Union Square and Assembly Square
This Monday, April 28 at 7PM at City Hall, I’m chairing a Housing & Community Development meeting of the Board of Aldermen about the two biggest development issues in Somerville: Union Sq. & Assembly Sq. The Administration wants the BOA to approve a $500,000 bond to hire a consulting firm to revise the Assembly Sq. urban renewal plan. We’ll also be getting an update on developments in Union Square. As selection of a master developer by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority approaches, businesses, residents, & community groups are organizing. See this story in the Somerville Journal. For more background, the Union Square Main Streets website is an excellent source of information.
Right before, at 6 PM Monday, there will be a meeting of the Housing and Community Development Committee focusing on local hiring and local jobs for Somerville residents and affordable housing.
Lowell Street Station Area Plan
The City's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development just issued this excellent Lowell Street Station Area Plan. It's 84 pages long, but there are lots of photos and graphics, so it's an engaging read. LOTS of good information & ideas about the future of this key area between Magoun Sq. and Highland Ave. The public comment period is open until mid-May, so if you read it you can share your thoughts with the folks who will be trying to implement the plan. Please share your thoughts with me, too!
Tree planting in Somerville – Get one on your street!
The City will be planting about 650 trees this year across Somerville, about three times as many as it has in previous years. You can request one for your street by calling 311 or (617) 666-3311. The trees will be planted by a contractor and come with a three-year warranty that includes maintenance and care by the contractor.
There have been some concerns expressed to me about tree care and maintenance, which is done by the Department of Public Works. I am talking with City officials about how our precious trees are cared for so we can have as many healthy trees in Somerville as possible.
Fossil Fuel divestment
A local group, Fossil Free Somerville, brought a petition signed by 129 residents to the Board of Aldermen to ask us to pass a resolution encouraging the City’s Retirement Board to divest from stocks and bonds in oil, gas and other fossil fuel companies. I expressed my support for divestment last summer, and want to do anything I can to further this goal. Unfortunately, the State Ethics Commission has ruled that the Board of Alderman cannot act or even discuss this issue, claiming that we have a conflict of interest due to being part of the City’s pension system. We are exploring our options at this point, and since I would like to lobby the Retirement Board as a member of the retirement system and speak out publicly in favor of divestment, I have asked the City Solicitor to inform us if individual aldermen can do so. Since the Mayor has already supported divestment in his inaugural speech, I imagine the answer will be “Yes”, but I want to understand the ground rules before I act. There have been several articles about this in the Somerville Journal, and I was interviewed for a local news show about it. Here is the link to the video: Fossil Fuel Divestment SNN Video link.
Ward 5 Alderman