Baker: 'Lynn is the test'


November 24, 2015
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

Together they own 82 acres of local waterfront land, and Joseph O’Donnell and Charlie Patsios stood in front of City Hall Monday listening intently as Gov. Baker, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and other officials declared they will work as one to boost Lynn’s economic fortunes.

“This is unprecedented,” said O’Donnell, a business leader with more than a half-century of experience, who owns 17 acres near the General Edwards Bridge.

Patsios, a Swampscott resident, owns the 65-acre former General Electric gear plant site across the Lynnway from O’Donnell’s land and, like O’Donnell, he wants to build a large-scale housing development on the property he owns.

Baker, Moulton, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash plan to turn O’Donnell’s and Patsios’ visions and other developers’ goals into concrete and steel, and they plan to do it by combining federal, state and local money and economic expertise.

“To be really successful we need everyone to buy into a vision,” Baker said. “People at every level are involved.”

City and state leaders gathered at Lynn City Hall on Monday to discuss the future of the city.

Lynn is the test

City and state leaders gathered at Lynn City Hall on Monday to discuss the future of the city. Photo/Paula Muller

After announcing formation of the Lynn Economic Advancement Team, Ash and Moulton wasted no time meeting with state and federal agency heads and city officials to map out the team’s work. That planning will quickly be converted into action: Moulton said the regional director of the federal Economic Development Administration will tour Lynn for the first time in five years next Monday.

Ash, Chelsea’s former city manager, praised Kennedy and Baker for recognizing Lynn’s potential.

“We have the ingredients to make something really special happen here. You have all you need to be in the position to enjoy great success,” he said.

Moulton said initiatives that will grow from the team’s work include new market-rate housing, workforce training, new businesses and better commuter transportation.

“We will work on the city’s top priorities. We have no time to waste. We need to invest in Lynn now,” Moulton said.

Baker and Moulton set the stage for Monday’s show of unity by prioritizing Lynn for economic development initiatives over the last several months. During his election night victory speech last November, Moulton declared Lynn’s revitalization a priority and followed up on that promise earlier this fall by naming successful Boston-area real estate manager Jason Denoncourt as his economic development director.

Denoncourt is already a familiar face to city officials.

As the governor’s development chief, Ash has underscored Lynn’s economic importance and met repeatedly with key players in the city’s revitalization — including O’Donnell, who compared the five times he has met with Ash in recent months to the four times over 25 years former state development chiefs met with him.

The chairman of the board of Centerplate, Inc., a Connecticut firm, has owned land on the Lynnway’s South Harbor site since 1993. He is in the “preliminary stages” of developing housing on his land.

“I love the new administration. I am 100 percent certain we are going to get full cooperation,” O’Donnell said Monday.

Kennedy said Monday’s joining of forces highlights “one common goal” held by Baker, Moulton and city and state officials to “work together for the betterment of the city.”

“We have sent out a message loud and clear, ‘Lynn is open for business,’” Kennedy said.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee also spoke, urging all participants in Lynn’s revitalization to “come together and set aside things that have pulled us apart.”

“We want to say to the rest of the Commonwealth, ‘Look at the leadership we showed,’” McGee said.

Janet Baronian works for Lynn Economic Opportunity and was one of the more than 100 people who crowded around City Hall’s steps for Monday’s announcement. She liked what she heard.

“I think Lynn is going in the right direction,” Baronian said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at


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