SCHOOL IS GETTING EXPENSIVE
The Chelsea City Council got an update on the Clark Avenue School project Monday night at its Council meeting, and the costs to the City aren’t getting any smaller.
While the City does get a large portion of the costs funded through the state’s School Building Authority (MSBA), the portion the City has to pay has come in much higher than anyone expected.
Councillor Brian Hatleberg told the Council the local cost looks to be around $19 million or more – a good distance away from what was expected originally, which was something like $15 to $16 million.
The City does have a School Stabilization Fund, he said, but it is appearing more and more like the City will have to bond a large portion of the local cost.
Hatleberg told the Record preliminary numbers look like it could cost the City $1.3 million per year on a 20-year bonding.
“The challenge her is how we’re going to do that rather than if we’re going to do it,” he said. “To our community’s credit, the consensus to build it is there and the thought that we need to do right by our kids and give them a top-notch school. Now, we have to figure out how to pay for it.”
SOME COUNCILLORS NOT ON BOARD WITH CRIME DROP
A small block of councillors aren’t seeing the drop in crime that was reported late last month and said they don’t believe crime is down in reality over the last quarter.
Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he doesn’t believe the streets are safe and pointed to several high-profile events in his district and the neighboring district of Giovanni Recupero – who is also a bit skeptical.
Perlatonda and other councillors said that the Police contingent is at its highest in decades – with more than 100 officers – and they still don’t see enough visibility despite those numbers.
It has prompted some to begin to call for a discussion of how the shifts on the Police Department are structured.
“I and others on the Council would like to have a discussion about why we’re not using three shifts like we used to,” Perlatonda said. “The way I understand it is that we have five shifts now, which includes an overlay shift and an impact shift. Some people say it’s great, but I don’t see it working. Everywhere I go people keep telling me they don’t feel safe. I’m not just making all this up. People who have kids here can’t wait to get them out of here because they’re scared for them. Look what happened on Blossom Street.”
Said Recupero, “What I don’t understand is that if we have so many officers why we don’t have more visibility,” said Recupero. “If there’s 100 officers, and if we had three shifts, that should leave some 30 officers to patrol the streets and staff the station. We should be seeing police everywhere.”
Perlatonda said one of the major complaints he gets from residents is about the vagrants in Bellingham Square. He said they make people feel unsafe, they deal drugs and they generate tons of trash.
“I just don’t understand why we tolerate that,” he said. “Maybe we should put them all on a bus and send them up north to Peabody or Danvers or Newburyport, but I doubt they would tolerate them up there for a minute.”
SITE PREP UNDERWAY
Construction trailers and some heavy equipment have moved into the FBI building site on Everett Avenue this week.
The parking lot has also been closed off and fenced in too.
City Manager Jay Ash said it was only site prep work, but that a groundbreaking on the project is coming soon.
TAKING A LOOK AT OVERTIME
City Councillor Leo Robinson put in an order before the Council to get information on overtime spending in the Police and Fire Departments this fiscal year, which started on July 1.
Robinson said he wants to compare how much was spent last year versus this year.
Of particular concern is that he has heard the Fire Department has spent as much as 30 percent of its overtime budget since July 1 and the Police Department 20 percent of its budget.
“I just want to make sure all of it isn’t used up quickly and then we have to have a supplemental appropriation in the middle of the year,” he said.