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Arlington vaccinations make progress, health director tells board

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019
'The Arlington staff is amazing.'
-- Christine Bongiorno

UPDATED, Feb. 12: “We’re beginning to vaccinate our community, working closely with the Department of Public Health to acquire and roll out vaccines to groups currently eligible,” Health and Human Services Director Christine Bongiorno told the Select Board on Monday, Feb. 8.

“Our team continues to enforce all of Governor Baker’s orders, and conduct contract tracing to try and prevent additional cases from happening.Covid-19 image

“The state has put out a three-phase roll-out plan. The first phase is health-care workers, nursing homes and first responders. In January, Arlington received 600 vaccines during this phase, and now we’re starting their second doses.

“Last week we started the first category of phase 2 -- people over 75. We conduct a weekly clinic, which school nurses help administer, and hope to provide more vaccines as more opens up from the federal government. 

“I’m proud that Arlington has one of the highest vaccination rates. We’ve been able to perfect what works, and doesn’t work, at each clinic, to make ensuing vaccinations better. The Arlington staff is amazing. We’ve currently vaccinated 1,200 residents, and our goals is to get up to 1,000 per week once more vaccines are available.

Media attention

“Last February, when we were just starting to hear about Covid, we began quarantining people who’d traveled to high-risk places around the world. We had our first case here in Arlington in March that sparked media attention. That’s when the state and our community began this journey that we’ve been working through for the past year. Staff from all divisions are participating, and conduct contract tracing to try and prevent additional cases from happening. The team enforces all the governor’s orders, and we continue to do that today,” said Bongiorno. 

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said, “It’s still important to maintain restrictions that have been in place for a long time to prevent more people from getting the virus, and also rolling out the vaccine.

“This is a transition period. I meet daily with Christine Bongiorno for the Covid update, and communicate weekly with ACMi to give them the status. I want to make sure communications are being heard. We continue to advocate at the state level the of municipality’s role in rolling out vaccinations. I think we’ve made strides. Every week, as more supply is available, we get a better idea of being ready to begin vaccinating as many people as possible.”

Board member Steve DeCourcey said, “People in Arlington appreciate the town website’s updates and references.”

New facilities director

Gregory Walters, a large-scale operations and logistics executive, was recently hired as Arlington’s facilities director, and the board unanimously approved the hire (4-0; Joe Curro was absent).

“I’m excited to work for the town of Arlington. I’m an Arlington resident and familiar with this type of work,” said Walters. 

“Asset management is critical, and it’s important to get it up and running. Streamlining it will make it easier for staff to manage. With asset management in place, we can develop one-, five- and 20-year cycles for replacement,” added Walters.

Board member Diane Mahon said, “We’re getting positive feedback already on Walters.”

Jim Feeney, deputy town manager and interim facilities director, said, “It’s been wonderful to be part of this department in uncertain times; circumstances brought on by Covid highlight the department’s work. 

“I want to thank and applaud the facilities department in getting, and keeping, schools open. We worked with DPW to provide safe elections, unprecedented outdoor meetings, Covid testing sites, and vaccination and delivery. 

“This past construction season has been busy with capital projects of all sizes, especially three time-occupied buildings with time-sensitive deadlines: the high school rebuild process, setting up the Health and Human Services Department in a new building.”

Feeney continued: “We recently filled many key vacancies in the maintenance division, and now have a full complement of facilities staff. We relaunched the district’s reorder system to further expand its use, with a focus toward asset management, which should help us with capital needs planning and other systems.

 “Our new director Walters will continue to assess current department resources and what resources may be necessary in the future, including the replacement value of 40 buildings. Maintaining both aging and new buildings is exciting, but provides labor-intensive challenges.”

Town manager contract

The board voted unanimously to continue discussion with Chapdelaine about his next contract. The current three-year pact ends in February 2022, and the board had to let the manager know whether his contract would not be renewed. The 4-0 vote continues discussions.

“Our town manager is an important asset in Arlington, and an exemplary manager that the town needs to maintain,” said Mahon.

Thorndike Place 40B letter OK'd

The board unanimously approved a supplemental letter to Arlington’s Zoning Board of Appeals regarding Thorndike Place’s 40B application, with some final edits that don’t change the substance of the letter. See the draft version of the letter here >> 

Arlington Land Realty, the applicant, has revised its proposal for a slightly smaller overall project, which has been stalled since 2015. The number of proposed units is now 176 units with the elimination of 12 townhouses. The applicant has also modestly reduced the overall size of the proposed apartment building and moved most of its parking spaces underground, in order to re-site the building further away from the delineated wetlands. 

“This isn't an improvement as to those townhouses on undevelopable portions. Now we must reiterate our opposition to the size and scope of this project,” said board member DeCourcey.

Chapdelaine said, “We feel that the Mugar family has long been negligent in maintaining the site. The town is spending a lot of resources for the population housed on that site. I want to start a conversation with the Mugar family to discuss these issues and to have a site visit. 

Chief information officer sought

Arlington is looking to hire a new chief information officer, in the wake of David Good’s recent retirement as chief technology officer.

“Today’s standards require a new job title, said Chapdelaine. “For this position, we’ll cast a wide net from a technology perspective, and hope to attract a diverse applicant pool. Information technology professionals and school administrators will be included in this process because the job involves our schools.” 

“We hope to select a candidate by late April, and want to have this new position start at the end of the school year. We’ll keep what we have in place until the end of the school year, especially with remote learning,” added Chapdelaine.

YourArlington has asked Good for comment, and he responded Feb. 11 that he is retiring after working in IT in a variety of leadership positions for 45 years (40 of them on-call). In December, he turned 70 and had made an agreement with his family that he would not work full time after that.

He wrote that he began discussing his exit months ago with the town manager and schools' superintendent. He is working part time to assist in the transition of Dan Sheehan, the current deputy director of IT, to the interim IT director as the town seeks a new CTO.

"I have enjoyed working for the town and schools as the CTO for the past 11 years," he wrote, "assisting my home town with moving technology forward, increasing the level of service delivery and building a solid foundation for the future."

He will continue to serve as a Town Meeting member and sit on a number of citizen committees. 

Appointments/reappointments

The Select Board unanimously approved the following town committee positions:

Appointments

Committee on Tourism and Economic Development (terms expire Dec. 31, 2022):

  • James Byrnes
  • Christopher D’Angelo 
  • Michelle Deakin

“We’re now not focusing much on tourism, but bringing business to local businesses, which all three of you are capable of doing,” said Board chair John Hurd.

Reappointments
  • Board of Youth Services―Joan Axelrod
  • Commission on Arts and Culture―Stephanie Marlin-Curiel
  • Disability Commission―Kerrie Fallon
  • LGBTQIA+―Brooks Harrelson

All terms expire Jan. 31, 2022.

Arlington Reads Together banners

Next month, be on the lookout for “Arlington Reads Together” banners displayed in town. Sponsored by Robbins Library, banners will be posted on all lampposts in Arlington Center and East Arlington.

RCN cable-TV license transfer

Arlington’s RCN cable-television license is being transferred to Stonepeak Associates, as unanimously approved by the board.

“This is limited to only the license transfer from one parent company that holds RCN to another parent company that holds RCN. It’s limited to vetting whether the new parent company can continue to operate RCN both financially and legally, from a management perspective. It doesn’t affect programming,” explained Town Counsel Doug Heim.

This transfer is expected to make additional resources available to Arlington, so it can enhance its network and improve its services. 

“In 2010, RCN was bought by an investment company, and hired a management company to run the company. In 2016, the company was sold to another investment company, but kept the management company. Now another investment company wants it, but will continue to keep the management company,” said Tom Steel, RCN VP/regulatory counsel.

Michael Nilsson, counsel to Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, said that RCN will remain the franchisee, responsible for the franchise, and business will stay the same. There are no plans to change management or operations.

See the ACMi video of the Feb. 8 meeting:


Jan. 29, 2021: Support for celebrating Arlington's original inhabitants

 


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, and updated Feb. 11, to add ACMi video window and comment from David Good, and Feb. 12, to adjust a quote.

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