takes the oath
Friday, January 6, 2006
Jan. 2, John Moak was sworn in at City Hall. The new mayor who attended
six inaugurations as city clerk before it was finally his turn to move
into the corner office, then gave his inaugural address before hundreds
of residents, friends and family. Moak outlined his strategy "Resolution
through balance" and touched on each issue that was debated during
the mayoral run.
Following is his complete address:
Members of the City Council, members of the School Committee, city department
heads and staff, local and state officials, my friends and especially
my family ... thank you all for being here this morning. This is the
sixth inauguration I have attended here in City Hall. However, this
marks the first opportunity I have had to speak from this platform as
an elected official and I am honored by the trust you have placed in
me. In preparing these remarks, I thought it appropriate to incorporate
a theme that characterizes how I intend to pursue my agenda during my
first term in this office. Simply stated, that theme is "Resolution
Over especially the past four decades, Newburyport has experienced a
transformation from a city without direction and identity to one of
a success and prominence. Change, while uncomfortable to some, is for
me the catalyst permitting growth that serves the common good. Furthermore,
it is the diversity of our community that fuels the exciting possibilities
It has in the past, and will be in the future, the obligation of our
citizens to voice their need and concerns through participation in the
process and on the part of the administration to execute those wishes
with wisdom and prudence. That Newburyport will continue to grow is
inevitable and our challenge is to manage that growth in a responsible
and balanced manner. To those of you who advocate both for and against
change, I urge you to continue to do so. However, I also urge you to
do so with respect for the opinions and for the rights of others.
The word "resolution" has several meanings. In the context
of my agenda for the City of Newburyport, I define it as representing
my commitment to forge a consensus on issues that, for far too long,
have been mired in endless debate. I intend to pursue that commitment
by affecting a balance between opposing points of view. I will do so
with the certain knowledge that, when comprise represents the only path
to resolving our differences, compromise we must. I cannot promise that,
in two short years, my administration will bring all of the significant
issues we face to a successful or to a universally popular resolution.
I do promise, however, that those issues will be addressed in a forthright,
open and positive manner.
Open space preservation
One critical aspect of managing our growth is preservation of open space.
In recent months, the city has been involved in preserving four significant
parcels of land and we and those who will follow us are the beneficiaries
of these important initiatives. At the same time, we must all recognize
the need for making accommodations for continued growth in the residential,
commercial and industrial sectors and we must embrace the economic benefits
such growth represents.
Over the past several years there has been a great deal of discussion
regarding the proposed Senior Center. This is a concept I fully support.
However, the dialogue has been focused on where this facility might
or should be located. Relatively little discussion has been devoted
to the question of how we are to finance the construction and ongoing
maintenance of this facility. I ask those of you who are championing
this cause to address these important considerations.
Central waterfront: parks and parking
With regard to the central waterfront, there are, as you are well aware,
diverse opinions on two interrelated issues. In brief, those issues
are parks and parking. Once again for the record, I do not believe a
central parking facility within our downtown retail district is necessary
nor do I believe such a structure is compatible with the character of
that area. I do believe that it is possible and highly desirable to
make accommodations for both parks and parking on the waterfront parcel.
In the near future, I will initiate further deliberations among the
NRA, The Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and other interest
parties with the goal of negotiating a balanced resolution of this issue.
That resolution will include, as it must, provisions for financing the
project as well as its ongoing maintenance.
West side waterfront parcel
Over the coming months, we will begin to engage in an earnest dialogue
with the developers of the "west side" waterfront parcel.
Development of that under utilized resource holds great promise for
enhancing not only our built environment but also the economic vitality
of this city. I am confident that this project will serve as a catalyst
for positive change. It is my expectation that the development will
include a hotel and conference facilities. It is also my expectation
that the plans will include a parking structure to meet the demand for
proximate parking and that the structure will be designed to compliment
the architectural elements of the surrounding buildings. As with the
hotel and all other aspects of this development project, the parking
structure will be built and maintained at no expense to local taxpayers.
Of all the challenges we face, none are perhaps more critical than those
relating to educating our children. Primary among these challenges is
determining how we are going to accommodate existing and future facility
needs of our elementary school students. This issue has been the subject
of numerous studies and considerable debate over the past decade. It
is time to bring that debate to a close and to work together to develop
a sensible, fiscally prudent solution. Regardless of how it evolves,
if we fail to prepare a formal proposal to the commonwealth by not later
than the end of this calendar year, we will not the reach the priority
level to secure state funds to defray the cost of this project.
If we fail to meet that deadline, it may be years before the opportunity
presents itself again. That prospect is unacceptable to this administration
and I pledge to you that I will engage the school committee and its
constituents in frank and open deliberations in order to bring this
issue to a timely resolution. I further pledge that, as a member of
the school committee, I will be actively involved in addressing the
complex business of preparing our children to become productive and
responsible adults within the world community. The ultimate objective
is to affect a balance between educational excellence and the funding
required to meet that objective. Importantly, we must do so without
adding further financial burdens to the parents of those whose children
we are responsible for educating.
Our infrastructure and fiscal responsibility
Although we have made much progress in improving our infrastructure
in recent years, much remains to be done. The impact of deferred maintenance
is evident throughout the city. The condition of this historic city
hall, our roads, our sidewalks and many of our parks all exemplify our
failure to make provisions for the funding that is essential to addressing
our ongoing capital requirements. In too many past instances, we have
made the mistake of diverting money from our operating budget in order
to fund capital projects. I intend to aggressively seek ways in which
to save money within our operating budget so we can begin to pay for
capital expenditures in cash and, importantly, in todays dollars.
Furthermore, we can no longer afford to expend city funds and to solicit
contributions from the private sector without benefit of a fiscal policy
designed to protect the investments we have made and must continue to
make in our infrastructure. One of my first initiatives upon being elected
to office was to appoint a finance advisory committee, the volunteer
members of which represent years of experience in various financial
areas. I have asked these individuals to examine our current procedures,
including but not limited to our budgetary process, and to make recommendations
on how we can begin to meet current and long term capital demands without
continuing to mortgage our future. Those recommendations will serve
as the foundation for creating a fiscal policy that will enable us to
make informed and prudent decisions in the future.
Implementing this policy will be top priority of my administration.
All of the issues which I have reviewed with you today and others that
we will face together in the coming days represent the future of our
democratic process we so much enjoy. Therefore before I close I would
ask all of us to observe a moment of silence as we reflect on the sacrifices
that many of our young men and women have made presently and throughout
our history to make events like this possible, events that celebrate
the democratic process we so cherish.
In closing, you have my assurance that I will discharge the duties of
this office with absolute integrity and that my respect for the citizens
of this great city will be reflected in every decision I make. I am
confident that with your support and participation in the process we
can make Newburyport an even better place to live than it is today.
Again, I am honored by the trust you have placed in me and thank you.