FRAMINGHAM – Framingham has many pressing infrastructure needs. The Memorial Building, Framingham’s City Hall, is in need of repairs as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2026. Several school roofs are in need of repairs. The athenaeum in Saxonville and the Danforth Building on Union Avenue were closed due to needed repairs.
The City’s Charter called for creation of a Framingham Capital Improvement Committee, to review major capital projects. The five members would be appointed by the City’s Mayor.
But 3.5 years after the the creation of the City, Mayor Yvonne Spicer has yet to appoint the Committee.
When SOURCE reached out to the Mayor, the City’s Public Information Officer emailed the digital news outlet on July 8 with this reply “I spoke with Mayor Spicer. She asked that I relay, ‘this is a work in progress.'”
“I think an objective look at our capital budget process and priorities would be welcome. There are a lot of capital budget issues that have come up each year. The administration spends a lot of “capital” money on items that are operational for example. However, at this point it is probably too late to make a difference. I am hopeful the new mayor looks at this right away,” said City Council Chair George P King Jr.
City Council Order 2020-117 requests that the Framingham Strategic Initiatives and Financial Oversight Committee (SIFOC) compare the capital needs of the City of Framingham to what is expected to be available in terms of funding and to provide a report to the Framingham Capital Improvement Committee no later than August 1. 2021.
The Council order passed unanimously 11-0 on December 15, 2020, and Mayor Spicer signed it on February, 25, 2021, but still the Mayor has yet to nominate anyone to the Capital Improvement Committee.
“To date, the Mayor has not formed the Capital Improvements Committee nor made any appointments in connection with such Committee. SIFOC recommends that the Mayor form a Capital Improvements Committee to review Framingham’s capital assets and plans and serve as a permanent committee actively involved in the planning and oversight of the city’s properties,” wrote the SIFOC Committee to Mayor Spicer, Council Chair King, and School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg on April 28.
But more than two months later, and still no appointments to the Capital Improvement Committee.
SOURCE reached out to the chair and vice chair of the SIFOC for a statement.
“The Mayor and Council need to be better stewards of Framingham’s capital assets. From updating school roofs to the crumbling Memorial Building to selling off vacant properties, Framingham has to make tough long term decisions that will benefit us in the future. The lack of urgency of the Mayor appointing people to the Capital Improvement Committee along with the Council’s inability to keep the Spicer Administration accountable shows the lack of focus on these major issues,” said SIFOC Vice Chair Mary Kate Feeney.
“In April SIFOC issued a memo to the Mayor, the Council and School Committee outlining our initial recommendations regarding our capital infrastructure. One of our recommendations was to “Establish or re-establish capital boards and commissions”, which included the Capital Improvement Committee. To date we have not had acknowledgment or discussion on this recommendation from either the Mayor or the Council. The issues surrounding our capital infrastructure and budget need to be addressed, but in a thoughtful manner focused on Framingham’s strategic planning – not some Hail Mary play during an election year,” said Feeney, who is running for a City Council seat in District 3.
In March of 2020, just before the pandemic hit, the City’s Public Participation Officer Alaa Abusalah, who is in charge of boards & committee appointments said “the Capital Improvement Committee hasn’t been formed yet but its on our list of things to do.”
But a year later, when Abusalah sent out a call for volunteers on the City’s Boards, Committees, and Commission, the Capital Improvement Committee was not listed. The City was not seeking applicants as the Committee was listed as “inactive.”
“There is no greater challenge to the long-term financial health of Framingham than our aging infrastructure including our buildings, roads, and water and sewer system. The Capital Improvement Committee should be a valuable partner in addressing these complex challenges and it is disappointing that this group has not been appointed 3 1/2 years into the Mayor’s term in office,” said City Council Vice Chair Adam Steiner, who represents District 3.