We reached out to the candidates for Malden Councilor-at-Large seats with questions about the Malden Hospital site, traffic, and open space in general. Here's what they said:
Of the six candidates, five responded, and their views are shared verbatim. Their replies are listed in alphabetical order by last name. (A quick reminder: Friends of Fellsmere Heights does not endorse candidates, and does not take a position on these questions.)
Question 1: Community Use of the Former Malden Hospital Land
Lori Howley, Executive Director for Communications at MelroseWakefield Healthcare (MWH) has told the community that they are evaluating options for the Malden Hospital land that will allow them to balance the delivery of medical care with the community's interests, which have been identified through an inter-city survey as follows: 1. A multi-use, natural grass, open field. 2. Multi-use indoor community space. 3. Connecting and memorializing the Hospital through a walkway/stairway. 4. A children's natural playscape. 5. Maximized natural habitat preservation. 6. Improved transportation. How can the city best work with the community and MWH to realize these goals?
Karen Colón Hayes – “First and foremost, we have to prioritize inclusivity, and that is exactly what these interests lay out - from a play space for our kids to accessibility for our seniors. By including all community members at the table through robust communication and community outreach we can be sure to have a development that helps us all rise together.”
Brian J. DeLacey – “We can best make progress on this with a combination of collaborative meetings between Malden City officials - elected and staff - and open, transparent two-way communication with the public.”
Roberto L. DiMarco – No response.
John P. Matheson – “Malden should purchase this property and control its future. There is no better way to serve the community. The last attempt to develop this property was completely contrary to the will of our community, and many in, and out, of government continued to pursue it anyway. This resource is too big, and too important, for wishful thinking. It is a gift from Mayor Converse, to benefit the People of Malden, and it is our duty to ensure that it does.”
Carey McDonald – “The city should continue to partner with MWH to develop a vision for a multi-use park consistent with the 2017 Malden Open Space and Recreation Plan. It should connect to Fellsmere Park to improve access and build on Olmsted’s design themes like natural areas and shelter/sitting features. A playground and historic markers can welcome people of all ages. I’m excited about a community function/shelter building, for classes and neighborhood groups, that could also have a view.”
Craig Spadafora – “Currently, Malden Hospital is dead space, consuming labor and money to secure. Malden can truly partner with MWH to design an urban oasis. We should not settle for a large development, so the developer had to throw in some “open space” to get it approved. Creating this project depends on a shrewd, visionary developer, substantial public/private infrastructure, the engagement of key service providers, and early commitments by the community, city, and MWH.”
Question 2: Traffic
One of the recurring problems in every Malden neighborhood is traffic, not just in terms of commute times or delays on major arteries, but around peoples’ homes. How would you address traffic issues at the neighborhood level?
Karen Colón Hayes – “There are several ways to be forward looking when it comes to traffic mitigation in Malden. From improving our sidewalks to encourage different forms of transportation or upgrading our traffic signals to reduce commute times. We can accomplish many of these goals by working with our state partners like the MBTA to improve bus routes and create incentives to use public transportation.”
Brian J. DeLacey – “A traffic study should be conducted, shared, and discussed. The traffic challenges of the current locations (from prior traffic studies) are well known. The Medford Police has records of cut-through traffic ("the Wayze effect"). The 9/23/21 Ward 3 Public Safety meeting addressed traffic. While there was some good news (accidents have been reduced a great deal), there were numerous areas of concern: bicycle, pedestrian, and neighborhood vehicle safety, as well as air quality and noise.”
Roberto L. DiMarco – No response.
John P. Matheson – “We should try signs that restrict access to roads used as cut-throughs during peak times. We should also improve signal timing at all lights to improve flow and reduce traffic buildups. These buildups are a nuisance to nearby homes and cause frustrated drivers to seek outside roads.”
Carey McDonald – “Across the city, I hear concerns about speeding and traffic. Sidewalks and crosswalks need investment, so people with strollers, kids, walkers, and wheelchairs can move and cross safely. We need to invest in crosswalks and sidewalks and clear the maintenance backlog. I would like a “calm neighborhood streets” program to build traffic calming streetscape elements. We should explore restricting traffic to neighbors for certain streets to keep apps like Waze from routing people through.”
Craig Spadafora – “I am a strong advocate for enforcing our existing traffic laws. Reactive measures, such as increased patrols, enhanced enforcement is likely to have a positive but short-term impact on the problem. As soon as preintervention levels, congestion is likely to increase again. Having patrols that are strategically placed to increase during peak time may serve as a very useful and effective complement to other problem-solving measures.”
Question 3, Part 1: Outdoor Space
During the pandemic, the value of natural outdoor space became more obvious to all of us. But Malden in 2017 had the 5th lowest amount of outdoor space per person in the state, and our population is growing. What can you do *in your ward* to increase the amount of natural outdoor space and shade trees available to residents?
Karen Colón Hayes – “As an At-Large Councillor, my focus will be on the city as a whole, but as a resident of Ward 3 I was a founding member a non-profit that focused on improving natural outdoor space and encouraged other beautification measures.”
Brian J. DeLacey – “Outdoors is better than indoors when it comes to reducing transmission of pandemic diseases. I've long worked in support of outdoor space - documenting it, protecting it, using it, caring for it, investing in and increasing it. (I served on the City's Open Space and Recreation Planning Committee.) Outdoor space serves the public across all ages and interests.”
Roberto L. DiMarco -- No response.
John P. Matheson – No response.
Carey McDonald – “For every ward, we need an inventory of large shade trees and a plan for how the city can holistically manage, maintain, and preserve trees. Hiring an arborist for the DPW, like some nearby cities do, would be useful. We can create “pocket parks,” single-lot parks with benches, community gardens, fountains, etc. We should formally preserve ignored green spaces, e.g., small city-owned parcels. We also need a city policy that it is a priority to preserve public and private green space (see Part 2).”
Craig Spadafora – “Continued investments (CPA monies) and partnerships with community and stewardship groups should be our focus to increase green space thru acquisitions and preservation. Saving pockets of green space in dense Malden neighborhoods makes growth sustainable and perhaps even pleasant. Repurposing unused land for public use, rather than selling it for short-term private development, offers long-term public benefits while offering protection to the tree canopy.”
Question 3, Part 2: Outdoor Space
During the pandemic, the value of natural outdoor space became more obvious to all of us. But Malden in 2017 had the 5th lowest amount of outdoor space per person in the state, and our population is growing. What should be done to increase natural outdoor space and shade trees *in the city as a whole?
Karen Colón Hayes – “Outdoor space and shade trees are becoming more vital not only for community recreation, but for climate change mitigation. I will focus on protecting and preserving our outdoors spaces by working with arborists to ensure we are planting trees that work with our environment. We can also increase our outdoor spaces, both green and blue, by focusing on climate change mitigation.”
Brian J. DeLacey – “Where have all the trees gone? For years, the City was cutting down shade trees without notice or public hearings. This was done routinely (apparently in violation of state law) as part of road works. Through my advocacy and interaction with city officials, a public hearing process was established to review roadworks and trees. The City should maintain a good inventory of its treescape. I have advocated for a Board of Park Commissioners - a public body that could additionally help in this area.”
Roberto L. DiMarco – No response.
John P. Matheson – “Few places remain where we can add more natural space in Malden. This is what makes the Malden Hospital site of particular importance. There is clear demand for more space as the adjacent parks, Fellsmere and Amerige, are the most used in the city, along with Pine Banks. The benefits of this new space will be felt citywide.”
Carey McDonald – “We need a Climate Action Plan for Malden, which Medford and Melrose already have. The plan should prioritize climate resiliency by using green space to buffer natural disasters and runoff, building on the Municipal Vulnerability Plan study. The Malden River Works idea for a park on the DPW yard should be a priority. A plan would have goals for the trees and green space preservation (see Part 1), improving air quality and combating the “heat island” effect of concrete and asphalt.”
Craig Spadafora – “Malden lacks permeable surfaces and growing space, making it difficult for Malden to increase green space and tree canopy. Ordinances and investment to redesign and move beyond reactively adding green space to existing areas. Instead, prospectively developing landscapes with the benefits increase soil and trees in mind.”