(Editor’s note: The Woburn news highlights of 2021 have often been mailed to out-of-state relatives and friends who often keep a close tie with happenings in Woburn.)

January

• Church-goers and Woburn community leaders were still shaking their heads over a COVID-19 outbreak at the GENESIS Community Church at 35 Wheeling Avenue over services on Christmas Eve. An estimated 44-plus COVID 19 cases were reported by the church in the days after the service with the situation being monitored by state, city and church officials. The GENESIS Community Church serves several hundred parishioners on a regional basis with most coming not just from Woburn but from the area.

• School Committee members asked colleague Ellen Crowley to hold onto the chairwoman's gavel for the 2021 calendar year. Becoming one of few honored with a back-to-back leadership stints on the School Committee in recent history, Crowley was unanimously selected by her peers to serve a chairwoman during a virtual reorganization meeting.

• The business skyline along Commerce Way at Atlantic Avenue in East Woburn changed dramatically in recent weeks as the Callahan Construction Managers got into their third major building project in the city. The 300-unit, 6-story, two-building project is at the entranceway to the Anderson Regional Transportation Center and opposite Target on Commerce Way. The familiar Fitzgerald Tile building at 120 Commerce Way was formerly at the site.

• Things at the Extended Stay Hotel at the busy Main St./Rte.128 rotary in North Woburn are looking better with the new year. In the last two months of 2020, the highly-visible hotel took a scolding from Woburn’s city fathers to include the three-member Woburn License Commission and the Woburn Police Department for petty crimes and home to party-goers.

February

• The city's stigmatizing 12-week run as a "red" community with an elevated rate of COVID-19 transmissions has ended. In the latest weekly report issued by the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH), city authorities learned that Woburn's COVID-19 outbreak had finally dipped back into the state's color-coded "yellow" classification for the first time since Nov. 11.

• The Woburn Library's top brass resigned under protest, while just hours later, the City Council unanimously endorsed a reform package to empower Mayor Scott Galvin to hire and fire the department's library director.

Classifying the Home Rule Petition backed by the council that night as nothing short of a power grab, embattled Library Director Bonnie Roalsen tendered her resignation right before the City Council was set to act on Tuesday night upon a Home Rule Petition proposed earlier this month by Galvin.

• The three-member Woburn License Commission gave approval for the transfer of a package store license in West Woburn to a new owner in the Horn Pond Plaza. The Shree Hiari Pragat Corporation has been given a favorable 3-0 vote to establish a new store called “Liquor Land” at the current Giles Wine & Spirit location at 350 Cambridge Road.

March

• Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Representative Rich Haggerty (D-Woburn), and Representative Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass legislation to extend mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021. The vote-by-mail provision was previously set to expire at the end of March 2021.

• The Woburn Redevelopment Authority is willing to go the distance with the BrickYard in downtown Woburn Center on the matter of outdoor seating through the spring and summer months. They agreed to allow 28 tables outside on the city-owned Marlowe Park area in the heart of Woburn Center.

• The downtown Woburn Center area will always be an issue with the city as its central, geographical location in Woburn dictates. The city, however, must maintain a constant vigil on the area and in recent days the Woburn Redevelopment Authority and Mayor Scott Galvin met with municipal specialist Cynthia “Cindy” Stewart of Goman+York, a firm based in East Hartford, Connecticut. Their goal, notes Goman+York officials, is to advise communities like Woburn who are “facing serious community development challenges.”

April

• Breaking a 42-ballot record set in 2019, the City Council at a regurlar selected West Side resident Michael Lannon as the community's new Ward 7 alderman. During a special meeting in City Hall, Lannan was unanimously and without debate nominated on the 53rd ballot to serve out the remainder of former City Council President Lindsay Higgins' unexpired term in office. Higgins would go on to be selected as the new City Clerk replacing former City Clerk William Campbell who left to take a state position.

• Representatives from Woburn Mall redeveloper Edens LLC recently unveiled plans to replace a 10-screen cinema complex with a pair of smaller restaurant buildings and a multi-use green space that includes short-term retail container spaces, a beer garden, and a stage and skating rink area at Woburn Village.

• A stabbing case dating back to the end of March where a North Wood Circle man in North Woburn was stabbed several time remains under investigation, but Woburn Police officials say it is not because of a lack of trying.

Woburn Police Chief Robert Rufo said the case remains open with a top Woburn Police detective leading the investigation. The chief added, the victim in the case remains uncooperative hindering the investigation.

• The new, Massachusetts General Brigham project for 2 Hill Street in East Woburn is still a work in progress.

The Woburn effort is all part of an expansion to four communities to include Woburn, Westwood (an expansion of an existing site), Westborough and Salem, New Hampshire. All will serve their Mass. General Brigham Integrated Care.

May

• Mayor Scott Galvin officially swore in Lindsay Higgins to the position of City Clerk to succeed William Campbell.

• Some 60 people turned out for the tour of the former Hurld Elementary School in Central Sq. to hear and begin discussions on the future uses of the site. A park is planned for the front while wetland restoration will be done on the back side of the lot.

• Heard of Sam Walker's Tavern? Maverick Hospitality, the group behind Lucy's American Tavern, The Bowery Bar & Cityside Tavern of Boston, are coming to Woburn. It was first reported on the License Commission agenda there would be a second Lucy's American Tavern occupying the former Waxy O'Connor’s/Spud’s space at 1 Rainin Road (off Montvale Avenue abutting Route I-93 in East Woburn) but all that changed.

• The Woburn License Commission (2-0) quickly approved the Busa Liquors sale in the South End at 161 Main St. to 161 Anaya Investment LLC and a second in West Woburn in the Horn Pond Plaza at 350 Cambridge Road to Shree Hari Pragat Corporation dba Liquor Land. Both liquor stores had a decades-long history of ownership before the sale e.g. Doherty Brothers Liquor/Busa Liquor in the South End and Giles Liquor (Giles Market dba Woburn Package Store) near the Winchester line in West Woburn.

June

• Anticipating a gradual uptick in travel heading into summer, Massport announced that as of Tuesday, June 1 the Logan Express will resume hourly service at Anderson Regional Transportation Center in Woburn.

• Cummings Foundation announced the 140 Massachusetts nonprofits to be awarded $100,000 - $500,000 each through the 2021 cycle of its annual Cummings $25 Million Grant Program.

In keeping with the Foundation’s focus on local giving, these organizations are based in and serve Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex counties. They largely represent causes related to social justice, human services, education, and healthcare.

• Weather forecasters for Monday, June 28 through Wednesday, June 30 predicted temperatures that will soar into the mid-90s with high humidity—creating an extended period of summer heat that can present risks related to prolonged heat exposure, particularly for those who are more sensitive to heat. Mayor Scott Galvin urged caution…but by the 4th of July weekend temperatures dropped 25-30 degrees.! Welcome to New England!

• The Woburn Redevelopment Authority has taken a deep breath and a step back and will think about it (the downtown revitalization project) and connect regularly with their expert Cynthia Stewart of Goman+York to determine a path in the fall of the year.

• At a recent mewing, the WRA noted much is in the hands of the experts who have been hired with a state grant ($65,000) to provide ideas and guidance on the revitalization and future of Woburn Center. At the June WRA regular meeting, Cynthia Stewart was not in attendance while still woking on Phase II of the Local Rapid Recovery Plan (LRRP).The Woburn Redevelopment Authority has taken a deep breath and a step back and will think about it (the downtown revitalization project) and connect regularly with their expert Cynthia Stewart of Goman+York to determine a path in the fall of the year.

• An older but dilapidated 6,555 sq. ft. home at 31 Elm St. in No Woburn (dated back to 1730) was ordered demolished by the City Council.

• Two longtime package stores got transferred to new owners to include Busa Liquors at 161 Main St. in the South End to 161 Anaya Investment LLC and a second in West Woburn at Horn Pond Plaza at 350 Cambridge Rd..Giles Liquor to Shree Hari Pragat Corporation dba Liquor Land.

(The second of the two part is set to run on Monday, Jan. 3)

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