"Marblehead First!" Demands Local Business Owner
At the Marblehead Select Board meeting on Wednesday September 28, 2022, local real estate business owner and former Select Board member Michael Rockett came forward during public comments to express his strong concerns regarding the disruption caused by the many simultaneous infrastructure projects currently taking place around town. The road projects on Pleasant Street are “crushing his tenants,” he stated, with numerous road closures and detours. And Pleasant Street is not the only construction zone. With construction also taking place on West Shore Drive, Tedesco Street, and Elm Street, Rockett noted that the work currently underway has effectively “shut down” the town.
It was not always this way during construction projects, according to Rockett. When former Town Administrator Tony Sasso was in charge, he said, there was a master plan in place for all town projects, and contractors “couldn’t put a bucket on the side of the road,” because Sasso insisted that every piece of equipment be put away each day. Also, projects never started before school opening, according to Rockett. Now, he says, “kids can’t get to school and people can’t get to businesses.”
Rockett stressed that he does not want to place blame on any specific individuals. He mentioned in particular his appreciation for the work done by Amy McHugh, the Director of the Marblehead Water and Sewer Department and acting Director of the Highway Department. He also spoke respectfully of his understanding of the need to secure state grants for construction projects. However, he noted forcefully, it is “ok to say no to grants” if they are going to be too disruptive to the people living in town.
Rockett pleaded with the Select Board to provide some relief and assistance. “We matter more than the construction companies,” he said. “I do not want to be here, but it feels like the town doesn’t care.” Rockett continued, “We give too much leeway to the contractors and not enough to the townspeople,” and it is time to “put Marblehead first.”
The Select Board expressed sympathy for Rockett’s concerns but did not propose any specific resolution.
Also during the September 28 meeting, the Select Board solicited letters of interest from residents interested in being considered for one of three vacancies on the Task Force Against Discrimination, including one position designated for a student, and two vacancies on the Finance Committee. Letters are due at the Select Board office by Friday, October 21, 2022, and candidate interviews will be held on Wednesday, October 26 during the Select Board meeting.
During the September 28 Select Board meeting, attendees included Chair Moses Grader and members Jackie Belf-Becker, Erin Noonan, Jim Nye, and Alexa Singer. Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer was unable to attend due to a death in the family.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article, Jenn Schaeffner, is a business partner of Patricia Rockett, wife of Michael Rockett.