February 2022 Newsletter

Hello Ward 2!

It’s a new year and I’m honored to continue to serve as your Ward 2 City Councilor. As much as there have been big changes in the personnel at City Hall, the problems we face here haven’t changed – and there’s still an absolutely massive amount of activity, from construction to planning. Here’s 3 big meetings coming up in the next few weeks that I want you to know about:

EVERSOURCE SUBSTATION PLANNING: WEDS FEB 23 @ 630pm
Online at https://zoom.us/j/86899621640 – use passcode 480754 to enter

Eversource is proposing to place another massive above-ground transformer at the lot right across from the new T stop. I’ve heard concerns about placing another transformer here, requests to put all electrical infrastructure underground, worries about the site being vulnerable to flooding, and irritation that the infrastructure there might block future extension of the Green Line out to Porter Square. (An extension like that would also require MassDOT revamping the Prospect St and Webster Ave bridges over the track.) This Eversource project will require a Special Permit to proceed, and the first chance to get your feedback in is now!

WASHINGTON STREET PAVING PLAN: TUES MAR 1 @ 6pm
Online at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pf-GqpzsuGdJEF4gu2p4RelgQ2YBMCuaE%C2%A0

The Pilot project to add bike lanes, add bus slip lanes, and remove some parking took place back in fall 2020. While it wasn’t perfect, the goal of a pilot like that is to learn what works and what doesn’t. Now the Mobility and Engineering departments are eager to take in those lessons and work quickly towards finally getting Washington Street repaved, long overdue.

This meeting is a chance for you to let the City know what you want to see changed and improved in the final design – and what you consider a “must have” for the future of Washington Street. There are a lot of options! The fastest is just a simple repaving with new line markings, but I’ve heard requests for burying all the power and utility lines, for curb-separating the bicycle lanes, for adjusting the pickup-dropoff area at Argenziano, for extending the bike and bus lanes through Beacon Street, for improving crosswalks and signals, and for creating floating-bus-stop islands that will help shorten pedestrian crossings. Each piece can add cost and time, but it’s important to me that the people who live near Washington (and/or use it daily!) get their priorities taken into account, even if it stretches the project timeline. That said, maybe the road condition is so bad that we’re all willing to let some design goals slide in favor of just having a passable street and sidewalks again. I want to hear from YOU about what’s most important.

I have invited the Argenziano school community as well, and hope that this meeting will have some interesting and thoughtful discussion that guides the Engineering and Mobility Departments’ decision making for the design and timeline.

86 PROSPECT UPZONING NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING: WEDS MAR 2 @ 6pm
Online at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6794907514033541648

The owners of 86 and 82 Prospect Street have a problem: the two properties are zoned differently, but they want to build one project on both combined lots. One is UR (4-story apartment buildings by right) and one is MR5 (up to 5 stories mixed-use, but requires significant neighborhood meetings and Planning Board approval). They’d like to combine these parcels for a future project, and are requesting that the zoning be changed to MR5 for both parcels – understanding that this means working closely with the neighbors to make a project that works for the neighborhood.

I’ve long said that any zoning changes will require engaging with neighbors first, so this meeting is a step to hear what the owner is considering and – most importantly! – to hear from you about what you want to see on this site in order to support a zoning change. I hope you’ll come and share your thoughts with me and the owners, before it goes to the Planning Board and Land Use Committee.

REFLECTIONS

2021 was an incredibly challenging year in Ward 2 with gobs of development activity, utility work, and serious flooding. Both housing and food insecurity were top-of-mind for too many residents… and it felt like the Year the Rats Won. We also had some great wins last year, including zoning adjustments to make sure Brickbottom is respected while enabling high-rise construction on McGrath Highway, and continued strength from the Neighborhood Council in getting Community Benefits Agreement from Boynton Yards developers.

With a new administration I’m hopeful that our budget priorities will change to increase Inspectional Services resources to manage these projects and get enforcement on violations, commit to the stormwater infrastructure projects Ward 2 needs going forward, create safer streets structurally, and finally devote serious funding towards building affordable housing and providing community health and safety supports. This spring I hope to hold several budget priority meetings with ward residents to make sure I can represent your must-have priorities at City Hall during budget season.

As much as things may change, one thing hasn’t: I work for you, I want to hear from you, and I still hold open Office Hours every single Friday morning from 8am-10am. Online still for now at http://gotomeet.me/JTScott, but I’m hoping in the Spring to see you once again on my front porch.

Hang in there,
-JTS

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