Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line:90 Washington Street

Dear Billy T and Somerville/Medford News Weekly Speakup Line,

There are a variety of valid reasons why the city should not be allowed to build a public safety building at 90 Washington Street. I will focus on two.

How did the city justify their plans to build a public safety building at 90 Washington Street.
What was the process by which the city acquired 90 Washington Street. 
My reason for critiquing these two determinant factors is to encourage elected officials to recognize the more compelling ethical reasons why a PSB should not be located at 90 Washington Street.

First, the city relied on a “third party” Weston & Sampson site selection survey to determine where best to build a PSB. It is now more accurate to report the city created a site selection survey with a scoring scheme fit for the city’s desired outcome. Take for example the fact the largest score value (20) was dedicated to the cost of development which includes land acquisition. Within this scoring category, the city grossly undervalued the cost of 90 Washington Street although they had in hand a separate report from a land assessor that confirmed a much higher price. This fact was later reconfirmed in May 2023 when the city was ordered by a court to pay fair market value for the property. The change in market value dramatically changes the scoring of the site selection survey. 90 Washington Street is no longer justified as the winning location for a public safety building. 

Secondly, 90 Washington Street was formerly owned by a property developer. The developer received city permitting approvals to develop rental housing with a collection of retail establishments, which was approved by the community as well. The project then stalled for several years by internal developer arguments related to the city demanded increases in density. While the developer disagreements were eventually resolved in court, the city acted quickly to blame the developer for delays and then took the land by eminent domain. How is this fair when the city created the arguments that stalled the progress? 

Any councilor who thinks a public safety building is proper for 90 Washington Street ignores what happened.

Jonathan Curtis
East Somerville 


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