Perhaps the areas where the Mayor Mitchell’s accomplishments best live up to his rhetoric is in the scope of the economic development that is taking place on the waterfront, and the upgrades to the city’s parks, streets and sidewalks.
New daily COVID cases have been rising in the city after sharply declining from early January and remaining mostly steady through March. The state Department of Public Health reported a total of 127 new cases in New Bedford from April 20-25.
The mayor also cited the “beehive of economic activity” coming to the city’s working waterfront. “Our goal, simply stated, is to establish New Bedford as the top blue economy on the East Coast.”
Among the spending approvals: $7.1 million for health and safety; $11.1 million for neighborhood stability and housing; $7.1 million for small business support; $8.7 million for open space enhancements; $4.7 million for water and wastewater; and $11.9 million for arts, culture, hospitality and tourism.
Even more worrisome than the council’s determination to exert more control over the federal ARPA funds than they are probably entitled to, is the secretive process by which the council is trying to exercise that control.
City workers will no longer be required to submit proof of vaccination. And those who had chosen the option of producing weekly negative test results will no longer be required to do so.
Mayor Mitchell has proposed spending $18 million on arts, culture and hospitality; $13 million for neighborhood stabilization and housing; $11 million for enhancement to open space; and significant sums on other investments.
It’s a mystery, really, why a number of councilors should resent the growth of arts and tourist attractions that bring diners, shoppers and visitors to the city year round.
Derek Baptiste, Naomi Carney, Maria Giesta and newcomers Shane Burgo and Ryan Pereria, along with Abreu himself, voted for Abreu. Hugh Dunn, Scott Lima, Brad Markey, Linda Morad and Gomes himself voted for Gomes.
The city, like much of the country, has been experiencing the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 over the holiday season.