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Planning and Regulatory Activities


Assembly Row District Improvement Financing Program

Summary: Plan for financing roads and other infrastructure in Assembly Square. City borrows against projected new tax revenues generated by activities within the DIF district.

Time Frame: 30 years

Status:

  • (10/20/11) Block 3 passed Planning Board.
  • (10/5/11) Blocks 1 and 4 passed Planning Board.

History:

  • (9/29/11) Blocks 1, 3, 4 in A.S. DIF area in front of Design Review Committee.
  • (5/2/11) Final discussion and vote on DIF bond issue.
  • (4/13/11) Second public hearing on DIF bond issue.
  • (4/6/11) Finance Committee Meeting
  • (3/31/11) Hearing on DIF bond issue for $25M.
  • (2/10/11) First meeting of governing board.
  • BOA Finance Committee Authorization (11/30/10)
  • Finance Committee Public Hearing (11/22/10)

Monitor:

  • Progress on application.
  • Tax base created by proposed developments.
  • Commitment by Federal Realty to develop R&D/office in Assembly Square, not just housing and retail.

Background:

Risks:

  • If inadequate tax base created, City is on hook to pay back money for improvements.
  • If inadequate tax base created, rest of Somerville has to pay for city services consumed by DIF developments.

Mitigation:

  • Track proposed projects and make sure they provide adequate tax base.

HUD Action Plan

Summary: Plan for using HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership grants, and Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG).

Time Frame: 1-5 years

Status:

  • (3/20/14) Public hearing on one-year action plan
  • (4/4/13) Public hearing on 5-year action plan
  • (3/22/12) Public hearing on HUD rehousing grant.

History:

  • (9/21/10) Public Hearing on performance of HUD grants scheduled.
  • (2/24/10) Draft Consolidated Plan and 1 Year Action Plan Due for Public Review.
  • (2/25/10) Requests for Proposals available 8:30 AM at Purchasing Dept. CDBG Program: Bid #10-50 CD, Emergency Shelter: Bid #10-51 CD.
  • (3/24/10) Proposals due 11:00 AM.
  • (4/1/10) Public Hearing on Action Plan scheduled.
  • (4/6/10) Submission to BOA.
  • ( 5/14/10) Submission to HUD.
  • (2/18/10) Public hearing held. Schedule for plans, hearings, and RFP proposals set.
  • (2/9/10) Scheduled 2/18/10 Public Hearing on use of HUD funds.
  • In middle of 2010-2013 Five Year Consolidated Plan

Monitor: Use of funds for:

  • Affordable housing projects:
    • (2/18/10) St. Plycarp Rental Phase 1: Low income housing (done 6/09).
    • (2/18/10) Proposed St. Polycarp Village Phase 2: Low and medium income housing.
    • (2/18/10) Capen Court: Senior housing (due 5/2010).
  • Shelter for formerly homeless:
    • (2/18/10) 280 Broadway: Proposed Housing for formerly homeless.
    • (2/18/10) 75 Cross Street: Housing for formerly homeless.
  • Transit-oriented Economic and Community Development:
    • (2/18/10) Possible use of HUD funds to sponsor community organizations for each new T-stop.
    • (2/18/10) Unspecific on possibility of doing economic development plans for each T-stop.
  • Parks and Open Space
    • Albion Park (done 12/09)
    • Grimmons Park (done 12/09)
    • Hodgkins Park (construction)
    • New Washington Off Leash Area (construction
    • Morse-Kelly Park (design)
    • Dickerman Park (design)
    • North Street Park (design)
    • Quincy Street Park (design)
  • East Somerville

Background:

Risks:

  • Ineffective use of funds.
  • Overconstrained inventiveness.

Mitigation:

  • Become familiar with existing plans.
  • Testify at public meeting.

Infrastructure Investment Incentive (I-Cubed) Program

Summary: State provides bond financing of up to $50 million for public infrastructure, paid back through net new State tax revenues.

Time Frame: 30 years

Status:

  • (10/5/11) Blocks 1 and 4 in front of Planning Board.
  • (9/29/11) Blocks 1, 3, 4 in A.S. DIF area in front of Design Review Committee.

History:

  • (1/1/10) Second head house excluded from iCubed funding by Mayor Curtatone. Other funding sought. Meeting to come 1/6/10 on second head house.
  • Aldermen White and Gewirtz (10/15/09) ordered Office of Strategic Planning to investigate feasibility of using iCubed funds for 2nd head house.
  • City to vote 10/22/09 on economic development proposal, creating liquidity reserve, and acquiring property for the infrastructure.
  • City has received permanent easement to roadways to be built using iCubed funds (to be submitted 9/24/09, BOA action 10/8/09.
  • Submittal of final Economic Development Plan and Infrastructure Development Assistance Agreement (IDAA) (10/8/09)
  • Continued Public Hearing (10/14/09)

Monitor:

  • Successful submittal of EDP and IDAA.
  • Use of funds for transit, particularly to support the 2nd head house at the Assembly Square T-Stop.

 

Background: The Assembly Square infrastructure project is the first use of this program. State believes that IKEA alone will bring in enough out-of-state business to provide enough net new state tax revenues to cover debt service for the first part, and that planned mixed-use developments will provide enough for the second part.

Part of the Mystic View Task Force settlement was that the developers should contribute $15 million toward the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop. The first part of the iCubed financing is intended to apply to the area adjacent to the Orange Line, including funding for access to Draw 7 Park.

Risks:

  • City of Somerville is essentially cosigning on the bonds. If the development falls through, the City pays.
  • Funding could be used only for roadways. Part of funding should be applied toward transit, particularly to fund the 2nd (IKEA) head house at the Assembly Square T-Stop.

Mitigation:

  • Developer is supplying a Liquidity Reserve letter of credit covering about 18 months of debt service.
  • Push for using the $15 million promised in the MVTF settlement to fund the 2nd head house at the Assembly Square T-Stop.

Lower Mystic River Corridor Strategy Project

Summary: A planning project to improve the lower Mystic. The study area includes portion of the Malden River, the Island End River in Everett and Chelsea, the Chelsea River, and Mill Creek.

Time Frame: 5-20 years

Status: Seeking public input.

Monitor: Somerville's interests in the Mystic and Alewife Brook, particularly the Assembly Square project, need to be protected.

Background: Somerville has two relevant rivers, the Mystic and Alewife Brook. Both have been long neglected and are heavily polluted. The Mystic is the key waterway next to the Assembly Square district, a key development parcel in East Somerville.

Several years ago MVTF worked with the Somerville state delegation to fund a planning study of the lower Mystic. This includes Alewife Brook, a tributary of the Mystic.

See Metropolitan Planning Council.

Risks: Continued neglect of the Mystic and Alewife Brook.
Mitigation: Monitor and participate.

MBTA Budgeting Process

Summary: As part of its current budgeting process, the MBTA is trying to make up for a shortfall in revenue.

Time Frame: Phased in over the rest of FY 2009.

Status: Public workshops leading up to hearing in October.

Monitor:

  • Amount of service cuts and fare increases for T riders.
  • Amount of service cuts and fare increases for commuter rail riders.
  • Amount of toll increase for drivers.
  • Effect on existing Somerville service.
  • Effect on Assembly Square T-Stop and Green Line Extension

Background:

Risks: Service cuts and far increase for T riders, but no increase for commuter rail riders or tollway drivers. Environmental justice issue.

Mitigation: Attend meeting and ask for parallel increases in commuter rail fares and tolls and parallel cuts in service.

MPO Transportation Improvement Plan Process (see MPO TIP Process)

Mystic River Master Plan

Summary: The Commonwealth has devised a Master Plan for the Mystic River from the Harvard Avenue Bridge in Medford down to Rt. 99, downstream of Assembly Square.

Time Frame: 2-20 years.

Status:

  • (12/6/11) Second public input meeting on Mystic River Park improvements.
  • (7/20/11) Written comment period on Mystic River River Park conceptual design open until 8/20/11.

History:

  • (7/20/11) Public input meeting held on Mystic River River Park improvements.

Monitor:

  • Connections to Orange Line T-Stop.
  • Connections to Federal Realty development.
  • Connections to Ikea.
  • Connections to Ten Hills.
  • Consistency with long-term vision for Assembly Square,

Background:

Risks:

  • Inconsistency with long-term vision for Assembly Square.

Mitigation:

  • Attend meetings and track progress.

Porter Square Visioning Process

Summary: Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development is considering zoning changes in and around Porter Square.

Time Frame:

  • 5-15 years.

Status:

  • (3/12/12) Zoning changes taken up by Land Use Committee.

History:

  • (2/15/12) Zoning changes passed by Planning Board.
  • (9/14/11) Sixth Visioning meeting scheduled to present zoning changes for Wilson Square and Porter Square.
  • (5/24/11) Third Visioning meeting scheduled.

Monitor:

  • Neighborhood acceptance.
  • Continued advocacy for Green Line extension to Porter Square.
  • Zoning changes contemplated for Wilson Square, Somerville Avenue, White Street, Elm Street, and Mossland Street, as well as the MBTA Air Rights.
  • Potential zoning changes include architectural design, height, uses, setbacks, dimensional configuration, and parking for each of the key areas.

Background:

Risks:

  • Too-rapid change of neighborhood zoning.
  • Short-term benefits, long-term costs.
  • Losing sight of Green Line extension to Porter Square.

Mitigation:

  • Monitor and participate.

Somerville Comprehensive Plan Process (see Somerville Comprehensive Plan Process)

Somerville District Improvement Financing Program

Summary: Plan for financing improvements on Somerville Avenue and around Union Square and Boynton Yards/Inner Belt. City borrows against projected new tax revenues generated by activities within the DIF district.

Time Frame: 30 years

Status:

  • Finance Committee Public Hearing (10/6/10)
  • Public hearing (9/15/10)
  • Application drafted (9/10/10)

Monitor:

  • Progress on application.
  • Tax base created by proposed developments.

Background:

Risks:

  • If inadequate tax base created, City is on hook to pay back money for improvements.

Mitigation:

  • Track proposed projects and make sure they provide adequate tax base.

Somerville ResiStat Program

Summary: City program to allow online interaction of Somerville residents with each other and with the city regarding civic affairs.

Time Frame: Ongoing

Status:

  • (11/6/11) Fall 2011 meetings begin.

History:

  • (1/1/10): 2009 meetings completed. ResiStat Report due.
  • Fall 2009 Meetings begun.
  • Calendar Created
  • Ward and Group Meetings Begun
  • 2008 Resistat Report Issued

Monitor:

  • Quality of data provided
  • Responsiveness of city government to citizen participation

Background:

Risks:

  • Data inaccurate or skewed
  • Citizen participation ignored.

Mitigation: Participate and critique.


State Air Quality Standards

Summary: Currently the state ambient air quality standards are misaligned with the national standards for lead, ozone, and particulates.

Time Frame: 1-2 years

Status: Amendments being reviewed.

Monitor:

  • Ozone and fine particle levels near sources such as busy highways
  • Definition of fine particle versus ultrafine particles.
  • Health effects of ozone and fine particles.

Comment deadline is August 18, 2009.

Background:

Risks:

  • Standards may continue to mask local "hot spot" effects, where most health problems occur, with regional measurements.
  • Standards may not adequately address local air quality issues involving fine particulates, which are particularly damaging to health.
Mitigation: Advocate for local measurement and mitigation and for regulation of fine particulates.
   

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(. . .)

06-Dec-2015