Encourages open stakeholder engagement process for determining land uses and negotiating community benefits for Union Square

Press release from  USN Steering Committee,

Union Square Neighbors (USN), a grassroots, independent neighborhood association comprised of residents and stakeholders in Union Square commended the unanimous decision of the Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) in choosing US2 as the master developer for Union Square and Boynton Yards.

“It was clear from the community review process led by the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee that Gerding Edlen and US2 were the frontrunners among the four final master developer candidates,” said Tim Talun, Chairperson of USN. “While we were surprised there wasn’t a more substantive discussion about the CAC’s recommendations, we were pleased to see that the SRA selected one of the preferred candidates. The decision shows respect for the wide-ranging community input process that led us to this point.”

The SRA meeting included opportunity for comment from all five members of the SRA. At one point, SRA members contemplated going into executive session to privately vote on the final selection of the master developer. The motion was withdrawn after legal counsel pointed out that such an action would be illegal under the Massachusetts’ “open meetings” law.

“Given the magnitude of impacts that will be felt by residents and businesses in Union Square, it’s critical that this process be transparent from start to finish,” said Rob Buchanan, a Union Square resident and USN member. “We need to continue striving for a robust and open public input process. There are many important decisions yet to be made regarding land use and community benefits. There needs to be integrity behind each of these decisions.”

JT Scott, owner of CrossFit Somerville on Prospect Street agreed. “My business and property are slated for redevelopment and possibly eminent domain. At a minimum, I think our neighborhood deserves the highest standards of participation and transparency.”

Established earlier this year, Union Square residents and stakeholders formed USN to help shape the future of their community. The organization’s vision is for a healthier, greener, and more vibrant Union Square that includes buildings and places that reflect the inventive, unique, and historic character that people love about the neighborhood.

“We hope to achieve these and other priorities by informing and engaging neighbors on these issues, providing input on projects as they are proposed, and working proactively to help bring about the future we want to live in,” said USN member Renee Scott. “We share these goals with other local groups, and we look forward to collaborating with them, as well as our elected and appointed officials, planners, and developers.”

 

USN Steering Committee: Tim Talun (Acting Chair), Shu Talun, Stuart Dash, Renee Scott, Sam Engelstad, Jim McGinnis, Zac Zasloff, Robert Buchanan, Suzanne Bremer, Andy Greenspon, and JT Scott.

 

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