Leominster Mayor Touts Robust State of His City
LEOMINSTER -- Twenty-five years of accomplishments, and excitement for the future. Those were the themes on display in Mayor Dean Mazzarella’s State of the City address Monday night.
“When I took office, even I didn’t realize the challenges I would be facing,” Mazzarella said. “We were knee-deep in recession, the real estate market slowed and Fort Devens closed. But we recognized the challenges ahead, put plans in place, and assembled teams to turn it around.”
Mazzarella said when he first took office in 1994, the city was facing $187,000 in unpaid bills with only $42,000 in free cash available. He said the prospects for improvement were grim.
“I was told that manufacturing was gone to China and southern states and we’d never see it return,” he said. But, he said, he and his team remained steadfast and never gave up hope.
“Today, we are blessed to have companies like AIS, International Rectifiers, and New England Wire that employ hundreds and who are all advanced manufacturers,” he said.
Mazzarella also touted the revitalization of the city’s downtown area under his tenure. He recalled being told that the region was a “ghost town.”
“Now, over 1,500 people work in our downtown, thousands attend our festivals and come to see our beautiful historic center,” he said, adding that the business boom had recently resulted in a unique milestone.
“Two weeks before Christmas, on a Thursday at noon, every single parking spot (downtown) was full,” he said.
The spirit of optimism was evident in the words of other speakers at the ceremony which saw the swearing in of Mazzarella, the City Council, and the School Committee in John R. Tata Auditorium at City Hall.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who administered the mayoral oath, said she was very encouraged and optimistic about the future. She praised those being sworn in during the ceremony for their commitment public service.
“These are individuals who are elected to serve the community, and we are so grateful there are men and women who put their name on a ballot and serve on these committees and make decision on behalf of the community,” she said.
State Sen. Dean Tran, a former city councilor, said, “Mayor Mazz” had made tremendous strides for the city over the past quarter of a century.
“You cannot find another person who has so selflessly dedicated all of his time and energy to improving the lives of others -- including your schools, economic development, and transportation infrastructure,” Tran said.
Saying he was excited for the future, Mazzarella said residents could look forward to the state of the Twin Cities Rail Trail, the reconstruction of Route 13 and Route 12 South, and improvements to the Watertower Plaza entrance. He said that Neighborhood Improvement grants -- “one of my favorite programs” -- would return in the next few months.
″(The program) will allow neighborhoods to compete for small grants to improve a little corner of their neighborhood. It could be a street corner, a portion of a park, or anything that you feel needs a little help,” he said.
Mazzarella closed his remarks by telling the city’s 46,000 residents that their future was in good hands.
“No ice storm, blizzard, Y2K, financial crisis or anything else that’s thrown at us can catch us off-guard. You can count on us to be prepared,” he said.
Follow on Twitter @StephenLandry17