Boston mayor looks ahead after 1st year in office
BOSTON (AP) — Mayor Martin Walsh touted Boston’s progress in housing, development, public safety and education to regional business leaders Wednesday as he moved toward the end of his first year in office.
Walsh also previewed some of the initiatives he hopes to roll out next year, from new online tools to conduct City Hall business to faster building permitting procedures.
“We hit the ground running and we didn’t let up,” Walsh said at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce forum at the Westin Copley Place. “We set new standards in development, education, public safety, housing, public health and infrastructure — the building blocks of our great city.”
In other arenas, the mayor said the city is still in talks with Wynn Resorts about compensation for the $1.6 billion resort casino it is developing next door in Everett.
He also expressed concern about the bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, which he generally supports. “One of my biggest concerns is that we don’t mortgage the future of the city,” Walsh said. “No neighborhood will be steamrolled with the Olympics.”
Walsh said the city remains one of the safest big cities in the country, with violent crime and property crimes down compared to last year’s numbers.
He also told business leaders that Boston was on pace to meet his administration’s goal of 53,000 new units of housing by 2030, and to offer all-day kindergarten to every 4 year old in the city by 2018.
Walsh, a former state representative and high-ranking labor union official, noted development is booming in Boston, with $4 billion in new construction breaking ground so far this year and generating over 12,000 construction jobs.
The region’s technology sector is equally humming, the mayor said.
Boston startup companies received over $1 billion in venture capital financing through the first three quarters of 2013, Walsh said.
He said his administration is also working to assure that LogMeIn, a cloud computing company, stays in Boston with its 350 jobs and adds about 450 new ones over the next five years.
Looking to next year, Walsh said his administration will promote housing and commercial development in South Boston and Jamaica Plain that takes advantage of the subway lines running through those neighborhoods.
He also promises to issue an executive order guaranteeing that businesses owned by military veterans get the same first chance at city contracts as those run by women or minorities.
In the digital arena, Walsh said the administration will continue to launch new smartphone applications and Web tools so that residents can complete City Hall business easier and faster.
The city also plans to add some 17 new free Wi-Fi hotspots in addition to its current 18 by next summer, he said.
And the mayor pledged his administration will continue to speed up the often Byzantine building permitting process by clearing appeals backlogs, responding faster to inquiries and launching new online programs to help applicants monitor and review their requests.
“We’ll make sure Boston is open for business,” Walsh said.