Committees would advise the city on strategic planning decisions and development in both squares over the next two years
SOMERVILLE – The City of Somerville is seeking residents, property owners, members of the business community and other community representatives to serve on two advisory committees for Union Square and Gilman Square that will advise the city on strategic planning decisions and development in both squares over the next two years.
Discussion within the committees would cover a variety of topics affecting each square including economic development, land use, housing, transportation, open space and quality of life. The City is seeking up to 15 members for each committee to provide advice and input as plans for each square develop over the next two years. Each committee’s meeting schedule will be determined by the committees’ workload, and tentatively projected to meet bimonthly. Those interested in serving on either committee should contact Stephen Houdlette in the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development at 617-625-6600 ext. 2521.
“These committees are all about identity, both preserving what we love now about these neighborhoods and shaping their identities for decades to come,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “In Union, we are enhancing the identity of the square. In Gilman, we are creating an identity for the square. With the foundation already laid by the work the City and community have done together in planning around these squares and coming T stations, and with our overall foundation of our 20-year comprehensive SomerVision plan, we want to continue engaging our residents, the business community and all stakeholders as we solidify our vision for these neighborhoods.”
These committees will build upon the foundation of community planning work that has already taken place in both squares and the imminent advantage of the Green Line Extension, with stations scheduled to open in Union and Gilman squares in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Union Square has in place a state approved urban renewal plan and a forthcoming, wide-ranging roadway and infrastructure improvement plan. Additionally, the City plans to launch a request for proposals to attract developer interest in the disposition parcels along Prospect Street and Somerville Avenue that are designated for development in the redevelopment plan.
“I am pleased that the City’s engagement with Union Square residents will continue as we shape the future of the neighborhood,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “The planned infrastructure work in Union Square is critical to addressing flooding in the neighborhood and roadway improvements will help an already flourishing neighborhood grow and thrive even more, especially with the coming Green Line Extension. With these improvements coming, it’s important we hold true to our community’s vision for development in the neighborhood.”
In Gilman Square, the City recently released a draft development plan based on the community-driven Somerville by Design process. Administration officials are preparing a funding request to be submitted to the Board of Aldermen as part of the Capital Improvement Plan to create a redevelopment program for Gilman Square that will promote land uses that take full advantage of their location in proximity to the planned MBTA station.
“The state approving nearly $400 million for the first phase of the Green Line Extension, we are well on our way to transforming Gilman Square while preserving the diversity and character of Ward 4,” said Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente. “We’ll be able to create jobs, more commercial space that benefits taxpayers and housing that meets the needs of the neighborhood. It’s important that our residents have a say in how we accomplish those goals as Gilman Square is developed.”
“Gilman Square is ripe for revitalization after hundreds of residents and members of the business community participated in Somerville By Design’s Station Area Planning Series,” said Ward 1 Alderman Maureen Bastardi. “Now we can take all that public feedback and continue to shape it by having neighborhood stakeholders working hand-in-hand with our City planning experts. With the help of the community, we can help Gilman Square reach its fullest potential.