Committed to Our community, Committed to Fitchburg
Fitchburg Community Calendar
Samantha "SAM" Squailia and her husband Nick own a home, operate a successful small business, and most importantly are raising their terrific daughter Niki right here in Fitchburg.
SAM is dedicated to Moving Fitchburg Forward... and it shows through her work and experience:
Producer & Host of Discussing Fitchburg Now on FATV
Working full-time in Architectural Building Engineering with 19+ years experience
Owns and operates RusticCraft designs company in Fitchburg
Appointed Member of Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Board by Governor Baker in October 2018.
On the team coordinating the Longsjo Classic for Fitchburg
Coordinating weekly spring Trash Cleanup groups
Coordinated successful City-Wide Yard Sales in spring & fall in from Sept 2016 through Present with over 200 participating locations, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Started a Non-Profit Friends of Fitchburg DOGS, Inc & wrote a $250k grant for our new Fitchburg Dog Park, completed in August 2018.
Involvements also include: Fitchburg Cultural Alliance, Janet Cragin Youth Arts Awards, FATV, Fitchburg Pride, Fitchburg Greenway Committee, Civic Days, Crocker PTO, Holiday Decorating Committee, the Fitchburg Public Schools Gala Planning Committee, and Main Street Live! Fitchburg's Music Festival
Raised in Fitchburg, Committed to Fitchburg's Future
Full List of Council Committee Members (after Councilor Donnelly appointed by Council)
Beauchemin (4) Public Safety, Public Works, Finance, City Property
Clark (3) Legislative Affairs, Appointments, Public Works
DiNatale (3) C-Finance, Economic Development, Legislative Affairs
Donnelly (3) C- Records, Legislative Affairs, Public Safety
Fleming (4) C- Economic Development, Public Works, City Property, Appointments
Green (4) C-Public Safety, Economic Development, City Property, Appointments
Kaddy (4) C- Public Works, Public Safety, Economic Development, Appointments
Kushmerek (2) C- Appointments, Finance
Squailia (3) Public Works, City Property, Records
Walsh (3) C-Legislative Affairs, Public Safety, Finance
Zarrella (4) C- City Property, Finance, Legislative Affairs, Records
2018 City Council Committees:
City Council Committees are often where the bulk of the discussion and questions are discussed with relevant city officials or petitioners. Reports of the committees are then often accepted by the full council.
I regularly attend all Committee meetings of City Council,
Finance Committee: Usually Meets bi-weekly.
*Public Works Committee: Meets 1x per month, 4th Tuesday at 5pm at DPW 301 Broad St.
*City Property Committee: Meets sporadically as scheduled by chair. 2018 Meetings: Oct 1, 2018, July 16, 2018, May 1, 2018, April 17, 2018
Public Safety Committee: Meets sporadically as scheduled by chair. 2018 Meetings: Nov 8, 2018, Sept 6, 2018, July 17, 2018 June 5, 2018, Feb 20, 2018
Legislative Affairs Committee: Meets sporadically as scheduled by chair. 2018 Meetings: May 29, 2018
Economic Development Committee: This committee has never formally met in 2018.
Appointments Committee: Usually meets 15 minutes before Full Council Meetings.
*Records Committee: This committee has never formally met in 2018.
On the Issues in Fitchburg
Community engagement, Community involvement
- Building Civic, Community & Business Community Partnerships & development
- Working to improve our City with the help of our citizens; trash cleanups, park cleanups, identifying issues with residents and connecting with city resources to repair/replace
- Communicating Fitchburg city initiatives and changes to residents and fielding their input.
- Connecting our citizens and surrounding regional community and being a representative voice for the community with our government
Fiscal Responsibility & Smart Economic Growth
- Fostering a supportive community culture of our businesses
- Connecting our community with what our Businesses have to offer, and promoting our businesses outside of Fitchburg.
- Regional Cooperation & Regional Planning strategies; communicating with state and neighboring regions for regional economic development, joint planning & problem solving.
- Identifying and enhancing Fitchburg's strongest amenities and communicating those into Economic development planning---parks and recreation, arts and culture, sports and fitness.
- Fostering a Cultural Economy to help Cultivate Small Business Growth as an economic revitalization strategy
- Encouraging Commercial/Industrial Business base growth to lessen the burden on Residential taxpayers.
- Realistic vision for Fitchburg's Present & Future, with respect for its Past
- Maintaining our current building and infrastructure stock
- Invest in removing blighted properties
- Invest in Retrofitting existing building stock for modern usage where feasible
- Investing in telecommunications upgrades
A series of questions was sent to all the Councilor-At-Large candidates from our Sentinel & Enterprise, with each question answered in 60 words or less. Due October 13th. Here are my responses.
1. What is the biggest issue facing Fitchburg?
I believe the City of Fitchburg’s outstanding debts and liabilities are the biggest issue we face. Our total outstanding long-term liabilities have gone up over $20M from 2015 to a total of $261M in 2016. Paying down our debt is necessary to ensure our solvency into the future; and allow us to properly maintain our infrastructure and maintain city services.
2. How should Fitchburg attract new businesses?
• Reduce regulatory burdens (red-tape) to businesses
• Restructure our permitting process to ease the stress and burden on our new and existing businesses
• Continue to incrementally shift to a single-tax rate
• Encourage high speed telecommunications to increase our high-speed bandwidth accessibility through private partnership, grants & bonds
• Ensure our roads and utility infrastructure are properly maintained and upgraded as required
3. Do you support keeping Main Street one lane? Why or why not?
I believe adjustments should be made to address problems such as:
• Reconfigure loading zones to better reflect actual use
• Consider design of shifting bike lane on right side adjacent to 3’ car buffer
• Allow MART buses to stop in front of Monument Park
• Redesign configuration beyond Grove St with two lanes or adjusted/added parking & adjust merge pattern at Blossom
4. Some developers are interested in renovating properties, which are currently vacant or abandoned. As a councilor, would you make any changes to the way the city handles these requests?
I support the City efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on investors to remove the ‘2 year rule’ requirement for a special permit in cases of 1 and 2 family residential property.
Many properties are preexisting, non-conforming use within the zoning requirements, as such, a comprehensive look at our zoning ordinances and overlay, considering multi-use future potential is necessary.
5. Would you support allocating more money to roadwork? If so, how should the city fund these projects?
The top complaint from over 3,000 homes I’ve visited is the condition of the roads (tied with raising of taxes). We must maintain our road infrastructure through increased money allocation. I’d like to consider tying our road investment fund to a percentage of our excise tax revenue, while working to reduce that excise tax revenue dependency from our overall budget.
6. Overdoses are a daily occurrence in Fitchburg. How should the city address the continuing opioid crisis?
Drug addiction & overdose are a public health epidemic across New England. Focus should be on:
• Partnering with regional agencies and community leaders that are dealing with this crisis (Facing Addiction program)
• Expanding prevention (education) and treatment programs
• Increase public awareness (remove stigma)
• Continue to target & incarcerate drug traffickers in the city
• Expanding and fostering after-care & recovery programs
7. Many residents complain of high utility prices. Are there any changes you would support?
The muni-choice legislation at the state level would allow us the future option to purchase the Unitil Infrastructure and organize a local/regional power grid, with lower costs and better service.
At present, supporting and promoting Energy efficiency and rebate programs can provide the largest return on investment and can reduce residential energy bills by 20 percent, leading to significant savings.
Join Team Sam!
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In the News
When snow falls, local critics take social media by storm Telegram & Gazette 1/27/2019
In Fitchburg during last week’s storm, City Councilor Sam Squailia wasn’t behind the wheel of any municipal plow trucks. She didn’t treat roads. Nor did she carry a dispatch radio to attack problem areas.
Nevertheless, Ms. Squailia appears to be a central figure in storm operations because of her embrace of social media. She launched Discussing Fitchburg Now on Facebook three years ago, and it’s approaching 18,000 members.
“Generally people don’t call me,” said Ms. Squailia, who’s been on the council two years. “They send me a Facebook message. It’ll be, ‘Sam, my street is so icy; I can’t get out. Can you send a sanding truck?’ ”
If the message is received during weekday business hours, Ms. Squailia said she will send a quick email to the street superintendent, and the department is on it. But if the request is made during off-hours, weekends or holidays, Ms. Squailia recommends the requester call dispatch themselves.
Not everything has been negative, the elected official suggested. The councilor said she’s received positive feedback from residents about their interactions with a new Fitchburg dispatch operator.
“They write back saying he was so nice, he got right on it and was kind and friendly,” she said. “I sent a message to the DPW director, just letting him know that whatever you did with the new dispatcher, they’re doing a great job.”
Read More: https://www.telegram.com/news/20190127/when-snow-falls-local-critics-take-social-media-by-storm
Single-family homeowners will be paying a larger share of the city's tax base due to a new tax rate that sharply divided city councilors during a Council of Whole meeting Thursday.
This vote means the owner of the average single-family home can expect to pay $238 more in taxes. Had the council approved the same rate calculation as last year, taxes would have increased $170 on average.
The city is working toward a single tax rate for commercial/industrial and residential taxpayers. Had the council voted for a single tax rate Thursday, the average homeowner's annual taxes would have increased $306.
…..Beauchemin and At-Large Councilor Sam Squailia also voted against the motion. Squailia said she supports a more gradual change to a unified tax rate, but the trend since 2014 has been to shift it 2 to 4 percent annually.
"In that time we've also raised the water bills multiple times, the sewer bills multiple times and, of course, I'm sure the electric rate will go up, so 6 percent feels too drastic to me," she said.
Scary weather Saturday cancels some Fitchburg events, but still fun to be had Sentinel & Enterprise 10/26/2018
On Sunday, the dogs get their turn to dress up during the Howl-o-Ween Pet Costume Parade.
The event starts at 10 a.m. (rain or shine) and ends at 1 p.m. and will be held at the city's new dog park at Coolidge Park.
"In 2018 we had over 35 dogs register for the pet costume contest parade in the pouring rain," said dog park president and City Councilor Samantha Squailia. "This year the forecast might look a little ruff, but our dogs are tough and we are still planning for a 'FURociously' good time."
Registration for the pet costume contest in $10. Prizes will go to dogs, and other animals, with the best pet costume, funniest costume, scariest costume and best human/pet couple costume.
Arts, culture? Fitchburg's well on the way Sentinel & Enterprise 10/24/2018
'City officials pounded pavement Tuesday morning on a walking tour of the newly designated "Fitchburg Arts and Cultural District," which for the next three years will benefit from a program aimed at spurring development in Gateway Cities.
The program, called the Transformative Development Initiative, is run by MassDevelopment, the state's quasi-public agency that works to stimulate economic growth in the state.
"It's like a business accelerator, but for places," said executive director of the program, Noah Koretz, of the Transformative Development Initiative.
MassDevelopment last spring chose Fitchburg, Chelsea, Lawrence and Worcester to participate in the initiative.'
'On the final leg of the walking tour, officials stopped at the Fitchburg Art Museum. Across the street, construction was underway on the Fitchburg Arts Community, which is taking shape inside the old B.F. Brown school.
Once completed, the mixed-income community will house 70-80 tenants who each work in the field of the arts, as well as studio space.'
Koretz, the MassDevelopment executive director, said developers thinking about buying or rehabbing a building in the "Fitchburg Arts and Cultural District" should reach out to Torres for guidance. (Torres can be reached at email@example.com.)
Read More: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32227341/arts-culture-fitchburgs-well-way
Gardeners & volunteers cleaned up the Gateway Park Community Gardens in Fitchburg on Saturday, October 20, 2018. They pulled weeds racked the area and fixed the walkway. they also had new wood to build new garden beds. The wood was gotten through the Gateway Park fund and with some help from Growing Places.
License panel told: Put a lid on BYOB proposal in Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise 10/16/2018
Residents and business owners packed a public hearing of the License Commission Monday to decry a draft policy to regulate "bring your own bottle" service in the city.
Under the terms of the draft regulations, only restaurants that offer table service would be permitted to allow BYOB.
Currently, the city is home to at least six BYOB businesses, including some that do not serve meals like Putnam Street Lanes bowling alley and Sparrow's Art on the Rocks.
In response to a public-records request submitted by At-Large City Councilor Samantha Squailia, Martineau said he learned police were twice called to Il Forno in the past, but that "Il Forno did everything correct, the police were called it was handled quickly, it was not a big deal."
Two petitions against the draft regulations that were signed by more that 2,000 people combined were submitted by Squailia, who called on the commission to scrap the draft regulations.
Squailia said the draft regulations were copied almost "word for word" from those in effect in Boston, a city that is different demographically from Fitchburg and which, until adopting the regulations, banned the practice completely.
Currently, there are no regulations restricting the practice of BYOB in Fitchburg.
"I would recommend the License Commission to accept the 100's of comments and signatures, and give the petition leave to withdraw entirely," she said.
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_32210058/license-panel-told-put-lid-byob-proposal-fitchburg#ixzz5bZ6iASYP
Boosters not giving up on abolitionist park in Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise 10/04/2018
City councilors put the final kibosh the proposed "pocket park" at 116 Day St. in honor of local abolitionist Benjamin Snow Jr., but several councilors Tuesday committed to finding another way to memorialize his legacy publicly.
At-Large City Councilor Samantha Squailia was the lone vote in favor of the petition, and Ward 1 City Councilor Amy Green was absent.
Snow's large land holdings in Fitchburg included the now vacant, city-owned parcel at 116 Day St.
Pets program a huge success Sentinel & Enterprise 10/04/2018
What a triumph! The Second Chance Animal Services low-cost vaccine/microchip clinic this past Saturday was an enormous success. Some 135 pets were microchipped, and many more received vaccines. This is our seventh year providing this clinic and our second in Leominster, which was hosted by state Rep. Natalie Higgins at the Office of Emergency Management. Second Chance is able to come to our region regularly, thanks to a generous donor.
Our friends at Second Chance treated tiny terriers, mighty big hounds, plus cats of all colors and sizes. Enormous thanks for OEM staff who provided the venue, Sophie's Mission, who help so many residents with emergency pet care food and supplies, and many volunteers who came to help with guests.
Stay tuned for the March Clinic, to be held in Fitchburg, and thank you to residents who came from every city and town to take care of their pets.
SALLY CRAGIN, Be PAWSitive Therapy Pets and Community Education
SAM SQUAILIA, Friends of Fitchburg Dogs
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/letters/ci_32183090/pets-program-huge-success
Hopes fade on park to honor abolitionist in Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise 10/02/2018
The prospect of a "pocket park" honoring the late abolitionist Benjamin Snow Jr. on Day Street land he once owned dimmed on Monday.
The Committee on City Property of the City Council voted 4-1 against recommending the full City Council delay selling the vacant lot at 116 Day St. in order to explore the creation of a memorial park honoring Snow.
The decision came after people, including former Fitchburg Mayor and City Councilor Jeffrey Bean, Civil Rights Activist Adrian Ford and former Fitchburg State University Associate Vice President Shirley Wagner, spoke in support of the proposal, which has been developed by Mount Wachusett Community College Students for over a year.
Supporters called on members of the property committee to seize an opportunity to commemorate the role Fitchburg played in the movement to abolish slavery, a role several said they were unaware of before the students and their instructor, David Thibault-Munoz, began pushing for the park.
Civil rights activist Adrian Ford, chief executive of Three Pyramids, recalled the "barbaric, brutal system of slavery" that Snow worked to end and the white clergy that called for Ford's own protection after his life was threatened during the tumult of the Civil Rights movement in Fitchburg decades later.
Ford said supporters convened the Friends of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park to serve as stewards of the proposed memorial park, and Three Pyramids Inc.
At-Large Councilor Samantha Squailia was the only member of the property committee who voted in favor of the park proposal. She said the proposal included plans to create 4 city-owned parking spaces, just two fewer than could feasibly fit on the parcel.
She said she fully supports the proposal, which should be located at 116 Day St., "where the history occurred."
Tails were wagging at Fitchburg Dog Park's grand opening Sentinel & Enterprise 8/27/2018
Nearly 100 dogs took to the almost-one-acre, fenced-in space for man's best friend, on National Dog Day, no less.
Eric Hanson and his corgi, Finch, check out the rocks that have been placed at the Fitchburg Dog Park. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / NICK MALLARD
In addition to space for running, the park featured rock formations for climbing, several other obstacles and multiple watering areas.
The park itself is split in half by a fence, with large dogs on one side and pups under 30 pounds on the other.
"I'm excited for it and I know a lot of other people are too," City Councilor and Friends of the Fitchburg Dog Park President Sam Squailia said.
Dynamite and Finch play together at the park. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / NICK MALLARD
"It's been a lot of work to get to this point, but I'm happy it's turned out as well as it has and that there are so many people here to enjoy this with us."
Economic plan outlines steps for Fitchburg growth Sentinel & Enterprise 7/19/2018
How can the city attract new residents to patronize new and existing businesses all while maintaining what makes Fitchburg unique?
A course of action was proposed to the City Council on Tuesday, when a draft version of the Economic Development Strategic Plan was presented.
Though the number of businesses located here has grown over the past decade, Bohart said the number of local jobs declined over the same period.
In the city today, there are about 62 jobs available for every 100 residents of working age, according to data she presented Tuesday. Organizations in the education, health and social services sectors are the city's largest employers.
Many residents leave the city during the day for work, so restaurants miss potential lunch crowds, she said. Each year, residents spend $50 million on food and drink outside the city that could have been spent in Fitchburg.
At-Large Councilor Sam Squailia, commenting on the report, said some existing restaurants are struggling to attract customers.
Bohart said the city must support both new and existing eateries to ensure established restaurants "don't feel as though we're so focused on bringing in new that we don't celebrate what we have."
Domino's really delivers for Fitchburg: Nation's second-largest pizza chain offers a $5,000 paving grant to fix potholes Sentinel & Enterprise 7/14/2018
"Yes, we did," responded Commissioner of Public Works Lenny Laakso when asked if the nation's second-largest pizza chain was picked for a $5,000 paving grant through the promotion, Paving for Pizza.
"I don't know how many people might have put our name in," he said. "This will help us keep going for an extra couple of weeks."
At-Large Councilor Sam Squailia said Friday she learned of the promotion in June.
"Why not?" she asked, and nominated the city.
She said she nominated Fitchburg for the paving award because of the city's "well-known road complaint.
After shared news of the promotion on her social media page Discussing Fitchburg Now, Squailia said hundreds of people nominated Fitchburg, too.
"It got a bunch of traction," she said.
The City Council on Thursday decried UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton for announcing the impending closure of its Burbank Campus Urgent Care center without gathering input from the community it serves.
UMass said in late May the center would close because of budgetary constraints, citing declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as having contributed to the deficit.
At-Large Councilor Sam Squailia said at a recent legislative breakfast attended by Deborah Weymouth, the hospital system's president and chief executive, she was told that daily patient volume at Burbank urgent care fell from 38 in 2015 to 26 in 2018.
She echoed Chalifoux Zephir's concern over the lack of community involvement in the closure process, and noted how CareWell, unlike Burbank Urgent Care, does not have a doctor on site.
"There wasn't really a good outreach to the community, the transparency is noted, and the community should be a partner within the organization of HealthAlliance," she said.
For the third consecutive year, the City Council passed Mayor Stephen DiNatale's budget with only minimal adjustments.
Among the biggest wins for the mayor was the City Council's agreement to forgo filling the chief assessor's position, which was left vacant when former Chief Assessor Kenneth Wilson retired in January. Instead, the budget allocates $150,000 to contract an outside company to provide these services.
Both Councilor Beauchemin and At-Large City Councilor Sam Squailia initially proposed cutting the contracted services line item in favor of keeping the position within the city. Beauchemin said he was concerned about any effects on customer service and Squailia was skeptical the change would actually be a cost saver.
Two of four cuts proposed by Squailia requested a reduction from revenue sources in the budget. She requested the city refrain from raising property taxes the full amount allowed under state law. She termed this proposed $62,000 tax reduction as "symbolic."
She also called for the city to reconfigure funding sources for the Department of Public Works.
None of her proposed cuts nor any of the four cuts proposed by Beauchemin were approved by City Council. Council also voted down half of Councilor DiNatale's proposed cuts.
At-Large City Councilor Sam Squailia questioned many of the guidelines proposed for social media pages run by City Councilors, which calls for the elected official to "take an active role in moderating that site."
Walsh said this includes councilors to request those who "defame, threaten or demonstrate racial bias or otherwise inappropriate postings" to remove their post.
Reading from the guidelines, Squailia raised concerns with some of the other suggestions, including those that ask the councilor to disallow comments that use profanity, are from people using fake names or are unrelated to the original subject of the post.
"They're insist(ing) that it's a nonbinding set of guidelines, but I'm concerned that it opens up the city to liability," said Squailia.
Squailia, who was elected to her first term in November, is one of two moderators of Discussing Fitchburg Now, a popular community Facebook group with over 16,000 members.
She believes the guidelines, if passed, could allow other councilors to use comments on Discussing Fitchburg Now for a political "witch hunt."
When asked, Pusateri said the decision to propose guidelines for public official's social media use was not related to Squailia or Discussing Fitchburg Now.
Before the interview began, Fitchburg City Councilor Sam Squailia took a photo of her lunch: two maki rolls and a mango bubble tea from Sawa Sushi.
Within the hour the image was posted in Discussing Fitchburg Now, the community Facebook group she moderates that boasts 16,000 members and counting.
"Lunch at Sawa sushi Fitchburg ...fast delicious and fairly healthy (winking emoji)," captioned Squailia, who won her first bid for public office this fall.
"The more information that we share, the more the people know what's going on, the more involved they want to be," she said. "That's one great tool of Facebook."
Squailia said she tries to keep her own posts upbeat and promote involvement in the city, but the conversations posted by others on the page she moderates are less predictable, sometimes verging into the absurd. She recalled one incident where a poster claimed they found underwear in a sandwich served by a Fitchburg restaurant.
"Sometimes there's something funny that's happening," Squailia said. "You wish they didn't post it, but it is entertaining. You take the good with the bad."
The Great American Pilgrimage: 'Slowing down to go fast' – Chicago to Fitchburg, MA RT Aired 2/4/2018
Stephen Baldwin and Max Keiser hit the road on their third day in Chicago, driving straight through to the Bay State while discussing music, ‘Free RV Day’ and bad political references. Once in Massachusetts, Max tries being a short order cook while Stephen sits down to talk politics with a young woman running for local office – if only he can remember where he is.
Downtown pot shop in Fitchburg? Some see potential: City councilors discuss regulations ahead of public forums next week Sentinel & Enterprise 3/9/2018
At-Large Councilor Thomas Donnelly said recreational or adult-use marijuana offers a chance to capitalize on "spin-off" from people visiting an area of the city to purchase or consume marijuana and then patronizing nearby businesses.
"Empty buildings, Main Street, malls, wherever they are -- bring people there," he said.
While some At-Large Councilors like Marcus DiNatale and Sam Squailia advised support for the marijuana industry in the city, they argued that voting against the community-agreement, which would allow a business to locate in an area it had already chosen, would be counter-productive.
"I agree that we need to discuss the location of where we're going to put retail sales and we're going to be able to do that ... but right now that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about now is to allow this business continue to apply for a state permit, for a cannabis control permit," she said. "We're allowing them to continue to move forward."
The City Council approved a $1 million allocation to begin the City Hall renovation project at its meeting Tuesday night.
The council approved the City Hall project appropriation, which will be funded from free cash, 8-1, with At-large Councilor Sam Squailia voting no and At-large Councilor Anthony Zarrella recusing himself, according to the city clerk.
Related to the City Hall renovation project, the council also approved the "first reading" of a loan order for $22.5 million. That loan order must have a second reading, Feb. 6, before the city can seek bonds to finance the project. (Squailia against)
Voices raised for, against Fitchburg City Hall renovation: Council hears from residents on $23.5 million project sentinel & enterprise 1/12/2018
It was standing room only in the Memorial Middle School library as residents, public officials and local leaders weighed in on the proposed $23.5 million City Hall renovation Thursday night.
In a public comment session in front of City Council that lasted almost two hours, supporters called City Hall a key element of the city's economic development and a historical icon. Opponents described it as a cost the city can't afford and said money would be better spent on school renovations and ongoing maintenance.
Of the 50 people who spoke during the comment period, about 30 expressed support for renovation. Most of the remainder spoke against putting money toward the project, at least this year.
Some described the project's connection to other redevelopment efforts. Others, including several parents, called councilors to support the city's children by putting money into public school infrastructure.
"I would love to see a new City Hall, but I don't think it's fiscally responsible," said Laurie Grover, who said she became concerned about the project after learning about it on Facebook. "These are our tax dollars and we deserve a word about how it's spent."
The City Council, in an 8-1 vote, turned down a petition signed by about 50 residents calling for an extended public comment period on the proposal. Only At-Large City Councilor Sam Squailia voted in favor of the proposal.
Following the comments from both the public and city councilors, the Council as a Whole recommended a $1 million appropriation and $22.5 million loan order to the City Council. To pass, the council must vote on the proposals twice: at the upcoming City Council meeting on Tuesday and again on Feb. 6. Squailia was the only councilor to vote against the recommendations.
Leaking roof, heating issues at Fitchburg middle school Boston 25 News 11/16/2017
Students, parents and staff are concerned about the condition of a Fitchburg middle school they say is in disrepair.
The roof of Longsjo Middle School is leaking, forcing teachers to put buckets in their classrooms, and a problem with the heating system cleared out a few classrooms Tuesday and cancelled after-school activities Wednesday, Fitchburg Superintendent of Schools Andre Ravenelle told Boston 25 News Thursday.
A staff member who asked to remain anonymous told Boston 25 News water is leaking into several rooms on the fourth floor. She also said a heating issue has caused extreme cold and heat at varying times.
City Councilor-At-Large-Elect Sam Squailia told Boston 25 News she believes city funding should be prioritized for Longsjo Middle School at a time when a multi-million-dollar City Hall renovation is in the works.
Read more: https://www.boston25news.com/news/leaking-roof-heating-issues-at-fitchburg-middle-school/648966050
New faces headed to Fitchburg City Council SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE 11/7/2017
Next year's City Council will have some old faces and some new, according to unofficial election results from Fitchburg Access Television News.
In the crowded At-Large field, Marcus DiNatale, Dean Tran, Samantha Squailia, Anthony Zarrella and David Clark were the top vote getters earning them a place on City Council.
Though a political newcomer, Squailia is a familiar face in the community through her Fitchburg Access Television show and Facebook group, both called Discussing Fitchburg Now.
Outside the Senior Center at 6:30 p.m., volunteers held signs for At-Large candidates Zarrella and Squailia.
"I've been here on and off since 7:20 a.m.," said Aerevyn Harteis, 47, who held a red and white Squailia sign.
She and the three other people promoting candidates in a huddle outside the center said this was their first time holding signs for a political candidate.
"Sam has a great way of motivating people and getting people involved in the community," said another person in the group, 58-year-old Donna Bonora.
Sentinel & Enterprise endorses candidates in Fitchburg election Sentinel & Enterprise 11/1/2017
CITY COUNCILOR-AT-LARGE: This race has drawn a whopping 10 candidates for the available five seats, and we are impressed with all of them. We recommend a mix of incumbents and challengers who we believe will ensure that City Council is a strong, deliberative body. This group will ask the tough questions and put the voters first. We endorse incumbents Marcus DiNatale and Dean Tran, and challengers Kelly Johnson, Sam Squailia and Anthony Zarrella. DiNatale is a fiscal watchdog, and Tran is unmatched on constituent services. Squailia's work to bring a dog park to the city shows she can get people behind a good cause. Johnson cares a lot for her city -- and cares even more about its people. And Zarrella has demonstrated through his service on the Zoning Board of Appeals that he will give every issue due diligence. These five candidates will help move Fitchburg forward.
Read More: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/editorial/ci_31419540/our-endorsements-fitchburg-election
Stats: Samantha Squailia 🗳️🔍 Age: 35 Address: 225 Scott Road Family: Married to Nick with one daughter, Nicolette, 7.
Occupation: Architectural engineering designer and project manager at McKenzie Engineering Co.
Education: Bachelors in architectural building engineering from New England Institute of Technology, credits toward a Masters of Architecture from Boston Architectural College.
Political experience: Submitted her name for vacant At-Large City Council seat in 2016, advisory member of Fitchburg Farmer's Market, Board of Directors at Fitchburg Cultural Alliance, member of the Fitchburg Greenway Committee, Board of Directors of Fitchburg Pride, Board of Directors of Longsjo Classic, President of Friends of Fitchburg DOGS and volunteers on Holiday Decorating Committee and Fitchburg Public Schools Gala Committee.
Most recent book you read: My Father's War by Charley Valera
Three ways you, if elected, you will improve Fitchburg: increase fiscal responsibility, promote economic development, encourage community engagement
Read More: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31413609/look-at-challengers-fitchburg-city-council#ixzz4x5rMi3iq
"Dozens of canines -- and their human companions -- took to Coolidge Park on Sunday, taking part in the Fitchburg Dog Park's inaugural Howl-o-Ween Pet Costume Parade and Walk.
Dogs of all breeds and sizes donned costumes, ranging from pumpkins to spiders, characters fictional and real. A registration fee of $10 was required of all non-Friends of the Dog Park, with all $470 raised going toward the dog park and low-cost vaccine clinics for pets.
"They're out here for fun in the pouring rain," Friends of Fitchburg Dog Park Committee member and event organizer Sam Squailia said. "It's great to see people coming out and having fun for this."
Read More: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31413607/tail-wagging-good-time-at-fitchburgs-howl-o
Spending, injection facilities among issues at Fitchburg council debate Sentinel & Enterprise 10/19/2017
"...candidates, like Johnson and challenger Sam Squailia, urged the need to maintain the properties the city already owns with Squailia pushing for a focus on the "core needs, not the ones we can't afford."
Read More: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/topstory/ci_31386466/spending-injection-facilities-among-issues-at-fitchburg-council
Actor Stephen Baldwin tapes footage in Fitchburg for upcoming television show Sentinel & Enterprise 10/18/2017
"...Baldwin described the premise of the show. "It was this mostly silly idea I had to want to go out and connect with everyday people in a way they can relate to," he said.
"Jerry Seinfeld has a show where he's driving around in one of his fancy cars, drinking fancy coffee, talking about his fancy friends and it's funny. My show is Steve Baldwin hosting the Great American Pilgrimage, which is me and my three dogs in an RV driving across the country, but this time we're meeting regular folks and we're drinking regular coffee and it's still funny."
The crew's first Fitchburg stop was the Moran Square Diner, where Baldwin, Keiser and At-Large City Council candidate Sam Squailia chatted about running for office, Fitchburg and America over coffee.
"To me, America is our freedom," Squailia said during a later interview with the Sentinel & Enterprise.
She said a producer from the show reached out to her on Friday or Saturday about the interview.
"I said, yeah, sure let's do it," she said.
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31383906/taste-hollywood-fitchburg#ixzz4w4CjvSvM
CANDIDATE Q&A: What to do about vacant, abandoned properties? Sentinel & Enterprise 10/15/2017
Dean Tran*: "I have already supported changes to the two-year vacant property bylaw that require a special permit from the City Council. Developers no longer require a special permit from the City Council as the process contributed to red tape and inefficiency. I will continue to support streamlining the process."
Samantha Squailia: "I support the city efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on investors to remove the 'two year rule' requirement for a special permit in cases of one- and two-family residential property. Many properties are pre-existing, non-conforming use within the zoning requirements; as such, a comprehensive look at our zoning ordinances and overlay, considering multiuse future potential, is necessary."
Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31377444/candidate-q-amp#ixzz4w4Dn7wA5
Full day of yard sales this weekend at Fitchburg sites Sentinel & Enterprise 09/20/2017
Join your neighbors as a buyer or a seller at the Second Annual Fitchburg Communitywide Fall Yard Sale on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. There are already 38 addresses on the list (as of Sept. 15) with more being added daily. The inaugural Spring 2017 communitywide yard sale had over 78 houses participating. In addition to yard sales at individual homes, this year there will be a community location at the parking lot at FAV Consignment, 105 John Fitch Highway. This will be available for both days....
"After years of discussion, planning and fundraising, the Board of Park Commissioners approved plans for a 0.8 acre dog park in Coolidge Park following a hearing Thursday night."
"... the project is expected to go out to bid this fall and construction would start in the spring, according to Recreation Director Nathan LaRose. Construction will be paid for through a grant and money fundraised by Friends of Fitchburg Dogs Inc., according to organization president Sam Squailia. Last year, the group secured an up to $250,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation and fundraised another $27,710 to use toward constructing and maintaining the park..."
For most elected officials, re-election won't be a guarantee as candidates vie for seats on a relatively full ballot of both new and familiar faces this November.
In total, 26 candidates were certified for the ballot by deadline Tuesday afternoon....
Several newcomers will also join the race for five councilor-at-large seats.
Among them is Sam Squailia, who runs the popular Facebook page Discussing Fitchburg Now and hosts a FATV show of the same name.
The architectural engineer at McKenzie Engineering Co. previously submitted a letter of interest for Stephan Hay's unexpired councilor-at-large seat when he became a state representative but was not selected.
Donors ensure no more empty flagpoles at Fitchburg's Heritage Park Sentinel & Enterprise 07/19/2017
The mostly empty flagpoles at Heritage Park at the intersection of Boulder and Main streets will be full once again next week thanks to donations from over 50 residents. Sam Squailia, who runs the popular Facebook page Discussing Fitchburg Now, said residents donated enough money to buy 39 international flags after she posted a request for donations on the page in early June.
"I heard that we only had three flags at the park and felt that we could help," she said. "I knew that I could reach out to the community and they would want to donate flags. Or at least I could try." Fitchburg Recreation Director Nathan LaRose said when the park opened in 1976 all the flags that flew in the park were donated.
Over the years donations "dried up" and the city started buying flags for the park instead, he said. Two years ago the Board of Park Commissioners decided to go back to the donation-based method where resident were able to choose which flags flew by giving them to the city. "Last year I believe it was filled, but this year we hadn't received very many donations," he said. Depending on the weather, the 3-by-5 foot flags generally last about a year, according to LaRose. As of Tuesday, only the American, Irish, Israeli and Italian flag still flew in the park, which has 30 poles.
Squailia partnered with Joe Firmani of Operation Service, Inc. -- a nonprofit that primarily benefits military personnel -- to collect the donations. "We were happy to do it, because its just a nice little project," Firmani said. Squailia dropped off the flags from Central Flag and Gift in Leominster to the city offices last Thursday. LaRose said a city employee will hang the flags next week when the employee gets back from vacation. The flags will be periodically switched out and flown in order of donation received.
It was suggested in my workout group that we should coordinate a women's self-defense class in light of recent attacks, such as the tragic murder of Vanessa Marcotte and a Seattle woman fending off an attacker at a Seattle Park restroom in March. So we coordinated with Len Brassard at Family Martial Arts Center in Fitchburg and the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation to hold a special women's self-defense class -- free for the community -- at FMAC.
With 40 women in attendance, Brassard led the hourlong class teaching us basic techniques of how to stand, how to block, how to strike effectively, and how to defend against someone grabbing you, and we were able to practice every technique ourselves on 20 martial-arts trainers and volunteers. We all even got to flip the biggest of guys over our shoulders!
We asked for a $10 donation for each student, and raised over $445 from our community alone, which FMAC rounded up for a $1,000 donation to the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, which is fighting for a world where women live boldly and fearlessly.
I had a great time at the class, and already am feeling more empowered! Much appreciation to FMAC for the generous donation of their time, knowledge, facilities and monetary donation for the cause.
We will be working next with Fitchburg State University to hold a Women's RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Program,which is a 12-hour class broken up into a few days or weeks, this summer.
We'll be posting about it soon in the Discussing Fitchburg Now Facebook group, so be sure to follow for updates.
SAM SQUAILIA Fitchburg
The Civic Days Committee on Tuesday reversed its decision to bar candidates from campaigning during the Fourth of July Parade.
"With welcomed comments from the community, the Parade Committee will maintain the campaign division in the parade for 2017," the Civic Days Committee said in a statement issued early Tuesday evening, after field questions from the media, including the Sentinel & Enterprise, about the initial decision to block campaigning during the parade.
"This should be overruled," Ellen Cunha, a former Civics Days organizer said earlier Tuesday, before the committee's reversal. "Think of Fourth of July. What is that all about? Our freedom. Our freedom of speech."
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK: Sentinel & Enterprise 05/21/2017
IF YOU'RE LOOKING forward to spending several evenings at the city of Fitchburg's annual budget meetings this year, rein in your expectations. The City Council has two budget meetings this year, down from six last fiscal year.
The first, on May 30, will be a presentation of the mayor's budget to the City Council, followed by an opportunity for questions from councilors and a review of proposed cuts, according to the agenda.
DEAL CITY: Fitchburg community wide yard sale Saturday: Sentinel & Enterprise 05/18/2017
FITCHBURG -- The map is available online, but it's up to residents to find the treasures during the communitywide yard sale on Saturday.
"Having a communitywide yard sale makes it more of a special event," organizer Sam Squailia said. "You've got a map of every yard sale. You can spend the whole day yard 'saling.'"
From paper to screens, they're all community: FATV Boulder Awards honors S&E's St. Amand, other leaders
Sentinel & Enterprise 05/12/2017
FITCHBURG -- The 21st Annual Boulder Awards presented by Fitchburg Access Television on Thursday handed its top prize to Sentinel & Enterprise Editor Charles St. Amand.
The Boulder Awards recognize those who positively impact civic life through public communications.
City Council candidate and host Sam Squailia won Producer of the Year for her show "Discussing Fitchburg Now," a new program spun off of her popular Facebook group by the same name. "I'm so grateful to FATV for everything," Squailia said after snapping a selfie with FATV's Dave Oster.
Sunday Notebook: Sentinel & Enterprise 05/7/2017
SAM SQUAILIA HAS made her decision: she will run for councilor-at-large.
The moderator of the Facebook page "Discussing Fitchburg Now" and host of the FATV show of the same name pulled papers for both an at-large and Ward 4 seat in April. However she didn't announce the focus of her council bid until Wednesday night during her campaign kick-off at Beemers Pub & Grill.
In a follow-up Facebook post Squailia called the evening "AMAZING."
FITCHBURG -- Two city parks may soon become a place for more than just outdoor activities.
Residents Sam Squailia and David Pierre-Louis propsed placing a Little Free Library in Coggshall and Coolidge parks at the Board of Park Commissioners meeting Tuesday.
The two-foot by two-foot boxes mounted on a wooden post would be a place to take and leave books, said Squailia, a Fitchburg City Council candidate and moderator of popular Facebook page Discussing Fitchburg Now.
Fitchburg resident Diane Thibodeau was picking up trash on the edges of the I.C. Credit Union parking lot Saturday morning.
"I did it last year and I really found it satisfying to make a difference in how our city looks," she said. "I get really upset when I look around at all the dirt and trash."
Sam Squailia and Helena Miles, who have both pulled papers for city council, also joined the cleanup effort.
"(It's) the broken window theory," Squailia said. "The cleaner that you make it the less apt people are to trash it."
On March 4, I held an art studio painting class that was funded by a grant I was awarded from the Fitchburg Cultural Council, a local agency that is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
The class was titled "The Accessible Art Project." It was held at the Arc of Opportunity in Fitchburg. The project was to bring people of all abilities together to paint as artists, and it turned out to be a huge success.
We are writing to thank everyone for coming out to the Rabies Vaccine Clinic on Saturday at the Fitchburg Fire Department to get their dogs and cats vaccinated. More than 165 animals were treated, with a total of 330 vaccinations - a record high number.
THE GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY Sentinel & Enterprise 12/27/2016
Facebook groups such as Discussing Fitchburg Now and Leominsterites Unites are at the epicenter of how people communicate, gossip, find the best hamburger in town, insult each other, help each other, locate lost pets, insult each other more and find out anything else that is happening locally in the Twin Cities.
Fitchburg dog-park gift has tails wagging Sentinel & Enterprise 12/02/2016
Workers' Credit Union donation puts plan on track for $230G grant
The proposed dog park in Coolidge Park is on track to receive a grant of more than $200,000 thanks to an $11,500 donation from the Workers' Credit Union Thursday.
Using the donation, the nonprofit raising money for the park, Friends of Fitchburg Dogs Inc., can cover the 10 percent match needed to receive a $230,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation.
After fire struck, dozens came to our rescue Sentinel & Enterprise 05/24/2016
I am writing to say thank you to so many people who made the amazing "Laugh It Out: Benefit Show for Sally Cragin & the Therapy Pets" event a standing-room success.
Sam Squailia organized a fantastic event with Lisa Fortunato and Alison Kidd, who worked with the Board of the British American Club, which kindly hosted, provided food and raffle donations, and arranged for a quartet of hilarious and ribald comedians to entertain the audience: Jerry Caruso, Paul Durrance, Greg Boggis and Bob Sheehy.
I'd like to express my full support for the one-lane Main Street proposal and design concepts presented at the City Council Meeting as prepared by A.T. Leonard & Associates.
We want to support our Main Street businesses, yet we allow a two-lane highway through and out of downtown.
It's not comfortable to walk or bike downtown being so close to fast-moving traffic, especially for those who are older or have physical limitations.
Laughter may be the best medicine in fire aftermath that claimed life of beloved Fitchburg therapy cat
Sentinel & Enterprise 05/17/2016
On Wednesday night, Kim Maxwell will kick off her campaign for state representative in an unconventional way -- by focusing on the accomplishments of others, rather than on her own.
Fitchburg youth leagues find keeping parks litter-free an ongoing job Sentinel & Enterprise 04/20/2016
Keeping the city's recreational spaces clean isn't always easy, but as another year of outdoor sports begins, athletes know it's worth it....Sam Squailia, a resident who organizes regular cleanups of city neighborhoods and public spaces, said people don't always respect the work. "We cleaned up Water Street a few weeks ago, and I drive by there all the time and there will be bottles and things," she said. Squailia, like Antocci, maintains a positive attitude, saying, "It's still cleaner than we found it. We're making progress."
Whether Fitchburg city councilors or citizens, we're all on the same team Sentinel & Enterprise 04/08/2016
I so appreciate the support and thoughtful words from so many people on my offer to serve on the council. The messages, calls and comments I've received are way beyond anything I could have imagined. It means a lot to me, and I feel amazingly grateful to live in this community that cares so deeply.
Our City Council are all thoughtful members of our community that serve our city. We are all on the same team. We all want what is best for Fitchburg. We all care.
We can disagree on decisions made -- while respecting that the responsibility to make those decisions rests on the officials that we elected.
When we choose to take an active role in our local government and get involved, we cannot lose. Effecting positive change takes all of us working together, with respect and accountability.
EDITORIAL: Strong field emerges for Fitchburg council Sentinel & Enterprise 03/29/2016
Squailia represents a new generation of Fitchburgers committed to improving the city. Even before she applied for the vacancy, she had already worked to clean up the city through her and her husband's Trash Bag Challenge, and she has led the effort to build a dog park in the city. Her active presence on Facebook through the Discussing Fitchburg Now page and on FATV is helping hundreds of residents take greater interest in the city and its future. She'd also add a woman's voice to the council. If we had a vote, she'd get it.
All of the applicants should be admired for stepping forward with a willingness to serve, and all of them deserve careful consideration by the 10 councilors who will fill the vacancy on April 5.
Contribute to the campaign and help our Team Move Fitchburg Forward...Now!
The next city-wide election will be Tuesday November 5th, 2019 from 7am-8pm
There are 5 seats for Councillor-At-Large, you may vote for up to 5.
The last day to register to vote in the November 5, 2019 City Election is Wednesday October 16, 2019
The City Clerk's office will be open from 8:30AM until 8:00PM on Oct 16th for voter registration.
Question: I'm going to be out of town on Election Day...Can I vote early?
We don't have in person early voting for our municipal election, but you can vote by 'Absentee Ballot'.
You have two options for an absentee ballot
1. Call the City Clerk's office at 978-829-1820 and ask for an absentee ballot to be sent to your home. Fill it out and mail it back (or drop it off).
2. Stop in at the City Clerk's office at 166 Boulder Dr any time M-F between 8:30am and 4:30pm and pick up an absentee ballot (due to arrive by mid October)
THEN: Fill it out and mail it back to the City Clerk! Must arrive by Nov. 5th. If received after election day your vote will note count. So fill it out and mail it back asap.
Knights of Columbus Hall
165 Electric Avenue, Fitchburg MA
St. Joseph's Church Hall
46 Woodland St., Fitchburg, MA
Memorial Middle School
615 Rollstone St., Fitchburg, MA
Fitchburg Armory / Senior Citizens Center
14 Wallace Ave., Fitchburg MA 01420
NEW LOCATION as of NOVEMBER 7 2017
67 Scott Rd,, Fitchburg, MA
St. Bernard's Activity Complex
260 Summer St., Fitchburg, MA
For questions on voting, contact the Fitchburg City Clerk's office at: 978-829-1820