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What Do We Want Medford To Become?




Any reader of the Patch will come to the conclusion most Medford residents are not happy with many aspects of our city.  Since our community is so diverse, coming to a consensus on what direction we should take going forward is exceedingly difficult.  

Traveling to one part of the city to another can feel like entering a completely different town.  Generally speaking, in Medford there is a markedly noticeable difference between West/North vs South/Wellingtion (rough dividing line of Salem/High Streets). While this isn't unique to Medford, it is definitely more pronounced than it is in the cities surrounding us.  With Winchester you know what you're going to get, same with Everett and Somerville and so on.

This is part of what makes Medford, in my opinion, such a great place.  We can basically have it all -- very suburban or even rural feel in some areas with city like amenities within the same city.  But this also brings challenges since the needs and concerns of our residents may vary greatly.

In South Medford, we have seen a subtle shift over the years to absentee landlords and student (short term) renters.  Also seeing many more two family conversions to condos.  The cat is already out of the bag so no turning back to the 'way it used to be'. With that said, it will probably evolve in one of two directions over time. Either become a young professional haven (aka Somerville), or a student/fresh out of college enclave (aka Brighton).  How does the city encourage the more desirable end result to come to fruition.  Property tax break for owners or owner occupants?

The concerns of residents in other areas are most likely different. But you get the point.  How does the city develop a long term plan that satisfies what may be divergent issues?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JOAN PUCCINO December 12, 2013 at 11:02 AM
De, I, agree with you 100% I, been saying this for a long time and people on the blog didn't want to hear it, but it is true and a shame. That's why I, question are taxes go up but we get nothing for it, where the money going not in this city that's for sure. The poor kids have to can every year for their supplies for sports. You see trash in the streets why can't the city clean at least once a week?
Joe Viglione December 12, 2013 at 11:55 AM
De and Joan, you are correct. The litter around Medford is out of control. The one good thing city hall has done (though it is the way the Mayor did it, without transparency) is those big recycling bins where the paper stuff and plastic flying around your street can be recycled. As for the poster above, yes it is PRECINCTS in the town of Winchester, "ward" was just an error; when I taped the Winchester town meeting it had residents as well as all the elected individuals there in an organized and vibrant meeting. And it was a three camera shoot with real people manning the cameras and a real director. There are also good points by "Ron" and "Keith" here, including the main essay. A suggestion I've made to the City Council is that citizens go visit other city and town councils and see how their models work. We have 57,000 or so residents who never, ever show up to the city council. I've kept tabs on the attendance at city hall during council meetings and it is beyond weak. Being involved in public access in other communities I have volunteered my time to videotape other events, including Winchester's town council. This is so refreshing and is more inclusive. AND YOU CAN LOOK AT A TOWN MODEL AND A CITY MODEL AND FIND A WAY TO MAKE YOUR COMMUNITY OPERATE MORE EFFICIENTLY. And then there's a chance that just one party - the Democratic party in Medford, for example, won't be running the show. It is clear that I am a progressive, but Medford is a dictatorship with little growth and absolutely no chance for "crop rotation." Actually attending the majority of council meetings ( a good chance that I attended more council meetings last year than the man-who-would-be-president of the council 2014), actually going to other communities and sitting in on board meetings of the public access stations or meeting with management and volunteering to videotape government meetings gives me a perspective few in Medford have. It takes hard work to bring about change. I've logged well over 100 hours, possibly closer to 200 hours or more, at the city council and school committee meetings and committee of the whole, as well as board meetings of the Medford Housing Authority and have a lot of videotape (including committee of the whole, which is not taped in Medford unless a citizen does it) It takes hard work and, sadly, the majority of the 57,000 in Medford don't care to participate.
Harvey December 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Small correction to the above...there is no Town Council in Winchester. There is a Town Manager, a Town Meeting, and Town Selectmen but no Town Council. It's commendable to want to get more involvement in Medford Government, but changing it's form wont make a difference if no one cares and if the same people still get power, although perhaps with a different title. The problem, as I see it, is that its how we are governed by our elected officials, not their titles or the form of government. We can look at other cities and towns all we want, but it wont change a thing (Face it, you cant just change our form of government with the snap of a finger. And the very same people who we complain about will have the power to change or not change it.). You just cant go to the statehouse by yourself and ask for a home rule petition. Our elected representatives have to vote to do that. Which puts us back to square one...no one cares and therefore, there is no reason for anyone to listen to your cries for help. If one cant get people to come to the Council meetings and line up in great numbers to express their dissatisfaction , and if these same people who wont do that also wont vote, then they deserve what they get. Sorry, but that's the reality.
Ron Swanson December 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Joe and Harvey, seems like your both pointing out the voter apathy which exists. Perhaps ward (or precinct, whatever) type representation would help rectify the situation. In my reference to absentee landlords and student renters, neglected to mention those folks probably have little interest in Medford' s long term well being. With ward representation those of us who do care could yield more influence than we do city wide. Mr. Cappucci also made a comment during his campaign for City Council that it would enable more citizens to run who cannot afford a viable city wide campaign...I agree.
Harvey December 12, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Hi Ron...good points. Again, the problem will probably be in persuading our existing officials to go along with possibly eroding their power. (I have no idea how many precincts there are and therefore how many representatives or Councilors would be created. Your point about the money savings to run just in your own "district" makes great sense. Doesn't Boston work that way...with one at large Councilor? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get something like this done as easily as we can discuss it lol.
Elisa Toledo December 12, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Everyone makes excellent points! I have lived in south medford since 1976, and have witnessed its decline first hand. I walk the streets with my puppy and see the trash, broken sidewalks,etc. it makes me feel terrible especially with the taxes we pay. To make a long point short.....we need new leadership in the city. Our mayor has been, sitting in city hall too long.25 years I believe? At that point in your career where you are doing the same job for that long, you become an unconscious incompetent! We need new blood and ideas..I wish someone young and vibrant would step up to the plate and run for mayor, aka Curtatone I think only then will we see some tangible positive differences in the way the city is run.
Frank Mulligan December 12, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Folks. For the 32 years, I lived in Medford. Mc Glynn has been in OFFICE for 25. It HAS"NT changed. It"s gotten worse. Medford needs a NEW MAYOR. For as long as he's in OFFICE. Medford will be the SAME. Taxws go up every YEAR. Strets clean 1 time a YEAR. I live in Malden now. It's clean. They clean the strets 5 days a week. They enforce everything. Happy Holiday's.to Medford.
Joe Viglione December 13, 2013 at 06:42 PM
I appreciate your diligence, "Ron". There's one city council meeting left this year. Jeanne Martin will be discussing parking enforcement. Across from Donuts With A Difference today the police attached 3 parking tickets to 3 cars. Someone came running into the doughnut shop complaining about it. When people took a gander the three cars were all at the old karate place next to Mystic Coffee Roasters
maria December 16, 2013 at 09:32 AM
I would like to see Medford become a place I enjoy with both my family and out with friends for a night out. Currently it seems the family activities are picking up. I have enjoyed farmers markets and many other events. As for night life- there really isn't much to speak of so I go to Somerville on the weekends. Would be great to be nearby and have a drink or see some music.
raymay December 23, 2013 at 12:12 PM
I too wonder when Medford will be a place for those ages 18-64 to socialize. I try to frequent Medford restaurants as much as I can, but how about some actual performing art spaces or, dare I say it, barrooms? Seems like you have to open a private social club to run a bar.
maria December 23, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Yep. This is why I meet so many other Medfordians (sp?) when I hang out in Somerville on the weekends. Even the older contigent is there. It is fun but not in my town:(
Joe Viglione December 23, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Go to Dempsey's in Haines Square (outside of Haines Square) and see photos of Medford in the 1800s. It is quite sobering. Look at the past to see the future. Interesting that at the crosswalk near Nappi on Salem St. and the crosswalk at the MBTA station on Salem St (across from Dempsey's) it is impossible for pedestrians to get over the piles of snow. What's with that? Even with three days of melting one has to walk on water or climb a snow mountain.
Ron Swanson December 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Maria, think we're supposed to be called 'Medfordites' :-). I do agree with you and raymay about the lack of night life here and would be in favor of more liberal liquor laws. But just to play devil's advocate, isn't it good we're so close to areas which do have entertainment (Boston, Somerville, etc), but don't have to deal with the side effects of such places near our homes (noise, crowds)?
Keith December 24, 2013 at 09:55 AM
Ron — I think that's the great thing about Medford. Depending on your neighborhood, certain types of entertainment would work, and that's likely what would open there. I can't imagine that any businessperson would want to open a place like Redbones in the middle of West Medford, but I think that something other than a pizza place or nail salon would do well in South Medford or Salem St or the Square. On a totally unrelated note, how awesome would it be to get a place like Dave's Fresh Pasta or Bob's in the middle of the Square? A deli/small grocer (nicer than all the convenience stores around here) where you could get fresh produce and some staples, and maybe grab a sandwich or a light dinner if you're in a hurry? Maybe keep it local - produce from Roberto's, Italian foods from Bob's, bread from La Cascia's, coffee from Mystic, desserts from Danish Pastry House, pasta from Bella Ravioli, the best of Medford but all in one place! There are plenty of large, vacant spaces where it could go...
Ron Swanson December 24, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Keith, the best of Medford all in one location would be fantastic. Living in South Medford I already enjoy most of those places, some within walking distance...others within walking if you want some exercise. For fresh bread, still partial to Italo's. Grew up with a guy who's parent's own it. Can't beat fresh pasta from Bella, and Roberto's has all the great fruit (cactus pears, figs, persimmons) you hardly find at super markets.
Rooboo December 24, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Hello residents. I'm a young creative professional who recently bought a house in the hillside area and we are currently investing more money into the property and doing a gut renovation. If medford wants to attract more people like me and grow their tax you should concentrate on getting a T stop on mystic ave, building as many condos I'm medford square and west medford as possible and allowing loads of liquor licenses. It's a simple solution which has worked all over the state, country. Providing more public transit and building denser city centers creates walkable communities which support local retail and restaurants instead of corner delis and dollar stores.. Concentrate on those two things and you will see medford transform it's self into a more dynamic version of Arlington.
maria December 26, 2013 at 02:50 PM
@ron, I am going to assume I and other patrons will be as noisey as I am in an area like Medford Square (or any square) as I would be in front of my own home which I could walk to from Medford Square. If not- I don't think it would be difficult to keep businesses in check. Would be great to spend disposable income locally- but for now I will keep trekking over town lines. Also I cannot wait to get to Roberto's now. I have driven by for years.
maria December 26, 2013 at 03:13 PM
speaking of Redbones, this will be worth a cab ride from Malden: http://boston.eater.com/archives/2013/09/19/redbones-malden-expansion-is-still-in-the-works.php just sayin...
Ron Swanson December 27, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Maria, I agree 100% with your thoughts on the need for more entertainment here, I was just being a little facetious trying to argue the 'bright side' of no night life in Medford. Rooboo, I assume you meant to say Mystic Valley Parkway (Green Line Extension) instead of Mystic Ave. Just extending to College Ave might be a boon for the 'downtown' Hillside area of Boston Ave/Winthrop St.
Rooboo December 28, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Whoops! You know what I mean..
Rooboo December 28, 2013 at 01:31 PM
If it were up to me I'd press for it to go all the wAy to the west Medford commuter station. If that happened you'd see this town reinvent itself over night.
Frank Mulligan December 28, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Folks Medford needs a Johnny D's like Somerville. Medford is'nt going to CHANGE because Mc Glynn is in OFFICE. When he LEAVES. ?????? Good Luck Medford.
Arthur DeLuca December 30, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Been away on vacation, Frank? You haven't posted to the Medford patch lately and then all of a sudden - WHAM! three posts in an hour (two of them to conversations that ended a week ago) and all three contain the same complaint against the Mayor. But why does any of this matter to you since you tell us you've moved out of Medford after 32 years and now reside in Malden where everything is wonderful, you say? Well Malden residents have to buy those $3 bags to get rid of ALL their non-recyclable trash- Medford still gets 64 gallons weekly free. Malden has larger crime problems. Businesses have to make sure their back doors are locked at all times or they risk finding a druggie pulling into one to crash. My friend is a Malden cop who moved his family out of there years ago because of the declining situation. You should have stayed in Medford - it's much better and safer here. Sorry if your holidays went wrong or something like that; but the way you've suddenly burst out complaining makes one wonder if you have some sort of agenda or something. And it's the City Council (mostly Bob Penta) who holds up beneficial changes for the people, not the Mayor. If you have Verizon cable TV where you live in Malden, you can wacth Medford's City Council meetings. Watch them & you'll see what I mean.
Arthur DeLuca December 30, 2013 at 08:07 PM
As for ward representation allowing more people to run because they can run a campaign on a smaller budget.. problem is the powerful in office now will still have their much bigger budgets which they would now only need to spend in that one ward. They still have more money & can still outspend you. I'm against it because I now have the right and ability to vote for all seven seats of the City Council. Why would I want to give up any of those 7 votes? I'd rather have the power to effect change (through my vote) in ALL seats of City Government.
Joe Viglione December 30, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Happy New Year, Frank Mulligan. We hear it is going to be a great one!
Ron Swanson December 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Thanks for sharing your opinions Arthur. I am also dubious of the Malden utopia compared to Medford. Disagree with you on Bob Penta though. While he can be acerbic at times, think he usually has the tax payers best interests in mind.
Frank Mulligan January 08, 2014 at 07:34 PM
Arthur , I tell people what Medford is like. I 'M thankfl, I live in Malden NOW. If everyone in Medford posted on line. The TRUTH will come OUT. People would know what, I'm talking about. THE TRUTH HURTS. Happy New Year Arthur.
Frank Mulligan January 08, 2014 at 07:38 PM
Maria Medford will never CHANGE like Somerville or Malden. Just ride around Medford and check the streets and see how DIRTY they are. Check Malden and Somervile VERY Cean. Happy New Year Maria.
maria January 08, 2014 at 08:05 PM
Ha- funny because that is what I said about Somerville. Why don't you enjoy Malden and let us current residents work with Medford? We can do it:)
Frank Mulligan January 09, 2014 at 06:52 PM
Marie, Medford really needs to make a lot of CHANGE"S. It will take some TIME. If you have the time and patient Good Luck.

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