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Melrose Receives Statewide Innovation Award for Our City Series

Melrose recently received The Kenneth E. Pickard Municipal Innovation Award from the Massachusetts Municipal Association for the Our City Series project completed throughout 2012 and 2013.

Melrose City Hall sign. Credit: File photo
Melrose City Hall sign. Credit: File photo
Melrose recently received The Kenneth E. Pickard Municipal Innovation Award from the Massachusetts Municipal Association for the Our City Series project completed throughout 2012 and 2013, according to a city press statement.

The award recognizes municipalities that have developed creative projects and programs to increase the effectiveness of local government across Massachusetts, according to the statement.

"I am extremely proud for Melrose to win this prestigious award. The primary goal of the Our City Series was to engage citizens from all walks of life in a process to design new and refine existing municipal policies. Secondarily, we wanted to provide Melrosians who may not be active in civic life an opportunity to be engaged and stay engaged in the community and to connect citizens with each other," said Mayor Rob Dolan in the statement.

The Our City Series was a yearlong process that started with one-on-one conversations with a selected group of leaders from government, community, and business about the policies that would have the greatest impact on their peers and constituents, according to the statement. From there, distinct demographics of residents were brought together for focus groups that included:

• Empty nesters and retirees.
• Families and individuals without children.
• Families with children under age five.
• Families with children over age five.

"This project was made possible by the volunteer efforts of Melrose resident and President of Civitas Strategies, Gary Romano. He guided these groups to have deeper discussion on particular issues and create a comfort in expressing honest opinions on what they value in Melrose, develop new city policies, and help re-craft existing programs," Dolan said in the statement. 

A number of projects, services, and policies have been created, including:

• Melrose Birth to Five: New website, resource guide, calendar, and email sign up list
• Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Council
• Educational Forums co-hosted by the School Department and Melrose Educational Foundation
• Public Safety neighborhood meetings by ward
• Mayor’s Blog 
• City Twitter 
• DPW resolution to study all transportation modes for new projects
• DPW mobile app to report issues 
• New overlay district and economic opportunity over Tremont Street rail corridor
• 12 new bike racks throughout City
• At least one specialized Saturday recycling event per month 
• Snow plowing live updates and plan though blog and Twitter
• Superintendent 100 day plan 
• Public Safety customer feedback
• Adult Summer Stroll Block Party 
• Community Exercise nights at high school athletic complex 
• Complete overhaul of school websites 
• Expanded adult education classes 
• New Teen Center format
• Professional development program for Melrose business owners with Melrose Chamber of Commerce 

In 2014, the city plans to continue the rollout of policies deriving from Our City. Upcoming projects include:

• Conduct needs assessment and action plan for Melrose seniors
• Changing ordinances for parking in municipal lots.
• Changing parking permit regulations.
• Expanding economic development committee.
• Study viability of weekly recycling.
• Municipal academy for residents interested in learning about city departments’ scope and leadership. 
• New city website with community input.
• Committee to establish a community garden.

"The Our City Series is a blueprint that will help guide our policies for several years to come. Giving residents the ability to express what they value in the community will be they key to our collective success going forward as a City," Dolan said in the statement.

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