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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Somerville and Medford residents convene to improve Tufts' PILOT and Community Benefits

Approximately 30 people attended a conference on improving Tufts contributions to Medford and Somerville. The meeting was convened by Our Revolution Somerville and Our Revolution Medford and held at the Somerville Neighborhood School on Saturday, March 24.  

In addition to many residents from local community organizations and labor groups, Somerville Aldermen Katjana Ballantyne and Mary Jo Rossetti also attended.

Participants discussed what Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) are and examples of PILOTs in other communities. Alderwoman Katjana Ballantyne talked about the City's relationship with Tufts and its role in regulating the scale/site of buildings but not their use. 

 Our Revolution member Susan Eldridge led a conversation about the current benefits the city and residents get from Tufts. Folks noted the limited education benefits for both school age and adult learners and the limited access to some facilities and playing fields. People also shared the impacts of having Tufts as a neighbor: the slow, but relentless expansion of the campus; the development of "campus villages" that site student housing within existing neighborhoods; the pressure students exert on housing prices; the secondary impacts of student housing via slumlords; the costs to the city of services provided to the campus; etc.

Participants divided up into three groups for in-depth discussion on issues of labor and housing, arts and education, and concerns of neighborhood abutters. After the groups reported back, conference goers set next steps to:

· Research the current state of Tufts student housing (increase over time; impact on market; where they live),

· Review other PILOT agreements,

· Contact members of the Board of Alderman to plan a public hearing on the issue, and

· Plan a rally at Tufts at the end of April. 

The next campaign planning meeting is at 5:00 PM on March 29 at the Somerville Public Library.

The organizing in Medford and Somerville for an increase in the PILOT and improved community benefits has already received a response from Tufts administrators! Check out their Op-Ed here: 

http://somerville.wickedlocal.com/news/20180326/tufts-making-positive-impact-in-our-communities

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