By Seth Daniel
Mayor Martin Walsh visited Doherty Park on Bunker Hill Street Tuesday morning, June 28, for a meet and greet with neighbors, and in doing so he highlighted several budget items that he believes will help Charlestown and the City overall.
“We had the largest Parks budget ever submitted to the Council last year, and this year we’ve put even more money in the Parks budget making that proposal the largest the City has ever seen,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our ambulance response times were lagging and we’ve proposed to buy 10 new ambulances and bring in a new EMT class. We also have proposed to buy nine new ladder trucks for the Fire Department. In 2011, we bought 20-plus fire trucks for the Fire Department, but they were lemons. They weren’t what we thought they were going to be and now we plan to replenish them.”
He also said the Police Department is using radio equipment that is so antiquated there aren’t even parts to fix broken radios.
“They are having to recycle old parts to fix the broken radios,” he said.
He noted that there is a three-year plan at $51 million that started last year to update Boston Police radio equipment.
The City Budget was before the Council on Wednesday morning, June 29, and was expected to pass after several months of negotiations and hearings. The results of that vote came too late for this edition of the Patriot Bridge.
He also highlighted the School Department Budget, which has been probably the most controversial budget item this year after students staged numerous protests of cuts to the budget.
“The School budget probably shouldn’t have been as controversial as it was and we’re proposing $1.34 billion for the School Department budget, which is $20,000 per child,” he said. “This is the biggest increase in our Public Schools budget in many, many years and it’s something I really care about in our City.”
Later, he told reporters that students may not have gotten everything they wanted, but their voice was heard.
“As a legislator, I never got everything I wanted in the State Budget,” he said.
Another program he introduced was a budget item that will employ addiction counselors at the 3-1-1 hotline so that when families in crisis need help, they can call 3-1-1 and be connected with a counselor who can point them to the right services.
“They would now be able to call 3-1-1 and get directed to City services and get counseling services,” he said. “That doesn’t happen in any other City in America. That’s one issue that’s big in Charlestown among families that have loved ones who struggle with addiction and this will help them when they don’t know where to turn.”
Councilor Sal LaMattina said he supports the mayor’s budget and planned to vote for it this week.
State Rep. Dan Ryan said he supports the mayor’s programming because he cares for Charlestown.
“The working men and women of Charlestown are going to get good jobs when it come to the developments that are on the edges of our Town,” he said. “We’re going to get the resources we need to fix our roads. That’s because we have a mayor from the neighborhoods who gets it.”
In an ultra-local announcement, Walsh said that the bathrooms at Charlestown High School – which were used by youth leagues for a long time until a fire burned them out last year – would be reopened. He said they have repaired them and are close to getting an agreement to open them up to the youth leagues once again.
Walsh concluded his Coffee Hour by stopping by the basketball court and shooting some hoops with the young kids gathered on the sultry morning.
Walsh lined up at the free throw line.
He dribbled once, dribbled twice, and shot.
It was a swish, and the crowd of neighbors cheered loudly for the mayor.