The coming year is filled with challenges for Mayor Judith Flanagan-Kennedy and for the city council. It will be a year when even the easiest things seem a bit more difficult and when the difficult things appear overwhelming. Getting through the past four years without the house falling down has been an extraordinary task.
Yet the city has remained stable.
What the city badly needs in the coming year is a half dozen or so new developments to be gotten underway in the planning stages.
Lynn has plenty of open space, underutilized building complexes and in all, there is the potential to lure developers here, the way Boston and Chelsea have been able to draw new development.
Lynn is way too slow in this department. It is slow in this department because the city has not yet shaken itself out of the General Electric doldrums. GE remains a vital force force here but it slowly but surely disappearing. Also, there are significant GE open tracts of land that something, anything could be done with.
Lynn has a solid infrastructure, a great road system, and an honest and streamlined city hall.
What Lynn lacks is the vision and the reaching out efforts that other municipalities have to attract new development.
In Chelsea – but five miles from our downtown – the FBI is building its new Northeast headquarters – a 200,000 square foot giant, which will house 500 employees. The Marriott Corporation is building a new 200-room hotel and the Marketbasket is developing its version of the Shaw’s mall. Those three alone count for approximately $200 million in new construction, thousands of jobs, more people working in the community and huge building permit fees and ultimately, new revenue streams coming into the city treasury from year to year forever.
What do we have going in Lynn? Not much – not even much talk. Not even a valid idea with outside developers nibbling on bait placed on a hook where the city has gone fishing.
The city doesn’t even have a fishing rod.
Without new major development here, we are facing a sure but slow decline in tax revenues, jobs and frankly, the city loses the key to its future.
The mayor and the mayor alone needs to be the catalyst for growth here. There are people working at city hall who know what development is all about. Jim Cowdell is one of those people. But he can’t do things on his own.
Lynn has great potential. It has had great potential all our lives but has never lived up to the potential.
The time is now for the city to get its development act going. Interest rates are incredibly low. GE’s days are numbered. They’re not going to close down this year and maybe not next but the company will ultimately be forced to close the facility.
The city needs leadership to gain important development.
The city needs a plan. Then it needs to carry out the plan.
Anything else is paying lip service to nothing.