By Mark Niedergang
This past Thursday night, a couple of City Boards took steps forward in the redevelopment of the seven “D blocs” in the heart of Union Square.
The Board of Aldermen approved bonding for $63 million for sewer and streetscape improvements on Somerville Ave and two bonds for $3.6 million to pay for design of two other major sewer projects.
We also passed a DIF (District Improvement Financing) plan and district which will enable the City to borrow money on better terms, which will save money. In all, the Administration anticipates asking the BOA to approve a total of $141.5 million for these infrastructure improvements, which will actually benefit 60% of the City, not just Union Square.
These sewer projects are needed to alleviate the flooding in the Union Square area during heavy rains and also to meet the City’s obligations to the state and federal governments to separate storm water and waste water in our sewer system, leading to cleaner rivers. They will also make possible development planned for the heart of Union Square.
At almost exactly the same time, the Planning Board voted to approve Master Developer US2’s application for a Coordinated Development Special Permit (CDSP) — a master plan for what will be built on the seven development blocs.
I testified at the Public Hearing on Nov. 30th and noted the many problems with the CDSP application that community members had pointed out, and urged the Planning Board to spend the full three months they legally had to review the application and all comments carefully.
Guess they didn’t listen to me, or to the many other community members who urged them to proceed methodically, with care and diligence! But US2 still has two major hurdles.
They need to pass the state environmental review (MEPA, or the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act), and they will need to submit a specific design and detailed plans and hold neighborhood meetings for each and every building.