The Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) – under new executive-level leadership in the front office and maintenance department – is charting an ambitious repair and renovation program of the buildings in its extensive and aging portfolio.
The effort is possible because of a more than $6 million infusion to the authority in American Rescue Plan Act money from both federal and state levels, as well as funding from the Town of Arlington’s Community Preservation Act Committee (CPA) and Community Development and Block Grant programs.
At the June 16 board meeting, Executive Director Jack Nagle said these funds will allow the authority to address critical and long-term infrastructure needs.
“We’re very grateful to the CPA and Town Meeting members for approving the Menotomy Manor window-replacement project, and the Hauser building’s electrical panel project,” Nagle said.
We bring people together for the purpose of finding connections."
UPDATED June 27: The end of fines for overdue books is one of Andrea Nicolay’s proudest accomplishments in her 10 years at Arlington’s libraries, the last seven as director. Her final day is July 1, and then she will move on to become director of libraries in Albany, N.Y., a city with more than twice as many people as Arlington, with seven branches compared to the two here. It is a challenge she says she is more than ready to meet.
Nicolay’s tenure has included circulation that reached an all-time high, an increase in library hours, a new strategic plan and programs that go beyond the purview of the traditional library: It has joined with Arlington’s social-service agencies to assist patrons in need of support and will add a program in the fall to help non-English speakers improve their language skills. In addition, the library will work with Lamplight, a nonprofit organization already in Arlington, to help people pass the test required to become certified nursing assistants.
For Nicolay, libraries fill a multitude of functions and are a major resource for a community, having long moved beyond merely being a place to check out a mystery novel. “We bring people together for the purpose of finding connections, whether making a new friend or having eyes opened to an issue you never thought about before. It’s a place of light and enlightenment.”
Libraries, she says, have always supplied access to information and entertainment, “and we do that at every level. We provide people with resources so they can understand issues better or learn a new skill. I think of them as being multifaceted scaffolding for civic good.”
UPDATED June 26: For more than 30 minutes Tuesday, June 21, multiple local police departments, including Arlington, launched a frantic search for a woman who witnesses said was abducted from the parking lot of a restaurant in North Billerica.
The search locked down the 400-student Hardy School while police set up a perimeter. The suspect has not been apprehended as of Wednesday afternoon, but has been identified to police, not to the public.
According to police dispatch recordings available on Broadcastify, which offers livestream audio of police and fire recordings, a witness called 911 about 12:06 p.m. to report a woman and man were fighting, and the man dragged the woman into a car and sped off. They were able to provide a description of the suspect and the make and model of the car.
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Deputy State Fire Marshal Maribel Fournier have announced the graduation of 39 firefighters from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA).
Four join the Arlington Fire Department. They are, from left in photo, Justin Brown, Matthew Shea, Daniel Jefferson and Stephen Leveroni. Brown is the town's first African-American firefighter, and Jefferson is the son of Bob Jefferson, the retired chief, Chief Kevin Kelley has confirmed.
The June 24 graduates completed the 50-day career recruit firefighting training program at two campuses: Class No. 302, including those from Arlington, trained at the Stow campus, and Class No. BW20 trained at the Bridgewater campus.
In its final scheduled meeting until Sept. 8, the School Committee on Thursday, June 23, celebrated the school year’s end and responded to community demand to revive science camp, start before-school care and educate families about keeping firearms away from minors.
Friday, June 24 -- the final day of classes until fall -- found the Arlington Public Schools with only 17 Covid-19 cases across its 10 campuses, celebrating a year-plus of on-campus operation (since late spring 2021) and recognizing students honored at the national level.
“It’s been an amazing first year,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Homan, whose anniversary in that position will be July 1.
“It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, as omicron [the variant of the novel coronavirus that was the likely cause of a high rate of infections earlier in spring, topping out at 362 in mid-May] threw us for a bit of a loop, but we’ve had a successful year,” she said.
A notable triumph of the just-concluded school year was that of Ottoson Middle School students who created a website and a documentary recognized at the national level in the National History Day competition. Half-a-dozen of them made a brief report about their work at the meeting. Committee member Bill Hayner was impressed. “People often worry about the future [of youth] – I don’t,” he said.
Parish council issues statement
UPDATED, June 25: Public safety officials are seeking the community’s assistance as they investigate an early morning fire in the rectory of an Arlington church, said Fire Chief Kevin M. Kelley, Police Chief Julie Flaherty, and state Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey in a statement.
Shortly before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 21, an Arlington police officer observed smoke in the area of 22 Appleton St., the rectory of St. Athanasius the Great Church a short distance away. Arlington firefighters responded to the scene to find heavy smoke inside the structure, which was unoccupied while under renovation. They located a smoldering fire in the basement of the building and quickly extinguished it.
In response to questions from YourArlington, Deputy Chief Ryan Melly wrote that the fire, which began in the basement, is being investigated as suspicious and possibly caused by an intruder.
The Select Board has unanimously agreed to send a letter to MassHousing regarding “The Residences at Mill Brook,” a proposed 50-unit multifamily development and 1,000 square feet of commercial space at 1021-1025 Mass. Ave., near Brattle Square.
The proposed project by the Maggiore Co. of Woburn would combine two parcels between the Highland Fire Station and Quad Cycles, a bicycle business, and develop a four- to five-story building with at-grade parking and a small retail space on the ground floor, according to the comprehensive-permit application.
“This site approval is not the same thing as the 40B process, which is a lengthy process with different reviews. This is a narrower scope of responsibility, such as whether this site and its design are appropriate and financially feasible," explained Town Counsel Doug Heim.
UPDATED June 25: "I am a woman, and I am pissed," said Sen. Cindy Friedman, Democrat of Arlington, at a rally in front of Town Hall on Friday, June 24.
She addressed an estimated 200 people gathered to protest the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended constitutional protections for abortion. These had been in place since Jan. 22, 1973, before a decision Friday by the current court's conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
In anticipation of this decision, Mystic Valley Action for Choice, a grassroots group that works to take action and provide education in support of reproductive access and rights, planned the rally, "Stand Up and Stand Together," at on the steps of Town Hall.
Joining the group were members of the Town Democratic Committee. Those taking part moved to Mass. Ave. and Pleasant after gathering at Town Hall. Adding his voice was state Rep. Sean Garballey.
As town residents held signs, horns from passing cars blared as drivers signaled support. However, one driver in a pickup truck dissented, calling from his cab, "Ya lost!"
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