Somerville By Design is seeking to complete its mission to help guide development processes throughout the city.

Somerville By Design is seeking to complete its mission to help guide development processes throughout the city.

By Cathleen Twardzik

Meeting Three of Somerville by Design: The Complete Streets Series, which was a public meeting, was recently held to discuss ideas which were delved into at previous meetings and to further outline concepts for interventions around the city.

At present, the focus is on the streets of Somerville. That action will ensure that Somerville by Design is able to complete their SomerVision Comprehensive Plan goals, as well as “to compliment” the Green Line station area plans, which were developed at the recent Somerville by Design meetings.

Complete Streets design includes an emphasis on better safety and efficiency for each user and an emphasis on encouraging sustainable modes, such as biking and walking.

Meeting attendees were given the chance to examine all of the options and to contribute to the discussion which covered “spot improvements” to “larger scale network visioning.”

The recent meeting completed the series.

“However, given the positive response and helpful output from this series, we hope to be back with more Somerville by Design series in the future,” said Sarah Spicer, Senior Transportation Planner of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning & Community Development of the City of Somerville.

“At this session, we reviewed the main points of our discussion.  While cities across the country have implemented Complete Streets guidelines, we wanted to identify how Somerville’s own unique characteristics should be addressed in such guidelines. We reviewed examples of design elements that can help achieve our goals.  We talked about innovative ways to address streetscapes, ranging from neighborhood streets to challenging, congested intersections, and we also looked at nearby concepts underway with the City of Boston,” said Spicer.

Previously, the second session included having attendees complete a survey about their favorite street, including the way in which they utilize it and the good points about it.

That “qualitative input” will help to enable them to decide which characteristics of a street may be vital “to emulate more universally throughout the city.”

Although some of the feedback at the meeting was anticipated, individuals selected locations in which they had a feeling of safety and which were aesthetically attractive.

“This process directly compliments numerous goals in the Somervision Comprehensive Plan, one of the keys being the goal of 50 percent of new trips via transit, walking, or bicycling. This goal is vital to ensuring that the city is a great place to be and that its residents have choices on how to comfortably get around the city,” Spicer said.

A purely hypothetical redesign of Powderhouse Circle was included in the meeting’s discussion. Planners and attendees alike agreed that improvements could be made in that area.

The series included Ian Lockwood, Livable Transportation Expert. He outlined the way in which complete streets operate, as well as why they are essential to the future of Somerville “as a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.”

The next steps in the design process of Somerville by Design include “city staff [whom] will be working on a Complete Streets Guide. This will state our vision for our streets and will compliment the goals already stated by the Complete Streets Ordinance currently under review, as well as the Somervision Comprehensive Plan. Our goal is to have a draft document ready for public release this fall,” said Spicer.

The recent meeting took place at the Argenziano School, located at 290 Washington St. in Somerville

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