(Glad this story has a happy ending, but I think it was Parks and Rec staff who were working on the ice rink, not DPW. - promoted by Brian)
Last week the Dedham Patch posted about a new App called YourGOV, where homeowners can submit requests to the town about problems such as a dead animal, pothole, snow removal, etc.
While parked next to the Memorial field playground, as many of us do everyday to pick up our kids from school, I thought I would report the very thick ice-covered sidewalk and snow banks that our kids have been slipping, sliding and crawling over for months. It hadn't been cleared since last week when I reported it (but i saw DPW workers working on the ice rink). So I called the DPW and the gal tells me "we don't plow that sidewalk'...really? I think a prime walkway, right near the schools should be taken care of, I asked to speak to the DPW Department Head. I left a message on his voice mail, we will see if it gets done or someone breaks an ankle.
Today's Boston Globe (2/27/14) revealed what I have long suspected...despite Prop 2.5 and falling real estate values, Dedham's residental property taxes increased 68% over the past 10 years, the second highest among 43 area communities. The average owner of a single-family house in Dedham now pays $6,217 a year in taxes. If I were collecting social security, about half would go to paying the taxes on my house. I understand the need for infrastructure improvements, but there also seem to be a lot of fancy new town trucks and new administrative positions... And what about the new revenues from new commercial developments in the town as well as from the many new McMansions replacing small bungalows? On a street near me a multifamily rental building paying $8,200 a year in taxes was sold as 3 condos which now pay a total of over $15,000 a year in taxes... There was a lot a of talk and fanfare about refurbishing Oakdale Square, the Oakdale Alliance was formed, etc. and yet this winter none of the sidewalks or parking spaces around the two churches or around the square itself have been cleared of snow even though it is now three weeks since the storm...these used to be cleared by the town in the "old days" when taxes were lower... How do you attract business to the Square when there is no place to park and you have to walk in the street, dodging cars?? In short, I think Dedham needs to slow down its spending spree; long-standing problems cannot be solved in one decade by one set of taxpayers... government officials need to start spending taxpayer money AS IF IT WERE THEIR OWN MONEY...i.e. be thrifty!!
(The issue of a residency requirement came up during the Charter Advisory Committee's deliberations, but I don't remember any appetite for imposing one. - promoted by Brian)
I will be attending the selectman meeting tonight if it is not postponed due to weather. Here is my thought on the Administrator/Manager search. For one I do not feel that two board members who are outgoing should be involved in this process as it doesn't give the two newly elected members a hand in being part of the process. I also feel that although we shouldn't impose a residency restriction on this we should interview a pool of Dedham residents who have the credentials first. If we cannot find a candidate that we feel is qualified then we should expand the search outside of Dedham. I still feel it's advantageous to have a Manager that lives here and understands the town and the taxpayers. This is not an indictment on Mr. Keegan. For the most part I thought he did a great job, but he never understood the perspective of the stake holders. I would like Dedham to at least try to hire from within it's boarders but would not be opposed to an outside person if we simply can't get a qualified candidate.
(An excellent idea. What do you want to see in the next Town Administrator, who may soon be stiled a Town Manager? What do you want in terms of qualifications, education, experience, credentials, etc? Should he have to live in Dedham? - promoted by Brian)
A report on the Dedham Patch website indicates that Dedham's Town Adminstrator may soon move to a similar post in another town. This might be a good time for people to post suggestions, concerns, issues, priorities and other matters of local concern. The search committee may benefit from the input.
I was dubious when I first heard about the parking changes planned for Dedham Square as part of the rebuild. After weeks of parking in the Square on Saturday afternoons, I am satisfied with the new configuration. I think it works very well.
Short-term parking has been easy. It appears, to me at least, that the only concern might be reading the parking space number after a snow or ice storm. I suspect that the PD will not be too concerned in those cases.
As I've mentioned before, the Mother Brook Community Group and the Manor Neighborhood Association expanded their contest for the best Christmas lights to other neighborhoods this year. Neighborhood captains from East Dedham, the Manor, Riverdale, and Oakdale nominated houses with great displays, and then assembled teams to go out and judge houses in another neighborhood.
Each neighborhood now has a winner, and we are looking to all of you to help choose a town-wide winner for the coveted Rita Mae Cushman Award. After the jump you can find photos of each of the neighborhood winners, and at the bottom is a place to vote for your choice for the Best Christmas Lights in Dedham.
While these pictures can give you an idea, I would really recommend venturing out to see them for yourselves. Still pictures, and my poor photography skills, don't do many of them justice. You can't see Santa waving his arm down the Manor, or the blinking lights in Riverdale, for example.
At this time each year I invite all the clergy of Dedham to post their Christmas--and now that NewBridge has come to town, Hanukkah, as well-- sermons. You can read below what the Rev. Rali Weaver will be telling her congregation this evening.
We are standing on the threshold.
Waiting by the crib.
A new life is about to be born.
You have been practicing for weeks and weeks and this is the split second before the performance begins, the audience is waiting, and anything could happen.
It is meal you have spent hours and hours preparing that you are putting on the table with rapt anticipation for the first bite.
It is the present you have spent months considering and saving for and then purchasing and wrapping carefully and placing beneath the tree with excitement that it will be received in the spirit it was intended.
This is the hush that comes over you the minute before you walk down the isle, the quiet calmness before the storm, the split second before the contractions commence.
There are a few precious moments like this in any life. Few moments that you are so well prepared for and have time wait in anticipation for them to begin.
(Adding a civic center is a new twist. - promoted by Brian)
As I stated before I think the mention of the extra space is what killed the Rustcraft project. While it appears the town wants town hall in the square I wanted to put another twist on this as I was just watching the last selectman meeting on Dedham TV.
They are talking about creativity. This is what I offered and wasn't listened too so here's what I propose. Why not move DPW to this location, put a fire station there, move some of the departments that deal directly with DPW so that the Town Hall can be less crowded, Yes try again for a senior center here and yes I'm going to harp on this forever we need a civic center.
A civic center would bring revenue, we can rent it out for birthday parties, we can have exercise classes there, sports leagues could rent it out, we can put a basketball court or two in there and we can rent that space to DYB, Metro West and St. Mary's CYO, not to mention the possibility of adult leagues. The seniors could even come here for exercise. We could have classes specific to them and could have the council of aging there. Here is the beauty of this with the civic center and senior center in the same building with a fire station it couldn't be safer as you would have trained CMT's right there.
I liked Carmen's concept and appreciated the work he, Mike Butler and Mr. Keegan put into this, but it simply wasn't creative enough. This is creative, realistic and the town can gain so much as far as revenue and a fire station closer to the oakdale/greenlodge area. This is the kind of plan that was needed and I think town meeting members would have voted for this because it makes sense.
I have to admit this town surprised me tonight. I thought Rustcraft was a shoe in to be voted in and I figured the town would follow suit with the all of the charter commission recommendations.
To start in my opinion the Board of Selectman oversold the proposal and kept highlighting the additional space for development down the road. This was just and easy target for detractors and it killed the project by the time the vote came. I'm sad the proposal didn't pass. Carmen worked very hard on this and I believed in the proposal. I recommended to the board a civic center for that space or to use the Senior Center space if the seniors didn't want it. That revenue stream would have been a no brainer and at least would have given citizens an additional valid reason to support the proposal. All I can do is throw ideas out there. If people don't want to use them then oh well.
The Library Trustees and Park and Recreations made compelling and valid arguments as to why their director should still report to the board and both entities will continue to do so.
It's good to see that democracy is still here and some of our elected officials will still carry weight in the departments they oversee. For the most part a good night for Dedham.
(This is a valid concern, but one I think the Selectmen and Town Administrator have done a pretty good job of addressing. - promoted by Brian)
The defenders of the purchase of the Rustcraft property claim that this will not increase taxes. Yet a closer inspection reveals the truth. Right now money from the hotel and meals tax goes partially to fund the OPERATING BUDGET. This money will be diverted to fund the Rustcraft property entirely by 2016. That means less money for the operating budget. Less money for schools, police,fire, DPW and library. So the good people of Dedham will have less services or be forced to raise taxes to maintain the same level of service. It's your choice Dedhamites - cuts or tax increases if this purchase goes through. #JustSayin'
I have been struggling to understand the objections some are raising at the prospect of locating a senior center at the proposed Rustcraft Road municipal mega-plex. I think that for this vocal minority, and I do believe it's a minority of seniors, what it ultimately comes down to is that they have their hearts so set on the Endicott Estate that they are simply unwilling to consider anything else.
It's not that their concerns aren't all reasonable. Some are objecting to having it located in the same building as the Police Station. If we were living in Roxbury then I might give this a little more credence, but I can't imagine a safer place in town for seniors to congregate.
Others are saying that this is too far on the outskirts of town. These are also the same people, curiously, who were pushing for us to build a senior center at the Dexter School not so long ago. Dexter is a beautiful location, but if you were to sneeze there it would be people from Westwood who said 'God Bless You.' At the Mini Town Meeting Russ Poole got up and his biggest complaint seemed to be that there wouldn't be enough natural light, even if it is twice the size of what was proposed for the Endicott Estate barn.
I don't mean to trivialize all of their concerns because, as I said, some are legitimate. However, if the Council on Aging doesn't want the space, if they are willing to make do with their woefully inadequate rented room at Traditions, if they want to hold out for another 30 years in hopes that something better might come along, then fine, let them. But let's not lose out on the tremendous opportunity that the Rustcraft building presents us just because of that.
(I'm told that as the construction season nears the end, we should expect to see a burst of road work in the next few weeks. Are there any streets in your neighborhood that need work? - promoted by Brian)
Several local streets have had recent work by the DPW. Three cross hatched strips in the asphalt have cropped up over the past 2-3 weeks. Sections of asphalt approximately 12 - 14 inches wide have been grooved into both sides of the roadway along with a third strip down the center. On Sprague Street, a cut from one side of the road to the other marks the beginning / end of the work.
Wonder if anyone has heard anything about the project. The grooved strips meander left and right as they go up and down the streets. Apparently, exact placement is not an issue. In some cases, there are unmarked areas at the ends of driveways. I wonder if the strength of the asphalt and useful life of the road surface has been compromised.