Hire an Economic Development Director
Right now, Melrose has an Ad Hoc economic development plan, if we have one at all. This has inhibited us from enhancing our downtown, satellite commercial districts and smart growth zones in a unified way with a clear vision. Instead, properties are developed as one-offs and with little or no input from the City.
As Mayor, one of my first actions will be to hire an Economic Development Director (“EDD”) to work in our Office of Planning and Community Development. An EDD can do for our community what we aren’t doing now: cataloguing parcels, reaching out to owners, developers and businesses, seeking grants, organizing events, working with other communities and creating opportunities for projects that fit in line with our wants and increase our commercial tax base.
Updating for the Modern Economy
With the rising costs associated with child care we must create shared work centers and spaces and public transportation oriented commercial offices in our local economy. Keep families close, keep costs down. Many work from home a few days a week. This is where the modern economy is headed. Let’s adapt quickly so we aren’t left behind. Let’s be innovative in how we build to address these changes.
Get Serious About Updating our Public Safety Buildings
For years public officials have called for updating our public safety buildings without any tangible progress. The state of these buildings is shameful and our public safety officials deserve better. These buildings are over 100 years old and are completely inadequate for a modern department. As mayor I would restart the process of reviewing which facilities need to be renovated or reconstructed entirely. I will work with both the firefighter and police unions to ensure that our improvements meet the evolving needs of our public safety officials.
Loosen Alcohol Restrictions
Currently, only two businesses in Melrose have a license to sell beer and wine, and none are permitted to sell liquor. Businesses that try to innovate by offering alcohol must enter an arduous process through the Liquor License Commission, often to no avail. It is necessary that we make it easier for local businesses to sell beer, wine, and liquor in order for our current businesses to keep up with their out-of-town competitors and to bring in new vendors. Our archaic ordinances force Melrosians to go out-of-town in order to purchase alcohol. This creates revenue that Melrose is missing out on due to our alcohol restrictions.
Encourage New Business
For years, municipal government has done very little to reach out to local business owners and attract them to set up shop in Melrose. The City’s website has a section called “For Businesses” and the information available there isn’t helpful at all. For a merchant seeking to open a business in Melrose, they should receive white glove services. From start to finish they should have a concierge that can help them with the permitting and licensing process. As your Mayor I will be an Ambassador for Melrose and work to bring in new businesses. I will be our biggest cheerleader focusing on existing businesses and finding ways to keep them here and provide them the ability to thrive.
Adequately Staff the Inspections Department
For years Melrose has been operated with an understaffed inspections department. This is a position which brings in revenue for the City. Last year alone, it brought in just over $740,000. Certainly they can afford another inspector to assist with languishing Main Street developments and expediting permits for residents.
Melrose voters passed the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana, requiring us, by law, to permit one recreational marijuana store to open in Melrose. As the President of the Board of Aldermen I was able to pass an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget which created an ‘Education, Public Safety & Substance Abuse Prevention Stabilization Fund.’ Half of all commercial tax revenue raised by the sale of marijuana are earmarked to go towards substance abuse education and prevention.