The Congressional Tour
Sutton officials seek McGovern’s help
By Josh Farnsworth
Congressman Jim McGovern (right) listens to a presentation given by Sutton Town Administrator Jim Smith and Town Planner Jen Hager. Josh Farnsworth photo Sutton – Sitting in the aisle of the second row of a bus Tuesday morning, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) had a front row seat to a tour of various projects the Town of Sutton has, is, and will undertake.
Sutton is hoping the additional awareness will lead to additional federal funding.
Members of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, Town Administrator Jim Smith, and Town Planner Jen Hager joined the congressman, Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge), MassDOT officials, including Millbury’s Bernie Plante, as well as representatives from McGovern’s District 3 office and the Central Mass Regional Planning Committee for a tour of the town. The tour included stops at the middle/high school project, Shaw Farm, ongoing construction along the “jug handle” of Route 146 at Pleasant Valley Road, and Marion’s Camp.
Hager said the tour was a chance to show Sutton was being proactive on many fronts, while giving McGovern a taste of the history of the town, with stops at the beehive building and other notable locations throughout Sutton.
Moore also continued to offer assistance on the state level, giving Sutton legislators at varying levels of government a look into challenges the town is facing.
“It was a huge benefit having the ear of people on the state and federal levels,” Hager said. “This was an opportunity to collaborate. Route 146 is the face of our town, but it was great to show them projects we are working on town-wide. Projects stretch over our 34 square miles.
“We wanted to send a message that we are looking at all these things comprehensively,” she added. “It is huge for Sutton to have legislative support.”
“With state aid leveling off, we need to find additional funds to help support our budget,” said Smith.
Among the projects that Sutton officials said needed more immediate attention were about 2,000 feet worth of sidewalks leading from the schools up to Shaw Farm where several athletic teams currently practice, and with the state-owned Singletary Road, which is need of condition improvements.
Selectman John Hebert, who made the contact with McGovern for the tour, acted as de facto tour emcee, pointing out several successes and challenges the town has, and its commitment to open space preservation.
Smith and Hager continued to update the senator and congressman at a post-tour presentation in the Selectmen’s Conference Room at town hall on various initiatives undertaken, including the various solar projects and credits it is receiving to help offset budget restrictions, and grants sought and received, such as the money given by the Department of Conservation and Recreation for updating Marion’s Camp.
McGovern, whose parents attended Sutton High and sister resides on Lake Singletary, said he was amazed by the amount and substance of projects being undertaken by the town. He told The Chronicle that many of his 63 cities and towns are struggling.
Though it would not deter his level of assistance, Sutton is not one of them, he said.
“There are lots of incredible things happening in Sutton and that is a tribute to the local leadership,” he said. “Locals here have made Sutton not only a livable town, but a desirable town. My job now is figuring out which federal programs can be of assistance. I am anxious to be of use to Sutton.”
McGovern said he would also be looking into a Landwater Preservation piece of legislation that could help with funding part of the Marion’s Camp project.