A few minutes with the now former mayor, Rob Dolan

Feb 8, 2018 by

Published in the February 9, 2018 edition

MELROSE — Heywood Avenue’s Robert J. Dolan took hold of the municipal reins in Lynnfield Monday as the new town administrator.

Before he left, the now private Melrose citizen reflected on the past 16 years as mayor of the city, a job Gail M. Infurna will be doing on an interim basis until early January 2020.

Melrose Weekly News: Looking back on your time in elected politics in the city, what do consider your greatest accomplishments?

Dolan: “As a community we have accomplished a lot of great things that no one thought could be done. Some examples are the new middle school, the renovation of Melrose High School, what I believe to be some of the best recreational and athletic facilities in the state, the rebirth of Mount Hood, solving 100 years of water problems in the city, and the creation of a renowned restaurant scene on Main Street. But I think the greatest accomplishment was that when many people were questioning whether government was working for them, we made government work in Melrose for 16 years. During some of the toughest economic times in our country, in some of the most politically disturbing times in our country, we have made government work for the people. When people come to us with problems, we have solved them collectively as a community. Our boards and commissions, the Board of Aldermen, the School Committee, have functioned in a civil manner, and when people work together and put party affiliation aside, and focus on solutions I thin Melrose is an example of how government can still work in our time.”

MWN: On the flip side of that, what have been your greatest disappointments?

Dolan: “Although I totally understand the results of the (November 2015) override, I would say that is my greatest personal disappointment. I believe public education is the foundation of every community, and I believe that a sound case was made that as a result of a dramatic increase in population, more teachers are needed to serve the future needs of the students. Furthermore, the stability of property values and the desirability of our city is based on our public schools. The argument we put forward, failed. It was a personal and professional disappointment.”

MWN: You have certainly had a hand in changing the city’s attitude about the value of entertainment and dining. Do you see this attitude evolving without you leading the way?

Dolan: “Everything that we have accomplished has been a team effort, but what I personally think has helped is the age of my children and the place I am in my life. During the time I was mayor I had young children, and I saw an evolution of the desire of people to be entertained, to eat out, and for communities to come together in or near the places they live. I would hear that going into Boston or the inner core was expensive, time consuming, and not practical with two people working. What I saw in Melrose, in addition to our entrepreneurs and an excellent Chamber of Commerce, was a beautiful theater, a public golf course, and some great leadership downtown. The changes were severalfold. One was introducing liquor to Melrose, not just creating an opportunity to buy a six-pack but as an economic engine to turn our community in a positive direction through private investment. The business community responded incredibly to that. Turner’s was the anchor of our downtown. They were a proven model, and they were so generous with their advice. Second was the proper marketing of Memorial Hall and Mount Hood. Mount Hood has gone from a laughingstock to a destination location for golf and entertainment. Tens of thousands of people from outside Melrose visit Mount Hood a year. To be able to bring them downtown to eat and shop and make it a total experience has done wonders for our businesses. The same is true of Memorial Hall: To have not just the Melrose Symphony but things like Beers and Bites, boxing, home shows, and other opportunities to bring people from outside Melrose to our downtown has been a great success for our businesses.”

MWN: If you were to make out a list today of things that you would like to see done as a private taxpayer, what would be the top five?

Dolan: (They are bulleted below)

“The continued fiscal stability of the community;

“Passage of a proposed public safety facility plan, because if those buildings are not dealt with, very few other things can be accomplished;

“Continued investment in, and improvement of, our schools, which will dictate the future of this community for the next five years;

“A continued passion for the culture, arts, and history of our community that includes investment in our library, symphony, Memorial Hall, Polymnia, Melrose Arts, our high school band drama, orchestra, and the Messina Fund. These are the things that bring soul to a community;

“And something finally being opened at Caruso’s! (lol)”

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