Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line:Councilwoman Strezo Called Out for Ignoring Cobble Hill Residents Re: 90 Washington St. City Plan

Dear Billy T and Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line,
Please post to letter addressed to Councilwoman Strezo for her ignoring of Cobble Hill Resident’s reaching out to her for help.

Dear Councilwoman Strezo:
 
I am resending my email with the entire string of email exchanges I have had with the City concerning our advocacy for Cobble Hill.  It should come as no surprise to anyone on this distribution that there remain important questions that continue to be ignored.  They will continue to be asked at every resident meeting with public officials. 
 
Respectfully,
 
Evelyn Ortiz

Subject: 90 Washington Street/coffee hour
 

 
Dear Councilwoman Strezo:
 
Thank you for coming to our coffee hour last Thursday to speak with the residents of Cobble Hill who oppose a PSB at 90 Washington Street.
 
Although a week has passed, I was hoping I would not feel the need to write this email.  But with each day I have become more unsettled by the level of disrespect you, an invited guest at my weekly coffee hour, directed toward me in front of my residents.  I bring this to everyone’s attention because I know the residents plan on inviting other public officials to Cobble Hill in the coming weeks to address their concerns.  I sincerely hope this email will remind invited guests to keep the focus on the issues that divide us and not to let the discussion devolve into insulting me for my role in advocating for the Cobble Hill community. 
 
As you will recall, when I arrived for the regularly scheduled 10:00 AM resident meeting, you were already engaged in conversation with residents about Cobble Hill safety.  At a pause in your presentation, one resident respectfully informed you that I had entered the room and suggested I might want the opportunity to respond as well.  And although you and I met when you were last invited in October to speak with the residents, you expressed exaggerated surprise to finally meet me.   Dramatically, you rose from your chair and announced “oh, so you are Evelyn!  Let’s talk about those wonderful emails you send out.”  You then referenced the Maya Angelou quote I used in a previous email and with incredulousness asked me “did you go to writing school?”  You immediately followed that question with the comment “I did, and I can’t write as great as you.” When I informed you that I did not attend writing school, you responded with a sardonic “oh, I thought you did”. 
 
Your words are hard to forget as they were said in such a disrespectful tone in my workplace.  They were gratuitous serving no benefit whatsoever except to showcase your intent to demean my advocacy for Cobble Hill.   I concede to you that I do not possess the theatrical instincts of a practiced politician.  But I cede no ground in my long-held belief that Cobble Hill is being gaslighted by the City.   The next time however, I will be better prepared when a public official refuses to answer the many questions that were asked in my email exchanges.   You Councilwoman Strezo made your choice to “cancel” me rather than share with Cobble Hill the truth as to how the quality-of-life destroying PSB at 90 Washington Street came to be.  I now believe you prefer not to tell us the truth because truth demands action, and that action includes funding a new site selection study.       
Assuming you care, the contents of my previous emails were derived from the input of many who seek to advocate on behalf of the 300 Cobble Hill families, the very community where I have worked for 20-years and where my mother resides.  If you had read my emails, you would have known this as I wrote “at no time have I spoken to or consulted with a lawyer, and neither have those who are helping me.”  I also let you know that as the Property Administrator,
 
“I don’t fix elevators when they are broken. I get quality people who do. I don’t provide resident services for elders who are aging in place. I get the caring professionals who do. Similarly, I have leaned on co-workers to help me understand why all of this is happening.” 
 
So yes, I assembled a team of thoughtful and kind advocates which includes residents, neighbors, community activists and co-workers – none of whom went to school for writing – to assist me in preparing my emails.  
 
When advocating on behalf of a cause as important as saving the quality of life of 300 affordable elders, I don’t see the benefit of operating in a vacuum.  The City is making a horrible mistake in taking Cobble Hill’s parking lot, alleyway and lovely green space.  They are making a horrible mistake in seeking to locate a highly disruptive PSB next to the City’s largest senior development.  And they are making a horrible mistake by planning to construct a multi-story parking garage 27-Ft from the views of elderly residents living at 84 Washington Street.  Even worse, the City’s anti-community Demonstration Plan showed wanton disregard for the wishes of the Cobble Hill residents, which has since extended into the larger Ward I neighborhood.  This abuse of public trust would have gone unchecked if we had not mobilized to ferret out these horrible decisions.
 
I look forward to welcoming to my weekly coffee hour any public official that the residents choose to invite.  I only insist that the invitee be respectful while focusing on the message, not the messenger.
 
Respectfully,
 
 
Evelyn Ortiz

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