The number of staff in Town Hall has been virtually unchanged for decades. However, during this same ten year period the demands and public expectations have grown. There is a real need to better communicate with residents about what your municipal staff are accomplishing on your behalf and to better garner public opinion on the priorities and desired outcomes.

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It starting to feel like a new day for the police departments of Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex.  We’re now into the fourth month of Manchester native, Todd Fitzgerald, being named Interim Police Chief following the departure of Ed Conley, to head up Gloucester’s police department.

It’s a wrap! Summer Playground 2019 has officially come to a close. We had a busy and eventful final week, beginning on Monday, August 5 with a trip to Richardson’s for mini golf, the driving range, batting cages, and above all, ice cream. We also held our annual Foosball Tournament that morning at the high school. For ages eight and up, we had over 40 participants, and Brody Duncan walked away as the champion. Junior Foosball was won by Keegan McLaughlin. Congratulations!

At last April’s annual Town Meeting, voters approved funding to pursue two projects — public restrooms and a waterfront office for the Harbormaster — for either of the adjacent parks, Masconomo or Reed.  A public process for identifying the best location and design for these facilities is about to get underway.  

After Town Meeting approval of the two local option speed limit laws, the Selectmen moved forward with establishing the lower speed limits.  The recommendations from the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Downtown Improvement Committee were followed, creating a town-wide speed limit of 25 mph for all roads unless otherwise posted and creating a safety zone that extends out from the train station in a one-mile radius.  

This past month, a summit addressing an ambitious idea took place in Essex when the Northeast Coastal Coalition, a group formed by Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and others, met to hear results of an initial study of options for cooperatively addressing a big, common challenge: dredging coastal waterways. So, exactly how does the shared regional dredging proposal affect Manchester-by-the-Sea, which just completed a $1.3 million dredging project in late 2018? 

This past weekend members of Manchester SummerStage put on a great show with Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man and there was absolutely no trouble (as far as the performance was concerned) in River City.  The 40+ students in the cast and crew ranged from Middle School to High School and all of…

Here he is, Gordon MacDougall, who at 96 is Manchester by the Sea’s eldest living resident on July 25th at the Golden Ager’s annual Summer Hummer lobster bake at Tuck’s Point last Thursday.

This weekend, the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce’s annual summertime celebration Festival by the Sea continues, with local art, music and food all coming together in downtown Manchester to benefit local retailers.  The popular annual event will feature more than 100 vendors ranging from artists and artisans to jewelers and crafters and food vendors. 

Over the past seven years or so, the Town has been making strides to curb the amount of energy our operations consume. We also have done significant work on positioning ourselves to be more resilient to harsh weather events and the impacts of coastal flooding.

Each month, the non-profit organization Operation Troop Support requests different donation items for the men and women in service who are stationed around globe. For the month of July, the featured items are dry fruit and nuts, hard candy and beef jerky.

At the Board of Selectmen’s workshop session held July 12, the first half of the session was devoted to a critique of Selectmen meetings and a review of process as discussed in my article last week. The second half was focused on what the Board’s top priorities for the coming months should be. 

The Board met last Friday morning for their most recent workshop session which focused on improving how meetings are conducted and on identifying priorities. This week I will focus on meeting improvements with a deeper dive into priorities the following week. 

The Dutch elm beetle disease caused most all of the elms in Manchester to be destroyed by the middle of the 1970s.  The disease was widespread across North American, and of 77 million elms in 1930, by 1989, over 75% were lost. According to the 1888 History of Essex County, “The elms played an important part in the lives of the early settlers, used by them to make agricultural implements, wagon hubs, saddle trees and cooperage, not to mention furniture and shipbuilding."

The Northeast Coastal Coalition, a group formed by Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr to find and fund options for dredging and coastal resilience management in communities from Cape Ann to the New Hampshire border.  Members of the Coalition came to the table – literally – on Friday at the Essex Town Hall. It was a packed crew, spanning several state agencies and branches of government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a series of environmental non-profits, university researchers and a variety of other groups.  Tarr and Phippen led the meeting, with coastal scientist Adam Finkle from the Woods Hole Group presenting a distilled version of the 162-page report.

Efforts to supplement public benches along popular walking paths in Manchester have received a big boost —the Longevity Bench Project announced that it will be installing three new benches this fall and moving forward with another four sites approved to be sited on town lands.

The annual 4th of July Parade in Manchester turned out strong crowds who happily lined the parade route from School Street to Pine Street to Central Street and back up to end at the Brook Street field.  This year’s parade included a lot of Hornet’s pride (with Boosters, Baseball champs and the Gridiron) alongside perennial parade favorites like the antique bicycle crew, vintage cars, colonial marchers, bagpipers and the steel band.  Next year is the Town’s 375th, so the Parade Committee’s probably already gotten back to work.

The rejuvenation of the Town Common took an important step forward at the Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting held last Monday, with final decisions being made regarding what existing trees should be removed and replaced with new trees.