MGNA: Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance

Information about our green line extension.

Month: November, 2011

Comments on GLX Environmental Assessement report due Friday

16 November, 2011 (16:40) | News | By: Editor

This is a reminder that public comments are due this Friday, November 18, on the federal-level report assessing the environmental impacts of the Green Line Extension to Somerville and Medford.

The report — the Environmental Assessment (EA) and Section 4(f) Evaluation — is part of the Federal Transit Administration’s environmental review process and is required in order for MassDOT and the MBTA to apply for federal funding to support the costs of designing and constructing project.

The EA is similar to the state-level Environmental Impact Report that was filed in 2009, but includes further analysis and evaluation with regard to:

+ Noise and vibration impacts
+ Refinements to station locations and conceptual designs
+ A new maintenance facility location
+ Updated ridership projections
+ Impacts on historical and architectural resources

The EA is available on the project website.

Comments should be submitted to:

Katherine S. Fichter
MassDOT Office of Transportation Planning
10 Park Plaza, Room 4150
Boston, MA 02116
Fax: (617) 973-8035
TTY (617) 973-7306

MAPC outlines jobs, housing potential at Route 16 station

2 November, 2011 (23:17) | Community Event, News | By: Editor

A Green Line station at Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford could support the creation of 240 jobs, 176 additional housing units, and would likely increase nearby residential property values by about 15 percent, according to a study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

Eric Halvorsen, a Transit Planner for the MAPC, presented the draft recommendations from the “Mystic Valley Parkway Green Line Community Visioning Process” to an audience of more than 100 people at Medford City Hall on Wednesday night. The study, commissioned by MassDOT with support from the city of Medford, was designed to evaluate potential land uses and transit-oriented development in the area, while minimizing negative impacts to the local community.

Based on a series of community and stakeholder meetings that began last February, MAPC identified the following desired objectives in any development of the area should the Green Line be extended to there:

+ Creation of more open space
+ Strong connectivity, especially for walking and biking
+ Maintain neighborhood character and scale
+ Offer a mixture of uses, including retail
+ Provide more senior and affordable housing
+ Creation of high-quality jobs

MAPC also identified the following potential negative impacts to be addressed:

+ Additional traffic and congestion
+ Parking and parking management
+ Displacement of current residents
+ Gentrification
+ Increased housing costs and property taxes

The study focused on four quadrants surrounding the site of the potential station, which is proposed for the current U-Haul property on Mystic Valley Parkway near Boston Avenue. The four parcels and their potential redevelopment, according to the MAPC, are:

+ Current use: Gas station and detached housing units from Mystic Valley Parkway to the entrance to 196 Boston Ave.

+ Potential re-use: A mixed-use development of up to 4 floors (1 floor retail, 3 floors residential) with green space replacing the gas station parcel

+ Current use: Two-level parking structure supporting the 200 Boston Ave. office building

+ Potential re-use:  Three-floor office/R&D/lab building with café/restaurant and a smaller parking structure.

+ Current use: Nine two-story, garden-style standalone structures providing 144 units of public housing for elderly and disabled citizens.

+ Potential re-use: Two to three residential buildings, up to four floors, providing 172 additional public housing units and more open space on the property, plus 4 or 5 townhomes for low-income families.

+ Current use: Whole Foods Market and detached liquor store

+ Potential re-use: An up to 6-floor structure with Whole Foods Market and offices on the first two floors, up to 4 floors of residential units above, and a combination of underground and surface parking.

MAPC estimated the development potential for the station area as 50,000 square feet of new commercial space and 67,000 square feet of office space. MAPC also said the addition of 240 jobs would double the existing tax revenue. MAPC estimated that build-out of such development would take 20 to 25 years.

MAPC estimated that the anticipated 15 percent increase in property values due  to the introduction of the Green Line would results in an increase in home equity of $25 million in a half-mile radius of the station.

Since a rise in property values, and property taxes, would increase the percentage of income spent on housing for both home owners and for renters, MAPC recommended several policies and strategies to mitigate or prevent negative impacts, including:

+ Local implementation of the state’s Circuit Breaker real estate tax credit that provides eligible residents age 65 and older a refund on their state income taxes

+  An accessory dwelling unit bylaw that would allow construction of a rentable living space on a residential property

+ Adding more affordable housing units, including via inclusionary zoning

+ Offering weatherization program funding to retrofit homes to improve energy efficiency and reduce heating/cooling costs

MAPC also recommended several infrastructure improvements to improve access for people walking, biking, and with disabilities, and local economic development strategies such as business loans and storefront improvement programs, and the creation of an area retail association.

The MAPC’s draft study containing the recommendations highlighted Wednesday night will be released to the public for comment in a few weeks, both online and in venues such as City Hall and the Medford Public Library.

Once public comment is incorporated and the report completed, the MAPC study will help inform the decision of MassDOT/MBTA about whether to extend the Green Line to Mystic Valley Parkway, and of the cities of Medford and Somerville regarding any redevelopment efforts they would undertake.

The presentation from Wednesday night’s meeting also will be posted on the MAPC project website.

– Ken Krause