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November 15, 2007



The city doesn't seem to understand that every time you sell off property to cover costs, you are losing that resource forever. Eventually you'll run out of properties to sell, then what? Sell City Hall, or open the bidding - 'Bank of America Hall', 'Christmas Tree Shop Hall', etc.? City administrators, just like state and federal, need to learn how to cut costs, not just figure out ways to pay this month's bill, and worry about next month later.
Also, when this school was turned over to the city there were stipulations as to its' future use. Are they legally binding? If so, there could be a court case because it was stipulated that it be used to house city offices, and that the gym remain intact for private and public use.
And as to its' viability as a Youth Center, one of the best features of that school has always been that it sits on every bus line in the city, therefore more accessible than almost any other site in the city. This is why it was always a popular site for different organizations.
P.S. - Exactly how does it cost $66,000 to 'maintain' an empty building????

Born Here

would it be possible to lease it to an organization like the YMCA? The City could use a Youth Center and the "Y" could use a newer facility and more space.....anyone?


Just as long as it isn't leasing to the Boys and Girls Club - they're destroying the boat club on the mystic and drove out the Gentle Giant Rowers who were maintaining the building!

cathy collins

As someone whose children are using the boat club, Gentle Giant has done more harm than good.
They operate a for profit rowing club for the benefit of adults, the majority of whom do not live in the area. The Boys & Girls club provides programs to help keep our children occupied and out of trouble.
Gentle Giant has been trying for years to kick the kids out. I want state property that I pay for with my tax dollars to benefit the kids of this city, no pampered adults.

WS observer

What about moving some City Hall services up there such as whatever is in the Evergreen Ave Building and maybe the Recreation Department?? There is parking, gym, and a lot of space. Also the YMCA idea seems pretty cool.

Born Here

It makes sense, so who knows. Just like the idea of a Community Center at Clyde and Warwick Sts. That went by the wayside because people couldnt figure out a way to make money on it.

Gentle Giant

The Gentle Giant Rowing Club has done a tremendous amount for the city of Somerville. They are always there to help out charitable organizations. They have created the Gentle Giant Charitable Foundation, which "provides targeted donations of funds and services to organizations that focus on youth development through athletics and education, homelessness prevention and housing assistance, and the arts". They provide pro bono moving and storage services to organizations in need, as well as monetary contributions. They have partnered with such groups as: Little League of Somerville, Gentle Giant Rowing Club, Rosie's Place, New Outlook Teen Center,
Horizons for Homeless Children,
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless,
Massachusetts Horticultural Society,
Somerville Arts Council, and others.
Their community involvement also includes volunteer work performed by their, several of whom serve as coaches to area high school students at the Gentle Giant Rowing Club, which was founded in 2002 with a grant from Gentle Giant Moving Company. Somerville High School has a Crew Team thanks to Gentle Giant which completely funds, equips, maintains, and helps to coach the team! This is an expensive sport which would never be possible in Somerville otherwise. However, due to problems with equipment and space, they were forced to move much of the operation to a temporary facility in Malden making it very difficult for the Somerville kids to participate at the same level as before. I don't want to sound like I'm against the Girls and Boys Club, but my understanding is that they caused at least some of the problems at the boat house.

cathy collins

The Somerville Boys and Girl’s club had the lease for the Mystic boathouse for many years. Gentle Giant did an end run around them and tried to take over the boathouse for their rowing club. This is probably the cause of the tension between them. They also approached Medford and tried to get land on the Mystic for their club, all prior to them forming their foundation.

I note that the foundation does not help the boy’s & girl’s club. Why? My point is let’s take care of the kids in our city who need the most help. It benefits us all. Work with the established organizations in the city. They have dedicated and hardworking people working daily to make the city a better place for our children.

New Police Station

I know it is at the far end of the city, but it doesn't seem that anyone has any realistic ideas of building a new Police Station. Why not renovate the old Powderhouse as a new police station and save the taxpayers a ton of money?

gentle giant blows

Cathy Collins is right, it's all about Gentle Giant and how much money they can make. They have no repsect for thier neighbors either, didn't Tarpley try to run them out of town.

Credit where credit is due

Yes - good old brother Tarpley - where is he now?

Trane makes a good point.

Trane makes a good point. Lets stop selling buildings to pay off debt. Typical democrats Tax and spend! Lets stop bonding city vehicles also. Bonding vehicles is one of the worst things a city can do. the average life span of a vehicle is one year! How many years will it take to pay off one vehicle? All the alderman should be ashamed of themselves for all this bonding and selling. The upcoming generation is going to be caught holding the bag!


Trane is not the first to promote keeping City properties, but it is refreshing to see Bob stand out on this issue.
There is a plethera of former City buildings and properties that have been disposed of over the years for short term financil gains that were nothing more than greedy side deals and band-aids for poor fiscal management. i.e. Western Junior High (Sold to Tufts for 1$ ???)
As far as the Boat-house optimal usage goes, goes, I would put it into the same category as Somerville Recreation Commission.
That is to say, for the amount of people in this city, the recreation commission seems to relish "insider" programs that are not well advertised and extremely low turnouts. This is compounded with shocking staff (fat "union" salaries) cost to benefit ratios. SRC has only a few programs that have legitimate participation vs cost. "REC" offers little for the contemporary Somervillian's needs.
The boat house too, suffers from this process of low participation and arguable misuse of a valuable municipal resource. Does anyone know that Gentle Giant donated the boats that SHS Crew teams compete in?
So please contact your Alderman about this issue, let them know what you would like to see happen with the Powderhouse School. It could be used for so many things the City needs! Rental and leasing to Non-profits that have demonstrated value to our community would be nice.
Once it is sold, the effect of any financial gain will be absorbed into City Hall's walls (or is it wall-ets?) and have little or no effect on the quality of life for Somerville residents!


From that picture, it seems like Trane has painful hemorrhoids.

Yacht Club

I've been waiting for this day since I attended an Assembly Square community meeting years ago, when this project first started. Someone at that meeting stated that Winter Hill Yacht Club should not be there 'taking up that valuable water-front property'. I think that ever since that day there are people who have decided to 'get' the yacht club. Where else would you put it??? In Davis Square??? It's a great resource to bring people into the area, and the docks could be extended and bring in lots of tax $$. Thee are lots of organizations renting state property. If they're behind on their rent, find out why, and let's get it settled. But to start talking about shutting them down is disingenous at best.

Truth Fan

Even if the sale were to pay of debt, it wouldn't be so bad. But instead it's really to cover city operating budget shortfalls. Joe Curtatone's policies on real estate development have been more about rewarding supporters than developing the economy, so they create more costs that tax revenues. Taxes on homes keep going up, but eventually homeowners might not re-elect Curtatone. So in the short term, to cover the budget, he sells off assets that could produce revenue in the long term.

If the bond rating agencies knew the real fiscal condition of the city, we'd be paying a lot higher interest rates. But the Board of Aldermen are too ignorant or to beholden to the mayor to understand the budget that they approve every year. And when Bill White kept asking the right questions about the budget, he was removed from the committee.

Bob Trane is doing the right thing, but it's a little late. If had not voted with the mayor to weaken zoning at Assembly Square, we would have development there that could pay for itself and more.

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