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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Decision Made...




Dear Friends and Supporters,

I hope this message finds you doing well and looking forward to the spring season. I know I am!

I wanted to take a moment and address recent published reports regarding my aspirations in 2015. After much thought, conversations with family and a weekend in Maine to think, I have decided not to pursue political office in the City of Somerville this election year. Between family obligations and a very fulfilling professional opportunity I have had since last fall, my time is being taken up by the things I love and the goals I would like to achieve.

In the coming months, I look forward to continued change on Somerville’s political scene and learning more about candidates running for various seats on the School Committee, Board of Aldermen and/or Mayor. 

I will be spending this campaign season publishing my thoughts and meeting recaps on my blog: Ward 5 Online, supporting local businesses as a member of Somerville Local First’s Board of Directors and reaching out to the community in my professional capacity for the Community Credit Union. Fitting in time with my beautiful nieces, Shannon and Shayne, will be rounding out this busy life of mine. I cherish my role as an Aunty!  

I am certainly keeping my options open and have not ruled out a future run for office including a campaign for Mayor.  Somerville has been my home all 34 years of my life and I am excited about giving back to the community that has given me so much. 

I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of me as a person and as a candidate and would like to wish all entering the 2015 campaign season the best of luck! 

Sláinte Mhaith,
Courtney O'Keefe 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snow Information for Tonight



Hello, this is Jackie Rossetti from the City of Somerville with important parking information for the expected snowfall from Sunday, March 1, into Monday. Please listen carefully as the instructions for this storm are not standard snow emergency procedures. 

Unless the parking ban has already been lifted on your street, the extended parking ban will remain in effect during this storm. On streets still currently under the ban, all cars must park on the odd-side of the street unless otherwise posted.  On streets where the parking ban has already been lifted, they will remain open for two-sided parking. However, plows working this storm need 12 feet of clearance between parked cars to travel down a street. Therefore, all cars parked on the even side of the street must leave 12-feet between their vehicle and the car opposite them on the odd side. If there is not 12 feet of clearance, in most cases the car on the even side will be towed (unless otherwise posted). 

Police will make every effort to contact vehicle owners before towing, but all necessary towing will be ordered. If you are unsure if you have left 12 feet of clearance, please park elsewhere. Residents may also park in any metered spot not under the ban or any municipal parking lot including business district lots and at Dilboy Stadium. School lots are open overnight Sunday, but all vehicles must be out by 7 a.m. Monday and may return during the week only for overnight parking from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

A list of available parking lots for this storm, and additional snow emergency information is available at www.somervillema.gov/snow. If you have any additional questions, please call 311 (617-666-3311 from outside the city).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Word Around the Ward


Our conversation surrounding the Who? What? Why? for Election 2015 has been the top post on the website for two weeks now. Be sure to add your thoughts as to what's going to happen this year!

The Exotic Bird Store in Magoun Square has closed after a good run for few years in the Square. No word, yet, on what it will be replaced with.

Speaking of Magoun Square, another hair salon will be occupying the space at 514 Medford Street next to Pennypacker's - shutting down rumors of an expansion by the popular eatery.

A donation truck made a hefty grab as items from the Book Shop in Ball Square were hauled off to a new home this past week. The Book Shop announced its closing via their Facebook page in January. It will officially close doors at the end of this month.

The public is invited to share their thoughts on the adjusted snow regulations during a public hearing scheduled for February 25th at 7pm in City Hall.

The Ward 5 meeting on the proposed zoning code overhaul will take place on Monday March 16th in the Community Room of the VNA (259 Lowell Street) at 6:30pm. Please stop by and continue submitting your ideas/changes at: www.SomervilleMA.Gov/Zoning.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Public Hearing on Snow Policies Rescheduled to February 25th, 7pm.



A public hearing has been rescheduled to Wednesday February 25th at 7pm in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall. This hearing will give residents and business owners an opportunity to voice their concerns over previously approved snow removal regulations from December of 2014.

Snow policies were updated by the Curtatone administration and now have residents seeing higher fines and less time to clear City sidewalks after a storm. The policy states, “If snow ceases to fall after sunrise (during daylight hours), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 p.m. If snow ceases to fall after sunset (overnight), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 a.m.” Fines for failing to comply start off at $50 for a first offense and can result in a lien on property if the City has to use its own resources to clear the snow. 

Brightly colored decals will be left on the door of those who are being cited…this is also known as being “Scarlett Lettered.” In a press release, the City stated that it would work with those members of the community who are physically unable to shovel by pairing those residents with Somerville youth through a collaboration with the Office of Commissions, the Health Department and the Council on Aging. Residents would be responsible for paying for the snow to be removed. 


The previous public hearing, ironically, was cancelled due to winter weather conditions.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Public Hearing on Proposed Zoning Code Cancelled




The public hearing on the proposed zoning code has been cancelled with Mother Nature to blame. 

Originally set for tonight, the meeting in front of the Land Use Committee has been rescheduled to Thursday March 5th at 6:00 pm in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.

Please see www.SomervilleMA.Gov/Zoning for details and to suggest changes.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Snow emergency declared for Sunday at 10:00 AM


SOMERVILLE – In accordance with the City’s Snow Emergency Procedures, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has declared a snow emergency for the City of Somerville to go into effect at 10 a.m. on Sun., Feb. 8.  During snow emergencies, parking is allowed on the odd-numbered side of the street only (unless otherwise posted).  Cars not moved by 2 p.m. Sun. will be subject to ticketing and towing. Residents unable to find a parking space on the odd-numbered side of the street may park in any municipal or school parking lot for the duration of the emergency, and may park in lots immediately on Sunday as regular parking enforcement is not in place on Sundays. Full snow emergency and snow removal policies may be found on the City’s website at www.somervillema.gov/snow. A video statement from Mayor Curtatone on the historic snowfall and the City’s ongoing response will be available at www.somervillema.gov/snow

Call for Driveway Sharing
Due to the extraordinary snowfall resulting in decreased parking availability, we strongly urge anyone with a driveway to use it and also consider sharing extra spots with friends and neighbors to help keep cars off of the streets for more effective cleaning. 

Additional Parking
For this storm, a portion of the Dilboy Stadium Parking Lot will be available for residents. Additionally, Assembly Row has made 200 parking spots available in its free AMC parking garage for Somerville residents during the storm. To utilize Assembly Row spaces, residents must reserve an Assembly Row-issued parking pass HEREPasses must be visible on your dashboard. The first 200 residents requesting permits for the garage will be able to access the second and third floors for parking for the duration of the City’s parking ban. For more information, call 617-440-5565. Residents in the Davis area may also want to consider parking at the Alewife MBTA station (for the daily rate) and then commuting to their car via the Red Line.

Closures
On Mon., Feb. 9, the Somerville Public Libraries, the Veteran’s Memorial Skating Rink, and the Founders Rink on Somerville Ave. will be closed. City Hall will be open with limited staffing.

Snow removal information
Public safety and public works crews have been out in maximum force since the first in a series of storms that have resulted in record-setting snowfall in the regions. Due to the extraordinary snowfall, more than 53 inches or twice what fell in the area during the Blizzard of ’78, conditions nonetheless remain difficult on many side streets. Crews are out today removing snow in advance of the storm and will continue snow clearing and removal as long as necessary. We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation.

Alerts and Further Updates
Due to the large amounts of snow already on the ground, this storm will present unique challenges, and we encourage you to stay informed by checking the City’s website and social media feeds for additional information throughout the storm. Residents are also encouraged to sign up for the City's alert system to receive notification by phone, email and/or text message in the event of emergencies or with important information for your neighborhoodResidents may also sign up for alerts by calling 311 (617-666-3311 from outside the City).  

Snow Emergency Policies:
A snow emergency may be declared whenever four or more inches of snow are predicted. City officials closely monitor storm forecasts through various means, and will use all available information to make an informed decision as swiftly as possible. Once a snow emergency has been declared, residents will be notified via multiple lines of communication, including:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Word Around the Ward: Who? What? Why? Election 2015


As other news providers have begun giving this topic some attention, I thought I would jump in and give my awesome readers a chance to lay out their thoughts on what the Somerville political landscape will look like by year’s end. Please know that you can go beyond Ward 5 if you wish and you may also repost previous predictions here.

So, what do you think? Who is running? Who should run? Why? What do you think their chances are? Should you be incorrectly mentioned or not mentioned, please feel free to comment or use the survey to be added.

Here’s what’s been spinning the rumor mill as of late…

Mayor
After deciding not to run for Governor, Curtatone breezed through 2013 unopposed. An anti-Curtatone regime has been rearing its head in the media, but is it enough to overthrow Joe? Rumored Mayoral Candidates include Ward 4 Alderman Tony LaFuente and Alderman at Large Bill White. Curtatone’s free summers might end in 2015 as someone may challenge him.

Ward 1
Could Elio LoRusso be ready for another run again incumbent Matt McLaughlin? Construction has kept Matt busy with board orders and constituents rave about his level of communication with them. From what I hear, he does need to get his letters to FRIT fact-checked. Camp Elio has been fairly quiet…different from 2013 which saw Mr. LoRusso commenting on news articles and keeping his Facebook page filled with personal opinions on various city-wide topics. Elio?

Steve Roix has been doing a good job and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Although he had an opponent in 2013, no one has verbalized a desire to serve on the School Committee.

Ward 2
Maryann Heuston has been increasing her communications approach with constituents through a re-launched newsletter and increased social media presence, but a longtime incumbent is always on the radar for the Progressive Democrats. The question is who they would put against such a strong candidate?

Dan Futrell also has a great communications approach that included an op-ed published in the Somerville Journal recently. Mike Nionakis has already bid Somerville politics farewell and Dan is a PDS darling, so there’s no worry there.

Ward 3
Bobby McWatters won, but not by much. This could be the motivator for Suzanne Bremer to rally the troops again in 2015. Should Joe Curtatone be uncontested, this will be the race to watch.

Adam Sweeting has announced that he will not be running for re-election, opening the door for a new representative on the School Committee. Lee Palmer and Dorothy Kelly Gay are rumored to be interested. Former Mayor DKG has been more public lately even receiving a shout-out from Mayor Curtatone during this year’s State of the City address. Interestingly, she was seated right next to the Mayor’s Mother. I know Lee has been heavily involved with campaigns for Christine Barber and Denise Provost, has a child in the school system, but I don’t know much more of who she really is. Most likely, PDS will continue their occupancy of this seat.

Ward 4
Tony LaFuente is one name consistently coming up as a potential Mayoral candidate. This will be a repeat for the two-term Ward 4 Alderman who lost in 2003 to Joe Curtatone after both defeated Dorothy Kelly Gay in the Primary. Regardless of LaFuente’s decision, you may see a race for Alderman in Ward 4 as two residents, a member of a neighborhood organization and a strong female candidate, have expressed serious interest. Proposing cutting over $30,000 out of the Council on Aging budget this past June may come back to haunt LaFuente no matter what race he chooses to participate in.

Christine Rafal has held the School Committee seat for years and is comfortable. Her running unopposed will be a godsend to PDS as she will be needed to canvass for candidates in other wards.

Ward 5
Mark Niedergang made the smart decision not to support the removal of the Recreation Department from the City’s budget and the reduction of the Council on Aging allowance (as described in Ward 4). He has had two fundraisers solidifying his desire to remain on the Board.

Laura Pitone proved herself to be a door-knocking champion in 2013, but has remained quiet on the mainstream media front. With Ross Richmond recently engaged and Caroline Shea Rosas busy with her family, it looks like Pitone will be free of campaigning for 2015.

Ward 6
Since August of 2014, I have heard that Rebekah Gewirtz will not seek re-election and has been in the process of convincing Paul Bockelman to run for the seat. Should this be true, anticipate her releasing a farewell statement soon that will include an endorsement for Bockelman.

Along with Gewirtz’s departure, the Ward 6 School Committee seat will also be available. As sure as the sun rises and sets, PDS already has someone lined up as they continue their pursuit of world dominance.

Ward 7
Katjana Ballantyne curbed a Capuano, but can she fend off a Fitzgerald? Sean Fitzgerald – former Alderman at Large candidate – may be considering the switch to a ward run despite publicly praising the incumbent on her vote for last year’s Pay to Play Ordinance. Everything’s fair in love and politics.

Carrie Normand is one of very few elected officials I actually like. I hope she gets a campaign-free summer. Campaigning sucks.

Aldermen at Large
Jack Connolly has already squashed rumors that he’s retiring this year. Who’s to blame him…he’s been on the Board for the opening of 2 MBTA train stations (Red and Orange) and now has the trifecta with the Green Line Extension.

Mary Jo Rossetti is the newcomer to the At Large scene and has been a force to be reckoned with. Her community meeting presence has gained her city-wide visibility and her leading the charge on airplane noise and gained her notoriety. She will be the target for a PDS-placed candidate, however, so she needs to stay the course and raise some funds.

Although rumors are swirling around a possible Mayoral run, Bill White will probably continue his tenure on the Board of Aldermen.

Dennis Sullivan has been rumored to be considering retirement with the birth of his daughter being the main reason. I’m hoping to sign his nomination papers a couple more times before he calls it quits.

Rumored At Large candidates include Sean Fitzgerald, Joe Capuano, Mike Capuano, and Todd Easton along with whoever draws the shortest straw at the next PDS meeting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Did You Lose This?



This handkerchief was found on Medford Street while Ward 5er, Rebecca Cooper, was shoveling. Appreciative of its details, Rebecca is thinking this is special to someone. Is it yours? Feel free to use the survey to claim it!

Somerville Local First Hosts Local is for Lovers Valentines Day Market at Arts at the Armory on February 8



SOMERVILLE (February 3, 2015)—Valentine’s Day is almost here and nothing says “I love you” more than a gift for your beloved AND your beloved community! Find gifts from local artisans and crafters at Somerville Local First’s Valentine’s Day Local is for Lovers Market

The market takes place Sunday, February 8 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Avenue), is FREE and easily accessible by car or public transportation. Knucklebones will be setting up their mobile playspace (for a suggested donation of $3) so the kids have a place to get out some pent up winter energy while their parents shop or sip a local brew (coffee or beer!)

The Local is for Lovers Market will feature local vendors selling everything from jewelry and handmade soap to sweets and clothing.  Here is a full list of vendors:

Tamaryn Design
Beadkreative
Somerville Soap Works
Philosophy Cards
13mL designs
Singing Stones Jewelry
Yeiou {paper objects}
Neighborhood Artesans
Sock Faery
JasmineDoodles

Vendors and shoppers at previous Local is for Lovers Market have raved about their experience and the next market promises to be just as fun. Somerville Local First Executive Director says, “We’ve always aimed to do something different with these markets, creating a shopping and community experience that’s fun for the whole family.”  Shoppers have commented on the community feel of the markets, a place to gather and see friends while seeing some of the best local vendors around.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Magoun Square: Art and Bagels and Businesses...Oh My!



Jewelry Left to Right: Jennifer Weigel, Consuelo J. Perez, Barbara Marder

Magoun Square was the place to be on Saturday as the arts and business community came together to host two pop-up markets giving stir-crazy residents a reason to get out after over 30" fell on the City between Monday and Wednesday.

Artists Barbara Marder, Consuelo J. Perez, and Jennifer Weigel brought their talent to Imperial Jewelry located at 499 Medford Street that included jewelry and painting. Purchasing art at Imperial gave buyers discounts in participating businesses: Some Yoga Studio, King of Wings, Olde Magoun's Saloon, Natural Grocery and Royal Bengal Restaurant. Every $10 spent earned you a ticket in a raffle towards a piece of art generously donated by Marder, Perez and Weigel.

Daddy Jones Bar held a pop-up of their own that featured Better Bagels and Somerville Soap Works. Attendees received free coffee while they perused the wide selection of soap and bought bagels and assorted spreads. By 2pm, all bagels were sold out...a true testament to the popularity of the event.

This is the second "storefront hop" type event held in Magoun Square. A Market and Restaurant Tour last year brought 16 participants to Olde Magoun's Saloon, Pennypackers, K2 Beer & Wine, Modelo Meat Market, Modelo Bakery and Daddy Jones Bar. Each location provided food and beverages along with talking points about their business. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Snow Emergency Remains in Effect Until Tuesday at 6pm. School Cancelled for Tuesday



The City of Somerville’s snow emergency will remain in effect until Tues., Feb. 3, at 6 p.m., Mayor Curtatone announced today. At the end of a snow emergency, residents have two hours to move vehicles from municipal and school parking lots. Cars must be moved by 8 p.m. Tuesday to avoid being ticketed and towed.

Please also note the following scheduling information for Tuesday:
• Somerville Public Schools are CLOSED.
• No City or school evening activities.
• Trash and recycling pick up will remain on a normal schedule.
• City Hall will be open with limited staffing, and the Somerville Public Library (Central Branch) will be open.
• The Kennedy School swimming pool will be open for family swim and for swim lessons from noon to 4 p.m., however please note that parking will be extremely limited.

Residents will have until 10 p.m. on Tuesday night to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, and are reminded that snow may NOT be shoveled into the street.

Ball Square: The Book Shop to Close :(

The Book Shop located in Ball Square at 694 Broadway is closing at the end of February according to a post on their Facebook page.

Owner Gil Barbosa wrote today, "It's with a heavy heart i announce the closing of The Book Shop at the end of this month. 

I'd like to especially thank my mom, my sister, my aunt and the rest of my family, i couldn't have done it without your love and support. I've met some amazing people (and doggies too) and made great friends, to the authors, artists, my Ball Square neighbors, my book club members and volunteers and everyone else, way too many to list.THANK YOU !!! all for coming along on this wonderful journey with me. This is a community like no other and i'll miss you all, It's been a great pleasure and i have memories that will last a lifetime."

Gil's shop hosted readings, book signings, club meetings and included DVD's and music for sale along with a wide selection of new and used books always marked at great prices. 

The Book Shop opened in June of 2011 to much fanfare, however, trouble for the Book Shop forced Barbosa to launch an IndiGoGo fundraising campaign in 2013 that only garnered him $450 of the $26,000 he needed to remain in business. 

According to Barbosa's Facebook message, all inventory and storage in the store is for sale. "...everything must go, be sure to stop by and pick up some books, bookcases and fixtures are all available at deep discounts."


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snow emergency declared for 10:00 PM this evening






SOMERVILLE – In accordance with the City’s Snow Emergency Procedures, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has declared a snow emergency for the City of Somerville to go into effect at 10 p.m. on Sun., Feb. 1.  During snow emergencies, parking is allowed on the odd-numbered side of the street only (unless otherwise posted).  Cars not moved by 2 a.m. Mon. morning will be subject to ticketing and towing. Residents unable to find a parking space on the odd-numbered side of the street may park in any municipal or school parking lot for the duration of the emergency, and may park in lots immediately on Sunday as regular parking enforcement is not in place on Sundays. Full snow emergency and snow removal policies may be found on the City’s website at www.somervillema.gov/snow.

Trash and recycling pickup will continue on a normal scheduled for Mon., Feb. 2. Please be sure to put trash and recycling toters curbside where they will be visible to trucks. If your trash or recycling is not picked up, please call 311.

On Monday, City Hall and public libraries will remain open. The City Hall Annex will be closed. Any further closures will be announced later today.
Residents are also reminded that some snow removal policies and procedures have changed. Property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice from sidewalks abutting their property. In cases of extreme snowfall or difficult conditions as predicted for this storm, the City may extend timelines for snow removal. All changes will be announced in advance.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for the City's alert system to receive notification by phone, email and/or text message in the event of emergencies or with important information for your neighborhood. Residents may also sign up for alerts by calling 311 (617-666-3311from outside the City).  

Snow Emergency Policies:
A snow emergency may be declared whenever four or more inches of snow are predicted. City officials closely monitor storm forecasts through various means, and will use all available information to make an informed decision as swiftly as possible. Once a snow emergency has been declared, residents will be notified via multiple lines of communication, including:

Parking Regulations During a Snow Emergency:

Once a snow emergency is declared, vehicle owners will have four hours (unless otherwise noted) in which to move their vehicles to the odd-numbered side of the street (unless otherwise posted), or they will be ticketed and towed.  Municipal and school lots will be made available at no cost to residents during snow emergencies. It is important that vehicles only be parked on one side of the street as noted above to ensure plows can make all roads accessible and safe, particularly for emergency vehicles.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Lets Talk Snow Policies!

A public hearing on the new snow removal regulations has been conveniently set for Tuesday February 3rd at 7:00pm - a week after #Somerblizz15. The hearing will take place in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.

Submitted by Aldermen at Large Bill White and Dennis Sullivan, legislative item number 198319 has travelled through Committee and is now being executed giving residents the opportunity to support the new regulations or offer suggestions to improve them.

Snow policies were updated by the Curtatone administration in December of 2014 that had residents seeing higher fines and less time to clear City sidewalks after a storm. The policy states, “If snow ceases to fall after sunrise (during daylight hours), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 p.m. If snow ceases to fall after sunset (overnight), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 a.m.” Fines for failing to comply start off at $50 for a first offense and can result in a lien on property if the City has to use its own resources to clear the snow.

Brightly colored decals will be left on the door of those who are being cited…this is also known as being “Scarlett Lettered.” In a press release, the City stated that it would work with those members of the community who are physically unable to shovel by pairing those residents with Somerville youth through a collaboration with the Office of Commissions, the Health Department and the Council on Aging. Residents would be responsible for paying for the snow to be removed.

The new policies have been received with mixed reviews according to Aldermen. While some look at it as a serious safety issue (with at least one, saying the timeline is not strict enough), most residents see it as impossible given work and school responsibilities. 

In a response to one of my Tweets, the City pointed out that the policies allow for extensions in severe weather cases, thus, making the policies a success. 

We can all think of numerous scenarios, but they all seem to come down to one question: what happens if I clear my portion of the sidewalk and snow falls back on it (through a plow, mean neighbor, someone cleaning a car off, or snow drift) What if a member of the disAbled and/or senior community is unable to find someone to shovel or cannot afford the fee? The answer lies in when the City plans on enforcing the snow policy. Close to the 10pm/10am time is unfair...as is anything before residents come home from work which can be anywhere from 4:30pm - 7pm (later if T is out of service). On the other hand, highly separated from the 10pm/10am time makes the policy pointless. Where is the common ground? And, while we're at it, who is on first? Is it the chicken or the egg?

Also, with the city plowing as well as it does, some residents were finding it extremely difficult to clear snow...and clear it again...and clear it again.  For residents on corners, the enormous piles caused by the curbside plowing prove the most problematic. 

Feel free to express your thoughts (or vent your frustrations) in the comment section below. Also, please make it a point to show up to the meeting!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Word Around the Ward



Please feel free to fill out the new online survey about Ward 5 Online. I'd like to see if changes I am considering for the website will be supported by readers: tinyurl.com/llvkkrq

The Somerville Times has their predictions on this year's municipal races published in this week's Newstalk. It seems that longtime Ward 3 School Committeman Adam Sweeting is out, opening the door for new representation. A couple of names have been floated, but no one confirmed.

Happy Birthday to Ward 5er Ron Passerini who is celebrating this week!

A job well done to the DPW on their storm response for Tuesday and Wednesday. Although some neighbors were frustrated about plowed sidewalks, most residents were happy to make a new path for pedestrians. I have to admit that my neighborhood is looking very good. What some residents were not happy about were the large amount of parking spaces in the Magoun Square parking lot that were taken up by plows and Police. I heard many complaints while having dinner at Olde Magoun's Saloon. Feel free to voice your thoughts in the comment section below.

How is everyone handling the lane shortage on the Ball Square bridge? My own experience is that there is some backup, but that it flows pretty quickly once the light turns green. Feel free to comment your thoughts below.

Mayor Joe Curtatone caused quite a stir when he supporter protestors on I-93 recently. What are your thoughts on his comments?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Emergency to be Lifted Tomorrow





The snow emergency will remain in effect until noon on Wednesday. At that time, residents will have two hours to move their cars from school and municipal lots. More information will be sent tomorrow morning.

The Governor has lifted the travel ban starting at midnight, but has urged employers to consider conditions when determining staffing for Wednesday.

In the meantime, as crews continue to work to safely clear public roads and walkways, please do your part and DO NOT PARK, EVEN TEMPORARILY, ON THE EVEN SIDE OF THE STREET until noon Wednesday (unless otherwise posted) or you may be ticketed and towed.

Shoveling hours have been extended due to the extreme snowfall. Property owners will have until noon on Thursdayto clear their sidewalks.

As we work together to clean up from this historic storm, please remember to check on neighbors who may be in need of assistance. If you are able, please assist the Fire Department by shoveling out hydrants.

Magoun Square Open House Set for Saturday January 31st!



Several businesses and artists will be participating in a Magoun Square Open House that includes a pop up art market at Imperial Jewelry (499 Medford Street)!

Details and information on offers from participating restaurants can be found in the post above or on the Facebook page launched for the event!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow Emergency Declared for Tomorrow at 1pm



The City is declaring a snow emergency effective at 1 p.m. on Monday. During snow emergencies, parking is allowed on the odd-numbered side of the street only (unless otherwise posted). Cars not moved from the even-numbered side of the street by 5 p.m. Monday may be ticketed and towed. 

Residents may also park in any municipal lot after 1 p.m. or in designated school parking lots after 3 p.m. Again, please note that SCHOOL LOTS WILL NOT BE OPEN FOR PUBLIC PARKING UNTIL 3 P.M. MONDAY. School will be in session on Monday for a full day.

A map of available parking lots, and additional snow emergency information is available at www.somervillema.gov/snow.

Residents are also reminded that some snow removal policies and procedures have changed. Property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice from sidewalks abutting their property. However, in cases of extreme snowfall as predicted for this storm, the City may extend timelines for snow removal. Any changes will be announced in advance.

If you have any additional questions, please call 311 (617-666-3311 from outside the City).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Aldermen Encourage Hiring of Union and Local Labor at Assembly Row

majority of the members of the Somerville Board of Aldermen sent a strong message to FRIT last night as they submitted a resolution encouraging the hiring of Union and local labor for construction at Assembly Row.

Coming in as a supplemental item #10983, the legislation states, “That this Board of Aldermen strongly urges Federal Realty Investment Trust to employ union labor for all aspects of construction at Assembly Square and to give preference to qualified Somerville residents when hiring for all construction work performed at Assembly Square.”


The push for Union and local hiring has long been a conversation in Somerville, resulting in picket lines at such big projects as MaxWell’s Green in Ward 5. The drive in Assembly Row has heated up since FRIT was considering the hiring of General Contractor who is notorious for non-union hiring and substandard work. 

In a post featured on Somerville Patch, local activist Rand Wilson highlighted the difference between the two finalists using an excerpt from a letter to FRIT’s Don Briggs signed by more than 75 Somerville residents. He wrote, “The contrast between Suffolk and Callahan could not be starker. Suffolk plans to build the project with all union labor, using skilled men and women who will provide high quality work while earning a decent wage with health insurance and retirement security benefits. If Callahan performs the work, on the other hand, there will be no union presence. Workers on the project will receive substandard wages and few or no benefits.” The letter was sent to Briggs by Good Jobs Somerville and is in reference to a 448-unit apartment complex being built at Assembly Row. 


Read Wilson’s full article here: http://aol.it/1AYLWGt


Conversations with Suffolk stopped in mid-December, according to a Boston Globe article (http://bit.ly/1AYSDbt), forcing Somerville labor activists to increase pressure on FRIT. A Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/1CZ9tJW) has been launched and the Somerville Neighborhood News is planning a full story on the effort in an upcoming broadcast.

FRIT’s hesitation to hire Suffolk is somewhat surprising considering they have worked with the company in the past and it would match Partners Healthcare’s commitment to the community as the non-profit, not only will pay municipal services contributions to Somerville annually, but the contractor of the their project has entered into a Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters according to a City press release issued on August 26th, 2014. I would think that FRIT would want to continue Partner's dedication to Union and local labor as Somerville is overflowing with exceptional trades people who can make Assembly Row a "for the people, by the people" project.


Construction for Partner’s offices will begin in the fall of 2014 with completion set for 2017. FRIT is hoping that work on the 448-unit apartment complex can commence in the spring and complete in 2016-2017.

Scout Somerville Movin’ on Up...Highland Ave!

New Office for Scout Somerville. Photo courtesy of Scout Somerville

Scout Somerville has some new digs according to a recently issued press release and corresponding email sent by founder, Holli Banks.

After years of being cramped in a small office, the popular magazine will be renting space at the historical Armory (191 Highland Avenue) and will celebrate with an open-house on Wednesday January 28th from 4-7pm.

Along with having new office space, the Scout family has expanded with new additions to the team! Banks wrote, “We’ve added a Communications Director and brought on two new dynamos we call our Managing Editors so that we can bring you the best coverage possible. The future is increasingly bright as Scout looks forward to working with the community by moving beyond print to hosting events.”

Scout Somerville can also be found online, on Twitter and on Facebook.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Word Around the Ward


After speaking with the homeowner, I can confirm that the Piro house is under contract to be sold. After suffering water damage, the house is being completely gutted with crews working there everyday.

Is that certain member of the Board of Aldermen getting cold feet after telling everyone (for a year) they are running for Mayor. This may be the case as they have been pretty quiet for the past couple of months when asked about their plans. For those considering running, fundraising season is approaching as nomination papers are prepped in May for pulling by candidates. Conversations have already begun if you'd like to jump in with your predictions.

Please feel free to fill out the new online survey about Ward 5 Online. I'd like to see if changes I am considering for the website will be supported by readers: tinyurl.com/llvkkrq

Commencing January 19th and continuing through the end of May 2015, it will be necessary for the GLX Contractor, White Skanska Kiewit (WSK) to close the south bound travel/bike lane and west side sidewalk between Boston Avenue and Cedar Street to vehicular, bike, and pedestrian traffic for the purposes of erecting a temporary utility bridge. Residents will be able to cross Broadway Street over to the east side sidewalk to cross over the bridge and the north bound lane will be re-configured to allow for 2-way vehicular and bike traffic.

There will be an amazing pop-up market will be happening in Magoun Square on January 31st from 1-4pm. More details to be posted...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Legislative Matters to Meet as a Whole and Discuss New Snow Policies

As promised, the Legislative Matters Committee will be meeting on Monday January 26th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the new snow policies adopted by the City just this year. The Committee will be meeting as a whole to allow all the members of the Board of Aldermen to attend and comment.

Legislative item numbers 198318 and 198319 – both submitted at the January 8th Board of Aldermen meeting – are the only occupants of the night’s agenda.

Snow policies were updated by the Curtatone administration in December of 2014 that had residents seeing higher fines and less time to clear City sidewalks after a storm. The policy states, “If snow ceases to fall after sunrise (during daylight hours), property owners musshovel sidewalks by 10 p.m. If snow ceases to fall after sunset (overnight), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 a.m.” Fines for failing to comply start off at $50 for a first offense and can result in a lien on property if the City has to use its own resources to clear the snow.

Brightly colored decals will be left on the door of those who are being cited…this is also known as being “Scarlett Lettered.”In a press release, the City stated that it would work with those members of the community who are physically unable to shovel by pairing those residents with Somerville youth through a collaboration with the Office of Commissions, the Health Department and the Council on Aging. Residents would be responsible for paying for the snow to be removed.

The new policies have been received with mixed reviews according to Aldermen. While some look at it as a serious safety issue (with at least one, saying the timeline is not strict enough), most residents see it as impossible given work and school responsibilities.

The Legislative Matters Committee is chaired by Alderman At Large Mary Jo Rossetti with Aldermen at Large Bill White and Jack Connolly, Matthew McLaughlin (Ward 1) and Mark Niedergang (Ward 5).