By Joseph A. Curtatone
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
Taking a closer look at this month’s notable city data—and interesting numbers.
1,315: That number represents the estimated number of crosswalks painted by our Traffic and Parking Department since 2010. Now that warmer weather has arrived, we can expect more people – residents and visitors alike – to be out walking in our squares, lively business districts, and other areas of the city, and it’s imperative we do our part in keeping them safe. Our crews are planning to paint another 200-300 crosswalks this year, and as soon as weather and construction schedules allow, you’ll see them out repainting the markings or applying thermoplastics. We recognize that crosswalk maintenance is just one piece of the puzzle in keeping pedestrians safe, which is why we also use pedestrian impact systems to enhance the visibility of the crosswalks, and this year we are experimenting with more durable devices that can be affixed into the road. Over the last several years, Somerville has increasingly been commended for our commitment to walkability and bikeability, and we intend to do all that we can to ensure we remain at the top of those national rankings by making our streets safe for all modes of transportation.
36: That’s the number of trees the City is hoping to plant this year as part of a tree lab, a space within the city that is designated to the research of trees and their growing patterns. The City is working to find a space for the tree lab now, and once a location is identified, it would feature three different experiments in the areas of climate change and whether or not species adapted for warmer Plant Hardiness Zones can survive in Somerville now, soil additives and how they affect tree growth and survival, and an urban tree well size demonstration. Because urban forestry is a relatively new field, there’s still have a lot to learn about how trees tolerate stressful urban conditions and figuring out how to give each tree its best chance at success. The tree lab will allow us to explore ways to grow the best possible urban forest in Somerville, for today as well as tomorrow. As part of our overall commitment to increasing the City’s tree canopy, in addition to the tree lab, we will plant 70 new trees this May and June and begin implementing a new watering system that will allow us to better care for the healthy trees we already have.
500: That’s the approximate number of volunteers who kicked the winter blues and gave back to the community at last year’s Annual Spring Cleanup. This year’s event is set to take place on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to noon in each of the city’s seven wards. Volunteers will get the city ready for spring and summer by planting flowers, weeding open spaces, and general cleanup. Refreshments, t-shirts, and hats will be provided and all participants are invited to a community BBQ immediately following the cleanup at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse on Shore Drive. Let’s make this year’s cleanup even bigger and better! For more information, visit http://www.somervillema.gov/events/2017/04/22/annual-spring-clean-bbq.
14,760: That’s the total number of tulips and daffodils planted in Somerville since 2011 in the city’s “Bulb Blitz,” a fall event that brings together resident volunteers to plant in public spaces. We’re already seeing some of the bulbs start to bloom. As you’re out walking or biking and see swaths of bright, colorful flowers in planting beds, medians, parks, and along the community path, take a minute to stop and appreciate the work of your neighbors. Be sure to check back on the City’s website later this fall for more information about how to participate in the “Bulb Blitz.”
Data-based decision making is at the core of how the City of Somerville develops policy and sets priorities. Every day we check the latest 311 stats, and throughout the week we meet for in-depth review of departmental data and city trends. The monthly Data Download column shares some of the data we’ve been reviewing recently. To see more Somerville Data, visit the online Somerville Data Farm at http://www.somervillema.gov/datafarm/.