WOBURN - The City Council will be moving forward with a full plate to start of the new year and council members are getting their priorities in order these days.
In recent days, Richard Haggerty was re-elected president of the City Council for a third straight term and in recent days talked to members of the Woburn Rotary Club about priorities and ways to go in the city.
He is serving his 5th, two-year term on the council and his third consecutive term as the president of the City Council. He’s the first to have three such votes as president and had the full support of the City Council.
“Woburn is the best when both families and businesses are thriving - a place where families can afford to live and businesses can grow,” remarked Haggerty at the outset. “Companies continue to invest in our city. They know what we all know and that is that Woburn is a great place to locate a business and great place to grow a business.”
In one kick-off for the new year, Haggerty brought home to members of the Woburn Rotary Club at their noontime luncheon at the Crest View on Montvale Avenue the high priority items, especially the re-inventing of the northeast corner of the city which will be under transformation in the decades ahead. This includes the Commerce Way Overlay District, the re-invening of the Woburn Mall and the area at Presidential Way going north.
The area borders Wilmington and Reading to the north with some easy access off I-93 and I-95. The area was referenced by Mayor Scott Galvin in his January 1 Inauguration speech that “the city is embarking on three initiatives geared toward proactive planning for the city’s future economic development.”
Mayor Galvin, as did Pres. Haggerty, noted the three sites are being undertaken simultaneously and will create a planning vision to guide growth and two most-promising business districts.
“The Cabot, Cabot &Forbes project going in at the Fitzgerald Tile site is going to be a game-changing development for our city,” he continued. “We are intro introducing 291 housing units that will help to create a dynamic new, transportation-oriented neighborhood. Our objective as a city in this area is to continue to push the live, work, play model. We want to encourage housing creation, job creation and amenity creation. That means new apartments and condos, new business centers, new restaurants and new fun amenities.”
It was pointed out CCF continues to move forward with their project and are in the process of reclassifying the site with the EPA, getting funding in place and site work could begging as soon as the summer.
Much is the same at the Wourn Mall area, he said, with a mixed use, transportation-orientated development.
The City Council, said Haggerty, will be working with the mayor to get the best for the city in the wide-spread area that also includes the Anderson/Woburn Regional Transportation Center.
“We are always wanting to come up with a better way,” remarked Haggerty to the Rotarians.
Presidential Way, he pointed out, lends itself “to more creative ways with the likes of restaurants and businesses.”
The Woburn Mall, too, he said, “is a very exciting, a high energy area, and will be looking different in the future.”
The Madison Properties complex at 369 Washington St. just before the Rte. 128 bridge also came under scrutiny on Monday night of this week but the City Council will allow a national developer to tack another restaurant (110 Grill) onto its Woburn Landing site off Washington Street. The project is going “full speed ahead,” he said. Madison Properties now plans to open this fourth restaurant in this City Council approval and Haggerty said the entire project will be monitored to get the best for the city and the area.
The widening of Washington Street and additional turning lanes “onto and off” Washington Street will start in the spring.
40b is issue…
Also on the horizon, he said, are changes in 40b i.e. and affordable housing changes. “15% above 10 units came out of committee on Monday night,” he pointed out i.e. “when the city reaches its 10% requirement, I will support dropping the requirement to 12.5% in order to stay above the required 10%.”
He also opined that several large housing developments have the opportunity to push Woburn over the 10% state requirement “but 40b needs a total overhaul at the state level to provide more local control and address the density problem.”
He reflected on the city’s action of already adding 60 parking places at the old Strand Theater site, as well as 100 at the library area. Meters and enforcement are also coming, he continued.
He spoke, too, of co-sponsoring with Alderman Michael Anderson the rooftop dining zoning amendment which should provide a “new type of dining experience for patrons and a new business opportunity for restaurant owners.” “The safety of patrons was a top priority when drafting the legislation,” he noted.
Also under scrutiny, he pointed out, were the 48 units behind the Post Office in downtown Woburn. The City Council, he said, would review it all thoroughly. The Jamieson Properties plan with the 48 units has all parking on site “and that will transform the Federal Street area and provide a much needed upgrade.”
The City Council is also aware of developments like the widening of Montvale Avenue in East Woburn in the approach to I-93, the razing of the Clapp School in South End with a recreation area planned and funds already approved, along with an overview of the Hurld-Wyman Elementary School project endorsed by the City Council with a September 2018 opening excepted.
The list of projects, the pointed out, can almost be unending but each project in itself will need a review by city officials, especially the City Council members.
He talked about he five generations of his family involvement in the city and services “at just about every level of community involvement.”
“Because they cared a great deal about their family, they cared a great deal about heir city and they cared a great deal about the future of both. That’s the reason I continue to serve because I care about our shared future.”
Haggerty, a life-long resident of the city, a Woburn H.S. graduate and possesses a degree from the University of New Hampshire in Foreign Policy.
He was introduced by Rotary Club member Artlhur Duffy, who noted some of his accomplishments, to include:
• Sponsoring a Resolve to build the new Hurld-Wyman Elementary School;
• Sponsoring of an Order to remove and build the new Woburn Public Library;
• Sponsoring the National Guard and Military Reservist Tax Relief Order;
• Sponsoring legislation to streamline the city permitting process;
• Taking the lead in the fight to get Woburn designated a Green Community;
• Support for the responsible refinancing of the city debt;
• Advancing the acquisition of 82 acres of open space;
In recent weeks, he was also involved with the mayor and councilors to allow research and development companies, along with manufacturing firms, to not have to go through a lengthy permitting process just to open a business in a new or standing building.