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July 21, 2008

Comments

JD Moore

Your Honor, the Mayor, thanks for letting the locals where you stand with all the possibilities of increasing the tax base of this city, something it really needs. A small stadium sure seems tempting, maybe something to supplement Dilboy Field, or maybe DCR can find another use for the land. Maybe the high school could use this facility. But, there are the usual traffic considerations to think of and how it may affect East Somerville. Conversely, there may be a lot of local who may walk to the stadium, too, and the potential for an increase of activity for local businesses seems to me be there.

It would be nice if we could have some real urban neighborhoods instead of what exists at Cobble Hill, too (apartment building with a mini-mall next to it on an underused main thoroughfare). I'm sure many eyes are on Assembly Square as with the Ikea deal. Now there is another empty building with Good Times closing and the Loew's theater already closed. Maybe, it is high time to look at ripping up the parking lot, building a couple of streets and put a real urban neighborhood there, too. Big bucks here, but the potential for a developer to make some good money there, too. We need more tax base; there is no doubt about it. And as for the Green Line extension, we have to win this one. I feel Union Square is a sleeping giant.

Truth Fan

This makes my head spin. Whatever history of Assembly Square the mayor is taking his lessons from, it's different from the one that the rest of us lived through in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Here's where I think he's BSing us, and others can add or correct.

"Having potential developers pay for planning, analysis and environmental work - and doing so on our terms rather than theirs."

"Our terms" seem to be remarkably close to exactly what the developers wanted. Joe Curtatone PROMISED us that if we gave the developers what they wanted we'd get big reductions in our property taxes. Why shouldn't the developers pay for planning? They got what they wanted, and we didn't.

"At Assembly Square, we struggled to find a way to forge a shared vision..."

Yeah, repeatedly break the law to give the developers what they want, then when forced by successful lawsuits to change plans, give in just enough to get by.

"For years, we also struggled at Assembly Square to develop the right model for community review and discussion, and we finally turned to trusted intermediaries like former Secretary of Commonwealth Development Doug Foy..."

For years, the city persecuted the Somerville residents who cared the most, knew the most, and could have made the greatest contribution. As I understand it, it was the Mystic View Task Force, not the mayor, who went to Doug Foy and asked if he would mediate. A condition on which the developers, Mystic View, and the mediators agreed to negotiate was that the mayor not have any part of it. It couldn't have happened if he had, but he quickly took the credit.

"And, in addition to local activists and planners, we've regularly sought input and opinions from Somerville residents through public hearings and community meetings."

I went to many of those public meetings. 90% or more of those testifying did not want the big-box strip mall, and did not want IKEA.

"All of these lessons are now paying off as we approach new Smart Growth development along the Green Line Extension corridor."

If these are the lessons Joe is applying, then we're all hosed. On the other hand, if he would just be honest and humble instead of constantly feeding us this B.S. we might have a decent chance.

Fool on the Hill

You said it, Truth Fan. If the mayor, or whoever writes this B.S. is willing to lie so blatantly about things that are easily checked out, what kind of whoppers is he telling us about what's harder to find out?

I really believe that the city's financial condition is much worse that they are telling us. Inner Belt development could be a big deal for the city's finances. What can we do so that Joe Curtatone doesn't give the store away again?

HL Menken

One of the most important lessons to learn was in a Somerville News editorial last month. It's large developers often know what they're doing, the little ones can't do that much damage, and middle size ones are the ones that screw us and leave town.

This is a story about that important lesson. Back in the late 1990s a middle-size real estate investment company called Taurus bought the old Assembly Sq. Mall. They didn't have much development experience, so they partnered with a larger company called National of New England, or something like that.

In the summer of 1999, they had a big meeting at the mall to show neighbors their plans for seven big-box stores. Everyone who came including Joe Curtatone hated it. I don't remember if it was then or later, but he said that there would be big boxes over his dead body.

Because of this and because they found out they couldn't just pull the permits, National left the partnership, but they learned from their experience.

Taurus decided that they needed a partner with political juice to finesse getting the approvals. So they partnered with a politically connected company called Gravestar, with a fixer named Natasha Perez to get the permits.

Natahsa had been Joe Curtatone's campaign manger and, ahem, close friend. Curtatone came out big in support of their big-box plans, but they kept running afoul of the law. Finally, they organized the campaign contributions that put Joe over the top in the mayor's race, and Joe changed the the law. Taurus and Gravestar made $30 million in profit without ever building anything.

What happened to the larger company, National? They went just across the river to Medford and built exactly the kind of develop that the Somerville advocates had been pleading for, and they got it up way before the A.S. mall got converted into a big-box strip mall.

So Medford got high tax revenues with low costs, and we got the shaft. How about those lessons, Mr. Mayor?

Marc

Yes, I'm sure that it is out of the goodness of their hearts - as well as a desire to help the people of Somerville understand what sort of development would best suit their city - that the Kraft Group has decided "to pay for most of the work" necessary to assess what needs to be done in order to maximize the future potential of the Inner Belt and Brickbottom districts.

Gee... I wonder what the findings of planning and engineering consultants paid with Kraft Group money will say about the need for a soccer-specific stadium in Somerville? Let me guess: building a home for the Kraft Group's New England Revolution Major League Soccer franchise is precisely the sort of development necessary in Somerville. Oh... and the Krafts should be handed carte blanche to operate the facility as they see fit, taking the lion's share of revenues generated by MLS soccer matches, international exhibitions, other sporting events and concerts.

What a crock! Does Curtatone actually think that anybody buys what he and the Krafts are selling? The Krafts wouldn't be paying dime one for consultants' assessments if they weren't damned sure that said studies were going to come out in favor of a soccer-specific stadium being part of the recommended development plan... regardless of what will truly benefit Somerville or what represents the actual will of the city's residents.

Furthermore, Curtatone is simply "massaging" the facts when he claims that "the Kraft Group hasn't decided whether or not to make a formal proposal for a new stadium in Somerville". No kidding! Why bother to make a formal proposal before the consultants the Krafts have BOUGHT hand deliver the findings they WANT.

The Krafts learned one thing from the debacle of trying to push a stadium development plan through in South Boston: don't tangle with local residents and politicians who have the strength of will to stand up for what they believe in. As a result, they've chosen to target a politician only too willing to bend over backwards to accomodate their agenda - Joseph A. Curtatone. Here's hoping that the RESIDENTS of Somerville possess more backbone, brains and integrity than the city's mayor.

Somerspeak

Let's not forget that ardent supporter of Somerville who as a car dealer is ashamed to advertise that he has a Somerville location (what's the matter Herb, afraid the well heeled won't want to mix with the unwashed masses?). He is also helping to fund this "study" and will make a profit of one thousand fold on his "contribution to the study" when he sells his property in Innerbelt.

Somerville n00b

"How about those lessons, Mr. Mayor?"

Leave the Mayor alone. He's busy organizing lame Somerville-Gaeta exchange programs in an attempt to look "international". Pathetic. The guy cannot even speak a word of Italian!

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