powder_house_school_webResidents living near the Powder House Community School will have a say on Tufts University’s plan to redevelop the site.

Four public meetings, the first of which takes place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at the TAB building (169 Holland St.) are scheduled to discuss the proposal.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone accepted the Powder House Community School Technical Advisory Committee’s final recommendations for redevelopment of the former K-8 public school site back in September. The committee recommended three of six proposals for consideration, with the proposal by Tufts University receiving the top recommendation.

The site includes an 87,599-square-foot parcel with the existing 80,857-square-foot building

Tufts plans to combine the former school and Tufts Administration Building (TAB) sites into a larger parcel that would face both Holland Street and Broadway. The complex would include upgrades to the existing TAB building, the construction of an administrative building with underground parking on the site of the former school, a third building on the former school site with either office or unaffiliated residential units (both affordable and market rate available to the public)

In addition to offering the largest contiguous public green space of any of the proposals, the plan, according to proponents, would add significant office space and thus increase daytime foot traffic for Teele Square businesses. The university has also expressed a commitment to paying full property taxes on buildings it plans to develop.

The Jan. 13 kickoff of the community vision process, jointly hosted by the city and Tufts University, begins with a charrette (a collaborative design session), during which residents and community members will work with city planners and Tufts officials to sketch out the vision for the site. Moving forward, there will be a community meeting Monday, Feb. 10, a charrette follow-up Wednesday, March 5, and a wrap-up meeting Wednesday, March 26.

“I want to thank the many residents who helped us determine the highest and best use for this site and envision how it could enhance the neighborhood, and I hope the those already involved, as well as newcomers, will join us for the coming meetings to help shape the final plan,” Curtatone said. “Tufts’ proposal will not only expand public open space and generate new tax revenues for the city, it will bring daytime activity to Teele Square, which is good for local businesses and will add vibrancy to the neighborhood.”

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18 Responses to “Public invited to planning session for Tufts’ Powder House School proposal”

  1. JMB says:

    So the Mayor’s hand-picked advisory group picked the LOWEST-bidder developer who’s not required to pay property tax (but they said that they MIGHT) and whose PILOT pale in comparison to Harvard’s and MIT’s in Cambridge? Ooh … but the dean at Tufts will review SHS kids’ applications. Awesome!

    If the neighborhood wanted green space, the city should have given them an actual 2 acre park. We own the land. We don’t HAVE to sell it. That’s what happened to the old Southern Jr High – it became a heavily used park, community garden, and is a jewel in that neighborhood.

    I also love how the incoming Ward 7 Alderman is quoted in the Other Paper saying she’s happy with the Tufts proposal but isn’t happy with the property tax issue. She’s clueless. She also advocates for more affordable housing at the site.

    However, SCC’s bid was the LEAST favored by the neighborhood. She is also on the board of directors of SCC – shocking. She has a direct conflict of interest in this site and will be prohibited from voting on the most important issue in her ward.

    Great job, Ward 7 voters. Really nailed that election.

  2. gregtowne says:

    Can we get the times and location details for these meetings?

  3. John says:

    JMB: I couldn’t agree with you more. The incoming ward 7 alderman isn’t the only one either. Incoming ward 5 has ties to scc too. Will they both recuse themselves when votes come up for this organization…highly doubtful.

  4. Harry says:

    wow, this is a press release by whom? what happened to time and place for the meeting or is the Mayor’s office pulling another fast one? This committee selection was so full of bull. We sold the Western Junior High to Tufts and now they are making a fortune on rents especially from Council on Cindy. Lets stop making these fantastic deals that we the citizens get screwed over every time. Sell it to Tufts for free or reduced rent for city agencies, the baloney on the taxes they might pay we all know what is going to happen to that idea.
    Why can’t we have the City of Somerville come out on top of these proposals, they want it, then give something like rent back to the city!

  5. Harry says:

    the scc has stooges in Ward 7, 5 and don’t forget ward 1 … will be fun to see how these newly elected officials handle the pressure.

  6. getaclue says:

    Why would anyone waste their time attending meetings to help define the ‘vision’ for this space? Anyone who has done this once or twice with other developments will know that it is a done deal. Everything is already decided, the city will just do a dog and pony show so that people will think they have input. They don’t. In fact, this was probably a done deal 10 years ago when the mayor made a promise to the school committee that the school would be used by the city as community space. It was bs then and it’s bs now.

  7. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Contact Melissa Woods at City Hall for information on PHCS meetings. The next is scheduled in January. The first meeting was last Monday, but only direct abutters were invited. There is a series of meetings scheduled which Melissa will send if you provide your email. The meetings are planned and run by Tufts. They will be held at the TAB building. I would encourage anyone interested in attending to pursue contacts and spread word to neighbors. I’m close but not a direct abutter. We should have as much right as those on Holland and Broadway. This development will effect all of us. What do you expect? Door knocking invitations? We are dealing with corp legal snakes in the grass. Why should Tufts benefit from residential housing on a city owned footprint and getting it for pennies on a dollar. More rotten fish. Happy New Year, Joe style. It never ends.

  8. j. connely says:

    When you go to the meetings ask to see Tuft’s Master Plan (to take over West Somerville)

    Ask to see their maps or aerial shots showing how many tax exempt properties that they presently own in West Somerville.

    See a traffic impact study and if there will be vehicle access to/from Broadway (so they no longer are inconvienced by having to drive around to Holland St and instead the inconvience will be placed on the residents by added traffic).

    Demand that the city have an independent traffic study done. How many vehicles will be parked on adjacent streets?

    Will they pay full fair taxes on the properties and for how long (or is a “fix” in place to rip off the taxpayers down the line)?

    Can the city take the additional burden placed on existing reduced municipal services by this Curtatone Development Group plan?

  9. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    j.connely,

    While reading your post, I’m reminded of another from this site:

    Noabitya says:
    April 13, 2013 at 9:19 am

    At least AldermanTrane speaks out for his constituents and speaks up about Tufts. He has done a good job watching out for his constituents needs.

    I sat on a “citizens zoning committee” when Tufts was planning on placing dorms all along the blvd thus devalueing the nearby homes so Tufts could buy them up and create more Tax Exempt Tufts owned property.

    The “citizens zoning committee” created a “buffer zone” they stopped Tufts from doing that. We also came across Tufts “Future Goals” which showed on a map of West Somerville illustrating Tufts plan to take over a large areas, (whole city blocks) of streets and homes for future expansion.

    There are several “Realty Agencies” that are “fronts” that buy up property for Tufts so the citizens/neighbors are not aware of what is happening till it is a done deal. They had maps, aerial photos, etc of West Somerville showing their planned take over. (sort of reminds you of Hitler & his Gestapo)

    Thus voting for anyone with any affiliation with Tufts University for a position in city government is an anti citizen vote. so WATCH OUT for those Pro Tufts PDS’rs and their friends when elections take place.

    http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/37121 (source)

  10. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Find out what Tufts endowment is and demand they pay market value for PHCS and land. We should not allow any parking on our residential streets by employees of Tufts. I wonder if the city has already been issuing free permits over the years without proper disclosure to residents.

    Maybe this is why Cameron and Holland intersection has been neglected for so long. Are they also planning to block that intersection for their own convenience?

    Don’t expect to get the truth from anyone involved at the meetings or project. They can switch gears at will, at anytime after contracts are signed.
    The residents should get together and demand as a group on the work to be done at this site. Other affluent communities would not stand for it and Joe would be out of a job by now. As residents we have rights and should exercise them.

    Information about meetings:

    All the meetings will start at 6:30 in the TAB Building.

    Somervillebydesign.com

    Community Meetings Planned on Tufts Proposal for Powderhouse School Site in Somerville

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 20, 2013

    POWDER HOUSE SCHOOL AGREEMENT
    BEGINS PUBLIC REVIEW PROCESS
    Four community meetings planned on Tufts University’s redevelopment of the Powderhouse Community School
    SOMERVILLE – Beginning in January, the public will continue to help shape the future of the Powder House Community School site through four public meetings on the recommended plans for redevelopment of the site submitted by Tufts University.
    In September, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced that he had accepted the Powderhouse Community School Technical Advisory Committee’s final recommendations for redevelopment of the former K-8 public school site. The Committee recommended three of six proposals for consideration by the Mayor, with the proposal by Tufts University receiving the top recommendation.
    The proposal submitted by Tufts combines the former school and Tufts Administration Building (TAB) sites into a larger parcel that would face both Holland St. and Broadway. The complex would include upgrades to the existing TAB building, the construction of an administrative building with underground parking on the site of the former school, a third building on the former school site with either office or unaffiliated residential units (both affordable and market rate available to the public), and the largest contiguous public green space of any of the proposals. Of the submitted proposals, only Tufts’ proposal would add significant office space, which is expected to increase daytime foot traffic for Teele Square businesses. It also creates significantly more open space than other proposals in addition to an expansion of current open space. Finally, it would maintain a building size that is consistent with a collaborative vision developed by community members including abutters over the last three years. The University has also expressed a commitment to paying full property taxes on buildings they plan to develop.
    The community vision process, jointly hosted by the City of Somerville and Tufts University, begins on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 with a charrette (a collaborative design session) where residents and community members will work with City planners and Tufts officials to sketch out the vision for the site. This will be followed by a community meeting on Monday, Feb. 10, a charrette follow-up on Wednesday, March 5, and a wrap-up meeting on Wednesday, March 26.
    “I want to thank the many residents who helped us determine the highest and best use for this site and envision how it could enhance the neighborhood, and I hope the those already involved as well as newcomers will join us for the coming meetings to help shape the final plan,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Tufts’ proposal will not only expand public open space and generate new tax revenues for the city, it will bring daytime activity to Teele Square, which is good for local businesses and will add vibrancy to the neighborhood. All of these benefits are consistent with the goals that the community charged us with in SomerVision. Through these meetings, we will continue to keep this project true to our community’s goals and ensure that it blends seamlessly with the neighborhood.”
    Tufts University and the City signed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) that sets the stage for the coming months of extensive public participation and feedback and for negotiation of a Land Disposition Agreement (LDA), which will set the details and requirements of the redevelopment. The Land Disposition Agreement requires a vote from the Board of Aldermen for approval. The City also plans to seek new zoning for the site that will be based on the community vision and the results of the public meetings and charrette sessions.

  11. JPM says:

    The last thing we need is more housing units. As a Teele Square resident its often hard to find parking as it is. As universities are run as a business – but are basically funded by the taxpayer through student loans – there is little reason for them to have tax exempt status. At the very least they should only get a partial rebate – perhaps 25%.

  12. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    $1.3 billion endowment

    One of the best medical schools in the country cannot afford to pay top dollar to the city which it has taken free services including our police and fire departments for many years.

    They boast about the amount of jobs provided to our residents. Ask them what their pay scale and retirement is for those residents who did not get college degrees. Also, their alum is a seated state rep, so of course he has been helping the push in favor of Tufts. I wonder if the alderman at large, daughter at city hall and Ward 6 alderman at large/insurance salesman will be willing to give up their homes to the grand expansion? What a disgrace.

    http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/tufts-university-2219

  13. j. connelly says:

    “Pixie” thank you for bringing up that past post, good to refresh peoples minds and remember 2 of the new Aldermen are associated with SCC. Does SCC mean Somerville’s Continued Corruption?

  14. JMB says:

    J Connelly – remember to ask the incoming SCC Aldermen where they stood on SCC’s plan in Union Square or at the Powderhouse School. As I said above, Ballantyne should recuse herself from anything going on at Powderhouse since she was on the board of SCC when they bid (and lost) for the sale. Ethics for thee, but none for me?

  15. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    j.c.-

    Some of those city hall relationships are conflict of interest, nepotism and unethical by normal standards. If walls could only talk. When people get into politics does someone take their moral compass away?

    JMB,
    Ballantyne is in direct contact with a Tufts arranging these meetings. Did you know her husband is an architect?

    How much conflict of interest can one city take?
    Can you guess who will be designing the addition to the ivory tower?
    The more I learn, the less I want to know.

    Where are the overseers to this process? I recommend attending all future BOA meetings which include this proposal so we can also get up and speak during their voting process. Call their offices and homes, send emails about your concerns.

    Cambridge does not discount residents input as this administration. The people of that city have taken care of the working class and poor. Harvard and MIT put Tufts to shame as well as this administration. They have enough of our real estate which is not being disclosed as well as a handsome endowment. What a bunch of freeloaders.

    City Hall sends their censor trolls out to meetings to listen in on conversations while trying to interrupt and discredit the truth. One approach me and was attempting to convince me of all the wonderful benefits Tufts provides to our city residents- auditing classes. I believe there is a fee of $100, I looked it up. Wow, some deal. I reminded her that a family member received a whopping $200 month pension after 25 years of service as a custodian. What of their PR manager telling me they had no interest in acquiring that property and only interested as abutters? Maybe our home values changed their mind? They didn’t want it 10 years ago, did they? Suddenly everyone is salivating over the chance of climbing aboard Joey’s gravy train. What has me worried is the magnitude of deception.

  16. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    JPM,

    I find the proposal to add “affordable housing” to this footprint suspect. Can we have names and affiliations of all tenants? Are they planning to build a few condos on the side for the well paid administrators, and graduate students? Maybe they could toss in a hostel and mini camp ground, sing kumbaya while we all figure out how to drive around the newly erected fortress, look for parking spaces and pay higher taxes. Sounds like more entitlement steamrolling with the help of greed on the hill.

  17. sickandtired says:

    Please don’t forget what Tufts did a few years ago to their custodians. How many of them do you think were working-class Somerville residents?

  18. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Sick and Tired,

    Let me guess – outsourced, cut benefits and hours?
    The SEIU had protests at the BosCommon last year.
    A real eye opener.

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