Communities across the country, and especially here in Massachusetts, have had a reputation for operating with silo mentalities – that is, not sharing information or resources and only worrying about issues within their own municipal boundaries.
Over the last 15 years or so, that has begun to change, in part out of necessity. As fiscal times have put a squeeze on available services, communities have reached out to get aid from their neighbors.
Another part of that collaboration, though, had been a realization that issues are largely the same from community to community, and that solutions being applied in one city might have a similar benefit to another. Add dynamic leadership to the mix and the results are what one might use to describe the relationship between Chelsea and Revere these days.
“I have to admit it sometimes feels a little strange celebrating Revere’s achievements,” said Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash, who, as a Chelsea High School basketball standout in the 1970s, grew up thinking of Revere as more of a rival than a friend. “The collaboration our two cities have enjoyed, though, is both special and productive. We may have been competitors in the past, but officials on both ends of Broadway know that our very best opportunity to achieve what we want in our own communities is to work together to make sure that both Chelsea and Revere are successful and strong.”
That collaborative spirit was on display earlier this month as Ash and Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo took turns attending the other’s meetings on public safety and community development. First Mayor Rizzo visited Chelsea City Hall to attend Ash’s task force meeting on public safety and other improvements in Downtown Chelsea, and then Ash travelled to the Paul Revere School to participate in Rizzo’s community presentation on crime watches.
“We’re working together and talking about problems and solutions all the time,” said Rizzo of his interaction with Ash. “It’s great to have someone who’s been running city government for as long as Jay has to bounce ideas off of and, frankly, to steal some of his initiatives.”
Interjected Ash, “Hey, it’s a two way street. I was impressed with Mayor Rizzo’s economic development summit a couple of weeks ago and left thinking, ‘maybe I should organize a similar conference.’ And that’s the nature of our collaboration; we both have a lot to offer and a lot to learn from each other.”
Ash and Rizzo have worked together on local issues and have joined forces to advocate for statewide public policy matters, like transportation, local aid and casino initiatives.
“I’m impressed with the Mayor’s understanding of the issues, his seemingly tireless energy, and his tremendous commitment to the residents of Revere,” said Ash.
Rizzo said Ash has been like an “expert consultant” to his administration, and he has been amazed by Ash’s insight on so many pressing matters facing local and state officials.
The relationship the two leaders have extends beyond each other.
Rizzo has forged a great relationship with Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes and several members of the Chelsea City Council. Ash is on a first name basis with most of the Revere City Council and has terrific things to say about Revere’s Economic Development Director, John Festa.
“We’re like a big family. We certainly have to be focused on what’s happening under our roofs, but we care for and go out of our way to help each other as well,” said Ash.
That help, according to both, is making a difference. Ash, Rizzo and their partners in government, including Winthrop Town Manager Jim McKenna, have collaborated on public safety, public health, community and economic development and financial issues across municipal boundaries.
“We’re sharing what we know, and actively listening and looking out for each other on important matters that may have an impact on our respective communities” said Rizzo. “I think we both know that in order to enjoy sustained prosperity and achieve our ultimate goal of providing the best possible services to our constituents, it can only be maximized and accomplished through the mutual success of our two cities.”