• Green Line Mtg Notes, $500k Assembly Sq Bond Proposal, Union Sq Plans, Murdock St Issues

    Green Line Extension (GLX) meeting with Design and Construction Team

    3/24/2014_GLX Mtg

    On Monday, March 24th, more than 50 residents of Ward 5 joined me to share with GLX decision-makers their concerns about how the GLX project will affect their homes. Ten groups or individuals spoke out about noise and noise walls, vibration, lighting, and safety. While there was good dialogue, and the GLX Team listened well, I was disappointed that the GLX Team was not more accommodating of the many legitimate concerns, especially about noise in certain areas along the tracks.

    The GLX Team did commit to meeting with and continuing to dialogue with abutters about their concerns. Hopefully they will be more flexible in individual cases than they were in public. (Construction on the Lowell Street and Ball Square stations and tracks will not begin until 2017 at the earliest). Abutters with concerns or questions can reach them directly at info@glxinfo.com. Senator Pat Jehlen and Rep. Denise Provost attended, and their offices can also be helpful. Feel free to contact me also for help with addressing your concerns about the GLX project.

    Housing and Community Development

    I am the Chair of this Committee which has jurisdiction over affordable housing, real estate development, planning, economic development and the Inspectional Services Department. The next meeting is this Monday March 31st at 6 PM in City Hall. This is a public meeting and you are invited! There are a number of items regarding developing more affordable housing on the agenda, as well as several items about the implementation of the City's comprehensive Somervision plan. [agenda]

    In April, I’ll be Chairing a meeting of the entire Board of Aldermen to discuss a proposal by the Administration for a $500,000 bond to fund a revised Assembly Square urban renewal plan. Also at that meeting, we’ll have a report on the Union Square redevelopment plan and progress in selection of a master developer for Union Square. I will let you know when that meeting is scheduled.

    Murdock Street issues

    Murdock Street runs from Cedar Street to behind the Maxwell’s Green and Clyde Street condo developments. It looks like the street that time forgot – no sidewalks and no trees, and not even sewer drains. Many residents of the street would like to see infrastructure improvements. I submitted a Board order for the Planning Department to look into developing a plan for sidewalks and trees. An initial analysis was done, and I will be sharing that with the neighbors and discussing next steps with them.

    There were complaints for many months from neighbors about noise and diesel fumes from heavy machinery being operated at all hours by a landscaping company in a large undeveloped double lot at the end of the street. I worked with the Director of Inspectional Services to shut the operation down, and while it took too long – over a month -- all the heavy machinery is gone from the site and the owner is cleaning it up.

    Mark Niedergang

    Ward 5 Alderman

    617-629-8033

    Mark@MarkNiedergang.com

  • Lowell St Condos and Traffic Safety, Increasing Min Wage, Green Line Noise Barriers

    Lowell St Bridge

    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.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Niedergang

    Ward 5 Alderman

    617-629-8033

    Mark@MarkNiedergang.com

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