In looking back over the previous year, there are only a handful of stories that can truly be called the ‘Top Stories of 2013’. First let’s look at our top three stories for 2013 and then we can discuss each in turn.
The Mayoral Election dominated news coverage in the city from mid-June through Election Day in November, and despite a convincing win for incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, it remains the top story of the year, if only because of the lasting impact the result will have on the city going forward.
Another story that will have a lasting and positive impact on Lynn going forward is the voters’ decision to support the construction of a new Marshall Middle School, during the Primary in September.
The third top story of 2013 is not one story at all, but rather a collection of stories about several new developments, primarily in Lynn’s Downtown, which together give proof of the surging growth of business in the city.
Certainly, as with any list of this sort, some may argue that other stories belong in this list of Top Three. The announcement of future plans for Union Hospital, for instance comes to mind as a story that many will feel was very important this past year. However, as no final decision has been made about the future of Union Hospital, we’d argue that particular story is not yet complete.
In any case, here is a quick rundown of our top stories for the past year and what we found them so intriguing.
For much of the year, people across the city were talking about the Mayoral contest and it was widely considered that Mayor Kennedy was facing a stiff fight from her former colleague, the then-sitting City Council President. Indeed, supporters of both candidates seemed unsure of just exactly how close the race would be.
On one hand, Kennedy was a popular Mayor who had performed well over her previous term.
Opposing her seemed to be an equally popular and successful local politician, with a big family and a message that things could be better.
Additionally, mayoral elections across the state just two years ago had proven to be change elections and incumbents had not done well.
When Election Day finally arrived the result was almost anti-climactic. As popular and successful as Councilor Phelan had been with voters, the message up and down the ballot was that the city’s voters are satisfied with the direction and leadership that Mayor Kennedy had set incumbents in all races coasted to easy victories.
However, in the end it is not the election itself that makes this such an important story for the city. Rather, it is the fact that Mayor Kennedy, her administration and the City Council are being given time to continue to build on the momentum and growth that were so evident in Lynn in 2013.
Reasonable people can disagree about the pace of change or the type of growth that is occurring, what matters is that growth is occurring and that is what Lynn voters rewarded in 2013.
New middle school approved
In truth there really wasn’t any reason for Lynn voters to vote against the New Marshall Middle School project.
The current Marshall Middle School is in desperate need of replacement and it is one of two such schools in the Lynn system. The Massachusetts School Building Authority has pledged to reimburse Lynn up to 80-percent for allowable school building costs, meaning that Lynn will only have to spend about 20-percent of the projected $92 million cost.
Finally, the city has a plan to pay for that 20-percent cost without impacting the residential tax rate, a feat that most city’s would not be able to afford.
That said the outcome should never have been in doubt.
However, the election for the new school vote was held as part of the ballot for the City Primary Election, and with only one contested Ward Council seat on the primary ballot, voter turnout was expected to be low.
Yet against that backdrop, nearly 5,800 Lynn voters came out to support the school system and the construction of a new Middle School for the first time in years.
This wasn’t just a good story it was good news for parents across Lynn.
Finally, as we said at the beginning, the steady pace of new businesses opening and new construction across downtown has infused Lynn with an energy and excitement that has people talking both inside and outside of Lynn.
From the opening of the new Rossetti’s Restaurant and D’Amici’s Downtown Café on Liberty Street, the announcement of plans for a new Market Basket on land formerly owned by General Electric on Western Avenue or the construction of a new shopping plaza and housing on Andrew Street, development abounds in downtown Lynn and that is a good sign for the city.
Those projects are just part of the new growth in the city and there are others in the planning stages that have not been finalized or announced.
Downtown Lynn, in particular, finally seems to be enjoying the revitalization that the city has been hoping for decades.
A reinvigorated downtown is good for the rest of the city and it is good for the North Shore.
2013 was a good year for Lynn, a very good year.