Dear Ward 5 neighbors, Somerville residents and friends,
It’s been a busy first seven weeks as the Ward 5 Alderman! Much of my time has gone into constituent service and dealing with development, traffic safety, and parking issues in Ward 5, particularly around Lowell Street.
Lowell Street condo developments & community meeting
Over 60 people attended a community meeting on Jan 16th I organized to address adjacent condo developments at 235 and 231 Lowell Street, next to the Visiting Nurses assisted living facility and across from the future Green Line T stop. That whole area is likely to get redeveloped in the next 10 years. The Zoning Board of Appeals has since approved the six-unit development at 235 Lowell. The big issue now in the neighborhood is the expected traffic from the soon-to-be-proposed 19-unit condo complex at 231 Lowell. As soon as the revised plans are submitted, I will organize another community meeting so that neighbors can weigh in. [Link to my Facebook post about this.]
Lowell St. bridge traffic safety
There was a serious accident on the Lowell St. bridge at the Maxwell's Green entrance on Feb 6. (See the story in the Somerville Journal. At the Feb. 18th Board of Aldermen meeting, I put in an order for signage on both ends of the bridge. I also spoke directly with a half-dozen City department heads to urge them to get warning signs up as soon as possible. Temporary signs were put up on Feb 21. While they are not sufficient, they are a small first step -- winter prevents installation of permanent, better signs. (See photos on Facebook.) We've all known for years that this is a dangerous intersection. The City required Maxwell’s Green to provide $220,000 for traffic mitigation. Initial plans for traffic calming tables on either end of the bridge were never implemented and are now being reassessed by City staff. I will be pushing City administrators to figure out the best possible solution to slowing traffic on Lowell Street and to implement it as soon as possible. I will organize a public meeting to hear residents’ thoughts on this. I’ve initiated a discussion on my Facebook page with many good comments; I would love to hear your ideas.
Resolution supporting increasing the minimum wage to $11 an hour
I introduced a resolution to this effect and it passed the Board of Aldermen unanimously on Feb 18th. The resolution specified that an increase to the minimum wage should NOT be linked to cutting unemployment insurance benefits. The resolution will be sent to Somerville’s elected officials in the Legislature which has the power to raise the minimum wage.
Green Line issues
I have been working with a bunch of Ward 5 residents who are concerned about some aspects of the Green Line track and station plans. I attended a presentation at the Armory by the Green Line Project Directors about retaining walls and noise barriers around the proposed Lowell Street and Ball Square stations. Many residents are concerned about the absence of noise barriers on the south side of the tracks in the plans. I will be helping these residents to advocate with MBTA decision-makers.
Ward 5 Alderman