, Gloucester, MA

July 20, 2013

The Mayor's Desk: All in a week's work at City Hall

The Mayor's Desk
Carolyn Kirk

---- — Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, we bring all managers and department heads together for a staff meeting.

The schedule coincides with regularly scheduled City Council meetings so the first part of the agenda is dominated by a last-minute review of the Council agenda, and our readiness for the business at hand for that evening.

Then I usually provide a general update from the mayor’s office, and if time allows, we go around the table and every manager provides an update on what is going on in their respective area. This week we took the time to update each other, and what follows is some of the information shared.

Harbormaster Jim Caulkett reports increasing awareness and use of the Waterways Board’s new launch service. Since July 4, the service has transported 145 paying passengers from an anchored boat to the shore or back.

Max Schenk, our manager of Environmental Health Services, is in the process of hiring a replacement for the supervisor of the city’s 3,800 septic systems. all of which are under the careful watch of the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection for compliance with environmental standards.

The Public Health Director, Noreen Burke, has just hired a new public health nurse, and is preparing to step up the public awareness campaign about taking precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses – a threat communities faced last year and will face again this year.

Carol Gray, the director of the Sawyer Free Library, is in the midst of outreach and planning for a July 31 community-wide meeting meant to solicit input from citizens about the future of the library. She also gave kudos to the Department of Public Works for re-plumbing the fish fountain out in front of the library.

Our veterans’ agent, Rich Barbato, reported helping to promote and participate in the “I was there” film workshop run by Benjamin Patton, grandson of World War II General George Patton, and son of Major General George Patton IV. This is an innovative project dedicated to helping returning veterans who may have issues pertaining to post traumatic stress disorder.

Bill Sanborn, the city’s building Inspector, informed us that there is a “big influx” of building permits which is good news for growth and expansion of the tax base. Furthermore, the permits represent a good mix of new construction, remodeling, residential and business expansion.

Our new community development director, Tom Daniel, is in the midst of three workshops with citizens discussing a vision and future planning for Gloucester’s downtown area. 90 residents attended the first workshop, and many expressed what they love about our downtown as well as what improvements they see.

The Rose Baker Senior Center is as busy as ever. Lucy Sheehan, the director, said that many residents are seeking refuge from the heat in the air conditioned building, and a well-attended health fair was held there this past week.

Police Chief Lenny Campanello updated us about how, in addition to the usual land-based challenges the department faces, in summer, there are many “water-based” challenges as well — most notably enforcement of “no swimming” laws in the public drinking water supply areas. That enforcement has been stepped up, resulting in 12 arrests of out-of-towners on Thursday.

Fire Chief Eric Smith celebrated his one-year anniversary this week, and all the managers gave him a well-deserved round of applause during our meeting.

I haven’t even touched on city finances, the Department of Public Works, harbor planning, or other support departments such as purchasing, legal, and personnel who are all represented in the manager’s meeting as well. But I hope this gives you a sampling of what goes on in the day-to-day operations of the city.

Carolyn A. Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.