Updates on FoFH progress and other related activities

Happy Spring!  While the blog posts have been quiet, the work going on around Friends of Fellsmere Heights (FoFH) and Malden Hospital has been busy! See below for summary information on what's been happening...

December 2016: The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) presented their findings of a traffic study at Highland Ave and Fellsway East in Malden, an extremely busy intersection very near the Malden Hospital location. Their study revealed key findings: high number of crashes, lack of sufficient traffic control, wide pavement areas, high vehicle approach speeds, long queues and delays, etc.  

DCR recommended a short term solution, and a long term solution.  For details, see the meeting slides on the FoFH Facebook page, as well as the detailed report from DCR.

February 2017:  Malden Hospital owners prepared a 'contingency' plan for the Malden Hospital site, which includes 6 proposed housing lots.  For details, see the Wicked Local Malden article, and some photos of the proposed lots.

March 2017:  Malden Planning Board held a public meeting on the proposed Malden Hospital contingency plan.  The Planning Board rejected both subplot preliminary plans. The Board of Health and City Planner both recommended that the subplan not pass due to outstanding health and safety concerns of the current state of the property and the Planning Board rejected unanimously.

The City of Malden held  a community meeting to gather input on the city's open space and recreation plan.  Residents huddled around open space maps of Malden and marked them up with recommendations.

The city is working with Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to update its Open Space and Recreation Plan. Residents can take the Malden open space survey.

FoFH has received some grant money in support of our efforts to convert the Malden Hospital site to a more community driven development, but there is more work to be done!  An update meeting will be held within the next few weeks. Check the meeting website for specific date and location information.

Hope to see you soon!

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Medford Ad-Hoc committee meets about Malden Hospital

Notes from the 11/15/16 meeting of Medford Ad-Hoc subcommittee on the Malden Hospital development:

• Committee in attendance as well as a member of the Medford Police Department and Fulton Heights neighbors
• President of the Friends of Fellsmere Heights and others presented information on the groups progress thus far in gathering info on ways to fund purchase of the site
• 18 acre site for both Fellsmere Park and the Hospital site (36 total)
• Both sites were once unified – group is trying to re-unify the land
• Converse donated the land to Malden
• Existing traffic issues need to be mitigated – many from north cut through from the Fellsway in the morning, and reverse course in the evening
• Hallmark Health, current owner of the Malden Hospital, is joining Wellforce health system
• Malden building moratorium is up at the beginning of December 2016; it may be extended 6 months due to an ongoing analysis of open space, etc. in Malden
• High density housing Developer extended their P&S through December 2016; may extend again (with Wellforce)
• Will developer try and push this development in 2017, an election year?
• Developer may go for 40B if the percentage of affordable housing goes below 10% (is 10.2% right now)
• Need to aggressively move forward with community vision before 40B kicks in
• Draft numbers were presented to show how both cities could apply for LAND and PARC grants, and if CPA funding is applied for and approved in both cities, there is a path to $6 Million to buy the land and demo the building (Phase I)
• Malden has a grant writer on retainer; Medford does not have a grant writer
• Community member offered to inquire with Tufts University to see if they had a grant writer who would assist pro bono
• Action items:

  • Inquire with Tufts for grant writing support
  • Medford Police to review Fulton Heights area to make recommendations for traffic calming measures that could happen now
  • Next Ad-Hoc meeting to be at St. Francis with a bigger group to hear community feedback…then, an open meeting will be planned similar to the Locust Street open meeting, at the city council chamber…will do a Reverse 911 call to Fulton Heights residents to get attendance up
  • Committee member will ask City Solicitor to make an inquiry with AG’s office to see if a reconsideration of review if land is sold to a person or entity other than a public charity, the law requires that the Attorney General review the “sale of significant assets of a non-profit health maintenance organization to a for-profit entity” to ensure the sale is in the public interest.
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April News Update

EXCITING NEWS!

We are pleased to announce that effective January 15, 2016, Friends of Fellsmere Heights was officially granted 501(c)(3) status, and has been designated as a public charity by the IRS. This marks an important milestone in our efforts to bring the community vision to the Malden Hospital redevelopment.

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE MORATORIUM?

Due to the overwhelming support of voters of November, the City Council passed the moratorium, and the Mayor signed it into law in mid-December.  The law places a temporary halt to issuing any new multi-family building permits in the city, except in the Square (to allow the City Hall project to proceed) and at the Quarry. The moratorium is in affect for one year, and one benefit is the city is looking at updating its 2010 Master Plan, with a Steering Committee that meets every month.

SO HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE MALDEN HOSPITAL SITE?

The developer, Fellsmere Housing Group, is still in the game from what we hear.  Hallmark has extended the P&S due to the moratorium; we expect everything to be quiet with them until it’s over, at which point the permitting process will begin.  We expect a public hearing will be scheduled with the Planning Board, which will allow for public discussion.   As part of the permitting process, the Malden City Council will be asked to change the zoning for the area.  (Because the hospital has been left dormant for so long, the zoning reverted back to Residence A, which would allow for approximately 60 to 80 single or two-family homes, but would not allow for the developer’s current proposal of 375 units.)  This will be the point where the city will decide to approve or not approve.  The City of Malden controls its own destiny.  If they want the high-density development, they will approve the zoning change.  If they defer to the results of Malden's ballot questions from our most recent election, then they will deny it.

THE MUNICIPAL LANDSCAPE – MALDEN and MEDFORD

Rapid Change for the City of Malden

The city is going through many changes and really growing.  City Hall will be torn down and Pleasant Street will again be opened up to the Square.   This requires a new police station to be built across town, and for City Hall to find a new temporary home while the new development is being built. The City of Malden will own a condo for City Hall in the new development when complete.  Hundreds of new apartment units have been built in the Square and hundreds more have the green light to be built in the near future.  Two hundred units have come online at 480 Main Street.  The City Hall development will have 350 units.  The old Mal's/Super Fitness building will be a 200-apartment complex.  The old Honey Fitz will be a 70-unit apartment building.  Another 80-unit development has broken ground behind Malden High school.

With the population of Malden expected to grow over the next 20 years, the City has embarked on multiple efforts to increase housing. Much of the redevelopment has occurred in downtown Malden so as to take advantage of the proximity to the Malden Center MBTA station and develop a lower-cost alternative to living in Boston. A Metropolitan Area Planning Council report from 2014 lays out a blueprint for ideas to bring together housing, open space, and other amenities needed to address the upcoming needs of the city.

The Mayor has indicated he is supportive of our efforts, but does not have the bandwidth, personnel, or funding in the city budget to assist us in this endeavor.  His support will be just that: supporting our efforts by helping us with information, expertise, and hopefully fundraising, either by applying on behalf of the city for grants, or helping with fundraising events. He will be watching our efforts to gauge our success. So if we want something, we need to be the drivers ourselves.

To see how a community in Pennsylvania did something similar, check out this article on the Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

Medford’s Role in the Malden Hospital Development

Twenty percent of the Malden Hospital property resides in Medford.  Medford is not part of the permitting process, but will see a lot of the negatives with a high-density development, specifically traffic.  There is a passion from the Medford residents, and it is reflected in the engagement of their local officials.  The previous mayor was open to learning more about the community vision, and the new mayor has also been receptive.  Their City Council has also created an ad-hoc committee for the Malden Hospital site, which shows their representatives are listening to the concerns of the residents.

YODA - ENGAGING OUR LOCAL YOUTH

YODA (Young Optimistic Daring Activists) is a youth group in Malden dedicated to helping improve Malden, starting with their support of community driven development at the Malden Hospital site. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and FoFH welcomes their support and energy. In their words, “Together we can raise Fellsmere to new heights.”

NEXT STEPS

Everybody likes the idea of open space, but then how do you pay for it and how do you maintain it?  That is what we hear from our elected officials, and the tax-paying public as well.  Both cities are cash-strapped and going through financial difficulty.  The Malden City Council pledged $5 million from their reserves last year, but with core services potentially on the chopping block this year, financial priorities will need to be addressed.

We are working on a plan to raise both public and private funds, including appropriations from the state and federal government and fundraising contributions from both individual donors and the private sector.  Both Malden and Medford have passed the Community Preservation Act.  If approved, CPA funds could be used to match state grants available. If Malden and Medford partner in applying for the grants and CPA funds to support this site, these funds can be doubled across both cities to maximize funding for the site.

So How Can You Help?

  • Communications and marketing! FoFH needs your help in this area! Are you a communications whiz? Are you super-organized? Do you have a marketing degree or work in the marketing industry (or know someone who does)? The success of our plan will be incumbent upon coordinating an effective message and getting it out!
  • If you are good at website design and maintenance, let us know if you can help in these areas, or know someone who can.
  • FoFH needs your help in further developing the community vision plan – we need to be ready when the Malden City Council rejects the zoning changes required for a high-density development.
  • Do you have a few hours a week to spend researching a grant or have grant-writing expertise?
  • How about lending your expertise to our financial plan?
  • Do you like to plan parties? We could use your help brainstorming and organizing creative and fun fundraising events and ideas.
  • DONATE: While FoFH operates on a shoestring budget, we still have basic expenses that we need to cover to keep our operation humming. http://www.fellsmereheights.com/donate

A few hours a week from many can go a long way.  If you’re interested in volunteering, please reach out to us by emailing info@fellsmereheights.org.

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • SATURDAY, MAY 14: Join our friends from the Malden Community Action Group to help cleanup Fellsmere Park at 10am.
  • SATURDAY, JUNE 4: Fellsmere Pond Lantern Walk. (Rain Date: SUNDAY, JUNE 5.) Stay tuned for time and details.
  • FUTURE DATE: We will be reaching out soon to tell you about our Synergy Summit which will bring together of a group of thought leaders from the community to brainstorm about different possibilities for bringing the community vision to fruition.
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