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You win some, you lose some

The Gateway Cities Journal

In the toughest state budget since the Great Recession, Gateway City leaders coalesced around priorities and eked out a few victories.

The workforce development line-items identified by the Gateway Cities legislative caucus early in the year fared particularly well. Connecting Activities, which supports work-based learning experiences for high school students, came out of conference with a significant increase over FY 2017, a rare feat in FY 2018. Adult Basic Education also rose slightly over last year’s post-9c cut spending, and the Community College Workforce Grant maintained last year’s funding level.

While the $250,000 allocations are nominal, the Gateway Cities Caucus did well to keep two line-items active: the TDI Fund and the English Language Learners Program. Rep. Creighton also used the budget creatively to advance his long-sought-after community benefit districts.

A difficult budget does not come without pain, and there were numerous cuts to vital programs. Among the more ominous is the reduction to the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI). At a time when cities everywhere are working to stem youth violence and all of the associated costs and consequences, funding for SSYI was cut by a third. With more and more low-income, transit-dependent residents being pushed out of Boston to Gateway Cities, funding reductions for the RTAs are also lamentable. And regional transit suffered a further setback with Western Massachusetts Gateway Cities losing out on their bid for a high-speed rail study.

With the passage of the budget comes news that long-time Ways & Means chair Brian Dempsey is moving to the private sector. Power over the House budget making process now moves from the venerable Gateway City of Haverhill back to Boston. This make it all the more imperative that members of the Gateway Cities Caucus remain unified and disciplined, working together to advance strategic priorities.


Housing and Economic Development 

The Brockton Housing Authority takes home the “Outstanding Agency Award” for its new clinical mental health outreach program. 

Fall River officials, who had made some overtures to try to lure the Pawtucket Red Sox to relocate to the Spindle City, are now cool to the idea. Worcester officials urge the Pawtucket Red Sox to make the move to central Massachusetts. 

Fitchburg launches ReImagine North of Main, a collaborative downtown revitalization initiative.

A mixed-use housing development in Haverhill’s TDI district receives brownfields funding.

New Bedford business owners push lawmakers to consider renewable energy as the next economic driver for their region. Vineyard Wind opens an office downtown.

A downtown workforce housing development in Worcester is awarded $20 million in project financing.

Ground Up café launches a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for its new home at the Springfield Innovation Center.

The empty Paris Cinema in Worcester is being demolished to make way for a beer garden.

Sue Popkin says looming cuts to public housing threaten to recreate the crisis of the 1980s.

A Brookings Institution analysis of labor productivity growth over the past decade shows regions in Massachusetts are faltering.

Education

Chelsea, Revere, and Phoenix Academy win grants to participate in the Barr Foundation’s Doing High School Differently initiative.

One week into his new job, UMass-Dartmouth chancellor Robert Johnson talks about his vision for the campus.

MassDevelopment teams up with POW! WOW! Worcester to launch a new crowdfunding campaign aiming to revamp Worcester‘s Elm Park Community School through murals and public art.

The debate over the location of Lowell High is settled with the City Council approving a plan to move the school to a new site.

Springfield wins the All-America City Award from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Superintendent Maureen Binienda and community partners launch the Worcester Public Schools Strategic Planning Initiative.

Transportation 

The MBTA plans to issue a request for proposals next month to redevelop 6.3 acres of prime land at the Quincy Center T station.

Next City looks at why the Western Massachusetts rail study was slighted in the state budget.

Federal officials have given approval for New Bedford Regional Airport to schedule flights for larger planes, opening commercially viable routes for carriers for the first time in decades.

Oregon creates the only bicycle tax in the country. Bicyclists aren’t happy 

Creative Placemaking

A new art installation graces the Frederick Douglass building in Brockton.

The Beyond Walls Mural Festival kicks off in Lynn.

The New Bedford Economic Development Council is chosen to manage the city’s new arts, culture, tourism fund.

Governance

Brockton elected officials look at joining the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority as an alternative to help meet the city’s water needs.

Chelsea is the first municipality in the US to have adopted a simple, but powerful, model implemented widely in Canada: Having various social service organizations, police, and other advocacy groups meeting regularly to coordinate and share information on individuals with addiction problems and other issues who need to be connected with resources.

The Lawrence City Council votes 8-0 to let voters decide whether to ban recreational sales of marijuana.

Officials in Springfield consider phasing in in smaller trash barrels and more frequent recycling collection for residents in an effort to reduce the city’s garbage stream.

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