Category Archives: Featured

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The Latest on the Green Line Extension

On December 14, the MassDOT Board and the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board unanimously passed a joint resolution stating their position on the Green Line Extension.
Basically, they said the project as currently procured and designed is neither affordable nor cost-effective, and the project should move forward only if:
+ Costs are substantially reduced through value engineering and redesign
+ A new procurement strategy is developed that will provide a reliable cost estimate, viable cost reduction strategies, and an equitable risk allocation
+ New project management is put in place
Finally, and perhaps most important, the resolution stated that any additional funding needed to complete the project beyond the $1 billion the state already has committed will have to come from other sources, including the affected municipalities, landowners and developers, and the Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization.
During the board discussion, some of the board members – in particular MassDOT board member Russell Gittlen and FMCB member Brian Lang – specifically stressed the importance of municipal contributions, whatever those might be.
In terms of a timeline going forward from this point, MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola told the boards:
+ An RFP has been put out for an executive search agency to recruit a new GLX project manager (a role Sec. Pollack essentially is filling at present)
+ Value engineering suggestions presented last week by consultant ARUP will be incorporated into a new design, with a new cost estimate for a “leaner” GLX expected to be presented to the boards in March or April (the GM said this would be created with input from the community).
(Many thanks to Wig Zamore for this summary.)
Here are a number of helpful and informative sources that provide additional information and perspective: the STEP statement about the GLX project, yesterday’s article in the Boston Globe and an article from Commonwealth Magazine.

City to Host Public Meetings to Discuss Zoning Overhaul

Somerville’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development has been hard at work on a zoning overhaul. The City’s goal is to end up with a new zoning code that is easier to understand, consistent, and in line with resident’s priorities. Not surprisingly, the proposed new code is a hefty document that covers a lot of different types of uses. To help everyone understand what’s being proposed and get more feedback, the Planning Department is setting up a series of meetings that will each take a deeper dive into parts of the zoning code.The first meeting, focused on public space, took place on Nov. 23.
The meetings will all be held in the VNA Community Room, 259 Lowell St., and start at 6:30 p.m.
   Mon., Jan. 11: Attainable Housing
   Mon., Jan. 25: Residential Neighborhoods
   Mon., Feb. 8: Mobility
   Mon., Feb. 22: Economic Development
   Mon., March 7: Process

A Great Time Was Had at the 10th Anniversary Fluff Festival!!

A good time was had by all at this year’s Tenth Fluff Festival, Fluff X, “What the Fluff” A Tribute to Union Square Innovation this past Saturday, as will be evident in the photos below.

But before we get to the details of the Festival, as this was my first Fluff Festival and I came late to the game, I want to share my observations and offer some deeply deserved thanks.

I learned that the Fluff Festival is indeed a tribute and demonstration of local innovation.  In addition to celebrating the invention of Fluff in Union Square, I saw how the Festival itself is a true demonstration of how innovation lives on today in Union Square. This is thanks in particular to its creator, my predecessor, Mimi Graney, who conceived and developed the Festival over the last ten years and to Mike Katz, who each year makes Archibald Query come alive again.

The Festival is also truly a tribute to local as you will see by the sheer number of businesses and individuals who played a part in this year’s Festival.  In my seven months as the Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets, I have been repeatedly struck by what a generous, welcoming, and collaborative community Union Square is, and my work on the Fluff Festival these past months demonstrated this over and over again.

As you can imagine, there are substantial costs that go into putting on the Fluff Festival so USMS couldn’t bring you the Fluff Festival without the generous support of our sponsors: Somerville Arts Council, City of Somerville, Massachusetts Arts Council, Teddie Peanut Butter, Naveo Credit Union, US2, Brass Union/The Independent, Allstate, Workbar, and, Image Conscious Studios (who provided our fabulous new Fluff Festival web page).

Putting all of the many parts of the Festival together would not have been possible this year without an incredible team.  In addition to our incredible multi-talented Fluff Festival assistant, Maria Martinez, the Somerville Arts Council, and the City of Somerville, I want to thank the fabulous Fluff X Team who lent their advice, expertise and hard work over the past few months: Mike Katz, V Ratanakommen, Becca Rutenberg, Jessica Townsend, Jim McGinnis, Kristi Chase, Lindsay Neu, Christiana Usenza, Duncan Hughes and Brian Allyn.  And to our Volunteer Coordinator, Karin Turer.

A few special thanks:

Yonward for providing a new way to access Fluff Festival info / AC Kemp for emceeing our Main Stage / Mayor Joe Curtatone for presenting our Cooking Contest Awards / A4 Pizza for providing food for our Volunteer Orientation and Green Room / Mimi Graney for her ongoing support, advice and information / Qing Li for the very special 2015  Fluff Festival X design  / Linda Gritz and Nash Photography for Fluff X photographs / Scott MacDonald of Brass Unionfor helping in so many ways / Billy Walsh, for his fantastic job procuring gift certificates / Erica Jones at SCATV for her invaluable assistance and PR

And many thanks goes to our Banner Sponsors who also lent their financial support: J.S.Rudolph, Attorney at Law, Slumbrew, El Potro, Dunkin’ Donuts,International Optical, ABG Real State, Bantam Cider Company,Casa B, Bronwyn Restaurant, and East Boston Saving Banks.








The extensive in-kind support: Kaitlin Henry, SCATV, Masters Printing, Somerville Scout, CAAS, IPPNW, Don Warner, Boyes Watson Architects, Loyal Supply, Bantam Cider Company, The Growing Center, Citizens Bank, The Gulf Station, USMS Board of Directors, Brass Union, Crossfit Somerville, Mike’s Automotive Services, and La Cantina Mexicana.








The businesses who provided gift certificates for the prizes: Sweet Ginger, Stanhope Framers, RiverDog, Open Space Acupuncture, El Potro, Cantina La Mexican, RedBones, Paint Nite, Diesel, FlatBread, The Independent, Somervelo, Grooves, Casa B, Two Little Monkeys, Neighborhood Restaurant, Bull McCabes, Rickys Flowers, Loyal Supply, Wagner Jewelry, Hub Comics, Aeronaut Brewery and Machu Picchu.

If I have forgotten anyone (and as the support was so extensive, I fear I might have) my sincere apologies.

Finally many thanks to everyone who joined us for the Fluff Festival and was part of the activity, fun and energy that made the Tenth Anniversary a great event!

Esther Hanig, Executive Director of Union Square Main Streets.


Union Lunch

USM Union Lunch
It’s Friday. You deserve a good lunch break.

Get out of the house or step away from your desk and hang out in the Square for lunch.

Each Friday all summer long (7/17-9/18), enjoy lunch specials from neighborhood restaurants, live music from local bands, and cool happenings from your favorite Union Square shops and friends. Bring your friends, your coworkers, your kids, and meet us for lunch!

Check back regularly to find out who’s providing the food, music, and fun for the week!

Friday, July 17th, look forward to…
FOOD from Momo n Curry
MUSIC from Somerville Ukulele Club
and FUN from Beadkreative

Now Open: Union Square Farmers Market

Mid May through Thanksgiving, Saturdays, 9 AM – 1 PM.

In the heart of Union Square, Somerville MA. Served by MBTA buses 86,87 and 91

This weekly market offers the best locally grown and regionally produced agricultural items including vegetables, fruits, cheese, eggs, meats, fish, breads, pastries, chocolate, and wine. We feature rotating guest vendors each week, as well as live entertainment.

We accept cash (of course!), SNAP/EBT, CREDIT and DEBIT cards.  SNAP users receive a $1-to-$1 match up to $10 each week on purchases.

See you at the market!

Save the Date: 2015 Fluff Fest on September 26

Save the Date for this year’s Fluff Festival.  It will take place on Saturday, September 26.  We need your help to make the tenth anniversary of the Fluff Festival great.  We are looking for the right theme so we are soliciting ideas.  As this is a big undertaking, we also need lots of help so if you are interested in working to put the Festival together or in volunteering on the day of Festival, let us know.  Just Fluffsend your theme ideas and/or your name, contact info and area of interest in volunteering to