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November 24, 2006


Are you an artist?

Sorry, Donna, there's just nothing we can do. Can you paint, make pottery or jewelry, maybe performance art? Anything that would help us to find a home for you. If not, it's too bad, but that's progress.
-City of Somerville

Are you an artist?

900 residential units??
12 stories high??
Are they kidding??
The beauty of Davis Square is that they didn't destroy the square. It still has character. 900 units in Union Square would DESTROY the entire area, and ultimately Somerville as well. This is NOT Manhattan, and I don't think anyone in Somerville truly wants it to be. The traffic/trash/sewage problems caused by these units, plus businesses, plus a T stop spells NIGHTMARE! What is this Planning guy Kostaras thinking? It sounds like he's trying to make a name for himself on our backs. We shouldn't let that happen!


I couldn't disagree more. it's too bad Americans have yet to figure this out. They view low density development as better, yet they complain when there are more and more cars on the road.

Density means more efficient living (that is, less dependence on polluting cars). I have no opposition to that. But the key to its success will be to assure that more than just residential construction is in place. Mix in retail and businesses and the area will be vibrant and a place worth living in.

As for cleanliness, that is typically more dependent on the residents of the community. Put people in there who have paid a lot of money for their place and they will be less likely to put up with trash strewn about. It's a natural consequence of their personal investment in the area.


Union Square

Taj, I think you're absolutely wrong. First of all, the way to make a community vibrant is to make it attractive, make it someplace people want to come. The density is only a part of the traffic. The other part is the people who are attracted to the shops and restaurants. The only way to avoid adding traffic would be to limit access to the area to residents (does that make sense?). And of course that's without mentioning that just 900 (at least) people coming and going every day to these new developments will most certainly add congestion. And I don't think the comment about trash referred to cleanliness. It refers to the added strain on city services to not only pick up trash but to dispose of it as well. And do we really need another 900 people who often don't vote, and don't get invested in the community? Get rid of the average citizen who is invested for some well-to-do trust-fund 20 somethings, and I don't see where that leads to an improvement. Oh, I forgot, unless they're 'artists'!!

Prospect Hill

Can you imagine what the price of housing on Prospect Hill will be when all is said and done? I am going to look for some houses for sale in that neighborhood and cash in when all is complete!

Prospect Hill

To: Are you an Artist

What about the tower on Warren Ave....tell me how much of an impact that made in Union Sq.?

Let's wipe out the Elderly!

Is this a joke? The elderly 'tower'? I don't think that building really qualifies as a 'tower', but here goes anyway. That building absolutely had an enormous impact. All of those elderly residents trying to get to work every morning, and partying Friday and Saturday night at the clubs. The noise complaints really spiked when that building was filled. And don't forget all of those grandkids who show up on Sunday to visit. Parking is a nightmare. Of course parking soon became a nightmare anyway, what with those elderly bachelors sharing apartments with 2 or 3 other guys, and they all of course have their own car. Hopefully this building will be the first to go when we start this 'urban renewal' project, just like we got rid of all of those families in the West End (you know, where that luxury apartment building sits now). Then it can go back to being a nice quiet residential neighborhood like it used to be. They can't build those 900 unit 'towers' soon enough for me. I'm sick to death of dealing with all of those elderly people.

Matthew McLaughlin

It isn't density that concerns me, Somerville was once the most densly populated city in the country. My concern is who will be able to live in the square. Will the average person currently living in Union Square be able to afford to live there? Will I be able to buy a house there after re-zoning? Will I even want to buy one when the entire square is changed from the working class and immigrant community that it is into some art colony that will eventually become Davis Square? What good is the green line through union if I and others like me have to move to Chelsea?


To: are you an artist

The answer to your question (is he trying to make a name for himself)is "yes". But, don't worry; the banks will not provide financing for fanciful schemes. Relax and enjoy the holidays.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

Dear Mr. McLaughlin,

I don't want to sound flip, but let me give you some straight answers to your questions.

1. Take a good look at the elected officials we have. We voted for them. So as far as I'm concerned, Somerville is still dense.

2. Will the average person?...... plain and simple, no. But that's the whole reason for the re-zoning. The consequences of allowing big shot developers to pour millions into new development is to sell luxury units to "more desireable" residents.(those with money)

3. Buy a house.......? There won't be any new "houses" built. Only luxury condos for the wealthy and "artists lofts"(for the wealthy wannabe artists) Now reread number 2.

4. Don't worry about rubbing elbows with the "artists". Gentrification will take care of the lot of them. The very same people that are pushing Curtatone and Heuston to create the "arts overlay" district will be the first to go. They'll see to that.

5. And don't worry about moving to Chelsea. Have you seen some of the housing prices around Admirals Hill and other "hip" sections of that city?

I hope you don't mind my slap in the face dose of reality, but you are not alone in this City asking questions like that. There are many young people, families and seniors that are asking the same thing.

I hope you ask the Mayor and Alderman Heuston the same questions the next time they start hyping their plans to revamp Union Square.

Just trying to help,

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy


"Taj, I think you're absolutely wrong. First of all, the way to make a community vibrant is to make it attractive, make it someplace people want to come."

This is just naive. If you make communities "vibrant" and people "come," than it becomes less affordable and the folks who live here have to move out. It also loses its charm. As it is, none of us can live in Cambridge or Davis or anywhere else. What good is reviving a neighborhood if all the regular folks can't afford the revival?

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

Union Square Boy,

In answer to your last question, please re-read the response to Mr. McLaughlin.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

matthew McLaughlin


I heard it all before and your bitter sarcasm is correct. No one has the best interest of the people in mind, which is why we have to. Even if it is a losing battle someone must represent the working classes of the city at these meetings and on the streets. The future isn't written yet. I certainly hope you attend these meetings, as you obviously care about the issues. Your presence will be a far better contrubution than any pessemistic online rants.

marcus from temple st

This is all curtatone's doing. that slick haired, fast talking yuppie luver. regret giving him my vote. cant wait to vote against him next time around

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

My Dear Matthew,

"pessemistic online rant"? That is certainly not the way to endear yourself or your cause to me. But I get your point. It is better that residents of our City get away from their keyboards, attend these public meetings and raise a whole lot of hell. Especially when City Hall is spoon feeding such a load of crap about "revitalization".

And these artists? They fell for it hook line and sinker. But to be honest, those people, with very few exceptions, are not the ones I worry about. The artists I know stay approx. 3 years, stop paying their electric bill and then move onto someplace cheaper to live.

It's the youth just starting out, the growing families and the seniors on fixed income that causes me the most angst when I see these imperial schemes the Mayor is touting.

Now, I'm on your side Matthew. Don't piss me off because I'm sure you know what the consequences will be.

It does take all of us to force the change needed to produce a more equitable way to re-develop our City.

Think long and hard about that the next time one of our fine elected officials asks you for help next election.

One of Your Biggest Fans,

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

matthew McLaughlin

I think we have mutual goals so I don't want to go back and forth arguing about nothing. I would love for you to come to one of our meetings. I'm all about working with anyone that wants a better future for people in this city. Maybe there was just a miscommunication between us, so I hope we can move beyond that. I felt your "slap in the face of reality" was condesending and very pessemistic, but maybe I just read it wrong.

But don't ever threaten me.


matthew McLaughlin

Also, if you or anyone else want to talk more, email me at That way we don't have to go back and forth for the whole city to read. I don't make posts on this or any site to match wits, I do it to inform and converse with people who want to strive for a greater good.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

Mr. McLaughlin,

I can see now that my sense of humor rubs you the wrong way. Please accept my apologies.

As for working together, I think I'll continue to do it the most effective way I know how. At the bollot box.

And as for your remark about "threatening you", well.......(hold your tongue Mary, hold your tongue.)

I wish you all the best in your endeavor.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

Ward X

So, all of you new urbanist types know this is not Europe right? In case you have not noticed the Boston T is overcrowded and overpriced. It is a laughing stock system that grossly overcharges people and sole purpose and mission statement has (d)-evolved into keeping union T employees employed. It hardly runs on time. This winter, the Bad weather days will see have the system so packed that you can not even get on the train. With all this new density everywhere how do you see the T benefiting anyone in Somerville?

The biggest effect of this development will mean that our property taxes will rise and that the city of Somerville will be forced to pay to overhaul the drainage and sewer systems. From what I understand they are very old and in need of major overhaul. In fact, I am sure lots of city employees are told not to make a big stink of it, just like those hidden oil tanks. Who is going to pay for all of this? The developers coming here to make tons of money? The retailers that will be doing all this business while attracting noise and garbage through our neighborhoods? Or the current under-serviced over-burdened over-taxed Residents?

Before we make any decisions I would like to see a full report on the state of our current infrastructure. The report should cover everything from our electric lines, streets, sewers, and drainage systems. It should estimate any repairs that are needed now as well as upgrades that would need to be done in order to handle any increase in density. This study should be done by an independent third party so that we can make the long term decisions that are best for the people who live here now and Not allow the developers and moneymakers to come in here and take shortcuts so that we can be left cleaning up and paying for the mess.

Also I think we should talk about raising taxes for commercial property and retailers so that the residents can continue to afford the quality of life that we deserve here. If density is as great and magnificent as we are being led to belive then let it happen at a price to the developers and newcomers and not us.

Beatle Baily

A CBS 4 investigation has uncovered unfair billing and an unbelievable amount of waste in many Massachusetts cities and towns.

Whenever you turn on the tap, hit the shower, or flush your toilet, a meter measures how much water you're using, then you get your bill in the mail.

And in Somerville, enough water to fill 1500 Olympic sized swimming pools disappeared!

"Where's all this water going?" asked Joe Shortsleeve.

"It could be leaky pipes, it could be poor meters, there could be people tapping into hydrants, it varies from location to location" but in Somerville it is probably due to bad infrasture and un-repaired pipes that are suffering years of neglect and maintanence.

What else do you think this city has swept under the rug for future owners to discover?

Solh Zendeh

One way that towns used to accommodated "low income" residents is to build 3-4 story (*NOT* 12 story) buildings along the main drags. First floor would be the shops, and above the shops would be the undesirable (eg noisy/smelly/etc) units that low income families could afford. This is called "using market forces" to create a mixed-income neighborhood. It blows my mind that 3/4 of Union square proper is single story buildings - what a waste. Idiotic zoning and building practices that seperates commercial from residential have created a false need for towers for low income residents.

Surely some of those junky single story boxes could be torn down and replaced with traditional multi-purpose buildings. This is not a new idea, this is the classic american down town that I'm talking about. It worked then, and it can work now.

Frank Larry


Since when is the zoning and building process in this city based off of what makes real sense? These developers keep our comic book officials occupied with so many mental mind deals that it is going to take years for all of this ether to lift off of their brains. That is why we should start cleaning house in the next round of elections. We need to get some of these leaders in these activists groups elected in.

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