February 9, 2024
Public Safety Updates; Resident Stickers
By Gregory T Federspiel
Many improvements in the Town’s public safety operations have taken place over the past 12 months. Both the Police and Fire Departments are running smoothly under the strong leadership of Police Chief Fitzgerald and Fire Chief McNeilly. Concerns that were circulating a year ago have been addressed and public satisfaction appears to be high.
The transition to the regional dispatch center in Middleton, while cause for worry for some, has been a quiet success story. The staff at the regional center went the extra mile to work closely with town staff in making the switch. It has been a seamless move that has provided a high level of professional service and advanced new technology. Our Police Department can focus 100% of their energy on policing. Some of the savings realized has been redirected to additional police officers adding to the Department’s ability to respond effectively to multiple incidents at once while still providing good coverage to the Police Lobby. We have not had any incidents related to an empty station. As an extra precaution, the lobby serves as a lockable safe room and is fully equipped to have audio video communications with the dispatch center should an emergency ever arise when all officers are out of the station. Both fire and police personnel seem quite satisfied with the new service, as do the public.
The Fire and Rescue Department has benefited from a new Chief and a boost in staffing. We have benefited from the professionalism and local ties Chief McNeilly has brought to the position. As an Essex resident and volunteer for the Essex Fire Department, Jake has implemented new shared arrangements between the two departments that enhance responses for both towns.
Voters approved four additional full-time Fire Fighters/Paramedics for the Department over the last few years bringing the total to 16 plus the Chief. This allows four crews of four unless someone is out on leave time. With four on-duty, simultaneous medical calls can be handled, and an active fire immediately attacked from the interior while adhering to the “two in, two out” protocol. Further adding to the ability of the department is the re-establishment of a call fire fighter rooster. Four call-fighters/paramedics are available to assist as needed. Again, there was some skepticism about how successful the Department would be in recruiting “call” personnel but the department has been successful to date and hopes to bring on four more call personnel next year.
A new ladder truck for the Fire Department will be arriving this summer. Fire staff worked hard to get the new truck here in much less time than the typical 24 months. In the meantime, we have benefited from housing one of Lynnfield’s ladder trucks as they go through a station renovation project. A new fleet replacement schedule has been drawn up and, barring any unexpected major breakdowns, should serve the Department’s needs well for the foreseeable future.
On the parking regulation front, most car owners should have received by now their 2024 resident parking stickers in the mail at no charge. The stickers are being distributed again using the vehicle excise tax data base. (Yes, each sticker is mailed separately even to the same household, just like the excise tax bill is. It is actually quicker to process and less expensive to do it this way.) Voters approved changes in the local bylaw regarding the stickers, including taking out of the bylaw where stickers are to be placed. Based on the recommendations of the Police, resident stickers should be located on the driver’s side of
the front windshield. (Often times side rear windows are now tinted preventing clear visibility of the stickers.)
As part of the same bylaw change, the list of streets restricted to resident vehicles only has been removed from the bylaw and will now be approved annually by the Select Board to make updating much easier. The Board plans to review and vote on the list at their meeting on February 20th (Tuesday, due to the President’s Holiday on Monday.) Resident parking restrictions begin in May.
Similar to last year, beach tags must be purchased for those wanting to get onto Singing Beach in the Summer. Soon tags can be ordered on-line through the Park and Recreation Department’s web page. You will also be able to stop by the P&R office on Tuesdays and Thursdays to purchase the tags in person though we encourage everyone to order on-line. Order before April 30 and save $10.00. Starting May 25th tags will only be available for purchase at Singing Beach for $35.00. Ahh, but it is still early February!