Growing Community

In its first week online, this website has served nearly 900 unique visitors. That’s both surprising and gratifying. I hope that folks are finding it useful and informative.

We’ve created a mailing list: beacon-neighbors@googlegroups.com. If you would like to be included in updates and discussions, please write to the group or just to me at chris@dwan.org.

I hope that this website and the mailing list will outlive the current stress about the trees and will become a useful resource for our part of the Somerville community. Beacon Street, particularly towards the North end where it intersects Somerville Ave, is not as well organized and recognized as other neighborhoods of the city. We’re close to Lincoln Park, to Inman Square, to Union Square, and to Porter Square, but Beacon really is a neighborhood all its own.

Neighbors and Friends

To that end, we have started making connections with those other neighborhood groups. A member of the Union Square Neighborhood Council (USNC) has chosen to amplify and support our message about the trees. They have their own clear-cut coming down the road. On May 2, there is a hearing to discuss the removal of 37 mature trees along southern Somerville Ave. While the warning and documentation is much better for those trees, the planning and hearing process remains problematic.

The writeup on the USNC website is quite evenhanded, and links back to several of the letters and updates that this community has shared.

From that website:

Whether or not you feel that there is some possible value or even importance in preserving the existing trees along Somerville Avenue, I hope you would agree that the process being used to consider the matter is fairly flawed (as is expressed in the letters linked from my report page), and thus deserves more serious consideration than what it is presently being given.

I encourage everyone reading this to attend and participate in the hearing about the trees of southern Somerville Avenue. As with the hearing about Beacon Street, it seems to be me to be a window dressing and a formality rather than an honest attempt to take the community’s feedback into account.

To play with the words, it is a “telling” rather than a “hearing.”

Keep up the pressure

I received some feedback from one of the Alderpeople that it helps them when we send emails to the entire board rather than just to a subset. This is because they are forbidden, under the Open Meeting Laws, from doing any deliberation or discussion outside of the public meetings.

Please do stay involved and continue to reach out to the Mayor mayor@somervillema.gov and to our Aldermen boardofaldermen@somervillema.gov. I encourage you also to include both trees@somervillema.gov and brawson@somervillema.gov on your notes.

If you choose, I would also appreciate a CC at chris@dwan.org. I’ve been CC’d on dozens of messages – and I’m overwhelmed by how articulate and passionate our community can be. Thank you.

My requests today

I will be sending a new letter to all of those people this morning.

  • The city should issue a change order to save at least one tree. This has great symbolic importance for us, that our voices made a difference. It will cost money and cause delay, but after nearly three years of what everybody agrees was a terrible and flawed process, it is important to get this bit right, here at the end.
  • The tree hearing and planning process is flawed: By the time the community is asked for input, we are told it is too late to make changes. Plans are made in secret, and the hearings come too late to have an impact.
  • We need accountability for Newport Construction: Unless the contractor is held financially accountable for their actions last fall – this will be the new normal for construction across the city
  • This is the Mayor’s call: While the “recommendation” after the hearing supposedly rests with our Arborist, she was clearly not empowered to recommend anything other than proceed according to the plan. That means that this decision to clear cut Beacon Street, as well as the ability to make a change, rests with Joe Curtatone.

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