EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 19, 2013

Zanni to deliver state of Methuen address Thursday

By Brian Messenger
bmessenger@eagletribune.com

---- — METHUEN — With one year as mayor under his belt, Stephen Zanni sees Thursday’s state of the city address as an opportunity to highlight his accomplishments.

“I think like anything else, your first year in there’s always a lot on your plate,” said Zanni. “I’ve worked through a lot of those issues. I think overall it’s been a good year, with much more to be accomplished.”

The Methuen Board of Trade is hosting the state of the city speech, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Senior Center. The trade board hosted a similar event last winter when Zanni was just weeks removed from his inauguration.

Zanni, 68, has already announced he will run for re-election in November. While several familiar names to Methuen politics are testing the waters, the mayor does not yet have a challenger.

As for his first-year accomplishments, Zanni said he was able to get the Methuen High School renovation and expansion back on track last spring. A budget battle forced the city to swap contractors mid-project, but the mayor said construction remains on schedule.

“The high school is a daily thing we have to keep on top of,” said Zanni.

In hiring Community Development Director William Buckley in early 2012, Zanni said he followed through on a campaign promise to make business development in the city a priority.

The mayor pointed to Century Box’s plans to expand its Chase Street box manufacturing facility. The company is expected to create dozens of new full-time jobs thanks, in part, to $190,000 in property tax incentives over the next decade.

Zanni said he will work with Buckley during his second year in office to bring more businesses like Century Box to Methuen.

The mayor also pointed to new union contracts and the elimination of salary-enhancing side letters as accomplishments.

The year 2012 was not without rough patches, however, as Zanni’s push to privatize the four-employee municipal IT department was defeated multiple times by the City Council. Zanni has also failed to settle out of court with police Chief Joseph Solomon. After starting negotiations in April, the two sides are due in federal court next week for a scheduling conference.

State of the City Thursday, 6 p.m. Methuen Senior Center, 77 Lowell St. Hosted by Methuen Board of Trade