Arlington Redevelopment Board - May 23rd, 2022
Meeting held via remote participation. Materials were available from https://arlington.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/DisplayAgendaPDF.ashx?MeetingID=1607.
Director of Planning and Community Development/ ARB Secretary Ex Officio transition
(Jenny Raitt, Planning Director) Ms. Raitt says she'll be leaving as DPDC director on June 3rd. She shares her appreciation and encouragement, and has appreciated working with so many volunteers. Ms. Raitt says the level of engagement in Arlington is unique, and recognizes a number of committees that contributed to moving the Master plan forward. She'll remain a supporter of Arlington.
Ms. Raitt lists a number of Arlington's accomplishments from the last few years: the Mass Ave Phase 2 project, addition of bus rapid transit lanes, numerous plans, many project reviews, the creation of an affordable housing trust fund (AHTF), seeding the AHTF with $250,000 in CPA funds, a reorganization of the Committee on Arts and Cluster, and COVID programs and response.
Ms. Raitt will join the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments to serve as the regional planning director, and is working with town staff to ensure a smooth transition.
There are a number of projects coming up -- special permits, conversations about urban renewal, and updates to the Open Space plan. Ms. Raitt says she's tried to set the stage for funding some of these projects.
Kelly Lynema is likely to serve as interim director until a replacement is found. Ms. Raitt says that collaboration is the only way to move the community forward.
(Eugene Benson, ARB) Mr. Benson congratulates Ms. Raitt on the great work she's done for Arlington, and on her new position.
(Steve Revilak, ARB) Mr. Revilak began working with Ms. Raitt as a member of the Zoning Recodification Working Group. He expresses his appreciation for Ms. Raitt as a mentor, and for what she's accomplished for the town.
(Kin Lau, ARB) Mr. Lau gives Ms. Raitt credit for what she's done and endured.
(Rachel Zsembery, ARB Chair) Ms. Zsembery appreciates the comprehensive approach that DPCD has taken. She thanks Ms. Raitt for leaving Arlington in such good hands.
She asks the board if they have questions, or suggestions for things to look at. Ms. Zsembery would like to schedule a board retreat when the new director is in place.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau notes the planning department had started working on the 3D sketch-up model of Mass Ave. He'd like to resume that project. He thinks the model would be helpful for giving more attention to the industrial and business zones, and to mixed use.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson hopes that the new Planning Director is chosen after the new Town Manager. He'd like to ensure that the two people in those positions are compatible.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the director's position is posted now; she expects it will take 3--4 months to fill the position. The Town Manager opening has not been posted yet. She believes there will be DPCD director applicants to review before the Town Manager position is posted.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau agrees with Mr. Benson. He doesn't think that rushing solves anything.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks the scenario Mr. Benson proposed would be ideal, but there's a lot of work in progress, and much of the interim responsibilities will fall on Ms. Lynema's plate. She doesn't know what the timeline is for filling the town manager position.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak agrees with Ms. Zsembery. While it might be nice to fill the Town Manager position first, there are time and resources constraints to consider.
(Melisa Tintocalis, ARB) Ms. Tintocalis thinks that alignment between the Town Manager and DPCD Director helps, but that there are other ways for the people in those positions to be successful.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery says she'll talk to the Select Board about the timing for filling the town manager position.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks it's important to slow down, in order to get alignment.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that Sandy Pooler will likely serve as interim Town Manager, and that the timeline for finding a new Town Manager hasn't been set. Mr. Pooler would be working to hire her successor.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks board members for thoughts on what the board's priorities should be during the coming months.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson thinks that MBTA community requirements and Housing Choice are the important ones. For MBTA community requirements, Mr. Benson would like to wait until the final guidelines are released. He'd also like to discuss them with town counsel, to see if it's likely they might be challenged in court.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery asks if there's any timeline for the final guidelines.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt expects them to be released sometime around August or September.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery thinks it would be useful to have a discussion with Town Counsel after that.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson would like to know what the timeline for court challenges would be, and if Arlington would like to challenge them in court.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak thinks the MBTA community requirements should be an area of focus, once the final guidance is released. He'd like the ARB to discuss these requirements with the Select Board, as they are the main elected/political body in town. Mr. Revilak says he'd also like the ARB to meet with members of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, to get a better understanding of what the business community's needs are.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery suggests we might be able to find a date to meet with the Chamber of Commerce this summer.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis congratulates Ms. Raitt. She says it's bittersweet to see someone leave, and she appreciates all of Ms. Raitt's work. She thinks it would be useful to meet with the Chamber of Commerce, and with Ali Carter.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt thinks the 3D model could be useful when updating design standards. She thinks it would be reasonable to scale things back during the transition.
MassWorks Grant Application letter of support from Board
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says the town is applying for a MassWorks grant for the Mass Ave/Appleton corridor project. This will encompass the area from Quinn Road to Richardson Ave. There are three different developments pending in the area: 1165R Mass Ave, the hotel and restaurant and the intersection of Mass Ave and Clark Street, and the Greek Church is seeking developers for one or two parcels. The grant would help us address numerous safety concerns -- signage, bike lanes, and so on. The town has used some funds to hire Stantec for study. This grant would get us the rest of the way through study and design, but it wouldn't cover construction.
(Kin Lau) Mr. Lau is supportive. He thinks the temporary safety measures at Mass Ave and Appleton have been helpful.
(Eugene Benson) Mr. Benson agrees with Mr. Lau. He asks about the grant amount.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Zsembery says the grant is for approximate $140,000. The town would pursue another grant to cover the costs of construction.
(Steve Revilak) Mr. Revilak is supportive. He thinks it's important to address high crash intersections where there have been fatalities. Mr. Revilak notes that he was hit in this intersection while riding through on a bicycle.
(Melisa Tintocalis) Ms. Tintocalis supports the grant application. She asks if there are opportunities for federal grants.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says yes, we have been looking at other funding sources.
(Rachel Zsembery) Ms. Zsembery is also supportive. She asks about the scope of the project, noting that there are other challenging intersections in the area.
(Jenny Raitt) Ms. Raitt says that the Transportation Advisory Committee is reviewing the project scope.
Motion to support the Massworks grant passes, 5--0.
The board adjourns to town meeting.