Did you miss our live reader Q&A chat with Malden Mayor Gary Christenson last week? No worries – here are some highlights below. Some questions and answered were edited for clarity and convention.
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Next month's forum will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 20.
Mayor, what do you see as the most 3 important issues that need to be addressed in order to make Malden be the Malden we all hope it can turn into.
Mayor Gary Christenson: Three priorities: expand out business community, increase public safety, and continue to make the residents part of the decision-making process.
I have heard rumblings that there is a morale problem at the Fire Department. Is that something that concerns your administration?
Mayor Gary Christenson: Of course it is a concern, and I continue to be in constant communication with the Chief and the Commissioner. We have also been working hard to conclude the contract negotiations, which have been ongoing for several years.
“We had 10 firefighters rehired by the city last week, which is great, but I hear a lot from our readers about adding more police, too. Can you give a sense of how the search for new officers has progressed? Any vision for how many more are necessary?"
Mayor Gary Christenson: We are actively working on a plan now and should have an update soon. Based on my weekly meetings with Police Chief Holland, we are looking to add some officers at the outset and then work on adding via a phased approach from that point on. In the meantime, I am meeting with Police Chief Holland on a weekly basis to review recent stats and go over what’s on the horizon.
We are also doing the same for our residents who can now login at http://www.raidsonline.com/?address=Malden,%20MA for the latest data.
Chris Caesar, Editor : Do you mean the outset of the budget season, or of the mayor's first term, Mayor?
Mayor Gary Christenson: Budget season. We have also instituted monthly Public Safety Awareness Forums as a means for residents to get information and learn what to do protect themselves and their neighborhood. The next one is this Monday, February 27th at 6 pm at the Oak Grove Community Building, 6 Grove Street.
Guest: Do you have a number of how many officers? Say, could we start with at least 10, given the savings we have with the 10 new firefighters being paid for through grant money?
Mayor Gary Christenson: We are creating a plan that will allow us to hire police regularly over the next three years to get us to a level of public safety that meets the police chief's needs.
Since the implementation of the city cameras, are you aware of any cases where they have helped solve street robberies. I was listening to the scanner last night and overheard an armed robbery by knife in back of the Malden Center T, near the fire station where the officers were asking if the cameras were working, who has access and said one was "terrible"
Chris Caesar, Editor: I actually heard this on the scanner last night myself, Ed.
Mayor Gary Christenson: I am actively working with the Chief to address issues regarding the cameras.
“What ideas are in the works for improving downtown Malden/Pleasant Street and attracting new businesses there BESIDES relocating City Hall and installing new lights/sidewalks? Is there a plan in place to improve this area? Has anyone looked into the benefit of having a walking beat policeman similar to what Melrose has in place”
Mayor Gary Christenson: We are constantly reaching out to different businesses to let them know about availabilities in our downtown in the hopes of bringing them in. Malden has become 'hot' with the improving economy and we are looking at having a quarter of a billion dollars poured into Malden by private investors during the bnest two years. As far as a beat cop in our downtown, that is something I would like to restore.
Chris Caesar, Editor: Mr. Mayor, can you elaborate a little more on the details of the quarter billion in investments slated for Malden?
Mayor Gary Christenson: We have three investments on the drawing board at $50M each (Super Fitness, the former Granada Lanes, and the Ballpark) and then a fourth (Overlook Ridge) valued at $80M...These are proposed developments that will be expanded upon in the near future.
With your recent diversion of funds from improving Waitt's Mount park to repaving the track at McDonald Stadium, what plans, if any, are in place to work on improvements in Waitt's Mount? When will we start to see work being done to improve Waitt's Mount?
Mayor Gary Christenson: Nothing has been diverted. The project is being advertised for the full amount that it was authorized for in 2011. We should see improvements in the summer or fall.
Are there any plans for additional street lighting at the new parking lot on Pleasant street? It gets very dark there at night.
Mayor Gary Christenson: We are working to bring more lighting all over the city through an aggressive maintenance program to restore lights currently out. We will be focusing on the square and Pleasant Street lot with the upcoming projects coming to a close.