OPINION: Fact-Checking Framingham Mayor Spicer’s Claims of Accomplishments

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By Cheryl Tully Stoll

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FRAMINGHAM – I am writing today to clarify misinformation that is being spread throughout the community regarding Charlie Sisitsky’s achievements as a volunteer in our government. His opponent is trying to lead us to believe that nothing positive happened in Framingham in the 20 years before she was elected.

Let’s face it folks—if that we were true; most of us would have headed for the hills a long time ago and Framingham wouldn’t be such a popular place to live, work and play.

Let’s just fact check a few of the claims being made on her campaign website and in a recent mailer she sent out. 

MAYOR’S CLAIMWe are revitalizing blighted plazas like Nobscot and Mt. Wayte

REALITYBoth of these issues were brought to planned resolutions resolved through Charlie’s and other’s leadership and years of efforts to find solutions that the neighborhoods accepted. These changes were over a decade in the making due to private property rights and neighbors not agreeing with each other on a solution. Charlie helped fix this. Yet the Mayor takes credit for it. However, Nobscot is not yet finished and the precise siting of the CVS, which did happen on her watch, is not what the neighbors agreed to.

MAYOR’S CLAIM:  With my support, we increased the school budget by 15.2%, representing $19.4 million over the course of my administration.

REALITY:  In reality the amount that Framingham contributes to our school budget has decreased significantly during the Mayor’s term. In fact she voted for large teacher raises and then put forward a budget then didn’t support them. For greater details on this please see Geoff Epstein’s letter to the editor on the subject last week.

MAYOR’S CLAIM:  We have brought life science companies to the area to create good jobs

REALITY:  It was during Charlie’s tenure that we were able to secure state infrastructure grants with the help of current Senate President Karen Spilka to build the appropriate infrastructure for Genzyme/Sanofi to build their manufacturing facilities here.

It was during Mayor Spicer’s tenure that Genzyme/Sanofi announced that they will be moving all of their administrative operations OUT of Framingham. Fortunately, the investment in infrastructure that Charlie worked on is keeping the Manufacturing here.

MAYOR’S CLAIMWe have expanded green spaces and bike trails

REALITY:  It’s true that the Mayor was in office when we finally connected the Bruce Freeman trail to Natick, and I’m sure she enjoyed the photo op; but the Framingham portion was negotiated and completed during the years when Charlie was the leader. Charlie even participated in discussions regarding connecting to Natick who needed more time to raise the money for their portion.

HERE ARE A FEW OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT CHARLIE ALSO WORKED TO OPEN:

  • Aqueduct Trails to the public
  • Different phases of the development of Cushing park
  • Getting the Merchant Road Soccer Field Lease Renewed with the State
  • Funding and appointing representatives to the Skate Park Committee
  • The New Bowditch Athletic Field Complex was done with Charlies help and support
  • Charlie was one of the votes for transferring control of the land on Irving Street so we could begin the design and execution of a new pocket park in that neighborhood
  • Supported the purchase of the Snow Property 
  • Supported the easements and public access to the former Johnson property along the Sudbury River in Framingham Center
  • Voted to accept 0 Dartmouth Drive as Conservation Land
  • Additionally, Charlie continually has supported budgets that have kept our multitude of athletic fields of every type in good working order
  • While it is not green space—the renovation of Loring Arena now allows grandparents to access the facility to watch their grandchildren figure skate, free skate and play hockey
  • The planned improvements to Butterworth Park started before we became a city and he advocated for them

MAYOR’S CLAIMWe started the cleanup of the General Chemical Site

REALITY: Charlie Sisitsky, neighborhood activists, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and elected and appointed officials from Framingham and neighboring communities have worked for years to: 

#1 Successfully Get General Chemical shut down 

#2 Installed Monitoring wells in the area to monitor any spread of the chemical plume while engineers tried to determine the best and most efficient way to remediate the damage. The Mayor didn’t start the cleanup—the cleanup was started when Charlie Sisitsky and others worked to force the plant to close and had the rusting barrels of severe hazardous waste on the property removed. Then the plans were formulated to work on the chemicals underground.

Additionally, Charlie has helped the town receive Brownfields monies to clean other parcels.

Charlie was one of the people who forced Eversource to pay for their legacy Boston Gas pollution at 350 Irving Street and pushed to expedite the clean up in a safe way.  

OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL STEPS FORWARD ASSISTED BY CHARILE

  • Chairman of School Building Committee for the first school in the municipality built with solar panels
  • Supported the Town of Framingham’s purchase of years of net metering credits to support solar development and save taxpayers money on town electricity costs
  • Encouraged the Ameresco audit and associated changes of inefficiencies in town owned buildings to conserve energy and save our taxpayers money
  • Approved solar projects at both of Framingham’s Mass Turnpike Exits
  • Supported creation of town’s first recycling coordinator who has educated many constituencies on the value of recycling and how to do it properly thus saving taxpayer dollars and further protecting our environment
  • Supported the hiring of the City’s first Sustainability Coordinator

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION

  • Charlie worked on the Tax Incentive Financing that kept Jack’s Abby in Framingham and the result was that in a few years they opened a second brewery in Framingham and invited Exhibit “A” to Framingham to take their former space on Morton Street that Exhibit “A” has since expanded.
  • Framingham has its first brand new buildings in the heart of our downtown since the 1980’s.
  • There are very few retail vacancies in downtown Framingham due to Charlie’s support of business owners and the first-mover construction projects that have brought more dollars to our downtown to spend.

SOUND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

  • The Board of Selectmen and the City Council during Charlie’s two years left 12.5 percentage points of additional tax levy on the books; thus leaving those dollars in the bank accounts of our residents and businesses. In today’s terms that’s $31 million in your money that Charlie didn’t spend even though the Mayor tried to spend some of it Charlie and the Council rebuffed her.
  • Our water and sewer enterprise funds were healthy
  • Our bond rating was excellent for the 20 years the Mayor claims that nothing good happened.
  • Because Charlie left so much money in taxpayer pockets; they felt comfortable voting for the, Fuller Middle School override. This resulted in our first new school in four decades.

Charlie Sisitsky doesn’t just talk the talk—he’s proven he can walk the walk and deliver. He’s done it over and over again. And we really need him to do it one more time for us. Charlie can fix this.

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Cheryl Tully Stoll, a District 3 resident is a former City Councilor At Large Former and former Framingham Chair of the Board of Selectmen.

editor

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