MARLBOROUGH – The city of Marlborough held its municipal inauguration Monday, kicking off a new term for Mayor Arthur Vigeant and members of both the City Council and the School Committee.
With the swearing in ceremony complete, Teona Brown officially joined the Council after defeating Ward Four Councilor Robert Tunnera in last year’s city election.
Community members later convened back at City Hall, where the School Committee and the City Council held their organizational meetings prior to a catered reception.
Fire station a topic of discussion on Inauguration Day
Vigeant addressed inauguration attendees at Whitcomb Middle School, thanking the community as he embarked on a sixth term as mayor.
“Thank you for placing faith in me once again to serve as your mayor,” he said. “I love this job and our city. My job is easier when I’m able to engage with you on a regular basis.”
Vigeant thanked his colleagues in municipal government and noted the impacts of COVID-19 on Marlborough.
“This historic and unforeseen chapter in human history has impacted our lives in ways many of us could never have imagined,” he said. “…While we haven’t put this pandemic behind us, we should be proud that we have successfully adjusted to these historic times.”
He called on City Councilors to approve a request for funds to purchase land for a new fire station at the corner of Elm Street and Bigelow in the west end of the city.
Vigeant filed his request back in October.
The City Council has not yet voted for or against it, having referred the matter to the Finance Committee.
“When considering locations, I can tell you there was no perfect site,” Vigeant said, acknowledging concerns about the proposed location.
He noted that previous major projects including Marlborough’s new Senior Center as well as its Goodnow School had seen opposition in their respective planning stages.
“Both these sites turned out to be excellent locations,” he said.
Vigeant has circled the fire station as a priority moving forward for the city, citing data and comments by experts that argue that Marlborough’s current layout of fire stations leaves portions of its population underserved.
Neighbors have raised concerns though about topics ranging from increased traffic in the area to light and noise disturbances from a new station.
Tunnera, whose Ward Four constituency included the Elm/Bigelow site, had been vocal in his opposition to the plan.
Speaking with the Community Advocate after her election in November, Brown said she shared many of her predecessor’s concerns particularly after hearing feedback from voters during her campaign.
“When I take on a role like this, if absolutely everybody is coming to me with feedback that’s negative feedback, then I really can’t represent my community and my neighborhood and say anything any differently especially when I share a lot of those same concerns,” she said. “When I look at that location, for me, it does feel like there just could have been a better choice.”
City Council President Michael Ossing addressed Vigeant’s comments later in the day on Monday at City Hall.
“The community has been pretty positive in that they want a fire station,” he said. “Whatever location we select, there will be people for it and against it, but what we’ve found out is that, wherever it is, as the mayor pointed out with the Senior Center and the Goodnow School, there is opposition, but once it’s in and up and running, the community rallies around it.”
He said he anticipates having the fire station location officially selected and funded during this current legislative session.
Vigeant notes plans for Marlborough
Aside from the fire station, Vigeant reflected on recent city accomplishments and noted other goals for Marlborough as it moves through the next two years.
He said Marlborough should prioritize projects that “are a benefit to both the developers and, more importantly, the city.”
“The City Council does not have to approve every project that comes before them,” he said. “They should consider approving the best developments while keeping in mind what is allowed by right in a particular zone when a good project comes before them.”
He said the city “missed the mark” by not changing zoning on Williams Street, which snakes past Lake Williams to then run parallel with I-495. That, he said, allowed an industrial building in a residential area.
He said the old Marlborough Airport represents another “missed opportunity.”
“We now have an industrial park with perpetual truck traffic on farm road instead of a desirable over 55 development,” he said.
Vigeant said he looks forward to adding an outdoor dek hockey rink in Marlborough. He said he’s also looking to complete a walking trail around Lake Williams.
There is currently a partial trail in that area. But Vigeant noted that work is incomplete and credited Councilor Donald Landers with pushing to move forward.
He noted a recent grant from the state to support efforts to revitalize the downtown area and said the city plans to work with both the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation and the general public as it develops plans.
He called on residents to get involved in government as they are able and touted city efforts to promote civic engagement through programs like a municipal government academy that it ran last year.
Vigeant dedicates term
Vigeant wrapped his speech on a personal note, noting the passing of his sister, Anne-Marie, just a matter of days before the election in November.
“Her loss along with the lessons given to me by my parents, Arthur and Anne have inspired me to dedicate my next two-year term to their memory,” he said.
“My father taught me to work hard every day,” he continued. “My mom taught me to be more considerate of others. And my sister, Anne Marie, was always lending a helping hand to different charities and teaching me not to stop until the job was done.”