On Tuesday, residents gathered in Union Square for a second community meeting sponsored by STEP and Union Square Main Streets. Everyone discussed maps of potential Green Line routes and station locations as well as the criteria that are important to the community as we decide how the Green Line could best serve the square.
Keep reading for maps and notes from the meeting.
Below are the maps shown at the meeting. You can also download larger, high-quality versions (large PDF). After the maps are community responses on the criteria for evaluating these alternatives.
Criteria for Good Transit-Oriented Development for Union Square Green Line
Rate your goals and preferences below from 1 to 5 (1 being lowest preference to 5 being the highest)
Maximize current and new economic activity in central business district
- Mixed use zoning, retail, office, residential
- CBD and outside CBD are both important. It is a matter of timing. I would want CBD to be developed first and then development spread to outside CBD. I would not want Boynton Yards developed without the heart of Union Sq developed too.
- Big need. This is very important for vitality of Square
- More tax revenue to fund economic and social programs
- Question of meaning to maximize – mix of scale matters
- Business shouldn’t take over. But business districts there should be maximized. Need strong anchor
- What does “max” mean?
- Most important to reward current merchants – make it easier to reach them
- Highest and best use. Include new citizens. Don’t displace zoning!
Maximize future re-development outside of central business district
- Good additional benefit but hard to predict how development will occur outside of Square.
- Design in such a way that future stations can be added
- Focus on square feet
- Seems really long term
- Want to see line continue to Porter Square from Union. Development out from the Fitchburg line or on Somerville Ave to compensate for so many years of dead end streets both sides of RR line. Limited development
- Boynton Yards
Spur environmental reclamation
- Increases construction costs
- I’m not sure what this means.
- Would love to see junk yard developed into “higher” uses
- Question of scale – with larger parcels could end up with place that isn’t pedestrian friendly
– Economic Diversity
– Create movie theatre, bookstore
– Jobs here
- Attract people here or mixed use. Offices! Labs!
- More concerned with reclamation close to core
- Make every lot in Somerville more valuable – our goal
Ridership and accessibility
Pedestrian improvements (wide, well maintained sidewalks, crosswalks, audible &/or flashing ped. crossings & good signage)
- Pedestrian access is key
- Don’t do it all if we can’t have better pedestrian flow and climate
- The Square needs to become more pedestrian friendly
- Very important to me since I’m legally blind
- Connections – that’s the whole point
- It must be beautiful and safe
Good Transit Connections:
– Urban Ring
– Bus connections
– Commuter Rail
- Lighting also important
- Connect to Porter-Davis to bring in drivers from these neighborhoods. Also, ground breaking because would be first encourage between the lines outside of Boston. Breaks down the restrictive hub-spoke system we have now.
- Once again, connectivity to rest of City and region is very important for future livability of Square
- Being intermodally connected to travel with ease and convenience
- Assuming mitigating noise and especially air pollution at station location and with changes to auto truck traffic to minimize
Accessibility for seniors and disabled
- Universal design solves many problems
- This appears to be a technical and legal issue. That is not part of the big picture. Accomodations will be designed into the final product
- Not just access into the station but placement that provides best access – ie close to buses, not at top of hill
- Not at any cost
- Safe and accessible for all people
Bicycle Improvements such as separate lanes or paths
- Widens the net
- Bikes would add great vitality to square. It wold be great to have biking access to downtown Boston.
- Cars will be much less needed so bike safety will be important
– Make Prospect and Webster 2 way to alleviate traffic congestion and improve pedestriam/QOL issues
– Safety at night
– Demographics, station location services low-income/immigrant riders in target EJ communities
- Safety at night issues goes beyond site lighting to include location. Remote stops with little pedestrian traffic might not be safe and certainly don’t feel safe. This reduces ridership. Suggest location in a areas with significant pedestrian traffic.
- Extremely important to position close to residential areas
Land use issues
Increase commercial tax revenue to the city to reduce reliance on property tax revenues and state subsidies
- Highly correlated with “destination”
- Encourage office, lab, light manufacturing over housing and retail
- Important to increase commercial tax base so Somerville is on par with neighbors. But need reasonable development that does not overwhelm the historic & neighborhood feel of the square.
- Important to keep heights reasonable.
- This is an important part of the overall picture but not a driver of development decisions. Keep heights of buildings down – Low FAR!
- The streetcar suburb needs more commercial activity. Union Sq and Somerville Ave are prime areas for commercial best use development
Station design fits historical character of neighborhood
- Preserve ethnic character. Preserve small business
- The intrinsic value of historical settings is irreplacable and will add unique character that can’t be replicated by new development
- Combine historical look and feel with latest technology
- Reference to scale
- Aesthetics – edgy, magnificent, famous respectful of historic character, take it forward to the future. Enliven the history.
Sufficient Affordable Housing
- Help current businesses stay, not get pushed out by high rents
- Affordable housing is important but not a driver for development decisions
- We need to hold onto this – there will be gentrification with new Greenline, but we need to keep balance to keep a rich mix of citizens
Public space, trees. Parks and playgrounds
- Open space plan should be integrated with the Green line extension
- Somerville has such low open space per resident ratio – we need to preserve and expand open spaces. Also keep and grow the farmers market
- The ability to address this issues is an indicator of how intelligent we are as a community
- Trees are extremely important. Well lighted, plowed, attractive, safe. Safety engineered in.
Make Union Square a destination
- Union Sq is a destination now due to diverse and unique small shops. We need to keep t hese.
- This is the most important aspect for me. Cultural institutions will plat a critcal role in this area.
- Make it close to residential areas
- Near residential areas
- Make sure t-stop is closes to the people living in Somerville
- Overall design of Union sq needs to be developed – reaching high for beauty and mix
– Close to residential zones
– Ethnic and economic diversity
– Economic diversity
– Affordable commercial (Mom and Pops)
- Do not want Union Sq to be turned into Harvard or Davis Sq – banks and burritos have driven out small businesses
- Be close to residential zones 0 the people who live here are important
Reduce traffic congestion and traffic volume
- Wish it could do this. It’s a big problem
- This is critical. Union Sq will not be a destination if people don’t feel safe crossing the street. Also need to reduce people just driving through from other places – Limit traffic to people who are coming To Union Sq.
- The failure to address and solve this issue will kill any intrinsic value that the square will provide.
- Anyone who has driven through Union Sq on weekday – is very important
- The decision in the 40s not to have rail in Somerville led to congestions. New design must reverse both sides of this problem
Minimize sound and vibration impacts
- I’m sure this will happen with current technology
- I don’t think anybody can survive in the long run with noise and vibrations.
- Also be certain not to make curves that generate squealing like old Boylston stop
Connect Union Square, Brickbottom & Inner Belt
- Union Sq alone
- This can be looked at later on
- Prefer that Medford line connects to Brickbottom and Inner Belt and Union Sq isn’t burdened with that except as lines meet at Lechmere. But bike path pedestrian path link to them would be excellent
– Extend to Red line
– Extend to Porter Square
– Mentioned multiple times
- Please evaluate connection with the Red Line, At least give the route a station with an eye to eventually connecting with Porter
- I am interested in connection Union to Porter and Davis Sq. This is much more important to me than connection to Brickbottom and Inner Belt
- Important to connect to Red line later on and to keep in the conversation