WOBURN - This is part two of a two part series on the Year in Review for 2019. January through May was profiled on Tuesday, Dec . 31. Here is the remainder of the review, June through December.
• The work of the Woburn Fire Station Building Committee is getting more serious as discussions, meetings, reports and the like keep coming in. The city of Woburn for the past year - and past decade or more - has looked at building a new Central Fire Station, along with possibly another one or two sub-stations. In late June, city officials huddled with Mayor Scott Galvin and the Woburn Fire Station Building Committee met in the Engineer’s Conference Room to get reports from their major advisor, DiNisco Design Partnership, as well as from Pat Saitta of the Municipal Building Consultants.,
• The City Council sanctioned Lord Hobo's request to modify its parking configurations to make way for a new outdoor beer garden at its East Woburn location. During a regular meeting in City Hall, the aldermen unanimously granted Lord Hobo's petition for relief from Woburn's parking regulations, which technically required the East Woburn brewery to provide 173 spaces for its proposed restaurant and function hall expansion.The beer-maker, which wants to construct a 90-by-15 foot patio along the front of its 5 Draper St. headquarters, still needs to obtain the Planning Board's permission to proceed with the construction of the outdoor dining area.
• A Local Motion coach bus carrying 20 international students visiting Tufts University caught fire on Route 128 North in Burlington. shortly after 1 p.m. on July 10 and drew a response from the Burlington and Lexington Fire Departments. The bus driver thought he'd blown a tire so he pulled over. but it was the motor on fire. Then passengers began to see smoke coming from the back of the bus. There were no injuries.The international students, driver and Tufts officials could be seen scattered all over a green area next to the totally burned-out bus at the end.
• Acting on the advice of the city solicitor, members of the City Council's Special Permits Committee recommended a national child care corporation receive needed zoning waivers to construct a new franchise at the Sons of Italy site in West Woburn. During a meeting in City Hall, alderman on the committee voted 3-to-2 in favor of issuing a special permit to Atlanta-based Primrose Schools to raze the old social club and build a two-story day care facility at 168 Lexington Street by Woburn's Four Corners area.
• The focus of the city of Woburn and its aging fire stations has taken center stage at City Hall these days with some healthy discussion over plans for a new fire headquarters at Forest Park off Main Street near the Route 128 rotary area, coupled with upgrades to three other stations, taking a priority. Mayor Scott Galvin has sat with representatives of DiNisco Design Architects + Planners, along Fire Chief Steve Adgate and members of the Fire Station Building Committee to come to terms with the next steps to be taken to upgrade the facilities of the Fire Department. The gatherings have taken place as a feasibility study, which examined six scenarios for modernizing the public safety department, detailed a preferred scenario in which a new Forest Park headquarters would be constructed, while firehouses in the South End, East Woburn, and the West Side would undergo renovations. The last component of that proposal would include the shuttering of Fire Stations 2 and 3.
• During a recent gathering in City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously and without debate to refer Mayor Scott Galvin's proposed $3.3 million capital spending to the Finance Committee.
In correspondence accompanying the requested appropriation, which would come from the city's stabilization fund, Galvin noted that close to $700,000 will be slated towards the community's fire department. The majority of that funding will pay for the acquisition of a new fire engine, which would cost around $650,000. Galvin noted in an Aug. 1 letter to the council. "They include, upgrades to equipment at the DPW, the installation of energy efficient heating at the Senior Center, upgrades to the City Hall data server, paving the police department parking lot,k and the purchase of anew fire engine pumper." The city's Fire Station Building Committee advanced a $25 million proposal to erect a new central fire headquarters off of Forest Street by the Showcase Cinemas complex. In addition, another $6.75 million would be appropriated for major renovations at the community's South End, East Woburn, and West Side fire houses. The city's two remaining fire houses (Station 2 in North Woburn and Station 3 in Central Square) would be shuttered.
• Eight local fire departments converged on 13 Sturgis Street to battle a three-alarm fire in a three-decker which damaged the building and left up to 11 individuals homeless. Shortly after 5 a.m., fire erupted in the rear section of the three-story and spread quickly up to the third floor and a shed area out back. Cause of the fire at late morning was not known but a torch was being investigated.
• Mayor Scott D. Galvin announced that Standard & Poor Global Ratings (S&P) assigned its AAA Bond rating to the City of Woburn—the highest financial rating available to municipalities and the highest rating ever earned by the City.
• The City Council rescinded a 10-day-old decision denying special permits to a Norwood developer for the proposed conversion of the Careway Wellness building in Woburn Center into a Walgreen's Pharmacy. During a meeting n City Hall, Ward 6 Alderman Edward Tedesco engineered the Walgreen's vote turnaround by convincing colleague Mark Gaffney the city would loose any chance to shape the Hovey Street area redevelopment by denying the special permits. Ultimately, the council, which had rejected the Walgreen's petition in a 5-to-4 vote earlier the month, reversed that previous action in a 6-to-3 decision.
• Mayor Scott Galvin marched one-step closer to capturing a record-setting sixth term by easily winning the top spot in a three-way Preliminary Election, but political newcomer Elizabeth Pedrini still stands in the incumbent's way. According to unofficial results from City Clerk William Campbell's office, the incumbent mayor finished the night with 2,445 ballots cast in his favor, a tally that equated to roughly 67.5 percent of all votes cast during Tuesday's Preliminary. Also advancing to the final election on Nov. 5, Samoset Road's Pedrini, an area real-estate agent, won second place with 767 votes. Kerstin Lochrie, whose supporters cast 348 votes in favor of her mayoral candidacy, was knocked off the general election ballot with her third-place finish.
• The City Council modified Woburn's leash ordinance to legalize citizens eventual use of a new dog park at Ferullo Field. The aldermen voted unanimously and without debate to adopt changes to current city regulations that require pet owners to keep their dogs restrained by a leash or chain while on public property.
• A Boston developer's plans for a massive redevelopment of the old Atlantic Gelatin site off Montvale Avenue by I-93 recently cleared a significant environmental regulatory hurdle. In a 20-page decision issued late last month, Kathleen Theoharides, the executive secretary for the Mass. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), declared Leggat McCall's proposed 1.6 million square foot redevelopment of the old Kraft Foods site in East Woburn as in compliance with the state's environmental regulations.
• The Woburn Four Corners McDonald’s officially re-opened after one year of complete renovation
• Solect Energy completed the installation of a 300-kilowatt (kW) DC solar energy system on the roof of the Daniel L. Joyce Middle School at 55 Locust Street. The 798-panel system will reduce the school’s price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity by 64 percent, saving approximately $29,000 in the first year, city officials said. Over the life of the contract, electric bill savings are projected to be at least $500,000, based on current Eversource electricity rates. If the utility’s rates rise, the savings to the school increase, they added.
• With the typical Woburn home now worth more than $500,000, most city residents should expect their tax bills to climb by roughly $160 next year.
• After an incident on Tuesday night which cleared the restaurant and sent three employees to the hospital for evaluation, the city's Board of Health said the morning Red Robin off Washington Street in East Woburn was given the all clear at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cleaing fluids were at issue.
• For the privilege of growing out their facial hair, officers from Woburn Police Dept. are paying up and participating in the Home Base No Shave campaign in support of Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program. Traditionally, police departments have a grooming policy where officers must remain clean-shaven. However, for the entire month of November, police officers have pledged $100 to forego the traditional grooming.
• Incumbent Mayor Scott Galvin came forward with a decisive win to earn a history-tying 6th term as the mayor. Only two other mayors (William E. Kane and John W. Rabbitt) have served 6, two-year terms in the “corner office.” In a predictable manner, Galvin came forward again from his victories to the City Council (16 years) and mayor (10 years) in a predictable fashion on a 4,582 to 1962 vote. His opponent, Elizabeth “Liz” Pedrini, conducted a serious campaign. The nine member City Council will have one new member come January as Sheridan Street resident Jeff Dillon cruised to the win replacing long-time Ward 3 Alderman Mark Gaffney who chose not to seek re-election after 10 years on the Council.
• Re-electing all other incumbents back into office, voters swept new members Colleen Cormier and Andrew Lipsett onto the School Committee during municipal elections. veteran school board members Ellen Crowley and Dr. John Wells topped the ticket in the crowded seven-candidate field. As the two top-place finishers, both will earn four-year terms on the board.
• Ending a five-month long administrative hearing, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) recently overturned a cease-and-desist order by allowing a Connecticut developer to fulfill crushed rock orders directly from the Ledges at Woburn site. During their latest regular meeting in City Hall, the ZBA as expected voted unanimously in favor of modifying a comprehensive permit issued in Feb. of 2018 to Woburn 38 Development, a subsidiary of Connecticut's Franklin Construction, for a 168-unit apartment complex at 1042 Main St. by the Altavesta School in No. Woburn.
• The two-year saga of the fate of Waxy O’Connor’s restaurant in East Woburn is coming to an end as owners of the building and the restaurant site have petitioned the three-member License Commission to allow them to transfer the license to the well-known chain, Cask ’n Flagon.
• And ending on a happy note, 28 Woburn nonprofits were surprised to share $56,000 through the Woburn-based Cummings Community Giving, who overall chose local charities for $553,000 in donations this year.
Hint: Clip and send year-long highlights to out-of-Woburn friends who are still interested in the city.