City of Pawtucket Releases the 2017 Calendar.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we start 2017, my family and I would like to thank you for a wonderful 2016 and wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I want to thank each and every one of you for all you do to help make Pawtucket such a great place to live. It is my honor to serve as your mayor. This time of year is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished over the years and also look ahead to the new opportunities that will be coming our way.
When I first took office in 2011, the outlook for our city was grim, and we were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and State takeover. The City’s Rainy Day Fund was almost entirely depleted, our bond rating had been significantly downgraded and taxes had to be raised to offset the losses of revenue. We inherited astronomical growth in costs, many of which were contractual, such as pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) obligations that have increased by more than $10 million since FY08.
Through fiscal discipline, combined with restructuring city government and cutting waste, we now have more than $10 million in our reserves, and our bond rating saw an unprecedented 2-notch increase. We continue to fully fund the pension ARC to meet our obligations to our retirees, and we are extremely proud that all the hard work has enabled no tax increases for residents or businesses three out of the last four years.
We are investing in our roads, schools and other infrastructure. Max Read Field underwent an incredible transformation to a state-of-the-art turf field. Once the track is completed early this year, this facility will be a tremendous amenity for our community and a point of pride for all who use it.
Our Police Department is implementing initiatives such as the Neighborhood Response Unit to take a community-based approach to policing. Such strategies have a proven track record nationally, helping to build community relations and engage our youth in a number of positive ways. We will continue to prioritize similar smart policy decisions moving forward to help further engage with the community.
Our school graduation rates have significantly improved since 2011, and I know that with the great work taking place in the Pawtucket School Department that the progress will continue. Varieur Elementary School was awarded the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Award. We are reinvesting in our schools with renovations well underway at Potter Burns, and Nathanael Greene is on the horizon for the 2017-2018 school year. Thanks to the voters who approved these initiatives, we will continue reinvesting in all of our schools to create a better and safer learning and teaching environment for all.
We are also improving our business climate. Pawtucket is home to so many great small and large businesses who love and support our city. We are proud to support their continued growth, and we continue to work to attract new businesses and job opportunities to our community. I urge you to continue to support our local businesses, many of whom sponsor this calendar.
The Blackstone Valley is now a national historical park, and the crown jewel of that national park is right here in our city at historic Slater Mill - the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. The future tourism potential of this park is very exciting, and Pawtucket is partnering with federal, state and local officials who are helping to make the park a reality. The Pawtucket Red Sox continue to play baseball at McCoy Stadium, Rhode Island’s Fenway Park. Thanks to the help and support of many, we will continue to see Triple- A baseball played in our great city for years to come. We are working together with the organization and the State of Rhode Island to ensure the fans of our team are provided the best experience possible now and into the future.
We are moving forward in the right direction, and you have my commitment that we will continue to build on the strong foundation we have built together. My administration and the City Council will continue to invest in public safety, public access, quality of life improvements and public recreational amenities to make Pawtucket even better.
We must not rest on our laurels and past accomplishments. Pawtucket is uniquely positioned to see the development of a new commuter rail station, which will bring our residents easily to Boston and Providence. The station will also spur redevelopment in our downtown and bring numerous visitors to our great city.
Our gorgeous riverfront is primed for development. A state-of- the-art, mixed-use commercial and residential development that our partners at Peregrine Group are spearheading is planned on Division Street. Together, with the State of Rhode Island, we will help realize smart investment that should spur further growth in our downtown.
In conclusion, I wish to thank our generous calendar sponsors who, once again, allow us to present you with the 2017 edition of the City of Pawtucket Calendar. Like previous years, this calendar provides a wealth of information on scheduled events, how to contact your elected officials, the many services available to you and much more. This year’s theme is “Pawtucket’s Color Palette,” reflected by the unique, colorful photos of Pawtucket scenes scattered throughout the pages. These photos were selected by professional photographers in the City’s photo contest. Cunningham Elementary School fifth-grader Connor Maddix’s photo was selected for the cover.
I want to wish you a happy and healthy 2017. Together we will continue the progress we are making here in Pawtucket. Join the Evolution!
Mayor Donald R. Grebien
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