Sep 18

From the Town Administrator's Desk - September 18, 2020

Posted on September 18, 2020 at 8:46 AM by Tiffany Marletta


By Gregory T. Federspiel

I am pleased to announce a new grant program to support local micro-businesses impacted by the pandemic.  Manchester joined 22 other communities in the greater Boston metropolitan region in securing federally funded Community Development Block Grant dollars through the CARES Act of 2020.  A total of $4,950,000 is being made available to the 23 communities.  Manchester’s allocation is $63,000.

The funding is designed to address COVID induced emergency cash needs of very small local businesses.  Individual businesses are eligible for up to $10,000 in grant funding.  These “micro-business” awards are targeted toward a commercial, for-profit enterprise that has five or fewer employees, including the owner(s). 

The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) is administering the program for the 23 communities.  Applications are available through the MGCC portal, available here and are due by September 25th. Businesses interested in applying should visit the website for details on the application process and fill out the on-line application. 

In addition to targeting micro-enterprises, the new grant program gives priority to those business owners who qualify as a low- or moderate-income (LMI) person. An individual is considered to be LMI based on their annualized family income which must be no more than 80% of the median income for a given family size (the application web page has a link to this data for our area.) For a family of four, 80% of the annual median family income is just over $89,000.

Grant funding may be used for rent, mortgage assistance, utilities or payroll. Funds may also be used to purchase PPE.  Home-based businesses as well as store-front enterprises are eligible.

Businesses that have a physical establishment in the following 23 participating communities can apply: Ashland, Beverly, Burlington, Canton, Concord, Dedham, Essex, Lexington, Manchester by the Sea, Marlborough, Melrose, Milton, Natick, North Reading, Norwood, Randolph, Reading, Sharon, Southborough, Stoneham, Watertown, Winchester or Woburn.

If you have questions or need assistance in applying for a grant, please let me know as I will be happy to help.

In other news, the Selectmen are preparing to update many local speed limits.  Instead of one large safety zone with a 20 MPH limit encompassing most of the greater village area, a series of more targeted safety zones will be proposed with most other areas having a 25 MPH limit; 35 MPH limits are proposed for the most undeveloped outskirts of town.  A public hearing on these changes will be held at the Selectmen’s meeting scheduled for October 5.   

Lastly, the front doors of Town Hall are once again open.  The majority of the work restoring the Town Common is complete and the redesign looks great.  New railings still need to be added and the work on the Soldier’s Honor Roll will be getting underway shortly which will round out the work later this fall.    

Aug 28

From the Town Administrator's Desk - August 28, 2020

Posted on August 28, 2020 at 1:58 PM by Tiffany Marletta

Civic Engagement – Voting to Volunteering                                                                                                 

By Gregory T. Federspiel

Election season is upon us.  The major political parties have held their national conventions, the airwaves (and social media) are filling up with campaign ads and lawn signs are sprouting.  One element of being an engaged citizen is exercising your right to vote.

Primary voting is underway.  Voters have three options – voting by mail, voting in person early, or voting in person on the day of the primary election, next Tuesday, September 1.  The deadline for asking for a mail-in ballot was Wednesday, August 26.  At this time, voters who want to vote by mail are encouraged to drop off their sealed ballot into the drop box behind Town Hall rather than risk a late delivery by the postal service.  Mail in ballots must be received by the Town Clerk by 8:00PM on September 1.  A large number – over 30% of registered Manchester voters -- have requested mail-in ballots.

Early voting, which takes place at Town Hall, concludes on Thursday, August 27 at 6:30PM.  Any registered voter can vote early in person. 

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, September 1.  The polls will be open for all registered voters, including those who requested a mail-in ballot but did not return the ballot.  (All mail-in ballots must be in a sealed envelop with the voter’s signature on the outside that is verified.)  In-person voting on Tuesday takes place at the regional high school on Lincoln Street in the cafeteria from 7AM until 8PM.  Appropriate precautions against COVID 19 will be followed.

A similar three-pronged approach for voting will be available for the general election scheduled for November 3.  Those who requested a mail-in ballot for both the primary and the general election will automatically receive a mail-in ballot in October.  If you want to request a mail-in ballot but no longer have the postcard from the Secretary of State’s Office, you can download a request form from the Secretary of State’s website or mail in a signed request to the Town Clerk’s Office. 

Early voting for the November general election will be available a week prior to the election at Town Hall and on Election Day, November 3, the polls will be open at the high school from 7AM-8PM. 

Need assistance with voting?  Our Interim Town Clerk, Sharon George, is very a very knowledgeable and experienced Town Clerk who can easily help. 

Another important way to exercise your civic engagement is to volunteer for one of the many Town boards or committees.  Currently we have 14 vacancies that need a volunteer.  The list includes openings on the ADA Committee, Animal Control Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Council on Aging, the Conservation Committee, Downtown Improvement Committee, MBTA Advisory Board, Seaside One, and the Welcoming Committee. 

The Town’s Annual Report is a good place to learn more about what each board or committee does.  In all the Town has over 30 boards and committees and hundreds of volunteers. The work of these volunteers plays a critical role in the functioning of the Town.  Some boards and committees have regulatory functions, approving permits for various activities in town while others are advisory, diving deeper into a particular topic and providing recommendations for action by the Board of Selectmen or directly by the voters at Town Meeting. 

Most boards and committees meet one or two times a month. All meetings are posted on the Town’s web site and the meetings are open to the public.  Meeting minutes are also available on the Town’s web site for review. 

Looking to contribute to the well-being of the Town?  Please submit an application to be considered for an appointment.  Applicants undergo a brief interview process with the Board of Selectmen who then decide on appointments.  Applications (form available on-line or a letter of interest is also acceptable) should be sent to the Selectmen’s Office. And thanks -- volunteers remain at the heart of town governance.       

Aug 22

From the Town Administrator's Desk - August 22, 2020

Posted on August 22, 2020 at 11:02 AM by Tiffany Marletta

Updates from Town Hall
 By Gregory T. Federspiel

Occasionally, it comes time to provide a set of updates on various topics – now is such a time!

Town Capital projects:  The rejuvenation of the Town Common is finally nearing completion.  COVID induced delays have dragged the project out.  The new layout has taken shape and once the rest of the pavers are installed and the sod planted the “green” will be back and the front doors usable again.  Later this fall the installation of the new Soldiers Honor Roll Memorial will take place, but this will only disrupt a portion of the Town Common closest to Seaside 1.  The granite quarries were shut down due to COVID thus the work was not able to be done at the same time as the rest of the Town Common work.

Waterline work is underway on Boardman Avenue.  Voters approved the funds for this next section of pipe upgrades at the recent Annual Town Meeting.  Paving of roads where waterlines were recently replaced will take place later this fall, likely in October.  This will include Raymond Street, Magnolia Avenue and Ocean Street. 

Installation of the new HVAC system for Town Hall is progressing well.  The new heat pumps and ventilation system will improve the efficiency and comfort level for staff and visitors alike.  Having a working ventilation system will also enhance air quality, a critical need given the pandemic. 

Engineering efforts continue at the Rotunda and the floats at Tuck’s Point.  Once we receive the various options the engineers identify, we will need to make some hard choices as to how best to proceed.  Can we make needed repairs in phases or is a major rebuild, including elevating the Rotunda itself, best done now? Stay tuned as we develop options and seek funding support.

Planning Initiatives:  As highlighted a couple of weeks ago, many efforts are underway based on the priorities of the recently approved Master Plan.  These include studying the suitability of creating a 40R Smart Growth Overlay District in our Limited Commercial District (lands to the north of Rt 128); updating our Open Space and Recreation Plan (tune in to the presentation and discussion slated for Wednesday August 26), and our Housing Production Plan;  studying how the local Housing Authority and our Affordable Housing Trust might partner with a developer to renovate and expand the senior housing options at The Plains and Newport Park; a look into the feasibility of directing our wastewater to a regional facility; a forest management plan for the “western woods”, a 500 acre area in the western corner of town comprised mostly of conservation lands owned by the town or the Manchester Essex Conservation Trust; and on-going efforts to update and clarify our local zoning regulations. Many of these initiatives are being funded at least partially with grant funds. A lot of important activity that will be taking place over the course of the next 6-12 months.  You can follow the progress of these efforts through updates provided on the Town’s web site.

Primary and general elections:  All registered voters should have received a postcard regarding the option of voting by mail in the upcoming September primary (9/1) and the November general election (11/3).  Ballots that are mailed out can always be returned in person either by using the drop-off box behind Town Hall or coming to the Town Clerk’s Office.  Voters also have the option of voting in person either early at Town Hall (the week before the election day) or on election day at the high school.  Please take the time to exercise your civic duty!

Speed Limits and Traffic Calming:  After being sidelined by COVID, the Selectmen are returning to the recommendations of a study committee to fine-tune various speed limits in Town, to revise designated safety zones to better comply with state guidelines and to discuss possible other traffic calming measures along Forest and Mill Streets.  At their next meeting (September 8) the Selectmen will be deciding on a game plan for how best to advance this work.

Boat Traffic: With a string of hot, sunny weekends, the amount of boat traffic in Sand Dollar cove at the mouth of the harbor and off Black Beach has hit the highest levels ever seen.  Managing these crowds and keeping everyone safe overburdens our harbor staff.  Coming up with effective strategies for managing these areas will be revisited during the fall.  The Selectmen are asking Harbormaster Bion Pike and the Harbor Advisory Committee to take another look at the issues.

As always, there is a lot on the municipal plate.  Information on these and many other town activities can be found on the Town’s web site.  Want to follow the work of a particular committee? You can request notification of committee meetings as well through the town web site.