Lawrence: The next Springfield?

Two years ago, CommonWealth found civic leaders in Lawrence "Thinking Big" about the city's future.

Not anymore. On Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick travels north for a closed door meeting with state and city officials to discuss a likely Bay State bailout for the troubled Merrimack Valley city. The city's 2010 fiscal year deficit recently shot up from $9.5 million to $17 million after newly elected mayor William Lantigua announced finding another $8 million in cost overruns for municipal building projects.

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Gabrielle Gurley

Senior Associate Editor, CommonWealth

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

About Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle covers several beats, including mass transit, municipal government, child welfare, and energy and the environment. Her recent articles have explored municipal hiring practices in Pittsfield, public defender pay, and medical marijuana, and she has won several national journalism awards for her work. Prior to coming to CommonWealth in 2005, Gabrielle wrote for the State House News Service, The Boston Globe, and other publications. She launched her media career in broadcast journalism with C-SPAN in Washington, DC. The Philadelphia native holds degrees from Boston College and Georgetown University.

State emergency assistance totaling $5 million is already on the way. Patrick and state lawmakers will probably hammer out the final details that will allow the city to borrow funds to shore up municipal finances. The state is also sending a financial troubleshooter to the city.

City leaders believe they can avoid the fate of Chelsea and Springfield. But The Eagle Tribune reported Tuesday that Assistant City Attorney Richard D'Agostino told union leaders and city employees that if the city falls into receivership, contracts would be voided.

Residents aren't optimistic either. "Time for a control board and a fresh start," opined one Eagle Tribune reader.