• May 28 Lowell St Bridge Safety, Union Sq Developments, Resistat Mtg

    Overturned CarMark at Mic

    Photo credits: Stuart Goldman, and  Gabriel Camacho

    In this update:

    • Lowell Street bridge traffic & pedestrian safety -- Community meeting Wednesday, June 25, 6 PM at the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA)
    • City delegation to undertake due diligence visits to the four finalists candidates for Union Square master developer
    • Ward 5 ResiStat meeting Wednesday, June 4, 6:30 PM

    Lowell Street bridge traffic & pedestrian safety

    -- Community meeting Wednesday, June 25, 6 PM at the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA)

    The safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists in the Lowell Street bridge corridor is my #1 concern right now as the Ward 5 Alderman. On Saturday, May 17th, during Porchfest, with thousands of people wandering around Somerville to hear live music, a car speeding over the Lowell Street bridge went airborne and flipped over onto its roof. Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt. This is the fourth accident in the Lowell Street bridge corridor just this year. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed.

    If there aren’t significant traffic calming measures in place by September, the danger will get even more severe. That’s when the Community Path extension to Lowell Street is scheduled to be completed. A ramp will go up from the end of the path….right onto the bridge next to the VNA. It’s frightening to think of bicyclists and pedestrians – some of them children -- emerging onto the sidewalk and crossing the bridge, unaware of the danger from speeding cars.

    Fortunately, and finally, the Administration is taking action. Hayes Morrison, the City’s Director of Transportation and Infrastructure, has assembled an internal working group to develop plans for possible short- and medium-term solutions for the corridor. A traffic study, funded by Maxwell’s Green, was just completed. It recommends installation of chicanes - S-shaped curves to slow traffic - on Lowell St. (See an example of chicanes on Columbia St. in Cambridge, near Union Sq; check out my Facebook page [https://on.fb.me/1mr3THE] for more info.)

    Neighbors have made dozens of suggestions which I have passed on to City department heads, including three-way stop signs, stop signs with flashing red lights, and speed bumps.

    Please come to this important meeting June 25, 6 PM at the VNA, 259 Lowell Street (right next to the bridge) and demand an effective solution. If you can’t make it, please write to the Mayor and me and share your thoughts and concerns.

    City delegation to undertake due diligence visits to the four finalists candidates for Union Square master developer

    As part of a group of 10 City leaders, I’ll be gone all week (May 26 – 29) on a four-city tour of development projects undertaken by the finalists for Union Square master developer. We’ll be touring mixed-use development projects completed by three of the four candidates in Bethesda MD, Chicago IL, Portland OR, and San Jose CA. (For more info, see the detailed news release, https://bit.ly/1pjUPsO)

    The delegation includes the Mayor, two members of the Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA), the City’s top economic development officials, two members of the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee, and my colleague Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston.

    I have prepared a bunch of questions that will encourage the selected development team to be sensitive to the concerns of the community. They should prioritize affordable housing, develop good jobs that give preference to Somerville residents, employ union labor, and continue the funky, artistic and urban feel of Union Square. I hope to ask good questions and have some influence on the way that SRA members and the rest of the delegation evaluates the development teams.

    Ward 5 ResiStat meeting Wednesday, June 4, 6:30 PM

    Please join me on Wednesday, June 4th for the Ward 5 ResiStat meeting at the Kennedy School (5 Cherry St., near Porter Square). The Mayor and other city officials will present lots of information and discuss what's going on in Ward 5 and the City. This is an opportunity to ask questions and share your concerns directly with the Mayor, the Police Chief, many department heads, and other Ward 5 residents. Come for pizza and schmoozing with neighbors at 6:30; the meeting starts at 7. You can find more info about ResiStat here: https://tinyurl.com/p9lxt3b.

    Mark Niedergang

    Ward 5 Alderman



  • Union/Assembly Sq, Lowell St Station, Tree Planting, Fossil Fuel Divestment

    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.

    Mark Niedergang

    Ward 5 Alderman



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