City to sell air rights over proposed maintenance facility
City officials would rather not have a Green Line maintenance facility in Somerville but if they must, they are prepared. Monica Lamboy, the city's director of development, last week presented the Board of Aldermen with scenarios of how to develop the Inner Belt area if it is forced to host a 12-acre maintenance facility for Green Line trains.
The only interest in Inner Belt development to be made public thus far has been from the Kraft Group, which is partially funding a $200,000 study of economic opportunities in the long-underutilized business district.
City officials and Kraft representatives last year held preliminary discussions about building a Major League Soccer stadium in the Inner Belt and that possibility is again being examined in the new study.
Alderman-at-Large William A. White said the Kraft Group's financing of the study concerns him. “We have a study funded by someone who has a direct interest in locating a soccer stadium in Somerville. My concern is will the city rely on that study? It may be biased,” he said.
White said he is wondering how much of the city's presentation and plans are driven by work the Kraft Group has done.
Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Mackey said an economic development plan for Inner Belt should come from the community, not a private group. He said the Kraft Group and the city are “piggybacking private interests onto the public interest” and by planning Inner Belt development “outside the public domain” could delay the Green Line's arrival in Somerville. The state is obligated to extend the Green Line through the city by 2014.
“The Inner Belt-Brickbottom area has the most potential to establish a stronger commercial tax base for the city to pay for public works, public safety and public education,” he said. “If the planning process proceeds outside the public domain it risks Somerville taking a maintenance facility and having it for 200 years.”