Minutes of Path Friends Meeting April 8 2002

 

Attendees, including new members: Joel Bennett, John Mann, Martha Podren, Karen Molloy, Jessica Feldman, Michael Johnson, Maureen Johnson, Anthony Accurso, Bryce Nesbitt, Alan Moore, Turil Cronburg, Ron Newman, Jennifer ___, and Paul Silverstone.

 

Meeting format:

Joel proposed: Should we change our meeting format to include committee meetings within, giving an hour each for whole-group and committees? Group decided in favor, and split into committee meetings for the final 20 minutes of the evening.

 

Community Outreach:

Martha reported on the 5 meetings so far: Charlestown waterfront coalition, Somerville library, MIX-IT, Phil Chonacky and Kate's on Albion Street, and Road Runners (at the Burren). Meetings generally positive. MIX-IT drew a large number, the library only about 10, although they included abutters which are 'a' or 'the' prime target. Three more to follow: Redbones, Brickbottom, and the Lowell Street Assisted Living Facility we call "VNA" because it was supported in part by the Visiting Nurses' Association. Joel showed a well structured notebook to keep records of the meetings especially including the attendees and their comments. Concerns so far were

(1) Gentrification - the idea that improving Somerville would attract more money, driving out existing residents; and

(2) Bike/pedestrian accidents, especially the notion that young children would be attracted to the path where they might be exposed to accidents with inconsiderate cyclists. (This applies also to elderly at VNA.)

 

Future actions:

(1) We need to canvass abutting property owners and residents one at a time, possibly finding local friends to help; several members agreed we would be willing to canvas.

(2) In remaining meetings we may face the social phenomenon that in meetings an objection initiated by one person can get amplified by the crowd. Bryce noted how MPO and other recent transportation meetings have managed to avoid this by presenting to the group but hearing comments and objections separately / semi-privately. John found this practice itself objectionable.

(3) Keep support letters coming from businesses and other organizations; Joel will let us know when one of our committed letters arrives.

(4) Outreach to realtors will consist only of a formal FYI letter; because of the gentrification issue we do not want to be seen trying to promote rising real estate values as a plus for the path. Bryce comments that existing Somerville abutters have experienced no apparent significant difference in value due to path, although nearby homes improve in value.

(5) Outreach to abutters which are businesses is important; Jessica Feldman offered to use a software tool available to her that could produce a list of such businesses.

(6) Importance of outreach: Bryce observed that trouble will come from people we do not reach.

(7) Posters are available for posting in permanent and worthwhile locations - see Joel.

(8) Community events such as Somerville Open Studios may be possible venues for community outreach. Events include: City Wide Cleanup May 4; Somerville Open Studios May 4 and 5; Redbones' bikers event May 13; Somerville Historic Ride May 18; ArtBeat in July (20).

 

Brochure:

Lynn is updating; send in any suggestions by email.

 

Other paths:

Bryce reports that existing plans including North Point development go to within mile of North Station. Rehabilitation Center concerns seem to prevent completing the link for the time being.

 

What should we ask people to do, via Brochure, WebSite, Art Beat, and so on? Answer:

(1) get on our mailing list;

(2) contribute; and

(3) be ready to be called-on when a useful event comes up.

 

Community Outreach meetings remaining:

Next Meeting is Monday, May 6, 7:00 pm.

 

MBTA committee sub-meeting minutes.

 

Objective now is to learn as much as we can about dealing with MBTA. Assignments were made to contact the following groups:

Bay Circuit Trail: John Mann

Cochichuate Trail and Assabet Trail: Alan Moore

Neponset Trail: Anthony Accurso

Bike-to-the-Sea: Paul Silverstone

 

The Citizens' Advisory Board for the T suggested the T is a top-down organization and we should meet the head (who is new, worked his way up [everywhere except planning] and has mastery of the T and its issues.

 

John [plus Bryce] brought up T's justifiable reluctance to limit its future flexibility by even so much as temporarily leasing space for a path - based on Minuteman experience (they know they cannot politically take back that path).

 

John thinks the path could be deferred indefinitely if it must wait for a decision on the Green Line extension; he presented a sample idea, and Bryce summarized the general concept, which is to support the T in seeking a plan with maximum flexibility; that is, the Path design might well include explicit and well thought out provision for the future possible needs of the T. Paul Silverstone suggested some design work along this line might be a useful project for the Boston Architectural Center (or maybe some school of design?). This discussion ended with the general conclusion that we understand and will acknowledge and support the T's need for flexibility.