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Business Manager’s Blog


John P. Dumas



John P. Dumas, the Business Manager of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 7,000 electrical and telecommunication members in the Greater Boston area.

A 37 year member of Local 103, Dumas is a seasoned and experienced leader. Along with serving as 103’s president for the past 18 years, Dumas served the union in a number of leadership roles, including business agent, member of the union’s executive board and trustee of the health, ANNUITY, pension, LMCT and JATC funds. He also has served as a member of numerous contract negotiation teams, playing a pivotal role in several major contracts governing members’ benefits.

Throughout his career he has shown a keen interest in nurturing younger union officers in preparation for leadership roles in the future, and his leadership style has always been one of inclusion and accessibility to all members.

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BetaBurger coming to Mission Hill in Boston


The Boston Globe | By Dan Adams
April 24, 2015

Adrian WongAdrian Wong had one of those plum jobs his friends kind of hated him for having, pulling in six figures a year advising startup companies from the investment bank Morgan Stanley’s Boston office.

In the back of his mind, however, Wong dreamed of striking out on his own. He toyed with different concepts, but nothing clicked — until he saw a documentary about the rapid success of Chipotle.

That’s when Wong made his move, chucking cuff links for an apron and a $9-an-hour gig in the kitchen of the Mexican food chain.

Now, after six months of learning the nitty-gritty mechanics of the restaurant business, Wong is unveiling the reason for his inexplicable career change: Beta Burger, a Mission Hill eatery scheduled to open this summer that he hopes will become the Chipotle of the beef-and-bun segment, but with an unusual cooking technique.

Beta Burger is hardly the first burger company to try to carve out a niche between fast food and full-service restaurants — think Tasty Burger or Shake Shack. Nor will Wong be the first high-flying businessman to open a restaurant; Ayr Muir, the founder of Clover, started at the management-consulting giant McKinsey.

Wong’s particular take on the business includes a high-tech water vapor oven that keeps the burgers almost unbelievably moist and a healthy borrowing of Chipotle’s assembly line approach to toppings to create countless varieties of dishes.

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Billerica ZBA asked to deny 40B plans


Wicked Local Billerica | By Marlies Henderson
March 18, 2015

BILLERICA Planning Board members have unanimously recommended that the Zoning Board of Appeals deny two 40B comprehensive permits, citing that neither project is consistent with the town’s recently adopted Affordable Housing Production Plan.

The 40B developments — Graystone Estates and Hidden Oaks -– are both located near the Tewksbury town line. Hidden Oaks’ developer seeks to construct 80 townhouses in 22 buildings on a 9.5-acre parcel on Oak Street.

The proposal calls for 25 percent, or 20 units, to be affordable. Graystone Estates seeks to construct 28 single-family homes, of which 25 percent, or seven, homes would be affordable.

The development would be located on Capadilupo Lane off Gray Street. Chapter 40B of Massachusetts General Law allows developers to bypass local planning and zoning regulations if more than 25 percent of the units are affordable and the town has less than 10 percent affordable housing.

Although other boards can provide opinions, the zoning board of appeals is the only body that has to approve of the project. Currently, 6 percent of Billerica’s housing stock is affordable, but Director of Planning Tony Fields said by adopting a housing production plan, officials can reject 40B housing projects if the town is working toward their 10 percent goal.

Fields said a similar memo to deny the Aspen Apartment 40B development was submitted, but at the time the recommendation could not be enforced for “lack of teeth,” which the Affordable Housing Production Plan is intended to provide.

Aspen Apartments, Fields said, is on Rangeway Road. The project includes 384 units. Because these are all rental units, he said all 384 will count toward the town’s affordable housing stock. It is not yet known when Aspen will be constructed.

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Charlie Baker joins N.E. govs in energy action plan


Boston Herald | By Marie Szaniszlo
April 23, 2015

Charlie Baker 3New England’s governors yesterday agreed to a mix of regional and state steps — from increased natural gas capacity to renewable energy such as solar and wind power — to help reduce energy costs.

In one joint effort, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut are seeking power purchase agreements for hydropower or other types of renewable energy.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he supports the carbon emission reduction goals developed under former Gov. Deval Patrick, despite his support for increased natural gas capacity.

“I think the most important thing we need to do is to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and at the same time not write $7.5 billion checks across the New England region to the energy producers because we don’t have enough capacity to meet demand,” he said.

The six-state action plan the governors released said Massachusetts “is committed to pursuing … regional access to large-scale renewable and other clean energy resources,” as well as to regional efforts to expand natural gas capacity into New England.

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Historic Downtown Buildings Could Be Topped With Modern Flair


Boston.com | By Megan Turchi
April 23, 2015

The latest proposal for revamping a small section of downtown takes a unique approach to a very Boston problem: how to make modern use of old buildings.

For several months, developer Related Beal has been angling to turn an area between Congress Street, Water Street and Devonshire Street into a mixed-use development called “Congress Square.”

The structures there were built between 1899 and 1921 and were originally used as banks. But “for the last 40 years, these buildings have been restricted to private use and turned inward, cut off from the surrounding neighborhood and streets,” according to a project description Related Beal submitted to the Boston Redevelopment Authority in March.

Related Beal’s proposal includes multi-story additions made of glass that would sit on top of the historic facades.

“We wanted to create something that would not detract from the existing facades’ architectural detail and integrity,” Steve Faber, executive vice president for Related Beal, told Boston.com. “The new structure is light, noticeably different and celebrates its newness yet compliments the existing buildings.”

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Capital improvement plan includes new fire station, replacement vehicles


Eagle-Tribune | Douglas Moser
April 22, 2015

METHUEN — A new fire station would be built for the east end of the city, and nearly all front-line ambulances and fire engines would be replaced over the next seven years in a $14 million Fire Department capital request released Tuesday.

The plan envisions a new pumper engine in five of the next seven years, and a new ambulance in each of the next three years. It reflects the condition of the city’s emergency vehicles, many of which are at least a decade old, and the cost of replacing fire pumps, ladders and ambulances.

Nearly half of Fire Chief Steven Buote’s request, by far the largest of the three biggest city departments, is an estimated $6.5 million for a new station for the eastern part of the city to replace the existing 97-year-old building at Swan and East streets, along with about $750,000 for work on Central Station.

“These (two) buildings were built in the 1800s and early 1900s,” he said. “They were built for horse-drawn apparatus. Now we have these enormous machines.”

Buote’s plan calls for $2.6 million next fiscal year for a new aerial ladder truck at $1.3 million, a new pumper engine equipped at $550,000, a new ambulance at $260,000 and $520,000 in work to Central Station.

The department had to move a reserve pumper engine into regular service last year when front-line pumper had to be scrapped after mechanics discovered a large crack in its frame.

The following year’s request comes in at $1.2 million, including $575,000 for a new pump engine, $275,000 for an ambulance and $250,000 for work to Central Station.

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Advocates say cap stymies solar projects


Wicked Local Billerica | By Gerry Tuoti
April 19, 2015

Solare Energy Advocates GroupBILLERICA Solar energy proponents say state restrictions on certain incentives are blocking new projects from moving forward.

Several dozen gathered April 7 at the State House to urge lawmakers to support solar energy. Claiming that the solar industry supports 12,000 jobs in Massachusetts, they also delivered a letter signed by more than 560 business leaders calling for Gov. Charlie Baker to be a “champion for solar energy” and commit to getting 20 percent of the state’s electricity from solar power by 2025.

At issue is a cap on net metering, an incentive that allows owners of solar projects to essentially sell excess electricity they produce back to the power grid in exchange for credits on their electric bills.

The current state law caps the amount of solar power eligible for net metering at 4 percent of a utility provider’s peak demand for private projects and 5 percent for public projects.

Solar panel owners hit the cap in March in National Grid’s service territory. “Right now it means communities across Massachusetts, 171 in National Grid’s territory, are limited in how much they can go solar because of these caps,” said Emily Rochon, director of energy and environmental policy at Boston Community Capital. She added that the restrictions do not impact residential solar projects.

Luke McKneally, green building project manager for Boston-based New Ecology Inc., said that without net metering, big solar projects don’t often make financial sense for developers. “Without net metering, large-scale solar will have to make a new model,” he said. “Net metering is a proven, successful model.”

Utility companies have argued in favor of keeping some sort of a cap. Without a cap, non-solar customers would incur a larger cost burden to benefit electric customers with solar arrays, National Grid officials have previously argued.

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Concord voters approve school budget, new buses, bus depot


Wicked Local Concord | By Henry Schwan
April 16, 2015

CONCORD The last Town Meeting at the old Concord-Carlisle High School ended last Wednesday night. Moderator Eric Van Loon paid tribute to the 55-year run as the wrecking ball is poised to take down the old school.

Voters approved Concord’s $20 million share of the 2016 CCHS budget, $1 million for new school buses and $950,000 for a school bus depot.

The CCHS budget request generated the longest debate – nearly an hour. Resident David Stevens said, “If we pass this budget, it will bankrupt the town,” when he introduced an amendment that would cut the request to $17 million, which was the amount approved at Town Meeting last year.

Stevens said the nearly 5 percent budget increase compared to last year sets a precedent that taxpayers can’t afford. Finance Committee Chair Wendy Rovelli called the amendment a “disastrous reduction” before it was defeated.

Another amendment tied to the CCHS budget request was defeated. It called for an $180,000 cut, and its presenter, Lissa McKinney, said the amount represented money that was appropriated for two buses at prior Town Meetings that was never spent by the school department. “I think (Assistant School Superintendent) John Flaherty said tonight that it went into a stabilization fund and could be used for future bus purchases,” outgoing Regional School Committee chair Jennifer Munn said after Town Meeting. “I would want to sit down with a budget book and sit down with (McKinney) to make it absolutely sure we’re talking about the same things.”

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State to invest $27M to make UMass Lowell more energy-efficient


Eagle-Tribune
April 23, 2015

LOWELL — The state has committed to spend $27 million on a two-year project to make UMass Lowell more energy-efficient, it was announced Wednesday.

The work will involve 32 campus buildings and includes replacement of 26 boilers with heating equipment that runs on natural gas, upgrades of lighting at the Tsongas Center, and replacement or retrofit of nearly 2,500 lighting systems with LED and compact fluorescent alternatives.

The financing includes MassSave incentives from National Grid valued at more than $2.5 million, a $100,000 solar thermal grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other sources, including state bonds available through the Clean Energy Investment Program.

Work at the 17,000 student campus is expected to start this summer. When it’s finished the university’s energy costs are expected to be reduced by an estimated $1.26 million annually.

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Clover to open first 24-hour location in Central Square


Wicked Local Cambridge | By Sara Feijo
April 22, 2015

CloverCAMBRIDGE The fate of the 1,450-square-foot space that housed beloved Hi-Fi Pizza and Subs for more than 40 years was, for a time, uncertain.

But the Central Square corner shop is now home to a new location of Clover Food Lab, a growing empire of fast food restaurants serving an ever-changing menu of locally sourced food. As an homage to Hi-Fi Pizza, which occupied the space until last year, the new restaurant will be called Clover HFI, said Lucia Jazayeri, Clover communications director. “It was just an iconic building in the area and so many people remember it, have memories from it, so we wanted to name our location after Hi-Fi,” Jazayeri said on Tuesday as crews prepared the space for inspection.

The new Clover restaurant, located at 496 Massachusetts Ave., will be open 24 hours and will feature a late-night menu beginning at midnight, which will combine elements of breakfast with brand new items.
Clover opened on Wednesday for a free sandwich day where customers paid what they wanted for their meals. Proceeds were donated to a food-focused cause, Jazayeri said. But Clover HFI will officially open its doors at 7 a.m. on Friday for its first 24-hour shift that will come bearing six prizes for those who purchase raffle tickets.

Prizes, for example, include a $100 gift certificate to Craigie on Main, a knife skills class with a Clover chef for the winner and eight friends, and glow-in-the-dark Clover T-shirts, Jazayeri said. “Our main goal is to meet everyone in Central Square,” Jazayeri said. “We’re really excited to be here.

It’s going to be special for the community to have a place to go all hours of the night to get fresh food.” The new restaurant accommodates 46 people — 90 if outdoor seating is approved — and features an open kitchen, two pinball machines, a communal table, two screens with a list of upcoming events, and a retail area with groceries from suppliers, such as Grafton cheddar and Backyard Farms tomatoes, food books and hard-to-find food magazines from all over the world.

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Revised Jackson Square apartment plan raises concerns in Weymouth


Wicked Local Weymouth | By Ed Baker
April 16, 2015

WEYMOUTH A developer has reduced the amount of residences in a proposed apartment house near Franklin Pratt Library, but there are concerns about whether a parking plan has enough room for drivers when they are exiting the site.

Joseph McLaughlin, a Quincy based developer, said the proposed apartment house at 1434 Pleasant Street would have 12 single-bedroom units in a two-and-a-half story building where a single residence and 600 square feet of retail space exist. “There will be five parking spaces out front and 28 spaces out back,” McLaughlin said during a board of zoning appeals public hearing Wednesday, April 15. “There will be two spaces per unit plus whatever goes into the commercial spot.”

McLaughlin is seeking a special permit to construct the apartment house because it is located in Jackson Square, a general business district.

He said the design would retain an existing residence and a site on the ground floor for a commercial entity to do business, and remainder of the building will be demolished to accommodate the apartment house if the BZA approves the plan.

The original plan proposed by McLaughlin last year called for 18 units. It was reduced to 15 units following opposition by residences.

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Council Approves Majority Low-Income Housing Project


WHAV
April 22, 2015

Essex Street MillUnanimous support from the Haverhill city council Tuesday night on plans to renovate an empty Essex Street mill building into 62 housing units with ground-level commercial space.

Councilors voted 9-0 to grant a permit to Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative Inc., Braintree. It has proposed a Chapter 40-R residential development of affordable, mixed income and mixed use units at the Chen building, 98-112 Essex St. Of the 62 apartments, 55 units would be classified as affordable units. The site is within the “Downtown Smart Growth Overlay District.” According to company representatives, the project will be known as “98 Essex.”

Councilor William Macek said the project would be a “great fit for the downtown.”

“We’re actually replacing that center tooth that has been missing for so long. It will give us the better look that we need for completion. There are a couple other projects that are also going to be getting started that we’ve already permitted. And were moving quite nicely finally, after a 10-12 year attempt of getting the renovation totally completed, the renaissance that’s going on downtown,” Macek said.

Council President John A. Michitson said the proposal will reflect a diversified workforce in the downtown but efforts are also needed for the city’s commercial sector.

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Skanska has disappeared from a Harvard Business School project


Boston Business Journal | By Mary Moore
April 22, 2015

Harvard Business SchoolWhen I noticed that Harvard Business School is planning a topping-off ceremony Friday for its new executive education facility, I figured I’d do a quick-hit story announcing the date. I wasn’t even sure this was worth a story. Topping-off ceremonies rarely are.

But this is HBS and almost everything that happens over there is of interest. The new facility is called the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center and, when completed next year, will be a 90,000-square-foot structure with meeting rooms, offices, classrooms and more. Goody Clancy designed the structure.

I noticed something odd in the press release that HBS sent out announcing the topping-off. The construction company for the Chao project is now listed as Lee Kennedy Co. News stories that ran in late 2013 named Skanska as the construction company and many of the stories noted that Skanska had signed a contract for the $57 million project.

That was weird. Why is Lee Kennedy Company now handling the project? It got weirder.

I called Skanska’s Boston office to find out what happened. Almost immediately, Skanska had someone from the public affairs firm Dewey Square Group follow up with me to probe further about what I was writing. Shortly after, I received a prepared statement from Laura Onessimo, vice president of business development for Skanska’s team in Boston.

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Developer has faith in the friars — and in a high-rise


The Boston Globe | By Shirley Leung
April 22, 2015

St. Anthony ShrineTom O’Brien must be a man of faith to try yet again to build a new home for the friars who run St. Anthony Shrine in downtown Boston.

The first effort was more than a decade ago, when he was still with the New York real estate giant Tishman Speyer. The Franciscans agreed to have Tishman build a tower over their church on Arch Street, but that never happened because the company couldn’t buy nearby parcels to knit together a big enough development site.

Now O’Brien is back with his own firm, HYM Investment Group, trying another deal with the habit-wearing friars of Holy Name Province. The developer’s latest offer is one of eight proposals filed last week with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to redevelop the city-owned Winthrop Square garage.

O’Brien’s $675 million project stands out for its uniqueness. He’s proposing to move the Catholic order across the street and build it a new 500-seat church and friary on the garage site. He would also put up a public school and a park.

In exchange, HYM would build a 780-foot residential building — nearly as tall as the Hancock Tower — on St. Anthony’s property.

To hear O’Brien explain the project, you can’t tell if it’s the devout Catholic or the savvy developer speaking.

“This shrine has a ministry that is in line with the teachings of Jesus, taking care of the poor and caring for people who society perhaps has forgotten,” said O’Brien, a former Boston Redevelopment Authority director under Mayor Tom Menino. “The idea that the ministry and church could be anchored in the downtown for decades to come and contribute really interesting civic space — which is today a difficult parcel — is why I keep coming back.”

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Woburn’s Washington Street development proposal has skeptics


A pair of proposed development projects along Washington Street at the Interstate 95 interchange in Woburn were the dominant topics during a meeting of the Woburn City Council on April 7.

Wicked Local Woburn | By Linda Kush
April 16, 2015

WOBURN A pair of proposed development projects along Washington Street at the Interstate 95 interchange were the dominant topics during a meeting of the Woburn City Council on April 7.

Woburn Foreign Motors (WFM), located at 394 Washington St. at the intersection of Washington Street and the I-95 northbound ramp, proposed expanding its Jaguar and Toyota dealerships. The present Toyota building would be replaced with a three-story, 152,600-square-foot building with offices, repair bays and indoor vehicle storage.

Across the street and diagonally across from WFM, Madison Properties proposed four buildings: a dual-branded hotel, two sit-down restaurants and a Chick-fil-A restaurant with a drive-through window.

The development, known as Woburn Landing, would occupy the former W.R. Grace site between Tower Park Drive and Cummings Park. WFM would install a traffic signal at its driveway, working in concert with the existing signal at Tower Park Drive and the ramp to allow vehicles to turn left into the dealership, where the intersection would be marked “do not block” to prevent southbound traffic from impeding the entrance.

Madison proposed widening Washington Street to provide a double-left-turn onto the ramp and an exclusive left-turn lane onto Olympia Avenue, as well as widening the ramp.

The signals at Olympia Avenue and the ramp would be upgraded using the latest technology recommended by MassDOT. The entrance to Woburn Landing would be right-in, right-out. Owing to the current traffic congestion in the area and the complexity of the intersections, the City Council retained Matthew Kealey of the traffic engineering firm VHB in Watertown to perform a peer review of the traffic mitigation plans offered by representatives of the two projects.

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Boston fire budget includes 2 new stations


The Boston Globe | By Meghan E. Irons
April 22, 2015

Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn, lamenting the “awful disrepair” of Boston’s firehouses, is planning to spend more than $26 million to replace two deteriorating fire stations and renovate another pair, part of a broader effort to modernize the department.

Finn’s five-year capital plan, outlined in Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s proposed $2.86 billion budget, would be a boon for one of the nation’s oldest fire departments, which has not built a firehouse in more than three decades.

The commissioner described many of the city’s 33 firehouses as in “tough shape,’’ reflecting a lack of investment in infrastructure and construction. Earlier renovations were piecemeal, he said.

“The buildings are in an awful disrepair,’’ Finn said. “Other than us, people would not want to inhabit them.”

The Fire Department budget includes $13 million to build a new Engine 17 fire station on Dorchester’s Meetinghouse Hill and $10 million to build a new home for Engine 42 in Egleston Square, near the Roxbury-Jamaica Plain border.

“They are old. They are not conducive to modern-day housing for firefighters,’’ Finn said. “There’s a lot of asbestos and different things that are in them. All their internal systems — heating, plumbing — are all decayed. It’s just time.”

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