Taxes – Property:
Medford needs a better allocation of City resources and should encourage more owner occupied residents:
Increase property tax to absentee landlords by 5%;
Provide owner occupied abatement at 10%;
This change in rates of property tax better addresses current code enforcement by affording sufficient new staffing;
Assess if current fines are sufficient to change behavior.
The City needs improvement in parking enforcement.
Most residents are expressing a great deal of frustration over the implementation of the new parking plan. What is lacking in the process is direct communication with residents and business owners regarding what works best for all interested parties. Unfortunately, the conversation with residents only began in earnest at the onset of implementation. City Councilors must meet with and listen to the concerns of citizens before any policy changes occur; only then can they effectively advocate the needs of residents.
As a City Councilor I would advocate for the creation of an ongoing advisory group comprised of residents, local business owners and city councilors to provide ongoing feedback on progress on parking enforcement program in order to provide needed changes.
We must work together for the necessary changes Medford must undergo. A City Councilors role should be crafting legally enforceable ordinances that enhance the current program to bring about efficient and effective parking enforcement city wide, therefore securing sufficient parking for all residents throughout the city.
Constituency Services with a 311 Non-emergency System:
Citizens need to know they can point out specific problems and gain access to a system that creates accountability for addressing their concerns.
A system must be created allowing citizens to call or utilize a website where they can communicate an issue of concern and that the government maintains a visible tracking system to ensure when their concern will be addressed. That concern must get prioritized and a specific department will be assigned to address each specific issue within a reasonable time table through resolution, OR explain why the issue cannot be addressed at the local government level.
Local government must be responsive to citizens and make it easier for them to take ownership of making Medford a great place to live, learn, work and play. This requires an interactive system that responds to specific concerns in a timely fashion. Other cities and towns are doing this, and Medford should also provide an accountable constituency service. The 311 system will provide constituents information and data in a transparent manner that will lead to greatly improved city services.
Casino Development, Traffic Safety and Mitigation:
The newly awarded casino license holder, Wynn Properties, must acknowledge the Casino property proposed in Everett will have a huge negative impact on the City’s Wellington area traffic. Medford’s city officials should maintain a working relationship with Wynn in order to mitigate this impact. Working together with us on commonly agreed solutions is much better than finding Medford an unhappy neighbor that aggressively challenges any disruption to our residents.
We should also look at ways of enhancing pedestrian access and safety in Medford.
Creation of a plan that incorporates a more walk-able city and better bicycle access is also needed. Working with the City’s bike commission, Medford should expand the scope to include advocacy on pedestrian rights and awareness that ensures the benefit to all residents.
I’m excited about collaboration with a new pedestrian group, Walk Medford. As the President of Medford Health Matters, I believe these these projects encourage health living options. Walk Medford supports establishing Medford as a Complete Streets community and advocates for the creation of a Mystic River path. As a City Councilor, they will not find a stronger advocate.
Public Building Maintenance:
Current conditions of our publicly owned building is unacceptable. Our city must establish sufficient funds to adequately maintain public buildings. Where it is concluded that maintaining crumbling and updated properties no longer makes fiscal sense, a working plan on replacing and building new properties, like the Police Department, is required. Failing to adequately maintain our public buildings reflects poorly on all residents of our proud community.
If the city needs greater expertise in securing available Federal, State and private grant funding, it is then appropriate to hire person(s) with grant writing skills. This will have a long term positive impact on the quality of future city services.
Office of Community Development:
Our city needs a comprehensive coordinated approach to future city development. Any plan must include extensive community input to drive a process of appropriate and controlled development within the city. The current under-staffing of the Community Development office limits sufficient planning, and Medford must ensure that this office will adequately and appropriately drive positive changes throughout Medford.
Needed additions to Community Development should include:
A dedicated resource that facilitates small business creation, maintenance and growth;
Exploration of zoning changes that encourage larger businesses coming into the city;
Facilitate working groups of area residents, current business owners, local lending institutions, and commercial property owners in City Square areas to develop a shared area vision. (i.e. West Medford, Hillside, Haines Sq. South Medford and Medford Square)
We need to start the process immediately towards charter review. We currently have a strong mayor/weak council charter, and are without ward representation. I’ve yet to meet someone in Medford who does not believe our current charter needs a review, regardless of what will be decided. Why the last set of Councilors did not move forward on a resolution for Charter review remains a mystery. It is one of my highest priorities.
I have attended several meetings regarding the potential development of the Malden Hospital site, which includes two acres of land in Medford. It is clear a developer’s currently proposed plan of high density residents on the lot will cause unnecessary hardship on the surrounding neighbors in Malden and Medford. A well thought out community use development plan with reasonable housing development and open space was recently presented as a contrast to the Hallmark Health developer’s option. As a Medford City Councilor, I would strongly push Medford and the City of Malden’s plan and pursue a workable community use option with a sufficiently staffed Community Development office.
Green line Extension:
Greater access to public transportation for the general public is an important component of smarter growth and community development. Reducing the congestion caused by private vehicles in and out of our community also offers the benefit of reducing our carbon footprint! I support the plan for the Green Line Extension as mandated by the state’s Big Dig project into Medford. However, it is essential that we really understand the impact it would have on Medford’s residents and our entire community if the Green line were to terminate at Route 16. With a fully functioning Community Development Office that has sufficient resources to explore the impact of the Green Line on our residents, property values, and infrastructure, Medford can ensure that we had the whole story before we make a decision. That same office would be able to consider the development in a way that ensures all of our residents’ needs are considered, and any potential burdens on the community surrounding the Green line terminus are addressed.
Neil Osborne possesses the skills education and experience to be your Accessible, Accountable Advocate.