Maryann Heuston on Union Square, Fire Stations, and Setting the Budget

Union Square Visioning Process: In recent weeks and months, many meetings have occurred to move the Union Square visioning process forward. On May 13th, the City held a Plan Open House at which they presented proposed designs that reflected feedback they had received at prior planning meetings.
Information and the meeting presentation can be found here. The next meeting has been scheduled for June 24th. Residents should attend that meeting to flag any areas that they believe require additional discussion. After additional feedback gets collected in June and after any special topic meetings occur, the designers will create a draft neighborhood plan by the fall. This draft plan will then get circulated for additional public input. Once finalized, the developers – US2 – will carry out a public process to fill in the details of the plan, such as architectural design and more detailed plans for open space. A separate planning process will occur to negotiate the community benefits agreement.

Some of the decision points that came up were:
*Should there be a civic building in the Square, such as the central or a branch library? I remember as a child visiting the old Union Square branch library and remember it being such an important place for the neighborhood. I will be working to make sure that a public planning process occurs to consider how multi-purpose civic space can be a key part of Union Square.

*What should newly-created open spaces look like? The designers think it will be possible to create substantial open space in Boynton Yards. These could be smaller parks spread throughout or one larger space. With a larger space, the City could build an athletic field along with play areas and passive uses. I also will be pushing for using new open spaces for many active uses that are needed by all parts of our community. I will also push for the use of rooftops as open spaces, such as fields or urban agricultural.

*Who will new housing target? The new development will create considerable new housing. Will there be any housing suitable for families and seniors? Or, is it mainly targeted to higher-income young professionals? Does creating housing for young professionals free up space in conventional homes in other neighborhoods? I hope to convene a meeting with developers to better understand how our newest neighborhoods can reflect our community’s personality or address the need for housing among all groups in the city.

The 67% rule: Would you like a speed bump on you street, make it one way, or restrict cut through traffic during the day? Traffic and parking changes are subject to the 67% rule. If you see a problem with the way your street operates you can change it. The Parking Commission requires 67% of the residents of a street to sign a petition. I will support you the entire way but a request from an Alderman will go unheard without that level of support. Unfortunately when it comes to speeding it is not so simple. To change the speed limit of a street the police must conduct a study and then get the state’s approval for each change.

Union Square Fire Station: Right now, Engine 3 doesn’t have a home. They used to be located in the heart of Union Square but poor conditions forced them into Winter Hill. This is an immediate concern, what was supposed to be a temporary fix has been the solution for far too long and a large part of our city has been underserved because of it. There is a lot of debate as to where Engine 3 should ultimately land. This is very important to me and I’m keeping a very close eye on it because this is a matter of public safety.

Setting the Budget: It’s that time of year again. We are expecting to receive Mayor Curtatone’s budget proposal sometime during the first week of June. We will spend the rest of the month working nightly listening to all of the department heads and preparing all of the Board of Aldermen’s budget cuts and recommendations for the 2016 fiscal year budget. The budget proposal will be posted online as soon as we receive it. I want hear your opinions and if you are interested you can share your thoughts at the public hearing.

Bonding Union Square: We are seeking a 2 million dollar bond to help improve Union Square’s traffic flow at the Webster Ave. and Prospect St intersection. This bond will allow us to meet Union Square’s needs and be ready for its future by adding and improving bike lanes and turning one-ways into two-ways.

For each of these issues, we have a chance to have more discussion. Please let me know if you’d like to get involved on any of these issues.

Upcoming Events and Meetings

Open Space Survey Volunteers
The City is looking for volunteers to help with a survey of open spaces. The survey days will be this Wednesday, May 27 and Saturday, May 30. To volunteer, contact City Planner, Dan Bartman:

Urban Campout
Camp under the stars at the 6th annual Great Urban Campout, which will be held on Friday, July 24. See the event page for more information.

The Sunsetters will be performing in Lincoln Park on Wednesday, July 29. Come for a potluck dinner starting at 5:00 p.m. and then stay for the performance at dusk.

Union Square Plan Open House
The second Plan Open house is scheduled for June 24, where the preferred Boynton Yards plan will be revealed and the D-parcels will be discussed.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.