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Peabody mayor criticizes state and federal officials for lack of help on flooding

Posted by Justin Rice  October 31, 2011 10:42 AM

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In his final term as mayor of Peabody, Michael Bonfanti is more than fed up and frustrated.

And he is throwing one last rainmaker at Peabody’s flooding problem before he leaves office.

“It comes down to the fact that our country is in a financial crisis, and targeting funds and providing funds is a quite a fight,” he said during a telephone interview this morning. “The sad part about that is there are areas that need some help; Peabody has been talking about flooding and working on flooding for some time.

“The cost is beyond what we can do by ourselves.”

During a City Council meeting last Thursday night, Bonfanti called out state and federal officials for not doing enough to help the regions chronic flooding both before and after the North Shore was swamped by floods earlier this month.

Bonfanti said he considers it the federal government’s role to step in and help out with the problem. He said some of the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 seems to have been misspent.

“It seemed when ARRA money first came out it was supposed to be used for infrastructure and on- time capitol projects,” Bonfanti said. “It seemed like they used it on other things, i.e. to bail out bankers … and in the last 10 years we had six [flooding] incidents of needs.  Somebody, somewhere has to show leadership and say ‘This is an on-going  constant problem that need be addressed.’  Especially since we’re talking about jobs economic opportunity.

“Our downtown is hurt because of perceptions so I’m very disappointed.”

In the meantime the city is hashing out details of installing two 10-foot-wide, 4-foot, deep culverts in Peabody Square that would help mitigate flooding. The second phase of the project will be to widening the North River so that the culverts can drain into it.  

The City Council could vote on a bond that would pay for the project as early as December and the project itself could get underway as early as this June.

Bonfanti said he’s always spoke out on the issue but he tried not to point fingers in the past.

“I’ve always spoken up, what happens is you try to work with people then there comes a point in time that you’re frustrated and say ‘I’ve come with my hat in hand, I did all the right things.’

"Now it’s getting to the point where, you know the phrase, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, you hate to have to do that but how many times do you have to tell someone there’s a problem?"

The mayor said his next move is to just keep plugging away asking for help.

"I’m leaving [office], that’s not the reason I’m speaking out, I’ve always been vocal, but I want to help the next guy," he said. "This is my home, my heart is still here and I want to speak up on the issues.”

Justin A. Rice can be reached at

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