Letter to the Editor: Open Letter to Mayor Ballantyne and Somerville City Council

Open Letter to Mayor Ballantyne and Somerville City Council:

I write to ask if you would kindly reconsider your support to build a PSB at 90 Washington Street and instead find a more suitable land parcel next door to your home, or your place of employment or your house of worship. Please accept my apologies as it seems like everyone in your Planning Department thinks this is such a great idea. The Cobble Hill residents do not.

It seems very threatening on many levels that City Planners don’t share our desire to keep the heat reducing/oxygen producing green space that East Somerville has enjoyed for over 40 years. For us, it is a quality-of-life take-away that is too much to concede. If you accept my invitation to find a better location somewhere in your neighborhood, please don’t allow your City Planner to cut down 84 mature trees or construct a multistory concrete parking structure approximately 27 feet from your kitchen window that will forevermore restrict exposure to sunshine. That doesn’t seem fair to anyone.

It is hard for me to understand why City Planning staff have been so enthusiastic in their planning presentations. Even the Mayor’s recent invitation to meet with Cobble Hill residents on May 25, crowed about City Council’s unanimous support for 90 Washington Street when plans were approved in 2019. Did any of them know at the time how much the City’s plans undermine an entire elderly community? If this is accurate, that would mean there are six Councilors today who voted for this very threatening plan. Now that the City’s plans seem to be delayed, perhaps all six members who voted to approve 90 Washington Street will step up and volunteer to relocate the $102,000,000 project elsewhere in their neighborhood. I believe this would solve everything. It will allow the enthusiastic City Councilors and City Planners to get what they want and the Cobble Hill residents to stop what they desperately oppose.

While they voted in 2019, it took until October 2021 for the City to tell us their plans. I think this is because our opposition was anticipated and did not come as a surprise to anyone. We live in an affordable community on a fixed retirement income while having to deal with health issues and/or personal loss. We spend our days taking comfort in each other and in what little we own which includes our green space and our peace and quiet. The City’s plans will take from us our quality of life. We are saddened and fearful that fire and police sirens will blare 24/7 and disrupt our peace and quiet both day and night. We know the traffic backups that will result from emergency calls even as the current traffic issues on Washington Street are already getting worse. We don’t have the luxury to pretend this is good for us. We don’t leave Cobble Hill during the weekdays to go to work. We don’t leave Cobble Hill on weekends to get out of the City to enjoy second homes. We don’t even take vacations. The sirens cannot be avoided, ignored or muted with a tv remote. If the Planning Department’s exciting narrative is at all accurate, it then stands to reason there might be six council members who do not share our fears/disappointments and will identify a parcel in their own neighborhood to save us from this horrible fate.

I’m hoping the Mayor will remember her campaign promises and work to support community consensus, green initiatives, affordable housing and transit-oriented development next to a GLX stop and not a noisy Fire and Police Headquarters that takes away our green space, parking lot, back alleyway and peaceful enjoyment.

The Mayor has scheduled a public meeting on Wednesday May 25, at 10:00 AM at the parking lot of 84 Washington Street to listen to our concerns and to answer our questions. I would encourage everyone in Somerville who opposes the City’s plans to attend as well.

Respectfully,

Margaret Gaudet
84 Washington Street #304

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