Framingham Mayor Sisitsky Making Small & Large Changes During His First Several Months

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FRAMINGHAM – Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky has been on the job about 8 month and said he “loves” the job.

The former City Council Vice Chair, former Select Board Chair, and former Natick Department of Public works Director said “I had a different impression on what the job might be. I knew what a Mayor does. I know how City Government works.  I have been involved in government for so long but it has been very interesting. It is a lot more intense that what I thought. being Mayor is an interesting position. People respect the Mayor and want to live up to that every day.”

Mayor Sisitsky, 76, said he spent the first few months on the job in “listening mode.”

“I did a lot meetings to start. I did a listening tour with the social service agencies, the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, business people. I wanted to hear what they had to say, especially coming out of the pandemic,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

The Mayor said he is surprised that “when I go out in public, everybody wants to have their picture taken with me, and they want to say hi to the Mayor and shake my hand. I am still trying to get used to that. But I enjoy being the face of the City. I have to get use to that. That’s why I try to go wherever I can as much as I can. I want to be out in the public and talk to people and let them know the Mayor cares about them.”

SOURCE asked the Mayor what topic does he hear about most from the people when he is out and about.

“People are very pleased with the change in attitude. They tell me they are happy how the city culture is changing. Every one seems to be a lot happier,” said Mayor Sisitsky sitting in his new office on the second floor.

The Mayor’s office this summer moved from the first floor to the second floor, where the DPW director’s office once was. The DPW Director is now on Western Avenue with the rest of the DPW employees.

Mayor Sisitsky said his administration has accomplished a lot in its first 6-7 months.

“I hired some really terrific people to help me. I think that has been a great accomplishment and it makes a big difference,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

He promoted building commissioner Michael Tusino to Chief Operating Officer and he brought in Wayland Town Administrator Louise Miller as the City’s Chief Financial Officer.

Mayor Sisitsky hired a new DPW Director Robert Lewis, a new Human Resources Director Kathy O’Leary and a Planning & Economic Development Director Sarkis Sarkisian.

He created a Chief of Staff role and hired Susan Nichol from the Senate President Karen Spilka’s office, but she left after 6 months and returned to Spilka’s office.

“One of the biggest things I was able to do was change the Mayor’s relationship with the City Council (the City’s legislative branch of government,” said Mayor Sisitsky. “I think that was huge.”

“I involving them in the budget. I shared information with them. I gave them the budget two weeks early,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

“The bickering between the City Council and the previous administration was a downer for everyone. It is important for the two branches of government to have a relationship. We don’t have to agree on everything, but it is important to have a relationship. I try to include them. I send them memos to update them on things. I listen to what they have to say. I think they appreciate hearing from the Mayor,” said Mayor Sisitsky, who said he has met individually with all 11 City Councilors. (District 3 City Councilor Adam ) “Steiner was the last one to meet.”

“I had good conversations with all of them. Some talked general issues and some talked about specifics for their district,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

“I’m treating them all equally and not playing favorites,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

Mayor Sisitsky said his administration is making progress on purchasing the Bethany property for a new school. He believes the purchase can be completed by the end of 2022.

The Mayor is also making progress to purchase the CSX property to complete the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. He said that too could be completed by the end of 2022.

Mayor Sisitsky said his administration has been very active with MassDEP and Avery Dennison to get Mary Dennison Park cleaned of toxins.

“We are putting a lot of pressure on DEP and we are very close,” said Sisitsky, who added the “cost to the project are escalating like crazy. The numbers have almost doubled to clean it up from when the project began.”

“But Avery Dennison is in it for the long haul,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

Finally, the Mayor said his administration has been working with the Commonwealth to bring a regional justice center to downtown Framingham at the Danforth Building on Union Avenue.

A project spearheaded by Senate President Karen Spilka, the regional justice center would replace the Framingham District Court and several other courts in MetroWest into a justice center, with a housing court, veterans court, and possible a juvenile court.

“It would be a $100 million investment in downtown,” said Mayor Sisitsky, who supports the project.

One issue Mayor Sisitsky is still working on is “cleaning up the water & sewer mess” from the previous administration.

“It is a disaster,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

Residents and business owners saw a huge increase in their water & sewer rates this year.

“It is a nightmare. There are problems with the meters, software, everything. But we are working on it,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

And the Mayor and his administration is still working on appointing individuals to the City’s boards, committees, & commissions.

“It is a lot of work. The records were terrible,” said Mayor Sisitsky.,

“The goal is to get people to apply and to get more voices from the South Side and more diverse voices,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

Long-term, Mayor Sisitsky wants to look at the Memorial Building and parking, possibly getting additional office space or building a new City Hall.

But in the short term, he is happy with the huge turn-around of the Framingham Farmers’ Market, under market manager Bill Sell.

“It was a no brainer to bring in Bill Sell to run it. Waiving the fees for vendors was a no brainer too. Changing the hours is what we heard often from people and it was an easy change. All of these decisions was something that could be done in the short term that has made a huge difference. Every one wants to go to the market. Today, the state even wants to come and compliment us on the change and the success,” said Mayor Sisitsky on August 4

The Mayor talked about other small changes than can make a big impact.

Living in Nobscot, Mayor Sisitsky said he drive through the major intersection in Nobscot for days and notices that a man in walker was trying to manuever through the grave roads, the torn-up sidewalks and the lack of curb cuts.

“He was trying to go from the apartments to CVS and was struggling. I saw it day after day. So I sent a note to (DPW Director) Bob Lewis. I raised holy hell and told him the contractor doing work in our city was ignoring the ADA rules. The contractor was out there the next night and there were temporary ramps to accommodate everybody,” said Mayor Sisitsky.

Mayor Sisitsky said the day he contacted Lewis was the 32nd anniversary of the Americans With Disability Act. “

Another easy decision that made a big impact was opening the gates at Lake Wauskahum beach, said Mayor Sisitsky.

“All summer families and those who live in the neighborhood have had access to the beach,” said Mayor Sisitsky, who said the gates will stay open even after the lifeguards are gone.

“Easy things to do, but then can have a huge impact on the quality of life for residents,” said Mayor Sisitsky, who added he is looking for the small and the large things to do to get improving the City of Framingham over his four year term.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176


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