The Somerville Planning Board is holding a hearing on the Assembly’s Edge project at 845 McGrath Highway & 74 Middlesex Avenue. This project includes a 235-foot residential tower next to I-93 and its pollution. More…
AIR Inc., Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP), and Partners Healthcare are sponsoring a day-long conference on the environmental impacts of airports, including air and noise pollution. The conference will bring some of the world’s foremost airport impact experts together with citizens and decisionmakers. More…
After a 4-1/2 hour joint meeting, the Board of the Mass Department of Transportation and the Fiscal and Management Control Board of the MBTA voted unanimously to continue the Green Line Extension with conditions:
- Staff are to submit redesign and revised materials to the Federal Transit Authority.
- Staff are to prepare a revised finance plan suggesting how to make up the remaining $73M shortfall.
- Staff are to report to board:
- Strategy and progress for hiring a management team for the GLX project and for addressing ongoing T management issues.
- Recommendations for advancing project while FTA process continues.
- Recommendations for gating items for which staff will return to these boards for direction.
The finance plan was required because after cutting the project deeply, removing even full roofs from the stations, the estimate came out over budget:
Includes sunk costs, new vehicles, contingency reserve
Initial funding gap: $300M
Boston MPO funds transfer: -$150M
City of Somerville commitment: – $50M
City of Cambridge commitment: -$25M
Remaining funding gap: $75M
Conference rooms 1, 2, and 3 at the Transportation Building were crowded with political leaders and members of the public.
Mayor Joe Curtatone of Somerville, the mayor of Medford and the Cambridge City Manager spoke in solidarity in support. Senator Patricia Jehlen spoke for the state delegations of the three cities in support. Bill White, Mark Niedergang, and Katjana Ballentyne spoke individually in support.
Over fifty citizens spoke, only one in opposition. Points raised include community health, environmental justice, access transportation as an equity issue, GLX as a legal commitment, GLX as key to future development plans, connect the community path all the way. Representative of Tufts University said that Tufts was making land available for construction and making commitment for maintenance around the station. People came from the South End of Boston and from the Back Bay to speak in support.
The agenda is to get input from the public on ways and means to create new public space and enrich public life in Somerville. Preregistration required. More…
The Mystic View Task Force Consensus* on the 2014 Ballot Questions is No, Yes, Yes, Yes!
#1 On Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing
This initiative would REPEAL that portion of the gasoline tax which links increases to the rate of inflation. In 2013, the legislature raised the gas tax for the first time since 1991, by 3 cents a gallon.
MVTF: NO on #1
Massachusetts streets and roads are in chronic disrepair, and a majority of its bridges are unsafe or obsolete. Repeal of indexing would allow Massachusetts to fall further behind on road and bridge disrepair, leaving drivers vulnerable to gaping potholes and crumbling overpasses, like Somerville’s McGrath Highway. Losing revenue from indexing could also cost Massachusetts future federal funding, like the “New Starts” grant that Somerville is counting on to pay half the cost of the Green Line Extension.
#2 On Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law
Would EXPAND the 5 cent bottle deposit to cover such beverages as sports drinks and bottled water.
MVTF: YES on #2
Container deposits are a proven means of increasing the recycling of beverage containers. Almost 80% of deposit containers are recycled — only 23% of non-deposit containers are recycled. The containers that are now excluded, such as water bottles and alcoholic beverage bottles, form a significant part of landfills. Passage of Bottle Bill Expansion would mean less litter on city streets and state roadways, and taxpayers would save big on litter pickup and trash disposal costs. Our parks and beaches and rivers — including the Mystic — would be cleaner, too.
#3 On Expanding Prohibitions on Gaming
Would REPEAL the State’s Casino Law, which created a powerful, non-elected commission to site 3 “destination” casinos and 1 slots parlor in Massachusetts, and which also empowers federally recognized tribes to open casinos.
MVTF: YES on #3
The preponderance of evidence is that casino gambling not only increases the incidence of gambling addiction, it increases nearby traffic congestion and decreases nearby property values. Entering into a partnership with the casino industry and embracing its predatory business model of exploiting addictive gambling is as wrong as partnering with the tobacco industry to promote cigarette smoking. The social and economic costs are far greater than the tax revenues; gains in employment would be offset by closures and job losses at existing local businesses; and Lottery sales would suffer, jeopardizing Local Aid to Cities and Towns. Apart from these and other problems with expanded gambling, the state-approved siting of the Wynn casino in Everett would hurt development at Assembly Square; snarl traffic at Sullivan Square and Wellington Circle; and jeopardize water quality in the Mystic River, as a result of planned dredging.
#4 On Earned Sick Time for Employees
MVTF: YES on #4
Allowing employees to earn sick time will encourage them to seek medical help earlier, improving their health, and increase their take-home pay, improving the local economy. Nearly one million Mass. workers can’t earn paid sick time, including 38% of all employed men and women living in Somerville. Many of those workers can’t even earn unpaid sick time, and face job loss if they stay home when they get sick or their children are too sick to attend school or child care. These workers tend to be concentrated in service industries, so when they come to work sick, they put both their co-workers and the public at risk. In fairness to these workers and their families, and to improve community health, our workforce needs earned sick time.
*Positions taken by unanimous vote of the Board at the Mystic View Task Force Meeting on September 27, 2014.
About the Mystic View Task Force
MVTF exists to increase understanding among Somerville, Massachusetts, residents about how each choice that we make regarding land use, real estate development, transportation infrastructure, public health, and housing affordability creates the future that we are building for ourselves and the environment in which we live.
Agenda includes reports by City Engineer, the Directory of Strategic Planning and Community Development, and the Superintendent of Inspectional Services on plans for flood mitigation on frequently flooded streets. More…