Critics Question Mayor's Teen Center Lease

Some city councilors criticized the mayor for signing a lease for the city's new teen center without seeking approval from the council; Christenson said his administration worked with the councilors throughout the summer.

City councilors approved a lease for the city's new teen center in a 9-2 vote Tuesday night, but not before some councilors criticized Mayor Gary Christenson for signing the lease before a formal review by the city council.

“The council (and the mayor) needs to start following the rules and ordinances of the city,” councilor Neil Kinnon said. “We are getting a lease that is already signed, and the city council – particularly (the) public properties (committee) should have gotten this lease before it was signed...we have ordinances which state that the council should approve prior, not after, the fact.”

Kinnon had opposed the center during budget deliberations earlier this year, saying the program should begin as a smaller pilot program that could grow with increased interest.

Councilor Craig Spadafora, who voted for the center, said he nevertheless agreed with Kinnon.

“I think the bigger picture is...I do wish that (Christenson) sent this down, or asked the council before he signed this,” he said.

“Tomorrow, if the mayor walked down the street and said 'I want a new city hall,'...(and signed a lease), there is nobody sitting here who would think that was alright to (do).

A motion to table the lease and invite the mayor to discuss his decision to unilaterally sign the lease failed in a 6-5 vote.


Christenson responds

Reached by cell phone, Christenson said he was “surprised” by some of the criticisms.

“This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone because we did debate the concept – we heard from the council on the length and the cost (of the lease), which we addressed in the lease we signed.”

Christenson said he had provided the council with weekly updates on the project's status over the summer, and noted Finance Committee Chair Greg Lucey was involved with the project and review of the lease's conditions.

“No one asked to participate in (the negotiation) process or see anything having to do with the provisions contained within,” Christenson said. “From the administration's point of view, we definitely kept everyone in the loop and were able to incorporate some of what the council suggested.”

“Now, if that wasn't the case – if we signed up with no knowledge, no input, nothing – they'd have a point,” he concluded. “But we debated this initiative for a while, and worked during the summer to accommodate their concerns.”


What's next for the teen center?

While the city will fund the rent, some staff and ancillary funds, the center will be run by a 501c(3) organization tasked with fund-raising for the program.

The center is expected to open sometime this October. 

david mokal September 05, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Got that right Nick it will be money well spent.
Mary Murphy September 05, 2012 at 10:53 PM
This is a little speed bump in the long fued with the Mayor and Mr Kinnon, they dont care for each other and rumor has it Mr Kinnon will run against Gary in 4 years. So sit back and enjoy the ride, I know I will.
david mokal September 05, 2012 at 10:59 PM
HAAAAAAAAA !! ANNIE WHAT IS AN OCCUPANCY SPECIALIST ???? Annie plz clue us in. I didnt know about this. Whats the pay for this scam??
david mokal September 05, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Mary awesome info...No one likes an honest man and the Honest Man is Gary Christonson. I only met Gary twice for 5 mins each time and I dont know Mr Kinnon but how does Kinnon get re elected if no one likes him. Seems like the same one that people dont like gets in. How does this happen?
Bill M September 06, 2012 at 12:01 AM
David, Mr. Kinnon gets re-elected because he has a great political machine called THE MYSTIC VALLEY REGIONAL CHARTER SCHOOL.
Michelle Fahey September 06, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I can't wait to congratulate Major Christenson on Facebook for getting the teen center done! LOL
Michael Victor September 06, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Hey Nick I may not be able to write to well but you know I read that ordinance section above and it sounds like he had a point. The other reason I am not so sure he didn't is the vote to table was 5-6 and some of those Coucilors don't vote together often. In the end they voted for it including Spady who did say he agreed with the Mayor needing ot come down. The way I see it can't pick and choose which rules to follow. As for how he gets re-elected look around his Ward and definitely gets a lot done. Got to give the devil his due. As for him and the Mayor being enemies that is hilarious. Everybody knows Kinnon went all out with his so called machine for Gary, I know quite a few people who got personal letters from him that I know pushing Gary. Heck you know he fought with Howard and everybody knows they were tight. The guys nature is simply independent.
Michael Victor September 06, 2012 at 01:57 AM
One last point on him and the Mayor. Drove by the Salem street polls on election day last year and everyone with a Kinnon sign was holding a Christenson sign. You know what I don't knwo this Annie O here but only from the blogs and jsut guessing she was holding the Fallon sign could that be why she is so bitter. Just a guess
Diana September 06, 2012 at 02:01 AM
If by "independent" you mean "self-aggrandizing" I agree. Seriously, every quote I've ever read from the man is designed to remind us all how very important he is. I honestly think he often takes a contrarian position purely because no one asks for quotes from the five guys who agreed.
Michael Victor September 06, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Diana not sure what that means but a 6-5 vote tells me something to it and again if not why was it sent to the Council to approve? If the ordinance above says "cannot execute a contract beyond a year without special permission by a vote of the Council.." If they don't need Council approval why are they voting to approve after it was signed? Tell me you seem pretty smart on these blogs what does that mean above to you? have you ever spoken to the Councilor? Judging someone based upon what you read in the paper? Did you feel the same way when he fought the trash bags or just when its something you wanted like the teen center? Is it possible that a reasonable person might be for doing a pilot instead of going full blown into something?
Mr Iamnottheteacher September 06, 2012 at 02:24 AM
If the Mayor broke the rules of the charter then he should be held responsible. From my understanding he did.
Nick Wright September 06, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I wasn't saying you didn't write well, I just honestly couldn't tell if you were being sarcastic or not. It's the tough part of posting on these threads. It's hard to express emotions.
Nick Wright September 06, 2012 at 02:31 AM
As I told Deb Fallon prior to her running for mayor, being against something that you have no chance of stopping is easy. It's up to those councilors who oppose an item to convince the others why they should also oppose it. Saying "Don't blame me" when something dumb passes, like the trash bag tax, isn't good enough.
Kathleen Sullivan September 06, 2012 at 02:40 AM
The teen center is a huge bonus for our youth in Malden. It is also a way to bring the best of Malden together. To answer the question above What is a teen center? Vermont Coalition of Teen Centers a) What are teen centers? Every teen center is unique. Some centers are large and others are small, but they are all community efforts to meet the needs of their teens and offer youth some common elements: ƒ Safe, supervised and enjoyable place to be with their peers. ƒ Opportunities to participate in fun, meaningful substance free activities. ƒ An active role and voice in shaping services to meet their needs. ƒ Opportunities to explore leadership roles. ƒ Caring adults who want to help teens develop by providing encouragement, resources and inspiration. ƒ Important information about teen health and safety issues. ƒ Referrals to other available services. http://www.vctc.net/Attachemts/New%20Handbook.pdf
Kathleen Sullivan September 06, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Questions to ponder. Was the city council or city solicitor involved when Mr. Kinnon tried to sneak in a deal to "lease" Roosevelt Park for 20 years during prime usage time using monies earmarked for low/middle income residence? The answer is absolutely not. There is documentation to back it up. 2. Was the city council involved in the sale of the Maplewood Fire Station which included long term park usage agreements for use by the MVRCS as addendums? Not sure but I bet the council was not involved. In addition, this sale contract of our fire station also included language in which the City,(aka Malden taxpayers), would not only pay rent to use the fire station, which was just sold to MVRCS, but the City(Malden taxpayers) would be responsible for the maintenance of the building. Have you ever heard of a long term lease in which the tenants (City of Malden taxpayers) must pay for all the building maintenance as well? 3. Was the city council privy to the contract of the sale of Maplewood School to the MVRCS? 4. If this lease for the teen center is being questioned by the Councillor than it is only right that the purchase and sale contract between MVRCS and the City of Malden for the Maplewood School and Maplewood fire station should also be made public. The fire station contract has never been made public. Why is that? The teen center will benefit Malden's youth. Who did all non transparent contracts between the MVRCS and the City of Malden benefit?
Meggle September 06, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Pitbulls for some, tiny american flags for others!
Joe Gray September 06, 2012 at 03:15 AM
"Smiles everyone", Mr. O'Rourke. Just Neil being Neil. Sort of like Manny being Manny....
Bobby James September 06, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Kinnon gets re-elected b/c he DOES get stuff done for his ward. Other than that - can you honestly tell me he's had much to run against? Last time out it was Kinnon against a guy that was staunchly against the dog park with no other platform and another guy that just seemed to not be into the whole politics thing. Who would you vote for?
david mokal September 06, 2012 at 06:27 PM
If the TEEN Center works out well we should build or renovate a building for them. Its a step in the right direction.
david mokal September 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM
That may be true but from Washinton to Malden Rules are broken everyday. If a rule was broken Im glad he did it. No red tape..No jibber jabber just do it. Its apart of cleaning up Malden as well having a place for youths to go. Everything that is said here ia all about Charter Schools and more Charter Schools. I personally dont care about Charter schools but the youths in Malden thats what counts. It's all about the kids not what school you attend. Im not debating you at all this is just my own opinion. Nobody never questioned the Cahoona that ran this city before seemed like everyone was afraid of him.
Howard the Duck September 06, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I am not one to usually agree with the councilor from Ward 6 but his opposition to this proposed teen center has validity. Why is it needed? This city has a brand new YMCA. The schools all have many good after school activities and programs for kids. Each high schoo whether Malden, MC, or MV offer programs whether athletic or academic for students. This is without mentioning all the youth organizations the city has that do an outstanding job helping kids. We also have a great public library for kids to go to study and learn. Also teens should be encouraged to apply for jobs at local businesses. So respectfully this poster thinks these tax dollars could be much better spent than on for what all intents and purposes would be a clubhouse.
ScollaySQ September 06, 2012 at 09:01 PM
It will certainly come in handy as a after school day care. Need to run an errand, doctors appt.? just drop the kiddos off and pick them up when your done.
Nick Wright September 06, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Not trying to be combative but using that logic, we shouldn't fund public parks as well. I don't see anything wrong with having publicly funded alternatives.
AnnieOMalden September 06, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Michael V: I sure don't need to justify myself to you. You are a "Mikey come lately" to these blogs and are defending a councilor you clearly don't know a lot about. He had a meeting in Linden? That counts for a ward meeting? Really? I will actually give him credit for one meeting I can't remember which will bring the grand total to two meetings he has had for his ward in the past 6 years or so. Ask Judy Bucci or other councilors how many meetings they had in their ward. Heck, even Deb Fallon had quarterly meetings! Yes, I did hold a sign for her as I felt she was an agent for change yet I do support our current Mayor and accept him and have publicly thanked him for various upgrades or positive changes in the city. Funny, you are the only one accusing me of "relentlessly lying" about Mayor Gary during his campaign. He may not have liked what I had to say, but it wasn't a lie. Don't go giving your pal credit for the raised sidewalk. He wasn't the one who originally put that on the agenda. You can thank Eileen Fay for that. He just picked up where she left off due to her untimely death. The traffic is already a mess with the Spruce St. crossing guard a block down from the completely necessary one at Laurel St. God forbid Neil's kids would have to walk down a block to cross at Laurel St.! LOL
ScollaySQ September 07, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Hi Nick, To me it appears as though it is a publicly funded after school day care, or at least that's what it will turn into. There were other alternatives, with little or no additional cost to the taxpayer. Either way, we are now as Mr Kinnon points out on the hook for 4 years, regardless of the end result. If I were in charge of other peoples money I would throw them nickles around like sewer covers.
Michael Victor September 07, 2012 at 03:28 AM
I saw that budget meeting replayed over the summer. The teen center is going to cost at least $150,000 a year. How many kids you think are going to use it? I think by the time they get to HS it might be too late. We should have a Jr High Center and definitely a youth center for younger kids until their parents get home. Monday through friday until 6 or seven. Since some of them aren't fed well at home we should also offer supper. How is it fair to have a High School teen center and not one for Jr high and before kids are in need. I am willing to pay four dollars for blue bag to fund it.
stella September 10, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I have to comment on this. I know for a fact that ANNIE O is not bitter about Gary winning. I also Held a sign for fallon and i am not bitter. I feel Gary is doing an awesome job. And i also know if kinnon runs against Gary you can bet your sweet bippy it will be a land slide for Gary all over again.
stella September 10, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Annie very well said
Sean Hickey September 13, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Neil Kinnon serves on the Board of Directors for the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. That right there consitutes a conflict of interest.
Tellitlikeitis October 14, 2012 at 08:06 PM
i agree that it is a good idea,but please beware,whenever you have a place where teens hangout you know the slimy drug pushers are never too far behind and once they get in it will be ruined.hope they plan on having security there for every minute they are open. don't mean to be a killjoy but the facts are the facts


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