Arlington Redevelopment Board - Jun 21st, 2021
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1369.
ARB Committee Appointments
There are six committees related to the ARB:
- Envision Arlington Standing Committee
- Open Space Committee
- Zoning Bylaw Working Group (ZBWG)
- Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC)
- Housing Plan Implementation Committee (HPIC)
- Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC)
plus the Remote Participation Study Committee that was just formed by town meeting.
Alex Bagnall is the ARB appointee to the Envision Arlington Standing Committee. Wendy Richter is the appointee to the Open Space Committee. Eugene Benson represents the ARB on the Community Preservation Act Committee. David Watson was the ARB's representative on the Zoning Bylaw Working Group. The MPIC and HPIC seats have been vacant since Andrew Bunnell stepped down from the board.
The Remote Participation Study Committee's purpose is to study how to best do remote engagements. The ARB has 1 seat on this committee.
HPIC meets on the first Thursday of every month at 7:30pm. MPIC meets quarterly, and before town meeting. CPAC is active when CPA applications are being reviewed. The ZBWG meets the first Wednesday of each month at 8:30am, but they will not meet in July.
The Planning Department's new assistant director is scheduled to start on Monday.
Rachel Zsembery is interested in serving on the Master Plan Implementation Committee.
The CPAC often visits sites in small groups and meets with applicants. They also have public hearings where applications are proposed. Their schedule usually picks up between the fall and town meeting.
Eugene Benson is interested in stepping down from the CPAC and joining the ZBWG. Kin Lau is interested in the CPAC position.
Rachel Zsembery has been participating in the Arlington Heights Action Plan Committee.
Melissa Tintocalis is also interested in the Master Plan Implementation Committee. Ms. Zsembery withdraws her interest; she'll continue working the the Arlington Heights Action Plan Committee.
The HPIC is likely to be active in the fall. The board will defer appointments to that committee until the fifth member is seated.
Rachel Zsembery is interested in participating in the Remote Participation Study Committee, once its objectives are more clearly defined.
ARB Properties Update
23 Maple Street is occupied by the DPW, Inspection Services, Town Engineering, and Information Technology. They'll be in this space until the DPW renovations are done.
Eugene Benson asks if the building is ADA compliant. Jenny Raitt says that a number of accessibility improvements were made, with most of the work being done by facilities staff.
Central School renovations continue. The project was delayed by approximately three months, and should finish in August or September. There've been numerous challenges with cooling on the third and fourth floors.
Kin Lau asks if board members will have an opportunity for a walk-through. Ms. Raitt says she can coordinate something.
Mr. Benson comments on the 27 Maple Street property, next door. There's an infiltration basin between the sidewalk and driveway, and it doesn't appear to be functioning properly. He's observed water ponding up and staying there. He mentions it as something to watch. Ms. Raitt says the area is supposed to be planted at some point, but that hasn't happened yet.
Whittemore Park Reconstruction is underway at the Jefferson Cutter House. Work is focused on the first and second phases of the project. The second phase involves a path on the northwest of the house, leading to the rear of the building. There will also be grading, a seating area, and new plantings. The main goal is to improve accessibility to the building.
No more beer garden? Not during construction.
Ms. Raitt suggests transitioning the management of these properties to the facilities department. The ARB controls these properties because of an old urban renewal plan that expired in 2012. The board (and planning department) do not have the staff or budget to deal with them properly. Ms. Raitt will formalize a plan with the Town Manager, Facilities Department, and Town Counsel and bring it to the board for review.
Using 23 Maple Street as an example, Mr. Benson asks who would make future decisions about tenants and lease terms. Ms. Raitt thinks that's likely to be the town manager's office.
The properties are primarily managed through urban renewal funds. Those funds pay for cleaning, snow removal, landscaping, supplies, and utilities.
Ms. Tintocalis asks if there are best practices for managing publicly-owned buildings, something that would allow the town to make more money from these properties. Ms. Raitt says the board has been exploring this idea for years, particularly with respect to 23 Maple. No luck so far. The Central School seems to be transitioning in a good way. A discussion on how to repurpose 23 Maple may be in order, once the DPW yard renovations are complete.
Ms. Tintocalis thinks that facilities may have different ideas on how the buildings should be managed. Ms. Raitt expects facilities to handle building operations, while the Town Manager's office handles programming and tenants.
Ms. Raitt will investigate some of these ideas, and report back to the board.
Mr. Lau thinks the town is already moving in that direction. For example, the Select Board permitted the beer garden at Whittemore Park on their own accord. He thinks the ARB is interested in having some sort of voice in how these properties are programmed.
Housing Plan, Opens Space and Recreation Plan Updates
There was a Housing Production Plan open forum on June 9th, which was really the start of a process. There was a presentation of survey results, followed by small group discussions.
Ms. Zsembery thought it was a productive conversation. She attended mostly to listen and is looking forward to the next steps. Ms. Raitt says that additional engagement activities are planned for the summer. At the Farmer's Market, for example.
Mr. Benson would like to see enhancements to inclusionary zoning be part of the process.
Ms. Zsembery thought the previous night's discussion on bikeways was a good transition to the housing forum. The bikeway discussion got into the subjects of housing, mobility, and businesses.
Ms. Raitt says the bikeway discussion happened by way of Massachusetts' Rapid Recovery Plan. The bikeway covers three communities and the focus was having it contribute to economic recovery. Ali Carter is the contact for this effort.
The day after the housing forum, there was another one focused on the open space and recreation plan. It covered the process, regulations, and a review of the current plan. This forum also had breakout groups. There will be further public engagements; the Open Space Committee's web page has details.
No one wishes to speak during tonight's open forum.
The board's next meeting is scheduled for July 12th. 190, 192 Mass Ave is on the agenda, but Ms. Raitt believes the applicants will withdraw. The meeting is scheduled for 7:30pm in the second floor conference room of the town hall annex.
Ms. Zsembery would like to move the ARB's regular meeting time back to 7:30.
Mr. Lau asks if anything else is scheduled for July 12th. Ms. Raitt says the board has to discuss appointments, and she'll have an update about the new MBTA Community requirements in Chapter 40A.
Mr. Lau would prefer to have project hearings in person. He'd prefer 7:30pm for in-person hearings, but 7:00pm is fine for Zoom.
Mr. Benson doesn't have a time preference for 7:00 or 7:30, but he'd prefer to continue meeting via Zoom. Remote meetings have better participation, and the second floor conference room isn't very big. The technology needed for hybrid meetings may not be place.
Ms. Tintocalis doesn't have a preference for in person vs Zoom. 7:30pm meetings would probably be better for her.
Ms. Zsembery agrees that in-person meetings are better for project review, once everyone is comfortable meeting that way.