Framingham mayor sees progress in annual letter. What is highlighted, what can be improved

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Framingham Touting his successes over the past calendar year, while offering some sobering words about the potential challenges ahead, Mayor Charlie Sisetsky delivered his speech Third State of the City address on Monday With attempts to bridge the gap in the city.

“The words we choose, whether spoken or written, can have a powerful impact on the audience we address,” the mayor said as part of his closing remarks in Nevins Hall in the Memorial Building. “For those who continue to hide behind the veil of anonymity, or only view your perception of negativity, I ask you to seriously consider whether your cowardly approach brings any value to the city we have been trying to move in a positive direction.”

Sisetsky, who took office in January 2022, has just under two years left in his first four-year term. During the past year, his administration witnessed a number of successful initiatives related to real estate transactions, which the mayor referred to during his speech.

Framingham Mayor Charlie Sysetsky delivers his State of the City address inside Nevins Hall at City Hall, January 29, 2024.

Framingham Mayor Charlie Sysetsky delivers his State of the City address inside Nevins Hall at City Hall, January 29, 2024.

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In his speech last year, Sisetsky said his administration would focus on several acquisitions and plans, including establishing 188 Concord Street as a new regional justice center; Establishment of a new community center; and continuing exploration for a new elementary school on the south side of town.

Sisetsky says last year’s successes included two major real estate deals

Several of those plans have come to fruition, including the purchase of the former Marian High School last fall to create a community center. The city also achieved a notable victory after purchasing property on Bethany Road, which it became Massachusetts School Building Authority Invited Framingham Public Schools To get into the pipeline for a potential elementary school construction project.

“A new school construction committee has been formed and will begin its work soon to advance this project,” Sisetsky said on Monday. “The proposed new school will serve approximately 650 students from the surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom will be able to walk to this new school.”

The mayor also touted the reintroduction of Fourth of July fireworks, another promise he made during last year’s State of the City report. The city’s fireworks, held on June 30, were held for the first time since 2000. Cisetsky noted in his speech Monday that this year’s “Stars and Stripes over Framingham” display will be held on June 28.

Lawmakers applaud after Framingham Mayor Charlie Cisetsky's State of the City address inside Nevins Hall, Jan. 29, 2024. From left are state representatives Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlboro;  Jack Lewis, Democrat of Framingham;  Priscilla Souza, Democrat of Framingham;  Kate Donoghue, D-Westboro;  and Dennis Giombetti, representing state Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland.

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The Mayor mentions the challenges ahead for 2024 and beyond

Problems still remain heading into Cisitsky’s third year, though some are tied to Framingham’s transition from city to city government in 2018. Following former Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s four-year term, Cisitsky ran on a platform of increasing government transparency, which Keep citing it. as a major target in last year’s State of the City.

There are still issues on this front, particularly with the city budget not being accessible online and with the transparency of both the city’s finances and administration being a sticking point for some city council members.

In December, Finance Director Louise Miller resigned, adding to the vacancies for the positions of city accountant and assistant city accountant.

The Framingham High School a cappella group, Total Eclipse, sings the national anthem before the State of the City address inside Nevins Auditorium at City Hall, on January 29, 2024.

The Framingham High School a cappella group, Total Eclipse, sings the national anthem before the State of the City address inside Nevins Auditorium at City Hall, on January 29, 2024.

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While Sisetsky has a stronger relationship with the City Council than Spicer, the mayor said he hopes to improve his relationship with the council this year.

“The relationship between my administration and the City Council has been mostly civil and respectful,” Sisetsky said. “I’m disappointed to note that there have been occasions where this has broken down. With the new year and new City Council, I hope we engage in a respectful and constructive dialogue to find balance with a lens of gratitude for the critical work we do.”

While Sisetsky did not directly address local tax rates or potential cuts to programs and services, he did mention that potential shortfalls in state revenues could lead to some forced adjustments in the upcoming fiscal year.

Framingham Mayor Charlie Cisetsky speaks with Fire Chief Michael Dutcher, left, and Police Chief Lester Baker before the State of the City address inside Nevins Hall at City Hall, Jan. 29, 2024.

Framingham Mayor Charlie Cisetsky speaks with Fire Chief Michael Dutcher, left, and Police Chief Lester Baker before the State of the City address inside Nevins Hall at City Hall, Jan. 29, 2024.

“The ability to continue with our various projects and maintain current operations depends in part on what happens on Beacon Hill,” the mayor said. “We are hearing that state revenues have not kept up with expectations and we have to be vigilant and monitor the proposed FY25 state budget and its impact on local aid. There is much more to be done.”

Sisetsky announces a plan to hold monthly district meetings

Sisetsky outlined some of the goals his administration has set for this year. The first is to increase its visibility by holding monthly meetings with residents in the area.

“I will be joined at these meetings by the relevant City Council member for that district, along with other council members, representatives of the School Committee, the Police and Fire Departments, DPW, Planning and members of my staff,” Sisetsky said. “I recently held the first of these meetings in District 9, and I look forward to the upcoming meetings in all districts.”

Purple Heart recipient Marty Neslik leads the Pledge of Allegiance before the State of the City address inside Nevins Hall at City Hall, on January 29, 2024.

Purple Heart recipient Marty Neslik leads the Pledge of Allegiance before the State of the City address inside Nevins Hall at City Hall, on January 29, 2024.

Sisetsky is also examining the possibility of establishing a performing arts center at City Hall, noting that funds have been requested for a feasibility study. The mayor said his administration held a test event on New Year’s Eve.

“We had a very successful New Year’s Eve event, and this convinced me and others that the Memorial Building would be an ideal location for such a venue more than ever,” Sisetsky said. “We began the process by requesting Community Preservation Act funds to study and propose upgrades to improve accessibility in the building.”

This article originally appeared on MetroWest Daily News: State of the City of Framingham: Projects underway, more transparency

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