Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy spoke about a number of her administration’s accomplishments during an address at the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) Breakfast Friday at the Porthole Restaurant.
Leslie Gould, chief executive officer of the LACC, announced at the breakfast that the Chamber will be celebrating its 100th anniversary with a gala on September 20, 2013 at the Lynn Museum.
Councilor-at-Large Dan Cahill was the only elected official (other than the mayor) in attendance.
David Solimine Jr., chairman of the LACC board of directors, introduced Mayor Kennedy, saying her office and administration have forged a strong collaboration with the Chamber that has helped the Lynn business community.
Kennedy said afterwards that she didn’t want her speech to be considered a “State of the City” address because she felt that people should not to have to pay to listen to an address of that nature. There was a charge to attend the breakfast. Kennedy said she preferred to call her speech “An Address to the Chamber of Commerce.”
Following are some of the highlights of the mayor’s speech taken from the text of her address:
Good morning. It seems like it was just a few months ago when I last stood before you at the Lynn Museum and reported unequivocally that Lynn was on a solid financial ground, we were investing in our future and challenging our work force to conduct the business of government in a new and fresh manner.
I reported that our bond rating was stable, our reserves robust and we were working hard to facilitate initiatives such as the selling of the GE Factory of the Future Land, the restoration of the Lynn Common, grants for the Marina and Neptune Boulevard Park, the creation of our first Dog park, the implementation of a Reverse 911 system, and a number of other ideas, grants, programs and initiatives.
I am happy to stand here today and report that through our hard work and determination that not only have these initiatives come to fruition, many other initiatives aimed at saving us money, streamlining the way in which we conduct the business of government, being transparent and moving this great City of Lynn forward have been implemented.
On finances and the budget
I am happy to report that our bond rating is very good, as last fall we received an upgrade from Moody’s from BAA1 to A with a stable outlook. Our rating is significant in that it allows the city to borrow money on significantly better terms than cities with lower ratings.
Further, it shows bond purchasers that an investment in Lynn is a low-risk opportunity for them to grow with their money.
We passed a balanced budget well within our means. The FY 14 budget came in at about $266 million, an increase of about two percent over the FY 13 budget. Most of the increase is attributable to pay raised negotiated with city unions. The non-salary spending remained at about the same amount as last year.
We remain one of the only large communities with a sizable reserve of $6 million.
We actively courted, assisted, and broke ground ground on a variety of businesses this past year including Enzo’s Pizza, Rossetti’s Restaurant, and D’Amici Bakery which will all open within 60 days. The openings of these businesses are particularly exciting as they are located in the middle of our downtown. We assisted these businesses with new facades, new sidewalks, parking improvements and over $200,000 in low interest loans, doing all we can to ensure their success.
The North Shore Latino Business Association membership is flourishing and now stands at over 200 members. The work that they accomplish no doubt complements the hard work of your membership.
In addition I ham happy to report Kettle Cuisine’s building is up on the Lynnway and they will hit the ground running in six months, producing soup, but more important to us, creating over 100 new jobs at their new 200,000 square-foot manufacturing facility.
North Shore Community College has also announced the creation of a Culinary Arts and Cosmetology program that will be housed at the former Eastern Bank building on Union Street.
The 22 acre-GE Factory of the Future land has been sold and is slated for redevelopment as a Demoulas Market Basket that will employ approximately 500 individuals, many of which will be our own city youth, as Demoulas has a long-standing policy of hiring locally and hiring kids.
I am happy to report our $5.3 million Wyoma Square rehabilitation project is on schedule.
Our crown jewel, the Lynn Auditorium is booming. Over the past four years, major ticketed events like Pat Benatar, Peter Frampton, Charlie Daniels, and Kenny Rogers, to name just a few, have quadrupled, up from two a year ago, to nearly one a month. The electrical service has just been installed. We are ahead of schedule and we will flip the switch on air conditioning within weeks, just in time for dog lovers to enjoy the Cesar Millan show slated for July 11. I am also happy to announce that The Celtic Women have just been booked to play here in December, kicking off our holiday season. The sky is limit for the Auditorium.
Speaking of arts, this past Thursday we kicked off the return of Third Thursdays.
Just over my right shoulder, Seaport Marina has been put back together, and like many of our other city gems, is state of the art once again. Beautiful new boat slips are available at competitive prices. Beyond our marina, up the channel, our ferry project is progressing and a maiden voyage is set for the summer of 2014. Aquasino is also getting ready to sail.
Slated for rehabilitation and/or new park equipments are Barry Park, Breed Park, Clark Parke, Cook Street Playground, Frey Playground, Gallagher Playground, Magnolia Playground, Sagamore Playground, and Sheridan Street Playground. In addition the Lynn Commons Historic Fountain will be rehabilitated, Lynn Woods at Pennybrook Road will be getting new bathrooms and Frasier Field will be getting a new cantilever rood and new synthetic turf, making it even more of an attraction than it already is.
In additional I am pleased to announce we were successful in receiving a $400,000 PARC grant from the Commonwealth to rehabilitate the Neptune Boulevard, Robert McManus Field.
We have also added a new park – the Parkland Svenue Dog Park, which is booming. We also received a $790,000 Gateway Cities Grant that will kick off the restoration of the Lynn Commons.
On the educational front, we are going to be consolidating all of the school administration offices into the former Ford School on Bennett Street.
On the Thurgood Marshall School, we currently control the land, are now in the design phase of the project and should concrete design draft by the end of July. In October the Massachusetts School Building Authority will formally vote to reimburse us 80 percent of the project cost. It is then incumbent upon us to put the project before the voters for final approval.
I am proud to announce that we have increased our police ranks from 161 to 193, reinstituted our School Resource Officer in all of our middle schools, our CLT bike officers are now in every neighborhood in the city, addressing quality of life issues, and for the fourth straight year, I have funded our Downtown Community Policing initiative which provides additional police coverage in Lynn’s downtown area and selected target neighborhoods during peak hours of activity.
In addition our new Reverse 911 system is now fully operational.
As important, I am happy to report our fire department ranks are back to a healthy complement of 188 personnel, up from 168 four years ago. It’s our into to keep both the fire and police at about 190 employees, a stable and effective complement of personnel for a community of our size.
CONCLUSION OF REMARKS
In all, our collective hard work is paying off. New businesses are sprouting up both small and large. We are supporting them with bricks, mortar, and our blossoming arts scene. We will continue to invest in our schools, invest in our parks and playgrounds, rehabilitate our city gems, fight crime tooth and nail, and remain fiscally prudent and responsible.
Over the next year and beyond, we will continue to cultivate relationships with businesses looking to expand and relocate here. We will continue to work hard, investing in our own resources, both natural and manmade, all the while exploring new ideas and new ways to accomplish our goals of making the great city of Lynn all that it can be.
I want to end by thanking the Chamber for the wonderful working relationship that we enjoy. Your leadership and input on the array of business, economic, and community related issues is always welcomed and truly appreciated. Please keep up the good work.