We asked the Medford City Council candidates three questions concerning community use of the former Malden Hospital land bordering Medford’s Fulton Heights neighborhood and Malden’s Olmsted-designed Fellsmere Park, traffic issues, and natural outdoor space. Here's what they said.
The following five candidates chose not to respond to this survey: Richard Caraviello, Kelly Catallo, Adam Knight, Michael Marks, and George Scarpelli.
We are grateful to the nine candidates who responded for their time and attention, and their views are shared verbatim. Their replies are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Friends of Fellsmere Heights does not endorse candidates, and does not take a position on these questions. To learn more about Friends of Fellsmere Heights visit www.fellsmereheights.org. To learn in more detail about the candidates and their positions, please visit their websites, listed below.
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?
Zac Bears (https://zacbears.com/): “First, Medford needs to understand the exact intentions of MWH and then work collaboratively with local residents, the City of Malden, and MWH to make a plan that works for all stakeholders involved. Maintaining and enhancing open space and connecting it both to the neighborhood and existing parkland must be the primary goal and outcome of the process. A robust Malden Hospital Ad-Hoc Committee of the Medford City Council could certainly plan a role in facilitating this planning process.”
Georgiana Chevry (https://www.vote4georgiana.com/): “Presuming that an invitation into this conversation has already taken place, Medford city leaders would benefit in collaborating to find ways to support this development in consideration of our aging population and explore workforce development opportunities.”
Kit Collins (https://www.kitformedford.com/): “Medford city leadership has a large role to play in pushing the idea that multi-use public land use and ecologically sound land use are not mutually exclusive concepts; and in implementing development and preservation plans that reflect that. Medford can pursue road/traffic design modification; zoning reevaluation; developing funding sources for habitat preservation; and lobbying for improved MBTA service; to realize these benefits and ensure that they can be equitably accessible to residents.”
Abigail Dickson (https://www.dickson4medford.com/meetabigail): “Medford and Malden could benefit from protected open space and the community centered projects that have been proposed. City councilors should stay informed about potential plans for the site, connect with groups that have participated in this visioning, and explore the possibility of transferring existing open space to a city or land trust. The process should prioritize community input and protection of open space.”
Jim Halloran (https://www.facebook.com/Halloranformedford/): “City leaders need to work with the community and MWH to ensure that the goals are being met. All plans and proposals that require city input or approval need to ensure that the community's interests are being incorporated. When the planning board, the zoning board, or city council is approving phases of projects the elements mentioned above need to be included. For example, any zoning variances can have conditions put on them that require specific elements be included or conditions be met.”
Nicole Morell (https://www.nicolemorell.com/meet-nicole/): “Communication and community involvement is key. As plans are vetted and developed, there needs to be a series of community meetings in person and Zoom as well as online feedback options to allow for max participation from public and enable MWH to consistently hear from the community. City leaders need to ensure the MWH is invited to city council meetings regularly to share their plans and be held accountable to commitments.”
Jean Nuzzo (https://nuzzomedford.com/): “Realizing a supported vision requires us to- attend meetings, find iterative solutions, author/approve ordinances; advocate with MassDot/MBTA on traffic flow & T reliability, capacity & connectivity. To determine resource allocation; identify funding, such as corporate contributions, enterprise/state/CPA funds, & federal grants.
We must document & hold the MWH team accountable for their promises – especially the “delivery of medical care, balance[ed] the with the community's interests” – as they have reneged in the past for profit (“LMH ER stays open”- 2016; Closed 3/4/19).”
David Todisco (https://www.davidtodisco.com/): “Having grown up directly behind the Malden Hospital site, I was always impacted by this area. Medford city leaders must work with neighbors and the MWH community to bring the goals listed above to a reality. That means having the discussion on spending through a 50/50 compromise with Malden while possibly utilizing CPA funds and additional grants to get a project like this done. Councilors can play a key role in convening and community building to achieve goals.”
Justin Tseng (https://www.justin4medford.com/en/): “Medford's city leaders form the bridge between MWH and the community. We have a responsibility to first and foremost facilitate proper communication. Our leaders must ensure that MWH's plans are clear and presented to the public and that our community interests are relayed to MWH. The city should organize town halls and public listening sessions with MWH officials present. To reach a comprehensive solution, our city leaders should also work closely with Malden's city leaders as well.”
Question 2: Traffic
One of the recurring problems in Medford neighborhoods near the Malden Hospital land is traffic, both in terms of commute times or delays on major arteries and around peoples’ homes. How would you address these traffic issues?
Zac Bears: “We have discussed this extensively at Medford City Council meetings, and I have discussed it with Transportation Director Todd Blake. I am encouraged by some of our initial plans and ideas around no right turn at Murray Hill and Fells during the AM rush and some other potential options like residents-only or other restrictions. In the long run, I think the City of Malden must work collaboratively with Medford and DCR to find a permanent solution.”
Georgiana Chevry: “Given the shared nature of this land, engaging the City of Malden in a comprehensive traffic assessment that engages abutters to inform a plan to remediate the traffic, commute times, and delays on major arteries. Where ever possible, this plan would also align with Medford's net zero goals by 2030.”
Kit Collins: “We must make public transit and cycling more appealing. When most people feel compelled to drive, traffic and long commutes are inevitable. We must advocate for better MBTA service in every neighborhood, i.e. more frequent and reliable bus service to Malden Center. Bike lanes and proper bike parking must be expanded. Because infrastructural change is not a fast process, we should at the same time investigate resident- or employer-targeting programs that incentivize (pandemic-safe) carpooling.”
Abigail Dickson: “Addressing traffic issues would involve working with Malden, DCR, and local residents on definitive traffic solutions which might include looking at bus service to the site, shuttle services, ensuring bicycle and pedestrian access, and looking at traffic studies.”
Jim Halloran: “The areas around the Malden Hospital Land are often used as cut throughs to major roads such as the Fellsway or Salem Street. Traffic calming measures need to but put into place such as speed tables and curd bump outs. The real fix would be to offer alternative ways to commute to the site such as dedicated bike lanes, shuttles from public transportation locations, and ensuring that as much is done as possible to reduce the amount of single occupancy trips to the site.”
Nicole Morell: “The parts of Medford affected by this traffic are under serviced by local MBTA, worsening some of the issues. I continue to advocate for expansion of bus service throughout North Medford and specifically the reinstatement of the 710 bus. Additionally, road diets can be applied to a number of the streets where cars typically speed, allowing for more striping, increased visibility, and safety for neighbors, while making roads less appealing for those who simply cut through.”
Jean Nuzzo: “Congestion is resolved through decompression; by alternate transportation routes/options. To get there we need robustness & reliability of the MBTA. Many residents have opted out due to lack of routes, infrequent & full buses. The MWH team must work to address multimodal options including shuttles, ride/car shares, & bike accommodations. This, in conjunction with traffic calming measures will help traffic flow. Lastly, we need a Transportation/Demand ordinance to set requirements for future developments & provide guidance, resources and incentives for all participants.”
David Todisco: “Being a resident of Fellsmere Heights, I experience these traffic issues daily. Our council members must work with the traffic commission to ensure resident concerns are heard and dealt with if plans were to arise for a new development of any kind. I know that a number of residents have already voiced their concerns to the city and see little action in terms of the specifics that have been requested. We need additional resources from the city to better respond to constituent concerns.”
Justin Tseng: “Having seen the severe traffic near the Malden Hospital land, I believe that we must work on a traffic solution with Malden, the local community, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the MBTA. We should also aim to relieve traffic congestion by increasing available transit options, something we should be working on with the state government. A comprehensive solution for all modes of transport would raise standard of living and let more Medfordians use this space.”
Question 3: Outdoor Space
As you know, part of the Malden Hospital land lies within Medford's borders. During the pandemic, the value of natural outdoor space became more obvious to all of us. For Medford residents, access to open space around the Malden Hospital land has been essential. What role should Medford city leaders play in ensuring that access to this outdoor space continues?
Zac Bears: “Medford city leaders must be steadfast in preserving open space and preventing the loss of open space. I think a land transfer to the city or another arrangement that leaves existing open space in a trust for permanent preservation is something all parties should quickly discuss and agree to enact.”
Georgiana Chevry: “I am interested to first learn of the reasons for which Medford residents currently think they do not have access to open space around the Malden Hospital land.”
Kit Collins: “We must keep natural space available for resident use, while making sure that these ecosystems are protected as well. City leadership should evaluate whether this space is, or can be, protected via zoning or parkland designation. Medford’s parks and the Fells in particular are considered some of the jewels of the city. If that appreciation is not followed with action and funding to ensure that these spaces are maintained and kept accessible to all, we do a disservice to all who stand to benefit.”
Abigail Dickson: “Open space is vital to the physical, emotional, and overall health of any community. Protecting open space is also part of addressing climate justice, an issue which is of great importance to me. Medford city councilors can stay in touch with community groups that are working on this issue, connect with residents on their thoughts about the space, and introduce or vote favorably on resolutions that protect the open space of this multi-community resource.”
Jim Halloran: “The outdoor space should be preserved as much as possible by stringent review of any proposals that are proposed, and conditions be enacted through the planning and zoning process. Zoning review of the site is also a possibility, with the potential to create a specific planned development district that ensures a certain % of open space is kept.”
Nicole Morell: “Medford leaders should establish consistent open channels of conversation with Malden colleagues to collaborate and form a united front when working with MWH to preserve this open space for all. Effectively leveraging of the voices of those who use this open space and could benefit from it is also needed to highlight the strong preference of and benefit to our communities.”
Jean Nuzzo: “One can never overstate the importance of our natural resources, which are exhaustive & irreplaceable. Elected officials must work tenaciously to preserve & protect these ever-diminishing areas, look to find the balance between positive growth & change that avoids stagnation and the importance of indigenous flora & fauna to our ecosystem. Community education, with good legislation, is the path to conserving nature for all to enjoy. Regarding the MH site, officials should be familiar with community requirements and negotiate with the goal of filling all feasible needs/requests.”
David Todisco: “In Medford, our municipal leaders spend a lot of time talking to each other, which is a wonderful thing, but we must also talk to our neighbors as well to problem solve and collaborate. When I saw how successful the redevelopment of downtown Malden has been in recent years, I sat down with a Malden council member to ask what exactly they did to get to this point. If elected to City Council, I would continue to build partnerships and relationships within the region to advocate for Medford.”
Justin Tseng: “Our city leaders should preserve all existing open green space as this aligns with community interests (per the FoFH survey), protects the environment, and keeps Medford residents healthy. City leaders should ensure that future decisions on the land be made transparently with public access to meetings. We should make accessibility a priority and translate important announcements and ensure that all residents can attend meetings.”