and the Mystic River below Rt. 99 to Chelsea Creek. Funding was then discussed and both Mayors will seek support for further state funding of both projects. Rep. Patricia Jehlan of Somerville and Sen. Barrios office will coordinate the legislators in reaching out to the Ways and Means Committees and Romney's Secretary of Admin. and Finances.
      All in all, Not bad news. While we would prefer not to spend the money on the conceptual design, we at least have movement and can only hope now that funding can be achieved either through the budget process or through further mitigation monies.
      While driving home I heard more about the 4 students as a radio news report played Kathy Abbot apologizing to the students and their family stating that she took full responsibility. I couldn't help but think that her comment was both dangerous and courageous. I admired her "not politics as usual, not passing the buck" attitude and my already large respect for her grew even more.
      Just a few minutes ago I heard on the television news that Governor Romney has fired Kathy Abbott because of her failure to properly clear the sidewalks of snow.
      A few personal observations...Kathy Abbott is a rare politician, one that took personal responsibility for her actions and those of her subordinates. But it wasn't her actions that caused the VFW parkway not to be plowed. I remember meeting Kathy at a meeting of the Cambridge Pedestrian and Bicyclist Committee when she first took the reins of the new DCR. I observed her interactions with the committee and thought that she was a keeper. One of the concerns of the group was the plowing of Memorial Drive sidewalks so that the people of Cambridge could bike and walk. Her reply was that she only had 2 sidewalk plows for all the former MDC roads and she couldn't get any money to buy more plows.
      Kathy Abbott "got it". She understood the needs of the people of the Mystic River watershed and while she couldn't make a silk purse from a sows ear she did return phone calls, she did attend meetings, she did TRY and she did care. The loss of Kathy Abbott will not be felt any deeper than here in the Mystic Watershed.
      This snowstorm was one of the top 5 in the last century. If the practice of firing those responsible for unplowed sidewalks continues there won't be a DPW Director in Eastern Massachusetts with a job. Kathy wasn't fired because the sidewalks of the VFW Parkway were unplowed. I wonder what the real reason is?
      Please don't let this outrage go unnoticed. Contact your State Reps and Senators. Contact the governors office. You can send him a message by going to this website:
      One step forward, two steps back.. a day in Massachusetts Politics.
      Patrick Johnston
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