MAIN STREET JOURNAL – Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant delivered his State of the City address during Monday’s City Council meeting. The mayor spoke briefly (less than ten minutes) but had time to touch on a number of areas where progress has been made since he took office in 2012.
“Together, we have continued to make vital investments in the city’s infrastructure, embarked on a long awaited senior center project, prioritized the maintenance and renewal of our parks and fields, and recruited cutting edge businesses to our city,” commented the mayor. “In keeping with the city’s long tradition of fiscal discipline, madam president, I am proud to say to you tonight, that the state of our city and the fabric of our community has never been stronger.”
The mayor began by asking for a round of applause for the city’s department heads and employees “for all they do to make our city a better place to live, work and play.” He also offered specific praise for the snow removal work provided by Department of Public Works employees. “I have received more compliments from residents and businesses alike than at any other time in my tenure in City Hall,” said the mayor.
Vigeant then noted the forward progress that has been made towards boosting the city’s commercial tax base. “Since taking office in 2012, the message to the business community has been clear: Marlborough is open for business.”
According to Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) more than twenty companies either moved to or expanded in Marlborough in 2014 while the office vacancy rate in he city, which spiked to 34% in 2012, has been nearly cut in half since then, down to 18% last year. The arrival of these businesses and the new investment of millions of dollars in capital projects have helped to stabilize residential taxes. Vigeant credited MEDC for being instrumental in helping to produce the turnaround.
After addressing progress in the commercial sector, the mayor noted that considerable funding has been allocated to improve recreational facilities in the city. These investments have been supplemented by various grant awards and also by a new revenue stream created by a 0.75% increase in the local meals tax.
Last year, a major improvement to Memorial Beach (about $1.0M) was completed, while upgrades to Stevens Park ($611K) and Ward Park ($3.0M) were begun. In addition, there is currently a plan before the City Council to build a synthetic turf field with lights ($3.9M) at Whitcomb School, and an additional proposal for a new recreational facility ($3.1M) to be built on an old landfill site on Hudson Street.
Regarding city schools, at the time Vigeant took office, the school department was a major cause of concern under the leadership of embattled, former Superintendent Anthony Pope. The mayor, as chairman of the School Committee, presided over a period of transition, and commented to the council on Monday, “Our public schools are finally enjoying stable leadership (under new Superintendent Richard Langlois) and continue to earn trust and respect from our community.”
Another initiative undertaken by the mayor relates to the salaries of city managers. “The reality is that Marlborough has fallen behind smaller communities and similar sized communities when it comes to how we pay our non-union staff,” said the mayor, who is in the process or working with the council to update related salary ordinances. “I believe we can agree to move forward and address this issue now, to allow us to bring the best and brightest to our city.”
A final area of progress noted by the mayor during his address relates to social media and online technology. The city has launched a Facebook page and has introduced the “See.Click.Fix” program that allows residents to easily report non-emergency issues and quality-of-life concerns from a common mobile application. “This trend (of technology improvements) will continue with a full redesign of the City of Marlborough homepage with enhanced features and access to information with an easier navigation system,” said the mayor.
This article by Jim Ash originally appeared here.