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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Word Around The Ward...

Who would've known that the slightest invitation to discuss the political possibilities this election year would prompt me to publish the Who?...What?...Why?...For The Massachusetts  Political Scene earlier then I anticipated. Obviously, it is one of the top posts that's being read on the website and the comments section is growing by the day. Have any ideas? Click on the linked title and enter your comments!

It's good to see that Alderman Sean O'Donovan is not the only member of the BOA that's taking on parking issues around the city. After attending a couple of meetings, I can already see Ward 7 Alderman Bob Trane and Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston beginning to take notice how parking issues can seriously impact their community. Alderman Trane wants visitors to be able to stay longer, meaning, more time for the Somervillians' money when buying a visitor pass and Alderman Heuston is concerned for Somerville Avenue businesses losing a ton of parking post-construction. There's strength in numbers and, maybe, the rumors that Mayor Curtatone is moving on may get that pendulum swinging less in the right direction.

I belong to many listservs in Somerville and none have been more alive then Somerville-4-Schools, especially surrounding the Charter School proposal that was submitted and recently not recommended by Commissioner Mitchell Chester. Michael Chiu, the list moderator, has had to warn posters not to submit private emails to the list for public viewing-a warning that dismayed one member very much. This member has vowed to continue to forward harassing emails they receive regarding the Charter School (or any school-related topic) to the list despite warnings. Who knew?!

There was some activity in the space formally held by Lil' Vinny's this past weekend, so it will be interesting to see when things really take shape and when Daddy Jones will be ready and open for business. 

Cedar Street construction is moving along with the condos at the bridge almost near completion. Once those are done, expect more work at the old Royal White location as the same contractor will be doing the condos there, as well.

Life on the Community Path seems to be, well, more welcoming of all communities. I reported only two unleashed dogs this past week and the Animal Control Officer was seen at the Lexington Park hot spot on Friday night. Hopefully, the path will be much safer for everyone as the spring approaches.

The Board of Aldermen are meeting tonight and the School Committee meets next Monday in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall, both starting at 7pm.

Please don't forget about the meeting at Somerville High School on the 28th regarding fare hikes and service cuts by the MBTA from 6-8pm in the Auditorium.


Anonymous said...

In regard to your comments about new condos on Cedar Street---

There are ten(10)more proposed for #143-145 Cedar Street as noted on a sign posted on #143; a vacant commercial building owned by Faulkner Brothers Oil Company.
Due process not finalized to date.

On the agenda for Somerville Planning Board meeting---February 29th---as seen in the legal notices section of the Somerville Journal---and/or Somerville News.

If approved---the total number of new condos between the bridge and Albion Street, on Cedar, will total 25 condos----not counting 199 @ the Max-pac site.

viz; 9 @ south side of the bridge.
6 @ the Royal White site.
10 proposed @ 143-145 Cedar.
Total 25

Anonymous said...

Slight adjustment to your comment...

The Maxpac site (now known as Maxwell's Green) has 15 townhomes and 184 units of housing that, for at least a year, will be rental.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think that there are way too many new units going into this area?, outside of Maxwell Green

Anonymous said...

Correction: by the writer (me) who put up the post re 143-145 Cedar Street condo proposal.

The item is being heard by the Somerville "ZBA" (Zoning Board of Appeals) on Feb. 29th; not the Planning Board as I stated.

To the poster who clarified (critiqued) condos/rentals in my original post---I hope my POINT regard total new residential units, be they condos or rentals, was not lost on you.

BTW--"slight adjustment" to your critique----it's Maxwell Green, not Maxwell's Green.

Anonymous said...

Excuse's Maxwell's Green. Please look at their website:

The previously made zoning changes to this area of Somerville require developers to either create residences or open exactly the same business that exists on the parcel they have purchased. This means that the person that purchased Royal White Laundry would HAVE to open a Laundry business in order for it to be acceptable zoning wise.

Courtney said...

Hello everyone who has commented,

Just wanted to jump in & clarify some things...

Yes, it is Maxwell's Green. It was changed from Max Pac (MaxPac, Maxpac, MaxPak, Max Pak) last year and their website now features this new name.

Zoning was changed years ago because of MaxPac and now only residences or the exact replication of current businesses is allowed in this area.

The redevelopment of the Royal White property may be adventagous for the Cedar Street folks as there will be increased available parking.

I do agree that there is a lot of development going on and am concerned about density. That is not lost on me ;)

Anonymous said...

Not to be confused with Maxwell Green, professional musician--of sorts!

AS far as enhanced density in the subject area, for the most part we are dealing with exchanging/replacing commercial density with residential density.

In at least two impacted sites, one ongoing at the bridge, and the other newly seeking due process at 143-145 Cedar Street, site eyesores will have been eliminated.

According to the proposed condo plan at 143-145 Cedar Street, additional east-side Cedar Street parking spaces will be generated with current cut-curbs being made full curbs.
Entry and exit to the proposed new condos would be via cut-curbs allready in existence on the Alpine Street side of the proposed complex.

The proposed complex would "wrap-around" a current occupied 6-unit, three story wood frame house at the south-east corner of Cedar and Alpine Streets; also owned by Faulkner Brothers Oil Company interests.
Same interests proposing the ten unit condos. Along with a Realty Trust entity based in a mid-east country--United Arab Emeritus.

Anonymous said...


Maybe it's just me but, the two required words that must be typed to put a message on this blog are getting, and have been, most difficult to discern.

letters are run together,appear smudged, etc.
Sometimes cannot tell a "c" from an "e" or an "o"---or, a "t" from an "f"---There are others not entirely clear.

Courtney said...


Sorry about that! There's an arrow next to the words and, once clicked, it will reset the words which should be a little easier to read.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Courtney!

By the way, Faulkner Inc. interests also own a 3-unit house @ 12 Alpine Street, next to their business property. That house was converted from a 1-family unit to three units after Faulkner Inc. bought it.

Same with their three story house @ # 147 Cedar, corner of Alpine Street, across the street from their business parking lot.
That house was originally a 3-unit residence, converted to 6 residence units after they bought it.
They pretty well, going west to east from Cedar Street, own/control the Cedar Street/Alpine Street corners, commercial and/or residencial properties, up to and including # 12 Alpine on the even side; and up to but NOT including the # 17 residence on the odd side.

And now the 10-unit condo proposal for 143-145 Cedar Street, currently vacated commercials eyesores.

Other recent completed neighborhood conversions to condos: 2 rental-units @ #49 Princeton and # 3-units @ 50 Alpine Street, a former single unit occupied by owner.

#152 Albion Street 2-units from commercial to condos.
# 108 Albion Street from rental to 2-unit condos.

#14 Albion Place from rental to 2-unit condos.

No wonder young families with kids are being driven out of Somerville.

Anonymous said...

Over the years there was another conversion from commercial to residential in that stretch of Cedar Street south of the bridge,
to Albion Street.

The concrete block building at the corner of Clyde Street and Cedar Street formerly housed the Champa Construction Company; follwed by The Drain Doctor; now a residence.

Also the first house south of the bridge, on the odd numbered side of Cedar Street was formerly an Italian-American Social Club; complete with two Bocce courts.

Then, was what formerly called "The Patch"---those side streets off of Cedar--(Murdock, Clyde, and Warwick)-- leading to what is now the Max-pac site, was loaded with small farming lots owned and tendered by first and second generation Italians housed there. Those "open spaces" now housing.

Not just farms, one resident owned a herd of goats. Some others owned a horse or donkey for manually pulling a plow, turning over the soil in springtime.

One such vacant lot devoted to farming was located on Princeton Street, to the right of 4 Princeton; a garage and house built there since.

Anonymous said...

More conversions from business to residential, south of the Cedar Street bridge.

The multi-story apartment building, even side of Cedar, opposite Faulkner's office building, and opposite 147 Cedar Street, was formerly a multi-story laundry cleaning building owned and run by White Cross Laundry.

Other conversions:
What was the Bingham School on Lowell Street, just a short walk from Magoun Square, school was condemend was demolished and residences built--two buildings as seen today. (Residents at that time "questioned" the condemning of that school; supposedly due to a "crack" found in the brick foundation)

Retail neighborhood stores closed and converted to housing:
Corner of Wilton Street and Lowell-stood a barber shop.

Up Wilton, on the left, was a candy store.

Midway down Richardson Street, right side, a grocery store.

West side of lowell going south--last building before the bridge, was a grocery store and shoe repair shop.

Northwest corner of Cedar and Albion; a grocery store.

East down Albion, south side, west corner of Albion Street and Albion Cour, a grocery store.

Southeast corner of Albion and lowell, another grocery store.

Another at northwest corner of Central Street and Albion Street, a grocery store, and tailor shop.

All the neighborhood grocery stores
were independently owned; not chain convenience store. The stores were generally owned and run by families living above the stores in the same building.
Why so many? Well before the big chain supermarkets made their entrance, post World War II.

Anonymous said...

...and then there was the "International Baking Company"....(Hostess Cupcakes, Snow-Balls Wonder Bread, etc,) at 259 Lowell Street, at the bridge, now the VNA 99 resident units, which could be labeled as a conversion from business to residential.

Many remember that building as housing Dom's Mattress Company who occupied that building after the baking company moved to Natick.

Anonymous said...

What was a common thread among all the busineses that were present for many years in Ward 5?

Such as:
Faulkner Oil & Coal (now only fuel oil and services)

Hires Root Beer Company, and the "Agar" Cardboard Box Company. Both were the original businesses occupying what was later called the Maxpac site converted to housing as we know the site today.

White Cross Laundry.

Narjos Shoe Company.

Rowse Vinegar Works

The "old" Somerville Hospital (now the Cambridge Health Alliance.)

All the bustling/active retail stores and shops in Magoun Square.

J.J. Donovan Fuel Company.

Dad's Oatmeal Cookies.

Jackson Chair Company

There were others strewn thruout the ward; and others within walking distance from neighboring contiguous wards, and Medford.

The common thread?

They all provided employment for local residents, men and women.
Most all workers did not need a car or even public transportation to get to their jobs because all were in walking distance of their employment.

Many were able to take their lunch hour at home and return to work to complete the working day.

Simpler times for sure.