I am pleased to report that the state of the city is “under construction!"
Tonight, as we look back over the progress of the past 5 years, I am even more excited to look forward to the promise of the next five years.
We are making historic progress on the revitalization of our downtown and impactful economic development throughout the entire city. There has been an undeniable shift in how people perceive Brockton. We have spread a very positive and constructive message highlighting Brockton’s unique attributes that is appealing to home buyers, businesses, and commercial investors. Brockton is establishing itself as a 21st Century City.
For the first time in a long time, we are leveraging Brockton’s assets to attract new investment from families and businesses. We are effectively marketing our transit-oriented development strategy and Brockton’s proximity to Boston to entice working professionals and families to locate here.
As Thomas Edison once said “vision without execution is hallucination.”
Our vision of transit oriented development is built with 40R smart growth zoning, utilizing a mixed use model that revitalizes the business district on the ground level while developing market rate residences above it.
As we continue to implement our downtown action strategy, we are already seeing the positive impact it is having on our great city.
Evidence of Brockton’s transformation into a viable, affordable alternative to Boston and its neighboring communities is already well on display. Over the last 4 years, Brockton has shown the highest period of new growth on record. And for the third consecutive year, Brockton has led the metropolitan Boston market in the number of single family homes purchased.
Today, investors see value in Brockton’s underpriced commercial property. Companies like New England Tortilla and Fronto King have decided to move their manufacturing operations here to brockton – bringing jobs and expanding our commercial tax base. Brockton is open for business!
The conversation about Brockton is changing.
This year you will see an unprecedented surge in the construction of market-rate rental properties in Brockton’s downtown. In fact, about 250 units of market rate housing are already scheduled for construction in 2019.
In late March, we witnessed the ground breaking at 47 West Elm Street, where developer Geoffrey Anatole is building a five story ultra-modern apartment building with 44 units, all market rate. For nearly 10 years, that was the site of a burned out, deteriorating brick professional building, before the city took it down. It is noteworthy that this is a private development, with local commercial financing provided by Mutual Bank. Privately owned, privately financed, as is the renovation of 75 Commercial Street, the former DTA office, scheduled to open later this spring. Also, True transit oriented development, 25 market rate apartments, locally financed by Eastern Bank, across the street from the commuter rail station, in a previously vacant commercial building.
Local banks are now making commercial loans on new development in downtown Brockton.
We will also see a crane going up this summer at 121 Main Street, where construction is expected to begin by the end of June. 121 Main, known as the site of Kresge’s Department Store for longtime Brocktonians, represents another classic mixed-use project. 48 residences will be built above 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. That commercial space is being designed to house a future restaurant.
We realize that to attract and retain market rate residents downtown, we must create a livable, walkable downtown that features amenities, small businesses and parking. Tonight, we introduce 2 new incentive programs to attract restaurants and small businesses to the downtown
First, attracting new restaurants downtown has been a challenge for decades. The lack of existing restaurant infrastructure coupled with the high cost of building out new restaurant space have hampered our efforts. Now, with market rate housing and a new parking structure under construction, the time is right to bring those new restaurants to the downtown area.
In July, the Brockton Redevelopment Authority, in partnership with the city, will roll out a new $ 1 million dollar restaurant loan fund. Landlords will be able to borrow funds to make permanent, fixed improvements to their property to attract new, full service restaurants.
Tonight, we also announce the creation of a rent rebate program to help establish small businesses in the downtown business district. The rent rebate program will provide rental assistance to small businesses locating in to vacant storefronts and upper floor spaces during their first two years of operation. This program is modeled after similar programs that have had success, in other cities like Brockton.
The construction of the new downtown parking garage, already underway on Petronelli Way will create parking for both downtown customers and employees while unlocking vacant parcels at the north end of the business district that are now ripe for new development.
Tonight, we are able to announce 2 exciting new projects that are now ready to go forward, directly as a result of the new downtown garage. On March 22, the city passed papers on the sale of the historic Petronelli building to 28 Petronelli LLC, led by developer Ted Carman. Ted’s group will begin a complete rehab and historic preservation of the Petronelli building this spring, creating 20 units of 100% market rate housing while preserving a landmark that we all hoped would be saved.
Just a block away, the Brockton Redevelopment Authority has signed a letter of intent with Boston-based developer Michael Ahern, to redevelop the longtime-vacant 19 Main Street. Michael’s team is now currently developing plans for about 17 residential units with a restaurant to be built out on the first floor, at the corner of Main and Green Streets.
The Brockton Redevelopment Authority actually reviewed three bona fide proposals for 19 Main Street before selecting Michael Ahern’s development group. Can you imagine three different developers competing for the same piece of commercial property, in the heart of our downtown?
4 years ago, we couldn’t give that building away. The game has changed in Brockton!
The city is in the closing process on the sale of the long-time vacant Corcoran building on Montello Street. To an investor/developer who will redevelop the property into a mixed use commercial/residential complex that will feature a destination restaurant. In fact, the new owners have already entered in to a development agreement with the G Hospitality Group to bring a full scale destination restaurant to downtown Brockton at the Corcoran building.
Colin Geoffrey and his designers already have done substantial planning of “The G Pub” that will occupy 8,000 sq. ft. on the lower level of the Corcoran building and also offer a roof top terrace during the warm weather months. "The G Pub” will not only attract visitors to Brockton, but it will also help us attract more restaurants to downtown.
Whether we are attracting businesses and residents to the downtown or homebuyers to our neighborhoods, public safety and the perception of public safety are paramount to our success.
When I first took office 5 years ago, fighting crime was our number one priority. It remains our number one priority today and it will continue to be for as long as I have the privilege to serve as your mayor.
We have adopted crime-fighting strategies that have worked, expanding our collaboration with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, sharing resources and intelligence while identifying targets of mutual interest. We have reduced violent crime by identifying repeat violent offenders because we know that a small group of individuals are responsible for most of the gun violence in the city.
We have continued our commitment to community policing – including new outreach initiatives to overdose victims and survivors of domestic violence. We recognize that the common denominator among gun violence, property crimes, prostitution and homelessness is drug addiction. We have worked to reduce both the supply and demand of illicit drugs by doubling the number of yearly drug raids while compassionately offering assistance to individuals struggling with a substance use disorder through our champion plan.
Over the past 5 years we have created motorcycle patrols, reinstated bicycle patrols and continued our commitment to increase police staffing each year by getting more boots on the ground. A living example of that commitment is the 5 new school police officers who were just sworn in on March 22.
We are committed to continue to rebuild staffing on both our fire and police departments. We have just hired 11 new fire fighters who begin their training on April 1.
Our efforts are creating results. Since January of 2014, robberies are down 22%, aggravated assaults have declined 29% and fire-arm related incidents have been reduced by 34%. The challenges we face are not simply police issues, they are community issues. We are taking a neighborhood-based approach to improve the quality of life for all of our residents.
Every Thursday morning, I bring together a wide range of city departments and agencies including police and fire to address issues that affect the every-day lives of Brockton residents and businesses. Our quality of life task force responds to specific problems that are occurring in our neighborhoods, such as: properties that are not in compliance with health and safety regulations, non-emergency issues reported through see click fix, unlicensed or non-permitted businesses, junk cars and illegal dumping. For the first time all of these city departments are communicating with each other, providing a coordinated, multi-agency response to neighborhood issues.
Now, utilizing crime data analysis, the Brockton Police Department will be allocating additional resources to specifically target neighborhoods through a new initiative being launched this spring called “Linkup Brockton.”
“Linkup Brockton” is a crime and substance use disorder reduction initiative created with funds from a Department of Justice grant. One of only five communities in the nation to receive this grant, the city of Brockton was awarded nearly $700,000 to utilize crime mapping and reports analysis to identify and define the most pressing crime problems and hardest hit areas. Using that data, the Brockton Police Department will employ a two-pronged strategy to combat substance use disorder and firearms violence in those identified areas; reclaiming our green spaces for use by families and children is a key to restoring safe, livable neighborhoods.
Utilizing a mix of federal grant money, private donations, state parks grants and additional state funding obtained by our state legislative delegation, we have been able to restore or renovate 7 city parks and playgrounds with 2 more scheduled for construction this spring. On March 29, our renovated and revitalized D.W. Field golf course will open for the season.
Today, Brockton is at the forefront of emerging 21st Century cities that are dedicated to municipal modernization, innovation, and growth - the keys for long-term prosperity. To attract the private investments that we see coming to downtown Brockton today, there must be public investment first. The state’s investment of $10 million dollars in the new parking garage and over $26 million dollars in the new Ganley State office building has helped to spur over $100 million dollars of new private investment.
I am committed to continue working closely with the Baker/Polito administration and our state legislative delegation to create conditions under which economic development can flourish, not only just here in Brockton but throughout the Commonwealth.
That is why I have recently accepted Governor Baker’s offer to serve on the Massachusetts Municipal Working Group, working with state and municipal leaders to find new ways for local governments to leverage state resources and reduce state regulatory burdens.
In recent years we have struggled to overcome the continuous underfunding of our public school system by the state. The shortfall of state educational funding has caused painful cutbacks in recent budgets despite the city’s contribution of $5.3 million to the schools in excess of the state requirement, in just the past 2 years.
Our public school system is what creates a level playing field of opportunity for all students growing up in the Commonwealth. Today that is no longer the case. The disparity in resources available to students growing up in gateway cities like Brockton versus their counterparts in the more affluent suburbs is not only unfair but it is unconstitutional. We’ve been working hard with our state legislative delegation to get the necessary changes to the Chapter 70 local aid to education formula to fairly reimburse Brockton for the true cost of educating all of our students.
More than 50 years ago, it was president John F. Kennedy who recognized the right of every child to an equal and high quality public school education when he said:
“Not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or an equal motivation, but they should have an equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves.”
Brockton led the fight for equity in education funding back in the 1980s and 90s and we will now continue to lead that fight again.
In order to keep Brockton moving forward, we must be looking forward. During the past year, Brockton has been able to create four opportunity zones within the city. Opportunity zones, created under the 2018 federal tax reform create incentives for investors by deferring or eliminating long-term capital gains tax on qualifying investments within the zone.
These opportunity zones identify specific areas where we believe the city’s next wave of development will occur. Two of the zones blanket the city’s entire downtown including the CSX rail yards, the second largest parcel of undeveloped commercial real estate in the city. The CSX advisory group comprised of state and local officials, business owners and community members are already working to identify the highest and best uses and the most advantageous model for development of this property.
A third zone encompasses the area around the Brockton fairgrounds. The fourth zone covers the exit 18 area around the Good Samaritan Hospital within which we have identified the potential of a 45 acre development that focuses on life science and bio-tech.
Lt. Governor Polito and Mass Development have awarded a $150,000 grant to the city of brockton to develop a conceptual site plan for a life science/bio-tech campus at this site.
Brockton is already known as a major heath care center with our three regional hospitals and neighborhood health center which employ over 8,000 people here. Now the city has been working in partnership with the Massachusetts Life Science Center, Mass Development and MIT’s department of urban studies and planning, to identify and nurture a growing cluster of life science firms here in greater Brockton.
Already representing over 800 jobs, the life science cluster includes drug and pharmaceutical research and production; medical devices and equipment design and manufacturing; assorted research, testing and medical labs; and bioscience related distribution.
We will be working with Masshire Greater Brockton Workforce Board, Brockton High School, Massasoit Community College and Bridgewater State University in an effort to design and implement career pathways in the biotechnology and stem fields that would provide a career for Brockton residents interested in pursuing opportunities in the Brockton and Greater Boston Life Science cluster.
Since my days serving on the Brockton School Committee, I have worked tirelessly to support public education and the students of the Brockton Public Schools. I have been ranked as the second most vocal mayor in the U.S. in seeking more funding for education and will never waver from my unrelenting commitment to provide the children of our great city the best education possible.
Consistent with that commitment, I am announcing a bold initiative to provide the best and most up to date technology to our students.
With surplus money from our mild winter, I will be asking the City Council to transfer more than a half million dollars to the Brockton public schools for the express purpose of putting more than 1,000 new laptops directly in the hands of our students to give our Brockton youth the best chance to learn, grow and compete with the best students throughout the Commonwealth.
Since my first day in office, I have also worked tirelessly to support the men and women of the Brockton Police and Fire Departments. Today, they are compensated like the professionals they are, and they have the equipment to do their jobs and do them well. The final frontier in that support of public safety is the facilities in which they work. Both the police and fire department headquarters are dreadful, outdated and outmoded buildings ill-suited to house modern day public safety agencies.
I will also be asking the council to transfer money from our snow and ice surplus to support the next step in our master planning for a new public safety campus that would create state of the art facilities for both our police and fire departments. This next step will bring us from a concept to a preliminary design and cost estimate and will allow the council and our community to begin to envision the benefits of new, modern, and centrally located facilities for our first responders.
Gathering tonight in this war memorial building, it seems not only appropriate but mandatory that we recognize our veterans. There are bricks on the walkway that leads in to this building, inscribed with the names of brave men and women who fought for our right to freely assemble here this evening.
It also seems fitting that we are joined here tonight by Congressman Stephen Lynch. Throughout his career in Congress, no one has fought harder for our veterans than Congressman Lynch. Congressman, we recognize you for your unwavering support of our veterans.
Supporting our veterans and our active duty service members is not only good public policy, it is a moral imperative. Members of the Brockton police and fire department suit up and show up each day prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. A few of them go beyond that commitment and serve in our armed forces adding another dimension of dedication and honor.
As mayor, I applaud that additional pledge of loyalty to the safety and security to us all and will be filing with the city council a request to adopt some provisions of the Massachusetts Brave Act, approved by the legislature and signed by the governor last year. One section will provide for salary stability and no loss of vacation time for employees who serve both our country and our city while they are away from home. This will not only provide economic security to the families of service members who are deployed and otherwise serving, it will send a clear message that this city understands, supports, and applauds the sacrifices of those who wear the uniform.
In addition, I will be working with the city council to increase the amount allowable under the veterans tax work off from $1,000 to $1,500 per home, providing a financial boost to those who have already served and allowing them to do work on behalf of the city and earn a credit on their property taxes.
These two provisions begin to fulfill our commitment to those who commit themselves to us - every day.
I’ve been asked by many, what my position is on the adoption of the “Brockton United Ordinance,” which is presently being considered for passage by the Brockton City Council. This ordinance, co-sponsored by Councilor Jean Bradley Derenoncourt, is actually a “sanctuary city” piece of legislation. Those who favor Brockton becoming a sanctuary city tell me that they want the Brockton Police Department to “equally enforce the law without regard to one’s immigration status.” The Brockton police department does already reflect those values of equal law enforcement – always.
Earlier, I referenced the success we’ve had reducing violent crime in the past five years, an integral part of our overall strategy that has produced those results is our close collaboration with ALL federal law enforcement agencies. We rely upon the resources and man-power that federal agencies bring to joint investigations with the Brockton Police Department.
Let me cite two recent examples: 3 Tennessee men were arrested by Brockton police with an arsenal of high capacity weapons and ammunition. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stepped in to take the lead on the investigation. Not only does the ATF bring ballistics technology and the potential for federal prosecution, but their involvement also frees up our Brockton detectives to work on other cases.
Back in July 2018, Brockton and State Police arrested Dedrick Lindsey, already a convicted felon, on fentanyl and cocaine trafficking charges plus illegal possession of a handgun. The U.S. Attorney charged Lindsey in federal court with being an armed career criminal that carries with it a sentence of 15 years to life. The city of Brockton will be a safer place with him in federal prison.
Let me be clear: Brockton is NOT a sanctuary city. As long as I am the mayor, Brockton will NOT become a sanctuary city. And if the City Council chooses to pass the sanctuary city ordinance, I will veto it.
I will not restrict the ability of the Brockton Police Department to get gang members and drug dealers off the streets of our city, by any means necessary. Nor will I jeopardize our crucial relationships with federal law enforcement agencies. As mayor, I have a duty to the residents of Brockton to put public safety first, above politics and ideology.
Lastly, when George Washington was sworn into his first term as President of the United States of America in April of 1789, there was no precedent for how long he could have served as president. He imposed upon himself a term limit of two terms. Term limits are not a new concept. In colonial america, term limits were referred to as the "rotary system", or the principle of "rotation in office."
I am announcing that I intend to file with the city clerk's office, a proposed home rule petition imposing term limits on all local officials. I strongly believe that no official should serve in the same elective office for more than 5 consecutive terms. 10 years. I ask the members of the City Council to favorably consider imposing term limits on all of us, myself included.
No one person, whether it be me or anyone else, should serve in office forever. The only thing that should be forever is the hope that the good people of Brockton will always get the freshest and most energetic public officials willing to serve; and most importantly, to have the largest number of candidates to choose from. The citizens of Brockton deserve no less than this.
As i leave you, let me sum up the state of our city with just a few words: Buildings are going up, crime is going down.
Buildings are going up, crime is going down.