Looking back at the year that just ended, we cannot honestly say that it was a very good year for Lawrence, especially for some Lawrencians. Certainly, while some of the goals for the City of Lawrence were accomplished; those
same accomplishments left some citizens in a grim situation. It is not a secret that the administration of Mayor William Lantigua inherited
an enormous deficit that forced the city to request permission from the Legislature to borrow up to $35 million in order to cover the deficit and balance the 2011 budget.
While the budget was balanced, many city employees were fired or laid off, especially and the most painful of all, firefighters and police officers, leaving many department units dismantled.
Negotiations with the firefighters unions resulted in the rehiring of all of them, with some new ones going to the academy while conversations with the police unions have resulted in a dead end with no concessions in sight, with both, the administration and the police unions pointing fingers at each other for the lack of progress.
All over, crime of all sorts climbed during the year. In Lawrence, this prompted those in opposition to police layoffs to say that it was a direct consequence of the reduction in enforcement. That and a long list of other reasons prompted a group called It’s Your Right – Es tu Derecho to recall Mayor Lantigua. The attempt failed and immediately a new group, named Uniting Lawrence was formed, presided by Josue Hernandez who is taking the torch into the 2012.
Despite the harsh economic times, budget cuts and other negative elements that affect cities all around the nation and its development, 2011 was a very successful year for the development of the City of Lawrence, according to the Lawrence Community Development Department. Amongst them, a grant from Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, allowed the city to build a 3-lane vehicular and pedestrian bridge across the North Canal to improve Island Street and related infrastructure and serve the new Union Crossing Development, which was inaugurated on December 13th.
The taking of our school system by the state and the new parking meters installed in selected streets are bringing additional controversy into the New Year. It seems that controversy is part of Lawrence’s culture. We must be thankful for the fact that we can openly express our opinions without fear of consequences, with the hope that it will bring the necessary changes to improve our quality of live.