Thursday, November 17, 2011

Elliott safe at home

Great news!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Elliott, age 16, missing since 11/15/11

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shhhh, it's a DRUG BUST

The Somerville News reports today that:

Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Somerville Chief of Police Thomas Pasquarello invite residents in the Oxford Street neighborhood to a community meeting to discuss recent police activity. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 15, at 7:00 p.m. at the Public Safety Building, 220 Washington Street. Chief Pasquarello and other officers will address issues of concern for the neighborhood, and answer questions from residents. If you have questions on any police matter, please call the police information line at 617-625-1600.

In case you assume this has something to do with loud donut and coffee tailgate parties resulting in complaints about the police slacking off, you assume wrong. Between the lines of that community group hug invitation is the fact that "police activity," concerned a crystal meth lab located on one of Somerville's sleepy, peaceful streets, about a half block from City Hall.

So, yeah, I guess Mayor Joe wants to tiptoe carefully around this one, though it's hardly a secret, as the incident was fully reported on Wicked Local Somerville November 7.

But what the hell is up with Somerville "News"? How do they call themselves a news organization and use a euphemism ("police activity") in place of the description of a bust that included helicopters, federal agents, hazmat personnel, and "shouts of 'fire in the hole'"(according to the MASSCOPS website)? You gotta give those guys credit for putting their careers on the line to get the story, no? In fact, this fine piece of journalistic integrity came verbatim from a City Hall press release.

Which leads us right back to mealy mouthed Mayor Joe. Every time I think maybe he's not so bad (I've been told he's against Wal-Mart), he pulls some bonehead move. By publicizing this meeting without admitting the real reason for it, he is not only patronizing all of his constituents, but trying to weasel out of taking public responsibility for having no idea what was going on half a block from his office. There's also a little voice in my head that keeps squeaking "property values," another incentive to say, "shhhh," and move on.

So, I'm just here to yell DRUG BUST DRUG BUST DRUG BUST as loud as I can because I hate a coverup. And I really hate being patronized.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Of Trolls and Pride

It's been a while since I've posted an update about One Benton Road, but this evening someone attempted to post an ignorant and angry comment about the work that's been done against the subdivision, which you will not see posted here, as I don't post comments by trolls, but the highlight of which was the last line, "SHAME ON YOU." It got me thinking about the status of the situation and made me realize that there are a number things I'm truly proud of that have come about through the unfortunate destruction of a historical house and its grounds.

  • I'm proud to live in a community in which the people are involved in and vocal about what goes on in their neighborhoods. Over 200 people signed letters protesting the subdivision of One Benton Road to present at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

  • I'm proud to live in a city in which the Aldermen, Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals listened to our concerns and ruled against the subdivision due to its not falling within Somerville's zoning policies.

  • I'm proud that I was able to contribute to the effort to keep the developers from riding roughshod all over this neighborhood in their greed.

  • I'm proud to know the people I came into contact with through this effort because they are strong, organized, and unintimidated.

  • I'm proud to be able to say that fighting the developer has cost them money and time, and will continue to do so as the next step in the fight will be in court.

So, no, I'm not ashamed.

What MLM Realty Trust has done and wants to continue to do to that property benefits no one but themselves and the few people that can afford to buy their $500k condos, and has been at the expense of a beloved neighborhood icon.

MLM chose not to place the house on the historical register and work within the mandates set down for preserving historical property. They don't care about Somerville, they didn't care about the house that was there, nor the land surrounding it. Their one thought was and is profit and I will never be ashamed to fight those who would raise the importance of enriching themselves above the needs of the community.

Even screaming comments in all-caps don't make me feel ashamed or intimidated. They just remind me that our success so far isn't sitting well with those we oppose, and for that I'm proud.

in memoriam

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Zoning Board of Appeals Meets Tonight

The Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals will meet tonight at 6pm at City Hall (93 Highland Avenue, Aldermanic Chamber). On the agenda is MLM Realty Trust's appeal of the Planning Board's decision not to let them subdivide the property at One Benton Road into two lots for the purpose of building luxury condos. Neighbors of the property are planning a thorough presentation of the facts of the situation and have received over 200 letters in support of the Planning Board's original decision not to grant MLM the requested zoning variance, which they need in order to subdivide.

Thanks to everyone who signed the online petition and/or sent a letter. The more people that show up tonight, the better, so if you're able to make it, please show up!

Also, in case you missed it, Somerville Patch published a nice article about the struggle thus far on February 24th.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

New Deadline, New Petition

Due to recent Snowpocalypses, the Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals meeting was rescheduled to March 14. That means we have an additional month to raise awareness and gather signatures on our new petition protesting the subdivision of One Benton Road in order to build an additional condo structure on a one-home lot.

Why a new petition? The original petition host was not adequate to meet our needs. If you already signed that one, your signature will still be counted, but if you prefer to sign the new one, I will be happy to remove the duplicate.

Thanks to everyone who's signed and supported us on this issue, as well as to those of my neightbors who have organized a letter-writing campaign. Let's git 'er done!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Subdivision of One Benton Road Revisited

Gather round, children while we revisit the story of the Giobbe House, a beautiful historic structure sitting atop a rolling green hill that was gutted and destroyed by an out-of-town developer for the purpose of constructing condos. Come closer while I remind you of that developer's fight to further subdivide the already compromised landscape in order to build a second condo structure, despite their awareness of the environmental and traffic problems it will cause the city if given the approval to go forward, as well as the fact that after nearly a year on the market, one of the units in the current structure has yet to be sold. Finally, learn how Somerville residents have thus far prevented the proposed subdivision by working with the Board of Aldermen, resulting in the denial of the proposal by the Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals, and are continuing to fight by attempting to force a denial of the realtor's upcoming appeal.

Well, it's petition time again, with MLM Realty Trust's appeal scheduled to come up before the Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday February 2, 2011. Please read the previous blog entries linked here to follow the history of this situation, or if you're familiar with the long saga and would like to join the fight, click on this link: and sign. The petition we submitted at the June 2010 Office of Strategic Planning and Development and Planning Board meeting was instrumental in preventing MLM's development plans once, and we believe this new one will be again.

Previous Giobbe House/One Benton Road posts:

The Giobbe House

More Tales of the Giobbe House

Further Tales of the Giobbe House

The Giobbe House: The Saga Continues

One Benton Road's Last Stand

Here's the text of the current petition:

Dear Members of the Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals,

We're writing to encourage you to uphold the Planning Board's denial of MLM Realty Trust's proposal to subdivide the backyard at One Benton Road in order to build a three-unit condominium. We feel that the following issues, mentioned in the Planning Board's denial of MLM's proposal, have not been addressed, nor can they be adequately dealt with through mediation.

Subdividing the property at One Benton Road would:

* compromise the traffic and pedestrian safety at the intersection of Benton Rd with Summer St, esp. for children attending the two schools one block away and anyone attending the many services and functions at St Catherine's Church, also one block away.

* adversely affect the Mystic River and Charles River watershed of this hilltop location.

*exacerbate water runoff problems for neighbors down slope of One Benton Rd. These neighbors now have significant water runoff problems that didn't exist before MLM began their work on One Benton Rd.

* erode property values in the adjacent historic districts.

* increase traffic and parking density in a neighborhood that's already strained by this issue.

*diminish the scenic nature of the adjacent historic districts.

*contribute to the loss of open green space in Somerville, a city that everyone knows is densely developed and has about 77% of its property already paved over or built upon.

*encroach upon and harm the local historic districts that have already been adversely affected by MLM's inappropriate work on One Benton Rd.

*damage the historic integrity of the backyard at One Benton Rd and the adjacent historic districts.

Allowing MLM to proceed with their plan to subdivide the One Benton Road property directly contradicts Somerville's commitment to being a green city by endorsing an outside developer's machinations to bring increased traffic to an already over-congested part of Somerville, thus increasing pollution and decreasing the availability of street parking, while building with no commitment to green construction materials or techniques. The initial three unit condominium structure on the One Benton Road property has already been responsible for the loss of three parking spaces on Summer Street due to the placement of the curb cut they made. In order to compensate for this loss, MLM agreed in December 2009 to create additional parking on the Benton Road side of the property by reducing the existing the driveway there from 39 ft. to 13 ft., but has done none of the agreed-upon work. Additionally, the sidewalk on the Benton Road side of the building has not been maintained according to Somerville's stated snow removal policies, resulting in a narrow icy passageway rather than a safe walkway.

It is clear that MLM is uninterested in Somerville or the community surrounding One Benton Road; but rather wishes to use the small amount of open land left on the property for one reason: their stated desire to make a profit on the purchase price they paid. The fact that one of the initial three units they've built has not been sold after 11 months on the market does not suggest that continuing to build on the lot will make it desirable to potential buyers.

Somerville can never recover the history and beauty that was destroyed when MLM gutted the Giobbe House, which formerly stood on the One Benton Road lot, but we can disallow their further attempts to degrade and destroy our city's integrity in order to fill their own pockets.

Thank you for your kind attention to our concerns.

This is a situation in which every signature makes a difference, so please add yours and let the ZBA know that Somerville is not interested in being exploited by developers with no commitment to working in harmony with the community.

Again, sign at