From my Corner: September 15, 2020

Lawrence Police receives award

On page 2 of this edition, we published the news of an award given to the Lawrence Police Department by the New England Association of Chiefs of Police (NEACOP).

The mayor’s press release states that the Community Policing Award was given for the Open Gyms Basketball program, participation in neighborhood associations meetings, and the use of the ice cream truck.

Some details jumped up at me when I read it.  Why does the mayor have to act as a public relations person on things like this?  He is the mayor and should be limited to a quote congratulating Chief Roy Vasque.  If anything, the press release should have been issued by the Police Chief.  Instead, the Chief had a small quote at the end of the mayor’s release.

There is a quote from the president of the Tower Hill Neighborhood Association and I wonder if any other neighborhood association was contacted for a comment.  I know that Chief Vasque gets around.  He participated in lots of meetings and events throughout the city, which is to his credit.

I also noticed the part of officers on bike and foot patrols but residents complain that they are not around and the only ones seen are at construction sites.  The noise pollution (in cars, homes, and stores) is worse than ever and I wonder if police officers going by even notice them let alone giving them a big fine.

People walk around the city without masks putting the rest of us at risk and I have not heard of anyone getting one of those $400 fines.  That’s why I wonder, where are the cops when you need one?

Now, the mayor is the recipient of the 2020 Environmental Merit Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Upon reading his press release, I believe that such award should have gone to GroundWork Lawrence but I’ll go into more detail next week.

Mayor Rivera attributes to himself everyone’s achievements; perhaps it’s his way to shine and be noticed in his search for employment.  Thus far, no luck.

GLCAC construction

Now that it has become a reality and Greater Lawrence Community Action Council has started building the new housing at 300 Essex St., seems it has taken people by surprise.  Yes, those people who don’t follow the news are shocked to find out something like this and begin to express their disagreements.

We have been following this issue since long before it was offered for sale.  Originally, the mayor bought for around one million dollars to use it as School Department offices.  That’s when he broke the contract with Carmine DiAdamo at 255 Essex St. and moved them to the old high school.

Once he lost to DiAdamo in court, the city bought the building from DiAdamo for $3 million and spent another $3 million to upgrade it.  That’s when the building at 300 Essex St. was advertised for sale with a minimum bid of $600,000.  The city spent around $300,000 to clean it up and begin restoration when plans changed.  In the process, the city lost plenty of money.

We were at Community Development the day the bids were opened to witness how many bids were there and the amounts offered for the building and the lot next door.  The mayor insisted that this lot should be built and not used as parking; the future tenants should be forced to park along the parking lots on Methuen St. which the city keeps in awful conditions and poor lighting.

Evelyn Friedman, executive director of GLCAC offered $605,000 and, if I remember correctly, another $25,000 for the empty lot.  There was only one other bidder but he was only interested in the empty lot.  That’s how it was sold and later approved by the Lawrence City Council.  They battled over this because GLCAC was not going to pay property taxes to the city before it was approved.

Some residents are waking up to the fact that this is a non-profit but it’s too late.  Another concern is that probably non-Lawrencians will be moving into those apartments.  Remember that GLCAC assists families from many cities and towns, not just from Lawrence.

Getting back to that deal, the homeowners of this city were hoping for a leader that would find other sources of taxable income. Instead, taxes are increased to provide for projects benefitting nonprofit that brings in no taxable income to the city’s budget.

More business have left or closed in Lawrence. We continue to give away instead of selling to for profit.  The only successful businesses are real estate developers and the mayor listed them recently: friends and contributors.

We can’t continue to build housing attracting families to move into the city and place pressure on the LPS, the fire department or the police department.  We have written about it in Rumbo but nobody seems to care that their opinion has never been taken into consideration.

The free bus rides are over!

Local busses in Lawrence will begin charging passengers this week, except on routes Route 34 (Prospect Hill), Route 37 (Beacon Street), and Route 85 (Lawrence Downtown Shuttle) which was contracted for two years.

All other routes besides 34, 37, and 85, will start collecting fares and I can almost hear the complaints and surprise when they board the bus.  That’s what happens when we get accustomed to getting things for free.  It wasn’t meant to last forever.

Also, parking on meters in the downtown area will be in effect starting this week.  Don’t be overconfident leaving your car without paying at the meter.

Sadly missed

Do you remember Rick DiZazzo and Eddy Costa?  Before we had Dick Russell participating at the Lawrence City Council giving councilors a hard time and keeping them in check, we had Rick and Eddy.

They just popped into my mind and I want everyone to remember them.