WHAT’S NEW IN WARD 2 by Maryann Heuston

The Somerville Redevelopment Authority chose US2 as the Union Square Master Developer

US2 reached out to Somerville and Union square business and resident communities more than any other
candidate. They also brought some interesting ideas to the table and important points of emphasis such as:

Providing an early activation “idea center” in a pop up building. This will be a visible and inclusive forum for information gathering, idea sharing, and will allow consistent dialogue with residents and businesses
“Promote the Independents” by providing business assistance support and flexible lease structures current and new local businesses will be able to thrive throughout the development process
Aim past LEED to LEED Platinum certification in neighborhood development putting a greater emphasis on things like net zero carbon energy supply and net zero waste
Pursue work force development as a key economic growth strategy using links to Mass Challenge, promoting Union Square as a regional employment hub, and creating a local task force to maximize resident employment and workforce training.
As the Development Agreement is formed, I’ll make sure that we don’t lose sight of other important things like incorporating affordable housing in the Master Plan and looking for was to keep the Square grounded and unique.

$190 Million 2015 Fiscal Year Budget approved

After an insane month of almost nightly meetings, hearings, and review sessions that lasted up to 5 hours, we approved the City’s budget for the next fiscal year. This is a smaller budget than last year but still satisfies all of Somerville’s needs.

Programs stayed intact, including the Recreation Department budget. I offered 2 resolutions to expand the scope and direction of two departments: I proposed changing “Recreation” to “Parks and Recreation” for a more comprehensive approach and management of the many programs offered by the Recreation Department and the field spaces they use. I also proposed adding a counseling component to the newly formed Health and Human Service department to provide counseling and support for a variety of services related to housing and health.

Residents may be able to expect property tax relief this year. The Mayor informed the Board of Aldermen that roughly $5 million dollars in one-time building permit fees would be realized from the Partners Healthcare buildings in Assembly Square. There are plans to have some part of that money go towards property tax relief as well as the Community Preservation fund, repaving roads, and the rainy day fund. Just a reminder that Somerville is also awaiting approval from the state legislature for an increase of the owner occupied residential property tax abatement from 30% to 35%. If approved, that’s more good news for homeowners.

$415,000 to transform Waste Transfer Station

On behalf of the City Arts Council, The Board of Aldermen is poised to accept a $415,000 grant from ArtPlace to transform the Waste Transfer Station property into a self-sustaining mixed-use artists space. I am very excited about this and I cannot wait to see how the amazing residents and city staff involved will unlock the full potential of this space.

Important Lincoln Park Meeting

A local film company has submitted a request to close and film in Lincoln Park on July 17 and 18 from 9am-6pm. Details will be discussed at the Board of Aldermen License and Permits Committee meeting on July 9th at 6pm in City Hall. Please attend if you are interested or let me know what questions you have.

Grounding McGrath Highway Meeting

Mass DOT will hold a meeting on July 17, 6:30pm at the Argenziano School to begin discussions on the next long phase in McGrath. The more recent and short-term changes will also be discussed. How and what gets done to McGrath is of great importance to Ward 2 and the devil is in the details so it’s something to keep watching and commenting on.

Have a wonderful 4th!

Be sure to get engaged on my website and follow me on Twitter for up to date news on all the issues and events in Ward 2.

Until soon,
Maryann Heuston

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