Published in the March 10, 2017 edition

MELROSE — The city is doing just fine but cannot afford to rest on its laurels, Mayor Robert J. Dolan told an audience Wednesday night during his annual State of the City address.

Elementary school deficiencies are being addressed at the Horace Mann, the Hoover and the Winthrop. The city’s bond rating is healthy, so it can keep borrowing money at little cost. Home values, the average of which is over a half million dollars, continue to trend upward.

The average homeowner’s tax bill is reasonable when compared to most other nearby communities. Senior citizens are well looked after. Capital investments in areas like the Highlands Business District and the the Essex Street Business District continue to reap rewards.

Fittingly, Dolan’s 2017 statement on how the city’s doing was held in the new Melrose High Learning Commons, which he called a “transformational learning space for the entire community.”

With the state and federal government’s financial commitment to Melrose forever hanging in the balance, talented city managers are basically on their own when trying to figure out how to pay for new initiatives or how to keep current programs going strong.

Future initiatives carrying big price tags include a combined Public Safety Building. Dolan explained that a committee has been formed with the charge of presenting a proposal on what to do with the police station and the main fire house as the city works to bring its public safety facilities into the 21st century.

Melrose Library representatives have submitted a grant proposal to the state’s Board of Library Commissioners to be included in the next round of state library construction grants. The grant, if approved, would cover up to about 50 percent of the total project cost.

A committee to review the capital needs of Memorial Hall will be commissioned in the spring to assess infrastructure issues at the facility.

Private development continues in Melrose, despite the ever decreasing availability of space. Dolan this week pointed to the new building at 10-14 Corey St., The Residence at Melrose Station on Essex Street, and the planned conversion of the old Moynihan Plaza on Main Street in the heart of the downtown.

The mayor also spoke about business district parking. He said that with the new merchant parking program, which provides 170 employee parking spaces in areas away from the traditional business zones, the prime parking spots downtown can now be available to customers.

Also, the city this year plans to sign a contract to bring two ZipCars to Melrose to help address transportation needs of residents living downtown.

Driver and pedestrian safety was on the mind of the mayor and others as they grappled with ways to slow traffic down around Melrose. Dolan said this week the city plans to apply for Complete Streets funding to enhance projects that address all modes of transporation and will purchase additional solar speed signs for targeted areas throughout Melrose. Also this year, the Traffic Commission is expected to vote on whether to make a 25 mile per hour speed limit for the entire city.

Other bullet points made during Dolan’s presentation Wednesday night included striving to always bring depth and meaning to the slogan “Melrose: One community open to all”; promoting balanced and responsible suburban design and planning, being mindful of the need to protect the city’s environmental greenbelt, and “most importantly (to) promote and involve an active citizenry that work in partnership with a responsive government to manage this city in a thoughtful, honest and accountable manner.”