(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.
Last week’s letter by Mr Plymesser missed some salient issues. The proposed 181-197 Washington St redevelopment is typical with the developer mind set of cramming the maximum number of housing units into a given space, without regard for the community or sensible urban design. Obviously, maximizing profit is the motive, not community regard. The proposed plan includes the demolition of the historic Cota Funeral Home, a landmark in the area, to make way for a parking lot.
In the proposed plan, there is little to no green space, certainly not enough for a young family to enjoy any outdoor activity. The street frontage will not enable any sidewalk café outdoor areas on the crammed sidewalk. The whole of the rear, except for a narrow, unusable strip along the fence will be paved for parking.
Most residents, from my conversations with them, are not against redevelopment. They are, however, against inappropriate development that doesn’t deliver benefit to the community, only to the developer. This redevelopment project is seen in that light.
The Mayor’s vision of housing is practical and embraced by the citizens and documented in Somervision. He is a family oriented man who treasures the city and its historic architecture and has said so on many occasions. The redevelopment of the site should proceed but not at the expense of the community and its history. Instead redevelopment should enhance the community and add to the delight of the Union Square area.
The current proposal does not do this. A looming monolithic building overshadowing the street, destroying a beautiful historic home, cramming as many people into cubes as possible is not the answer. We can get to the 6,000 more living units without compromising the city’s unique character by sensible planning and redevelopment. What we need is a revision to the proposed plan that makes sense, and any attempts at discussing changes have been resisted so far. This demonstrates a disregard for the local residents and the values of our city.