A Conversation with Carlo DeMaria, Mayor of the City of Everett
By Keith Spencer
I first met Carlo DeMaria when I was just a boy living in the Woodlawn neighborhood behind the Whidden Memorial Hospital. Carlo grew up on Freemont Ave just around the corner.
When I began writing as a freelance journalist, Mayor DeMaria welcomed me and has been gracious over the years sharing his vision for the future of Everett.
Following his third inaugural address at the start of the New Year, I sat down with the Mayor in his corner office at city hall to discuss his overwhelming reelection, the initiatives he’s championed over his two terms, and where the city is going as he continues to “move Everett forward”.
“We’ve done a decent enough job of grabbing a handle of the city’s operations in these first four years, and I know that we’ve done a good job despite a tough hand being dealt,” DeMaria began. “But there’s always more to be done.”
The Mayor specifically noted that communication had been a key factor in improving the standing of the Mayor’s office in the eyes of residents, bringing further transparency and friendlier conditions to city hall.
“I don’t think previous administrations were able to communicate with residents they way we are able to do so today using the technology that is available to us,” DeMaria reflected.
“We’re not 100% there yet, but we’re taking advantage of engaging constituents by way of both traditional and new media and social networking outlets.”
DeMaria was candid and honest about the housing crisis facing the city, noting the city has continued to maintain strong code enforcement over properties and companies in charge of them as they undergo foreclosure proceedings.
He pledged to continue asking code enforcement, the fire department, and police to enforce all laws and regulations, shutting down illegal rooming houses and basement/attic apartments that typically exploit immigrant residents and put other residents and their property in danger.
“Whether it was the Spencer’s from Mt. Washington or the DeMaria’s from Freemont, the city used to be a community where we knew who was living in the home next door,” DeMaria recalled
“We need to close that feeling of disconnect that has evolved over recent decades in the city, and make Everett a community where you don’t have to be worried about absentee landlords and illegal rooming houses.”
Over the last several years, DeMaria has worked with residents, homeowners, and businesses to develop a vision of Everett that will attract more people to live, work, and play here.
His team’s vision far exceeds the imagination of most residents and other city officials, with DeMaria looking to position the city as a modern, urban community just minutes from Boston and the gateway to the region north of the city.
DeMaria reiterated the need for further development along the Revere Beach Parkway and lower Broadway corridors as well as provide additional transit service to the area in order to provide a climate that would reignite new development opportunities.
With the expansion of MBTA routes to both Assembly Square and Station Landing, the Mayor is working to get Everett into the mix, by extending the reach of the Green Line into Everett, or to become part of the planned Urban Ring Project.
While no official discussions or agreements are in place, the Mayor does not want Everett left out.
“We’re looking at 40 acres plus down on lower Broadway that the commuter rail passes by, and we’re trying to get it to stop, to bring a flagstop to the community that will drive those young professionals into areas like the Charleston Lofts and other housing developments in the city.”
Last January, through the Board of Aldermen and the City Council, the Mayor put a temporary halt to new construction along a designated area of the Parkway, Chelsea Street, and Spring Street to complete a Zoning and Re-Use study as part of the Mayor’s visioning project
The Parkway Overlay District is the first of many areas in the city the Mayor is targeting. With the overlay district in place, the Mayor is looking at areas that will help develop Everett for the future.
The area may be ripe for development should a casino be built just down the road in Revere. DeMaria wouldn’t go as far as saying he supports the effort to bring expanded gaming to Suffolk Downs, acknowledging that there are downfalls to the upsides of a major economic engine coming into the area.
However, the Mayor did note that Everett’s close proximity to the potential site would make long abandoned factories, warehouses, and other areas on Revere Beach Parkway prime locations for potential development in the future.
“We’re trying to get strong, twenty-first century companies into developments like the River Green site along the Malden River that will spur further development in the years to come.”
“These types of businesses will generate the revenues we need in order to be able to offset losses in local aid, increases in healthcare costs and pensions, and minimize any impact on taxpayers in the future.”
While development is a key component that will encourage the city’s residents and businesses to remain and grow locally, the Mayor also acknowledged the importance of developing programs that will keep the city’s streets and neighborhoods clean and safe.
DeMaria also voiced his commitment to creating better parks and playgrounds as he goes forward in his third term, calling for continued pursuit of funding that would create a new Glendale Park as “the centerpiece of recreational activity”.
“It’s one of the largest open space areas in the city, and home to the new Everett High School. I’m deeply committed to working towards a renovation of the park in order to create the best baseball fields, track, and playground.
“For too long, the park was neglected, and its truly one of the gems in a very dense, urban community.”
Despite big dreams, the city continues to face the challenge of shrinking costs as they are continually driven up, however, the Mayor believes the city is back on track financially.
In November, the Department of Revenue certified the city’s free cash at $3.5 million.
“It’s obviously still going to be a tough time for people, here in Everett, in Massachusetts, and across the country,” said DeMaria. “We’re truly focused on staying on the right track.
“Ultimately, it’s all about finding growth, but making sure that its right for the long-term future of the community. To keep Everett moving forward into a new era of prosperity and development.”
As we finished our thirty-minute chat, DeMaria vowed to foster principles and ideas that would ensure that residents enjoy their city to the fullest.
He expressed a desire and hope that the policies and programs would ultimately encourage the youth of the community to return as they begin a new chapter of their lives in the working world. To help build a better, brighter Everett.
“We’ve long been a community where people from everywhere come to begin something better, and I hope that we continue to provide that opportunity.”
“And for those Everett residents returning or debating whether or not to remain, I hope we can continue to make their lives that much better and encourage them to do so.”