Davis Square Streetscape: Project Charette

On July 4, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Residents and city planners share concerns over the proper development of Davis Square and its environs.

By Emmanuel Vincent

In order for a project to be efficient, it must be well thought out and carefully executed. Such is the case with Davis Square Streetscape. The follow-up event to the Davis Square Streetscape Kick-Off Tour, Project Charette, was held this past Tuesday at the Tab Building on Holland Street. Members of the community came together once again in the next phase of the process to offer a few suggestions on how the square could be improved. This time, visual maps of Davis Square were implemented to show their concerns.

One of the concerns that the public had was with Highland Ave and the fact that it does not have a bike lane. Many felt that this does not the make for a friendly commute experience for many bikers as vehicles are constantly switching lanes.

Another issue that residents expressed concerns over was a crosswalk light on College Ave. They claimed that its stop and go cycle was too short. As a result, there were concerns that individuals would be more tempted to jaywalk, putting themselves in harms way.

The back of the  Davis Square Plaza was also a focus in this meeting. A few people thought that there were ways to improve the area so that both the members of the community and businesses could benefit from it. Some believe that this could be achieved by providing more outside seating as well as shaded areas. In addition, a welcoming sign was thought to be a good way to create a more lively atmosphere.

Residents seem to care about their community and it does not go unnoticed. “Concerns reflect how much people care,” insists Sarah Spicer, Senior Transportation Planner.

The city tries to be aware of its resources and wants to make sure that everyone is taken into consideration as they try to make improvements. “This is a dense city,” said Sarah Spicer. “We have to be careful on how we use space as it benefits all users.”

The next meeting will be in the same location on July 17 at 6:00 p.m.



20 Responses to “Davis Square Streetscape: Project Charette”

  1. j. connelly says:

    Yeh Sarah…You bettah make sure your co-workers know the “Heimlich Maneuver. You may need it after this remark you made.
    “This is a dense city,” said Sarah Spicer. “We have to be careful on how we use space as it benefits all users.”
    Cause your boss “Lego” only care$ how the developer$ benefit. The Dog n Pony shows are for his picture opportunities.

  2. Ray Spitzer says:

    Let’s be frank here. Davis Sq is no longer a very pleasant place to be. It’s too dense and chaotic. It used to be nice a few years ago. Now people keep saying it is nice only to justify to themselves the money they wasted buying a place here or the hyper rent they are paying to live nearby. But most people don’t really like the Square anymore. That’s what you get when a place becomes too popular and overcrowded without an adequate increase in infrastructure capacity.

  3. DensityIsGood says:

    Ray: It’s too dense and chaotic? Many of us like density. It brings out diversity and can create sub-communities and warmth. How is Davis Sq chaotic??

  4. Ron Newman says:

    What sort of ‘infrastructure capacity’ would you add to it? A second subway line?

    It may actually be less dense now than it was in the 1930s — old photos show taller buildlings in some places than what you see today.

  5. A Moore says:

    Thank you Ray, could not have said it better. I used to spend so much time there and wanted to go there, loved the place, now I avoid it even to drive through. I think the last time I did any business there was on the Highland side when we got some takeout at the chinese restaurant. Don’t recall the name but it was there for many years. I don’t keep so much upstairs anymore.

  6. DensityIsGood says:

    Ron: I think he means parking. I think some underground parking garages would be very useful. The surface lots are wasted space. Put them underground and build something on top.

  7. DavisRules says:

    Most people don’t like Davis Square anymore? Are you kidding? It’s one of the coolest places in MA to live. Have you seen the lines at the restaurants and bars, even on random weeknights? That doesn’t tell me that most people don’t like Davis Square. Maybe you don’t like Davis, but most people that choose to live near it do.

  8. Ray Spitzer says:

    Hey, Density, if you like dense, then go to Calcutta!… Davis Sq’s days are numbered, my friend. There is a point after which people start realizing a place is just not what it used to be anymore.

    Ron, did I say that the infrastructure could be expanded? No, I said that it is inadequate. There is no solution, other than having fewer people around, which is what will happen naturally… I sold my second house there earlier this year because I saw the signs of decline.

  9. j. connelly says:

    “A. Moore” I believe the name was “Yees Village”. Went there till it closed. The owner prided himself in his food & kitchen. One time he actually asked us to take a look at his kitchen. It was spotless, so clean.

    I go to the square. Dont like the sidewalks, Hope that they get some Bama $$ to replace the bricks. The drug dealers & robbers like the density, it aids there escape. What they should have are buttons in each business, that when activated, allow the police to keep the red signal light on in the subway tunnels so trains wont leave the station & the SPD can go there when these incidents occur and say “Book em Dann[ielle*]o” [*Hey it could be a female officer responding].

  10. A Moore says:

    All of my senior customers who live in the area do not like it either. They don’t care for it and don’t go there.anymore. I think it is just mostly a younger generation place now. There is nothing there I would like to even try just from the ads. It’s fine, I don’t think you can make it suitable for all of us.

    Yup, Yees Village. We were more of the Ming Toy generation

  11. Ron Newman says:

    Living two blocks from Davis Square, I see no sign that the square is becoming less popular or less busy. Storefronts do not stay vacant very long, with the notable exception of the former Social Security office (which probably needs to be subdivided).

    If anything, Davis Square is about to get busier, with the imminent closing of the AMC-Loews Harvard Square movie theatre. Many of the moviegoers will just hop the subway a couple more stops to the Somerville Theatre.

  12. j. connelly says:

    Yes Ron you are right about the idea of subdividing the Soc. Sec. office.
    The Somerville Theatre is a jewel in the square, great shows, cultural historic happenings, political debates, and Lego Joe’s Dog & Pony Shows.

    He could have been a great official if he didn’t have that Emperor/Fiefdom (CEO?) opinion of himself. He is a highly paid EMPLOYEE who works for the taxpayers.

    (Only politician I know who had his picture in place @ City Hall while still in office) The ? is – was he deprived of Legos or Lincoln Logs in his youth? Maybe that is why he constantly wants to build & put a square peg in a round hole. [City is overcrowded, only 4 sq miles & 47% is tax exempt.]. Course if he really wanted to be a great official he could get Tufts to Pay in Lieu of taxes to the city. See the Administration/Trustees of Tufts are like the people on Wall St. And we all know what Americans think of that bunch.

  13. DensityIsGood says:

    Ray: I could say the same thing. You don’t like density then move to Kansas.

    A Moore: I have friends/co-workers in their late 50s and 60s that love Davis Square. Some visit from neighboring towns.

    I also agree with Ron.

  14. Bill Shelton says:

    “Nobody goes there anymore–it’s too crowded.”

    -Yogi Berra

  15. A Moore says:

    Like I said, younger crowd. Even the older ones are probably not as boring as me.

    I agree with Ron, it’s going to get busier here. we have more people going to live here and things are changing here. It’s good for the businesses, hard enough to get it going as it is. So easy to lose everything you have getting something going. Been there, done that so I know.

  16. Marie says:

    Yes, buildings don’t stay vacant long, but hasn’t anyone else noticed the turnover in some of these buildings? Apparently rents are too high as some businesses turn over quite often. Somerville needs to look at really diverse and vibrant squares like Melrose, where parking is free, and there are actually a variety of retail shops along with the bars and restaurants. I don’t call Davis Square diverse at all, I call it boring. Only worth going to if you want to eat or drink (if you can afford the prices). Only McKinnon’s still attracts me there. And now that the city has gone over the edge for development $ and allowed the monstrous and hideous building dwarfing the Rosebud, I see it as the beginning of the end. Please don’t whine on this site when the Rosebud or Redbones closes shop. It’s too bad, it always had a warm neighborhood feel, now I feel like I’m in Allston. Not a good comparison in my opinion.

  17. Good points, Marie. The opposite is happening in Magoun Square…the rents here are too low and businesses come in because it’s cheap to try and fail.

  18. Ray Spitzer says:

    “I don’t call Davis Square diverse at all, I call it boring.”

    Well said, Maria. Davis Sq is a fad, and the fad, and the fad is coming to an end. Period. Perhaps Union Sq will be the next Davis? Perhaps Magoun Sq? Difficult to know, but Davis Sq is like the restaurant that USED to be good, before the owners stop caring and before they started taking their customers for granted.

  19. Charlie says:

    I agree that a wider variety of retail shops would be nice for Davis, but I certainly wouldn’t say that no one goes there! It’s busier now than I’ve ever seen it. And the idea of free parking like Melrose would only make the parking situation worse. The parking we have now already frequently fills up much of the time. It would even harder to find a space if it were free!

  20. Joanie says:

    I agree with Marie and Ray……Davis Square used to be diverse, with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Now, it’s mostly bars and a few restaurants that are all vastly overpriced. I rarely go there anymore. It serves mostly out-of-towners looking for a place to eat or drink. The restaurants are doing well but I don’t see it doing anything for me or for Somerville. Love the Alston comparison!!

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