Green Line report criticized at Somerville hearing
Chamber of Commerce President Steve Mackey advocated for an economic
development plan for the Green Line Extension Project at a public
hearing at Somerville High School Nov. 18. ~Photo by Tom Nash
By Tom Nash
officials and residents weighed in on a Green Line extension
environmental report last Wednesday, with dozens putting in more than
three hours of testimony cautioning state officials to analyze the
project more thoroughly.
The Green Line Extension Project,
mandated by the federal government as mitigation for the pollution
caused by the Big Dig, will reach from the current terminus at Lechmere
Station through Medford and Union Square. The recently released Draft
Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (DEIR) analyzes a
variety of environmental issues in extending the service.
meeting, held at Somerville High School, began with a presentation from
Green Line Project Manager Kate Fichter but quickly became a forum for
a wide variety of officials and residents to explain why the DEIR is
The majority of those commenting spoke against the
proposal to put a Green Line maintenance facility on a site in
Brickbottom known as Yard 8, adjacent to a converted industrial space
that now serves as an artist community.
Residents and city
officials argued that in addition to quality of life issues Brickbottom
neighbors would face, the real estate should be used for economic
development or risk losing millions in lost tax base revenue.
Rebekah Gewirtz, Dennis Sullivan and Bill White registered their
opposition to the Yard 8 plan, demanding to know why alternative
proposals created by the city were not taken on instead.
said that unlike those who decided to route I-93 through the city, the
decision makers at the Department of Transportation would not be able
to hide in obscurity.
"I'll promise you folks, if Yard 8 goes
through where it's sited I'm going to ask the Somerville library to
create some shelf space, and we're going to call it 'DOT's Folly,'" he
said. "We're going to have the information there."
resident George Gabin, a painter, said he had lived through the
commuter rail line maintenance facility being put in a half-mile away
and isn't willing to put up with the noise just across from his home.
are a creative group of people, and we are being threatened," Gabin
said. "From the moment your bulldozers come, we will be in misery."
"I'm 78-years-old," he added. "If it comes to it, I will be the first one laying down in front of those bulldozers."
including Medford city officials, picked apart the report's lack of
detail in areas relating to disability access, storm water management
and traffic issues.
Steve Mackey, president of the Somerville
Chamber of Commerce, said state officials need to include a plan for
economic growth in addition to studying the project's environmental
"Let's not have another meeting without the Office of
Housing and Economic Development," Mackey said. "Let's not
underestimate the gateway to Boston and Cambridge -- the Innerbelt and
Brickbottom area -- and let's not submit a $1 billion project without
an economic development plan."
The DEIR can be found at www.greenlineextension.org or public libraries in Somerville, Cambridge and Medford.
comments will be accepted until Jan. 8 through e-mail to
Holly.S.Johnson@state.ma.us or by mail to Secretary Ian Bowles,
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MEPA Office,
Attn: Holly Johnson, MEPA Analyst, EEA #13886, 100 Cambridge St., Suite
900, Boston, MA 02114.