Moving Forward – The Sharon Pollard Years
Kathleen Corey Rahme – January, 2006
For the past six years, the city of Methuen has enjoyed the leadership of Mayor Sharon M. Pollard. Known for her no-nonsense managerial style, she has proven herself to be an effective mayor. But for term limits, she might still be in power. While she has been the subject of controversy involving the Festival of Trees, that is but a blip on the radar screen of her legacy. She was one of the founders of this organization twelve years ago, and it has given countless hours of entertainment and upwards of $600,000 in funds for the preservation of Methuen’s historical treasures for future generations to enjoy.
This preservation is something the city could never afford to fund.
The first time I became acquainted with Mayor Pollard was because of her involvement with children. Early in her career as mayor, Pollard was invited to come to one of our Girl Scout meetings. She was invited to speak to the girls about leadership and women’s careers. She provided a positive role model for our troop and gave the scouts encouragement regarding their future. Pollard will forever be remembered for her celebration of children.
Her tenure has been good for our city. First, she can boast of a well-managed city government. With its $112.5 million a year budget, she has provided us with a balanced budget yearly. The most recent city audit came back without findings. We have enjoyed many services without additional costs to our taxpayers. For example, while other cities and towns charge for services such as bussing, sport’s fees and extra charges for trash pick-up, Methuen has not imposed those extra fees.
Methuen has been able to provide services unmatched by other communities. The department heads have worked hard and successfully with Pollard for the benefit of our city.
Under Pollard’s leadership, Methuen has been able to cope with the decreases in state funding and strike that delicate balancing act of fiscal conservatism while continuing to provide services and no loss of jobs. In order to save money, she instituted the “Part of the Solution” campaign with her department heads to achieve this end. Methuen has strived to become more customer friendly with a one-stop shopping Customer Service Center.
The next success that can be attributed to Pollard’s leadership is that of a solid infrastructure. She instituted a roads program that has resurfaced miles and miles of roads, which will continue to serve us well for years to come. The Department of Public Works committed time and resources and has repaved about 90% of Methuen’s roads.
Methuen has exceptional recreation sites including many refurbished ball fields. A variety of sports have been available and financially accessible to all who want to participate. If fact, 4965 children participated in the recreation program’s offerings in 2004. Sports are important to the citizens of Methuen.
There have been positive changes in our water treatment capabilities that will ensure the ability to provide safe and plentiful drinking water for our future. Our water supply has received state honors for clean water and was rated in the top 20% in the Northeast Region for water quality.
Lastly, Pollard’s tenure has given us an investment in our quality of life. These are the things that provide for our families and all the citizens of Methuen and make our city such a great place to live. We have a wonderful school system. We have a fabulous YMCA. The homework center for the Arlington Neighborhood provides a safe and accessible place for our children. These amenities are what make Methuen such an attractive place to live.
Pollard values the preservation of Methuen’s history. She feels we must take care of what others have given us. The wall behind the Searles Building was crumbling and on the ground and she led the effort to rebuild this treasure so it would not be lost forever. The walls are part of Methuen’s unique character.
Open space is a luxury that Pollard has sought to preserve with the many achievements during her tenure. The Forest Lake project allowed for the protection of open space around the lake. Also, using zero tax dollars, Pollard purchased the Bea’s site on the Merrimack River in order to protect our drinking water from unwanted development. Lastly, the opening of Greycourt State Park was possible due to the $1.2 million grant she secured to make that happen.
When she was asked to reflect on the past six years, she noted that “it was a privilege to have held this job for this great city.” It is obvious that she took great pleasure in being mayor because of her love of people, her love of government, and the sheer enjoyment of problem solving. Her contributions and that of her talented team will be a part of Methuen for many years. Methuen has been a better place because of her work and leadership abilities.
What about her future? I doubt we have heard the last of Sharon Pollard. Good luck Mayor Pollard and on behalf of a grateful city, thank you. (Source: City of Methuen, 2004 Annual Report)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Essex County D.A., Jon Blodget, convened a Grand Jury to investigate Mayor Pollard’s actions regarding the Festival of Trees. The Grand Jury returned a ruling of no indictments, clearing Pollard and all those involved of any wrongdoing. Please send your condolence letters to Ellen Bahan at Rumbo as we are sure she will be whining for the next few months and clearly needs “emotional support.” -T.D.
Kathleen Corey Rahme is the former Central District Councilor in Methuen and was just elected as a city councilor “at-large.” She is also the founder of the Methuen Youth Corps. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org