Author Archives: unionsquaremain

USMS Hires Esther Hanig as Executive Director

Union Square Main Streets is proud to announce Esther Hanig as its new Executive Director, following an extensive search and interview process. Esther brings a broad array of experience and skills to the position of Executive Director, most recently from her position as Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. Esther will begin her new position at Union Square Main Streets on February 23rd, 2015.

Esther HanigEsther has experience at multiple organizations building broad coalitions to work together effectively toward common goals; establishing strong and trusting relationships with public officials and governmental department staff; developing and enhancing organizations’ fiscal and membership bases; creating and implementing complex events; marketing organizations and businesses and responding effectively to change and challenges. In addition, through her work as a member of the Central Square Advisory Committee in Cambridge, Esther has developed knowledge and insight about what it takes to create and maintain a vibrant and thriving urban center in today’s changing world.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am very pleased to welcome Esther to Union Square Main Streets. We feel very fortunate that she is joining us.” said Board Chair Eric Fellinger. “Esther has a proven ability to build successful coalitions and partnerships, as well as to optimize an organization’s performance around its mission. We had a number of excellent candidates for the ED position, and Esther rose to the top due to her demonstrated ability to manage and grow organizations, and bring diverse stakeholders together around common goals. And she is eager to engage with the Union Square community to face the changes and challenges that lie ahead.”

As Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets, Esther will oversee continued advocacy and promotion of the Union Square business district and neighborhood. She will also lead the organization in its efforts to build on its mission to improve the vibrancy of Union Square by advocating for local businesses, and for positive change; promoting dialogue among business owners, landlords, residents, and other stakeholders; and acting as a bridge between stakeholders and City government.

Union Square Main Streets has been central to the recognition, identity, and “buzz” that Union Square has developed over the past 10 years. The organization hosts events that engage tens of thousands of people, including the annual “What the Fluff?” Festival and the Saturday Farmers Market; provides on-the-ground assistance for local businesses; and promotes the Union Square district and its businesses through social media and press awareness.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to work collectively with residents, businesses, the city and neighborhood institutions, and other nonprofits” said Esther, “to ensure a strong Union Square that preserves the best of the character of the Square while taking advantage of all the current opportunities to forge a vibrant future.”

A longtime resident of Area Four, Cambridge, Esther has been very active in her community, and also feels very connected to Somerville and the Union Square community. “I have many close friends in Somerville” says Esther, “and I’m looking forward to extending my ties here.”


Esther brings a broad array of experience and skills to Union Square Main Streets. In her nine years at Project Bread-the Walk for Hunger, Esther worked successfully to build broad coalitions to work together effectively toward common goals and established strong and trusting relationships with public officials and governmental department staff. She continued to work with coalitions in her role as Executive Director at the Allston-Brighton Healthy Boston Coalition and honed her organizational development skills. Esther’s work at the Leventhal-Sidman JCC, as Assistant Executive Director and Center Director, provided her with the opportunity to build on her experience creating and implementing complex events and to develop her business and marketing skills. She worked to ensure that the LSJCC fitness center responded effectively to market challenges to ensure a strong membership and sound fiscal foundation. At the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, Esther built on her experience creating and working with close partners, raising funds through grants and corporate sponsorships, and recruiting and retaining MNN members. Esther has also used her skills and experience to lead strategic planning efforts, create an annual event, and secure corporate sponsorships in her capacity as a board member formerly of Tutoring Plus and currently of the Cambridge YWCA.

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For inquiries or clarification on 2/22 or 2/23, 2015, please contact

Greater Somerville on SCATV Interviews Outgoing Director Mimi Graney

SCATV show Greater Somerville and host KyAnn Anderson  bid farewell to Mimi Graney, the founding Executive Director of Somerville’s Union Square Main Streets, on their recent show. Over the past decade Mimi enriched the community and culture of Union Square and she’s now embarking on a co-owned business venture in 2015 called Relish Management. Tune in as KyAnn and Mimi reminisce about the Union Square of days gone by and the future changes – with major development and a new subway station on the horizon for 2017.


How the Zoning Map Could Change in Union Square

zoningmap_12-14_unionsquare close detailzoning map key 12-14

Detail map zoning changes proposed December 2014 for Union Square pictured above. Current Union Square zoning, adopted in 2009, below.

zoning Map 2009 Union Sq detail


Community Input Needed for Neighborhood Planning and Zoning

Several strands of neighborhood and city-wide planning are coming together this winter and throughout 2015.

The City of Somerville is dramatically revising the zoning code, Union Square is under going a detailed neighborhood plan that sets the stage for the Master Developer agreement with master developer US2, and there’s planning around the infrastructure of Union Square including public space, roadways, water/sewer, plus, anticipate station planning  for the future Green Line stop at Prospect Street.

The community engagement around these strands are primarily led by Somerville by Design, an team from the City of Somerville’s planning department.

Hearings and information sessions regarding the zoning code revisions have not yet been scheduled.

The Community Advisory Committee, the group appointed by the City to represent community interests in the Master Developer selection process, has their own website with links to planning documents and a form for on-line discussion.

On twitter the conversation is using #PlanUnionSquare.


Crowd-Sourcing Event

The kick-off
December 17, 2014
6:30 PM
Old Post Office Building, 237 Washington Street

Visioning Session #

January 7, 2015
6:30 PM
Old Post Office Building, 237 Washington Street


Union Square Utility and Streetscape Improvements

January 8, 2015
6:30 PM
Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street


Union Square Community Advisory Committee Meeting

This group is designated by the City to represent the community in the master developer process. For this meeting housing is anticipated as the theme.
January 14, 2015
6:00 PM
Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street


 Visioning Sesssion #2

January 31, 2015
9:00 AM Walking Tour
10:00 AM visioning meeting
Old Post Office Building, 237 Washington Street


Development Opportunities & Constraints Workshops

Four workshops to gain insight into key development issues such as traffic and parking, project financing, architectural possibilities, and market conditions. These workshops will be lead jointly by the City and the US2 master development team.
February 4, 11, 18 & 25, 2015
6:30 PM
Location TBD


Design Charrette

Contribute your ideas to City staff and designers for the future of the Union Square neighborhood. Work together to generate as many ideas as possible and at a “Pin-Up Presentation” on March 11th review all of the ideas and provide feedback.

March 9, 10, & 11, 2015
Old Post Office Building, 237 Washington Street



This group is designated by the City to represent the community in the master developer process. For this meeting Open Space is anticipated as the theme.

March 18, 2015
6:00 PM
Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street



This group is designated by the City to represent the community in the master developer process. For this meeting Transportation and Infrastructure are anticipated as the themes.

April 8, 2015
6:00 PM
Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street



Putting it all together from the CAC perspective.
May 6, 2015
6:00 PM
Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street


Plan Open House

May 13, 2015
6:00 PM
Old Post Office Building, 237 Washington Street

A presentation to the community of a refinement of the neighborhood plan from the City of Somerville planning department.


$1 Billion for the Green Line Extension

The Federal Transit Administration announced it will provide nearly $1 billion in New Starts funding for the Green Line Extension. Service to Union Square, Washington Street is anticipated by the end of 2017 and now Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue are all now on track for the year 2020. The $996 million covers about 43 percent of the entire project.
Read more about this huge news at:

Annual Flag Raising on Prospect Hill

It was a rainy Tuesday, January 1, 1776 when George Washington sent word. “Raise this flag on Prospect Hill!” he commanded his troops. So on a 76 foot schooner mast amidst the colonists’ encampment the “Grand Union” flag flew. A 13 gun salute and cheers greeted this first truly American flag and its presence bolstered the morale of colonists seeking fair representation under British rule.

This national event continues to be celebrated here in Somerville every New Year’s Day with a parade and historic reenactment. In all weather on January 1 Somerville neighbors and patriots across the land gather above Union Square. With coffee and donuts to shake the chill we wave mini-flags and proudly wear tri-corner hats to sing “America the Beautiful.” We cheer as the call rings out for the flag to be hoisted. The boom of the gun salute echo from atop the monument as together we reflect on the birth of our nation and Union Square’s place in it.

There are two ways to join the event on Thursday, January 1. Wear colonial dress and be part of the parade with fife and drum players, local dignitaries and Color Guards. The Parade leaves City Hall at 11:30 am. Or greet the marchers and participate in the flag raising on Prospect Hill at noon.

Learn the history of Prospect Hill’s role in the American Revolution through Steve Mulder’s great site.