Candidate for Mayor of Braintree Tom Reynolds on Development, Schools, and Community Finances
Braintree needs to have in our next Mayor a collaborator who will listen to and respect all points of view from our citizens. I care deeply about the present challenges we face and the challenges we will surely face tomorrow.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with residents across the town and have heard numerous concerns, but the questions I receive the most are focused on the topics of development, our schools, and our community finances. I’d like to provide my thoughts on these concerns and how I plan to address them as the next Mayor of Braintree.
My commitment would be to prioritize an update to Braintree’s 1998 Master Plan within the first year of being elected. The Master Plan is a blueprint of zoning and property improvements and it sets priorities for developing and maintaining infrastructure and public facilities. I will collaborate closely with residents, neighborhood groups and business groups to assess, formulate and implement an updated comprehensive Master Plan. I will also commit to implementing new Zoning By-laws that reflect the findings of the updated Master Plan and will protect our community from any legal issues that may come from our currently antiquated Zoning By-laws.
For too long, decisions about developments appear to have been made behind closed doors. As Mayor, I would ensure that any decisions around future developments will be transparent and start with a community conversation. It’s time we take back control from developers - neighbors need to have a say in their neighborhoods’ future.
Additionally, our Master Plan should prioritize re-development of vacant and blighted areas in our town - such as the boarded-up Motel 6, the old BELD power plant on Allen St, and the condemned Armstrong Property along Hancock Street. Encouraging redevelopment of these properties and others could create opportunities for expanded parking for public transit on the redline or commuter rails, create 55+ housing or veteran’s housing, or provide the foundation for new businesses in the life-science and health sectors to grow in Braintree.
I’ll emphasize that before redeveloping any of these properties we have to start with a community conversation and an update to our Master Plan. Part of our plan will need to address how any future redevelopments will impact and support essential town resources such as public safety, public education, and public transit. By requiring redevelopment proposals to support our town we could add more officers for traffic enforcement or outreach efforts, upgrade critical school infrastructure needs and establish a last-mile transportation option to shuttle residents to the MBTA or their jobs in Braintree, or to our local retail establishments—all while reducing the number of cars on our roads.
Although this is not an easy task, as someone who has planned for and built or upgraded numerous infrastructures over the course of my 28 years in municipal management, I am best prepared to lead these community conversations and hold developers accountable. I will work every day to ensure our community values are never sold or compromised.
As Mayor, my priority for our schools will be infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. Our school infrastructure needs to adequately support our 21st-century learning and needs to be aligned with advancing technologies. As Mayor, I would only fill one seat of seven on the School Committee, but after conversations with many of the current school committee members, parents and students, infrastructure remains their number one priority.
We also need to focus on improving our curriculum - specifically around science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), along with business and humanities programs. But this remains secondary to our need for improved infrastructure and I feel these programs can be improved over-time within current operating budgets and future infrastructure improvements. The East Middle School upgrade project - with its focus on creating new learning labs and STEM spaces for students - is a great example of how investing in infrastructure improvements greatly impacts the school curriculums.
I am a product of the Braintree Public School system, along with my wife and children. I want to ensure that the students of today and tomorrow have the best resources possible to further their education here in Braintree.
Braintree is known for its low residential tax rates, a strong mix of small businesses and commercial operations—this has been a good mix for Braintree for the past 60 years. As Mayor, I will work to ensure this critical balance of residential and commercial/business tax rates remains the same.
I am strongly against any debt override - it simply is not in the best interest of the town, and any debt exclusion for infrastructure projects should only be considered after all other options have been exhausted.
Running a community is similar to running a household, you need to constantly balance what is financially doable in order to maintain a certain quality of life. For Braintree to maintain its current quality of life we need to grow our commercial tax base through appropriate economic development initiatives. This strategic approach will prioritize the necessary balance needed to sustain our “town” charm and feel while simultaneously ensuring our ability to fund our most essential needs, without overburdening our residential taxpayers. As I previously noted, we have a lot of vacant properties that aren’t providing much economic support that could instead become a foundation for future revenue streams.
Most of my life I’ve been a collaborator in both the private sector and the municipal sector. I’m proud of what I have accomplished for those I’ve served, and even more proud of the way I’ve been able to accomplish these past achievements. I lead with transparency, accountability, and results that have benefited the greater good, while at the same time ensuring that every priority and every dollar spent has been thoroughly examined and will deliver the maximum benefit for the community.
I respectfully ask that you consider me for your vote on Tuesday, November 5th for Mayor of Braintree. It will be my honor to go to work for the residents of Braintree, and you can be assured that I’ll be ready to work on day one. To learn more about my background and my plan for Braintree please visit www.reynoldsformayor.com or email email@example.com.