Union Square Charrette: Day 3

USQ D3 DSC00645Our three-day design charrette entered its final day on Wednesday, March 11th. Participation has been great, and we’d like to say a big “thank you” to all the residents, business owners, and community groups who have taken the time to collaborate during this phase of the “Somerville by Design” neighborhood planning process.

In terms of our event schedule, Day 3 is all about processing what we heard during Day 1 and Day 2. We had more than 100 people visit the Post Office on Monday, and we offered five public meetings throughout the day and evening hours to discuss specific topics that came up back in December, January and February public meetings. Video footage will be added as it becomes available, check out links here.  Another 100+ people joined us on Tuesday, with six facilitated public meetings!  Video links will be added as they are uploaded.

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All day Wednesday, our City staff and design consultants worked to incorporate what we heard into a series of visual ideas for our residents and stakeholders to react to in a “Pin-Up Presentation” on Wednesday night.  Video footage for the presentation can be found at this link.

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There are dozens of different issues that residents asked our team to look into across the neighborhood. For each issue, there could be five different ways to solve a problem. Our goal at this stage is to communicate those diverse ideas in a visual way, and encourage stakeholders to identify strengths and weaknesses for each idea.

Here’s an example: the plaza in the heart of the square plays a crucial role in our economic and social vitality. But folks want to expand this public space to provide more seating options, more shade, more greenery, and more space for events and outdoor businesses. Should the plaza be bumped out into Somerville Avenue and Bow Street? Should the parking lot be turned into a more flexible “shared space” that handles the needs of pedestrians, drivers and delivery trucks? Our staff and design consultants sketched out several variations in order to solicit public feedback, in a casual and informal way. If we are able to reach consensus on which ideas make the most sense, then we can start to spend more time and money bringing our quick sketch plans into more realistic engineering plans, and work together to figure out how to finance a project.

The Wednesday night slide presentation will be uploaded to this link. Survey forms can be downloaded here, and we want folks to use these forms to give us feedback on the different ideas.

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There is more public process to come. To make sure that folks in the neighborhood are able to provide comment on the ideas produced during the charrette, we will be adding a second “Pin-Up” session at the old Post Office this Thursday, March 19th (6:00pm).  We are looking for opportunities to schedule additional sessions during April, and our May13th “Open House” event will be another important check-in point.

Again, our sincere thanks to everyone who has participated in any way, shape or form this week. We are looking forward to continuing the dialogue!

 

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