• Update, July 29, 2014, Cedar Street Repaving, Trees for our Streets, Mayor Threatens to Veto Local Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance

    In this update:

    • Cedar Street repaving and traffic calming
    • The trees are here! Call if you want one on your street…
    • Seven Aldermen support local campaign finance reform to limit developer contributions. Mayor says he will veto it in September; please help override his veto

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    Cedar Street repaving and traffic calming

    Community Path crossing Cedar Street

    If you live in or near Ward 5, or travel through it, you know that Cedar Street is chewed up between Broadway and Summer Street. Three new condo complexes were built on Cedar St. in the past few years, and this summer there’s been utility work underneath the street. So the street is a patched-up mess. Repaving can't be done until six months after the utility work, which means spring 2015.

    The first improvement will be a traffic calming table at the Community Path. It will be installed as the final piece of the Community Path extension project, hopefully by the end of September. But given how slowly they are working, who knows? Hayes Morrison, the City’s Transportation & Infrastructure Director, is pushing, but the contract is under the state Dept. of Transportation, so it’s not in the City’s control.

    There will be a community meeting to discuss further traffic calming on Cedar Street sometime in the fall. A range of changes have been suggested, including chicanes -- S-shaped curves with parking alternating on either side of the street (see the Lowell St. bridge corridor for an example) -- bumpouts, stop signs, flashing lights at crosswalks (like at Albion Park), etc.

    If you have thoughts about how to make Cedar Street safer, I would love to hear them. There’s also a conversation going on about this on my Facebook page which I invite you to participate in. Please share this info about plans to improve Cedar Street with others who might be interested.

    The trees are here! Call if you want one on your street…

    Trees for Somerville

    You’ve probably noticed the short wooden stakes with yellow ribbons planted in jack hammered sidewalks. Some of those spots now have trees planted in them. The new trees are huge; because many saplings that are planted in Somerville don’t live long in our harsh urban environment, these are older and larger. The trees are being planted by a contractor and come with a three-year warranty that includes maintenance.

    The City is planting 650 trees this year – about three times as many as in previous years. We are on target to reach the Mayor’s five-year goal of 2,000 new trees by the end of 2015. Credit is due to Hayes Morrison, Rachel Kelly (Green Infrastructure Planner), and the Administration who established the goal and sought $500,000 in funding, which the previous Board of Aldermen approved as part of the FY 2014 budget. You can request a tree for your block or in neighborhood – call 311 (or 617-666-3311 from a cell phone).

    I continue to hear concerns about care and maintenance of trees and of tree wells, some of which are overgrown and trashy. I have been talking with City officials and I will be advocating for a public education and outreach campaign by the City to ask neighbors to take a more active role in caring for the trees on their block. Please let me know if this is something in which you are interested.

    Seven Aldermen support local campaign finance reform to limit developer contributions

    The Mayor says he will veto it in September; please help override his veto!

    In one of the few contentious and hotly debated issues of 2014, the Board of Aldermen voted 7-4 to approve a municipal campaign finance reform measure on July 10th. The proposal still needs a final vote to officially be “enrolled” as an ordinance. In a lengthy speech, the Mayor said he will veto the measure if it comes to his desk.

    I voted in favor and strongly support this proposed law. While it does not go far enough in my opinion – for example, it does not limit contributions from City employees – it is a good start and addresses a serious problem: the influence of developers on what they can build here. Big money is coming into Somerville and there will be billions of dollars of development in the City in the coming decade. It is important to limit the influence of developers on elected officials.

    For more info, see this Somerville Journal editorial, Don’t veto pay-to-play in Somerville.  Their July 10th and 17th front page articles give even more background.

    The ordinance is actually quite modest. It would limit campaign contributions to elected officials or candidates by developers of properties over 10,000 sq feet and by those who seek certain contracts with the City. It would not prohibit a contribution; just limit it to $250 (from the current $500 maximum). This would have no impact on ordinary residents or those looking to make home improvements.

    The mayor has promised to veto the bill should it reach his desk in September. In order to override a mayoral veto we need a two-thirds majority or eight votes. If you live in Somerville, and if you agree with me that this campaign finance reform law is needed, I urge you to contact the two Aldermen-at-Large who voted against it and ask them to change their vote. If you live in Ward 2 (Maryann Heuston) or Ward 3 (Bob McWatters), please also email them and tell them to reconsider their opposition to this important measure.

    Mark Niedergang

    Somerville School Committee, Ward 5

    Ward 5 Alderman

    617-629-8033

    Mark@MarkNiedergang.com

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