Randolph Town Council candidates Clerger, Gordon suggest development policy
Click here for original article in Oct. 31, 2017 Randolph Herald
Natacha Clerger and Jesse Gordon, both Democratic candidates for Town Council at-large, jointly announced their development policy.
“Randolph is currently undergoing a lot of growth, and I think all candidates for Town Council should lay out their principles of what they would support and what they would oppose,” Gordon stated in a press release. “I support two basic principles for development projects: mixed-use development, and transit-oriented development.”
Clerger and Gordon go on to detail how their principles apply to two major recent development projects in Randolph, the Devine School and Pacella Park, and then how those principles would guide their votes on development projects on the Town Council. Clerger adds an additional principle for the Devine School project about what types of businesses she would seek to bring to Randolph: “The good thing about the Cruz proposal for the Devine School is that it brings in things we don’t have and which we need,” Clerger said in the release.
Clerger and Gordon define “mixed-use development” as blending residential, commercial, and institutional usage. “The goal of large development projects should be that people can sometimes go shopping or get services without needing to get in the car,” Gordon stated. “Mixing residential zoning with commercial zoning is the hallmark of a modern city. Separate-use zoning, with homes in one area and everything else in another area, should be replaced because mixed-use zoning is so much more convenient and makes Randolph so much more ‘livable.’ ”
Gordon claimed that separate-use zoning, popular in the 1950s, results in much more traffic because residents must drive to reach any businesses and services.
Clerger and Gordon cite first the Devine School redevelopment as an example of a large-scale development project which resulted in two different plans. The Sandler plan would replace the closed school building with 66 condominiums; while the Cruz plan would build 66 residences on the property and also house a satellite nursing school and a health clinic. Gordon and Clerger support the mixed-use Cruz plan.
Clerger detailed what she sees as needed services in the Cruz plan which do not currently exist in Randolph: “The health center and the nursing school - those don’t compete with our existing businesses, while still broadening the tax base,” she stated. “And the cherry on the cake is 35 permanent jobs for Randolph residents.”
Gordon cited the additional economic benefits and inspirational benefit, in addition to the job benefits: “Having a nursing school in town can inspire some of our kids to go into nursing, and having a health clinic in town can improve everyone’s health - an economic benefit in addition to the tax revenue benefit to the town. Those other benefits are the purpose of mixed-use development: having services and institutions near where we live.”
Clerger and Gordon acknowledged the opposition to the Cruz project’s higher density, especially complaints from neighbors of extra traffic on Old Street. Clerger stated, “We hear neighbors’ complaints on traffic, and some changes need to be made, starting with a new entrance from Reed Street and no entrance on Old Street, to keep excess traffic off the one-way Old Street.” Gordon added, “Those are both part of the current plan, and maybe some additional steps are needed. But the higher density makes sense there because the parcel is right next to Main Street and the MBTA #240 line,” which Gordon pointed out as an example of “transit-oriented development.”
“Many of the nursing students at Devine will likely use the #240 bus to commute to school rather than drive,” Gordon stated. “When my fiancée attended Quincy College nursing school, many of her classmates came by bus or T. On my commute home on the Red Line, I sometimes got off at Quincy Center and walked with her from class out to dinner. That’s what transit-oriented development offers: more customers for local businesses without more traffic.”
Clerger and Gordon contrast the Pacella Park development, still under construction: “Randolph will get 250 new condominiums at the far end of Pacella Park Drive, with no retail nearby and more than a mile walk to the nearest bus.”
Gordon claimed that fails both core principles: it is neither a mixed-use development nor a transit-oriented development.
“How will the new residents send out the kids for a quart of milk? It needs to have some new retail shops added nearby,” Gordon stated.
Clerger noteed, “We’ve heard the complaints of the residents on Dennis Avenue and Russ Street - everyone in the new condos will have to drive on those same streets every day,” pointing out that the traffic complaints are similar to those voiced by neighbors of the Devine School. Gordon adds, “What those neighbors are saying is that high density residences should be done only with nearby mass transit - that’s the goal of transit-oriented development.”
Gordon suggested that because the project is not yet finished, some remediation is possible: “The project needs to add a way out in the Braintree direction to alleviate traffic - a new connection to West Street in Braintree. Had Natacha and I been on the Town Council voting on this project, we would have insisted on including that in the construction plans, as well as some mixed-use amenities, or we would have voted against it.”
Clerger and Gordon conclude that their two development principles will serve Randolph well in future development projects. Clerger noted, “We’re about to close the Senior Center when it moves to the new Community Center - what will the town do with the old property?” Gordon responded, “We suggest applying mixed-use development as a guiding principle. And it’s near the train station, so transit-oriented development density would work there too.”
|Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368|
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