250th Committee seeks money for public safety

March 26, 2024

By Betsy Levinson — Betsy@theconcordbridge.org  

Showing snippets of a 1975 film about the town’s bicentennial celebration, Fred Ryan pointed out throngs of paradegoers and protesters in almost equal measure.  

Next year “will be very different in scale than Patriots Day 50 years ago,” he said.  

Ryan, chair of the Public Safety and Security Subcommittee of Concord250, spoke to the Finance Committee recently in defense of Town Meeting Warrant Article 13.

The article asks the town to spend $350,000 from its free cash account to fund law enforcement activities to maintain order and safety for the thousands expected to come to Concord, Arlington, Lexington, and Lincoln to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution next April. 

Ryan noted that some 12,000 protesters joined the scores of people who came to town back then to watch the dignitaries speak at the North Bridge and march down the Battle Road.  

“There will be many more people this time around,” he said. 

Planning underway 

Executive Committee Co-Chair Gary Clayton said planning has begun in earnest for activities “into 2025 and 2026.”  

Clayton said Concord250 requires a “further investment by the town well beyond 2025.”  

Clayton said in 2025, the parade will be on Saturday, April 19, with Easter the following day and the Boston Marathon the following Monday. Federal and state resources will already be claimed for the Marathon, so the four towns will “go outside” those departments for local staffing.  

“All municipal assets, police, fire, public health and public works, will be deployed,” Ryan said.  

He said an election in November adds a “level of political uncertainty” to the planning.  

Concord is coordinating with counterparts in Lincoln, Lexington, Arlington, and the Minute Man National Historical Park.

While each town and the park service will have its own public safety and “incident action” plans, Ryan said a “unified coordination center” will handle communications between the groups. In 1975, there was no such communication available.  

Revenue coming into town  

Concord250’s data shows that Concord “delivers $4.5 million in tourism-derived sales tax to the Commonwealth each year.”  

“A solid investment in growing tourism capacity and programming will yield a proportional increase in revenue in 2025,” Clayton noted. The number of visitors is expected to climb to more than 1.5 million next year.  

Total spending for public safety is pegged at $725,000, including $175,000 for public works, $250,000 for police, $170,000 for the fire department, and $130,000 in mutual aid.