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January 31, 2008

Comments

Solh Zendeh

Every traffic planner knows that building more/bigger roads just allows and encourages more traffic - requiring yet more/bigger roads.

The simplest solution I can think of is to charge for parking at IKEA. The money generated would distributed yearly as a property tax rebate to all Somerville homeowners as payment for putting up with more traffic and pollution. There could even be a discount for anyone with a Somerville sticker. And a double charge for anyone with a Cambridge sticker - it's payback time for all those tickets!

Tricky

If "intelligent signal communication between stoplights" doesn't include coordination with that rat's nest at Routes 28 & 16 in Medford, most of this planning is for naught.

Traffic already backs up into Somerville on some evenings; I can't imagine what this is going to be like when IKEA opens. Not that it has to be a complete disaster, but if they're not thinking about the problem to the north, it's going to be that much more of a mess.

Someone's got to think outside of the box, in this case the box is the city limits. Actually, is anyone coordinating with Sullivan Square?

Imux

The simplest solution I can think of is to charge for parking at IKEA.

Sohl, that would go over like a lead balloon. Why would Ikea agree to that? Charge for parking? Who would go there when there is free parking at all other stores? This site gets wackier and wackier everyday.

You need to just bulldoze a few houses and expand the highway. Do like a 12 laner each way -- shooting in there. That way the increased customers for Ikea and the other big box stores will generate the additional tax revenue to offset property taxes. Now that's a simple solution.

On the jail coming? Just toss a 20' foot fence around E. Somerville and you have your jail. Kill 2 birds with one stone.

Concerned

I have many concerns regarding this development.
~My biggest is that we 'waited' too long, and the new development across the river in Medford has stolen our thunder.
~I am concerned with the jobs agreement. My questions is, has IKEA agreed to anything besides allowing Somerville residents to simply apply earlier than others? What about an agreement to actually hire a certain percentage of Somerville people? The early application could be nothing but a joke. And what about agreeing to hire some Somerville people for positions beyond warehouse stockers and cashiers? What about better-paying 'white collar' jobs? What about hiring some Somerville kids to part-time jobs, particularly in the summer?
~I am concerned that 2,000 residential units is way too large, especially in the current market. Who will buy these 2000 units (don't forget, they're still building across the river, and the Max Pac is yet to come)? I think that number should be cut in half and replaced with a community center (let's get some give-back for all of Somerville and not just the politicians!).
~I am truly concerned with traffic. I drive through Wellington Circle every day and it is a mess now. Add IKEA, 2000 residential units, a waterfront park, multiple retail units, and what will happen then? Route 28 and Middlesex Avenue are the ONLY roads to and from the development. Neither is able to accomodate larger amounts of traffic than they already do. I fear that this development will drive people away.
~"Intelligent signal communication" - this sounds intriguing, and I'd like to propose that we institute it throughout Somerville! I've really had it with the red lights that turn green, yet traffic is halted 1 block further with another red light!

somebody

Concerned: I think the the signals that you describe ARE using intelligent signal communication. I wouldn't be surprised if they were programmed that way to discourage cross-through traffic.

Solh Zendeh

Adding additional lanes is "simpler" than just charging for parking?

My idea is simple and free-market based. People pay for what they use.

Concerned

To Somebody: You're wrong. As an example, there are lights at School Street and Broadway. When they turn green, and traffic begins to move, it is almost immediately halted by a red light at the corner of Temple and Broadway. This prevents travel along Broadway, not 'cross-through traffic'. And by the way, some of us have to occasionally travel 'cross-through'.

Ron Newman

Not that I necessarily think charging for parking at Assembly Square is a good idea, BUT .... the CambridgeSide Galleria mall near Lechmere charges for parking and is quite successful.

Yuppie Scum

I agree ron, I think people would pay a couple bucks for parking. Myself included. IKEA has a pretty big market space to itself (cheap furniture) and a few bucks for parking is a lot cheaper and easier to deal with than driving to Stoughton.

Solh Zendeh

I'm pretty amused with the idea that some fancy signal switching and a re-jigger of the lanes over there is going to "mitigate" anything.

Here's the brutal truth: There are already too many cars idling by every day and IKEA is going to bring a whole lot more. Traffic, noise and pollution are going to get worse, and there is *nothing* you can do about it.

I think the best thing we can do is somehow extract the maximum amount of money out of the people that drive in from other towns to shop there. And paid parking is the easiest way to do so. Cambridge has done it for years via meters and permit parking.

Charlie D.

I really like the idea of charging for parking. The city and the developers should be working as hard as possible to make the entire Assembly Square area less car-centric. If the developers do as they say and widen roads, it's only going to become worse. If the new development is supposed to be modern mixed-use, smart growth, we need to make the area as pedestrian, bicyclists, and transit friendly as possible. That's the only true way to reduce the amount of traffic.

ez

Concerned wrote:

"I am concerned with the jobs agreement. My questions is, has IKEA agreed to anything besides allowing Somerville residents to simply apply earlier than others? What about an agreement to actually hire a certain percentage of Somerville people? The early application could be nothing but a joke. And what about agreeing to hire some Somerville people for positions beyond warehouse stockers and cashiers? What about better-paying 'white collar' jobs? What about hiring some Somerville kids to part-time jobs, particularly in the summer?"
_______________________

Are you saying that Somerville residents should be given the jobs over more qualified candidates? Because no sane company would ever agree to such an arrangement.

JPM

People who make the effort to go to IKEA usually go on the weekends, not during the week. There is less traffic then anyway.

Fat City Citizen

The sad fact is that Somerville lost most of its leverage with IKEA when Gay signed the MOU way back when, and then failed to do any meaningful traffic analysis. Now there's no reason that IKEA will do anything to alter the very successful, car-centric business model that they use throughout the USA.

Get used to the mother of all traffic jams every weekend and many evenings after IKEA opens. If you own property anywhere near Assembly Square, or along the roads people will use to reach IKEA (Rte. 28, Broadway, Somerville Ave), you should consider selling now while you can, even with the current weak market. People who waited in Stoughton found they had few offers.

John

oh you people its always something IKEA is coming yes more traffic what should we do close all our roads into and out of somerville come on smarten up in the overall plan IKEA is good

Solh Zendeh

John, can you clarify which overall plan you are talking about? I think many peoples professed goals for the city would be something along the lines of:

- better tax base
- better infrastructure
- more good jobs
- less pollution
- more convenience

My opinion is that IKEA does very little positive towards those goals, and in a couple moves us way, way backwards.

Basically, the only argument I've heard is "it's better than what we've got". From what I've seen my taxes are going to go up because of this development, and all I'm getting out of it is more traffic and some store I'll go to once a year.

JPM

Sohl,

With all due respect, its all very well to say we need "good jobs." But clearly high tech are not knocking down the doors to build there next offices at Assembly Square! If they were, then the market would decide for us.

Solh Zendeh

JPM, sorry for the late reply. I suspect that the market had less to do with what we're getting and more to do with back room deals at worst or plain lack of vision and laziness at best. I guess I don't think that Somerville becomes a city with 3 highways crisscrossing it, and virtually no T access *right next* to a major hub for no reason.

But, I'm aware that I'm in the minority on this one. I just want to be sure people understand exactly what they are getting, and what they are giving up for it.

Imux

Sohl, you're not in the minority. No one in their right minds wants another big box store in that area over say a bunch of bio-tech. But it is what it is...we're stuck with what we have and can get. IKEA is better than nothing.

As Rummy said "you go to war with the army you have.... not the army you want...". In this case you build what is willing to come... not what you'd like to come.

Tricky

Imux - how would you have handled this differently, had you been the initial developer? It is my serious belief that the developers more or less hogtied the planning of the entire parcel by more or less completely bending over for...KMart.

Seriously. The entire mall was empty, plus KMart was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time. Would you as a developer say, "here's five million bucks, get lost", knowing you could recoup that money many times over?

I think they took the easy way out; caving into KMart. Who the hell wants to move in next to KMart? Not biotech, that's for sure.

Imux

Tricky, the imbeciles that have been "running" this city since I was a kid (60s) never had enough foresight to try and lure companies into Assembly. Assembly quare has always been a "wasteland. Besides the cinema and that bar (green something or other - I can't remember anything anymore) there was never any reason to go down there. Look at Kendall Sq in Cambridge. Kendall Sq. was a dump when I was a kid. Pretty much abandoned... now - it looks great. Diversified busioness environment and a huge commercial tax base. I know... I know... MIT is there, but Assembly is a great location.

I blame a lot of our ills on short-sighted city leaders. Most of whom were just looking to make a quick buck for themselves and their cronies and then move to Wakefield or Andover or anywhere-but-Somerville. They did a good job of that.

Biotech?

Because of Harvard University's "50 YEAR" plan to build dozens of buildings for biotech and other research in Alston-Brighton, do you seriously think that biotech firms are seriously considering a move to Somerville? If I wanted to build a private biotech building wouldn't it make sense to have it near an area that is going to be like a small city of biotech research?

Tricky

Interesting point. It *could* have been a small city of biotech research, but not after you let KMart dictate the first move of the game. And now you've got an entire mall full of variations on KMart.

Use my "biotech" as a euphemism for "something that will provide a better tax base the big-box retail". Offices and housing, for example. It's close to downtown, close to the freeway, (close to the T, someday) and maybe new urban condos could stave off the lion's share of conversions that seem to be wreaking havoc on the social fabric of our city.

dd

Why is everyone giving Ikea such a hard time? People haven't batted an eye about the biohazard lab to come in Southie! Ikea is more environmentally friendly than the other stores at Assembly and they pay workers very well. I want to shop there! Were citizens over there protesting all the hoodlums at Goodtimes? What about Home Depot, the mall complex and Circuit City?

Don't get me wrong- I am ALL for smart city planning (judging by the renovated intersection at Highland/Medford/ and McGrath Hwy- we have shitty ones). Johnny come latlies- The area over there is already all sprawled out (the shopping plaza in Everett anyone), at least we will get a new T stop over it.

dd

I agree that parking meters are a great idea for Ikea. As I said, I don't drive but how much of my friggin taxes go to road repair and maintenance? Driving is critical *obviously* but it should cost people more because our driving infrastructure is expensive, takes space away from other things and is ugly. I hate parking lots!

Driving Expenses

Drivers already pay gas taxes (exorbitant), excise taxes, and registration fees to name a few. These are all supposed to be intended for road repair and maintenance. Do they actually go there? Probably not - what a surprise!
And by the way, I don't think anyone 'allowed KMart to dictate' anything. They have a 99-year lease which would be extremely expensive to buy out, and that's if KMart wanted to. They are there and that is that, end of story. There's no reason we couldn't eliminate 'some' (out of 2000!) residential units and add more office space which could include biotech, research, etc.

Solh Zendeh

dd: I think that while IKEA may be better than Goodtimes and Home Depot, it's not even close to worth the massive effort and expense of redeveloping that huge area just to get *more* traffic, and a similar landscape of parking lots and strip malls. I agree that it might be just too much to ask for better though - the history of this city is a history of getting the shaft. I guess I'm willing to push just a little more for it before accepting the depressing inevitable.

Driving Experience: Gas taxes are really not exorbitant. None of the fees we pay to drive come even close to paying for the building and maintenance of the highway and road industry we've developed. Never mind the cost of securing the supply of oil from across the globe.

People and corporations that heavily utilize the road infrastructure, like IKEA, are directly subsidized by our income taxes. Pay for what is used - that is the American way. That is capitalism. That is the free market. ME paying for other people to have cheap gas, 12 lane highways, and free parking is Communism.

John

well im all for it and im glad its finally coming the place is a shithole the way it is now look at target over in everett its great over there and about the traffic its a major artery were not talking about little side streets getting flooded with cars it could use improvement but whether ikea is there or not traffic is still going to increase

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