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City’s Redevelopment Authority Will Acquire Land, Manage Adjacent Development, Give MBTA Permanent Easement for the Station; MassDOT and MBTA Reaffirm Commitment to Keep Project Moving with Medford Street Bridge Rehab Project to Start in October

SOMERVILLE - Massachusetts Department of
Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey, MBTA Acting General Manager Jonathan
R. Davis and Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today that the City
of Somerville, MassDOT and the MBTA have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
that describes how land will be acquired by the City, or by the Somerville
Redevelopment Authority (SRA) acting as the City's agent, to be transferred to
the MBTA in exchange for a firm commitment by the MBTA and MassDOT to construct
a transit station in Union Square as part of the Green Line Extension (GLX).  For a symbolic payment of one dollar, the MBTA
will be given a temporary easement for pickup/drop-off area and construction
staging areas.  Under the agreement, the
MBTA will also receive a permanent easement for the station building, which
will be sited near the intersection of Prospect Street and Webster Avenue.  The City/SRA will acquire and retain long-term
control over adjacent parcels and air rights on the same block until it
concludes development and sales agreements with one or more developers.

"This is another major step forward both in making the
Green Line Extension a reality, and in planning for the future of one of the
most dynamic development areas in our city," said Mayor Curtatone.  "It's also a strong reaffirmation of our
close working relationship with the Patrick Administration - and especially the
state's transportation leadership.  This
agreement helps ensure that current and future development around the new
station conforms to our community's shared vision for Union Square as reflected
in the SomerVision comprehensive plan. Just as important, it gives the MBTA the
access and support it needs to keep moving on the Green Line.  I'm very pleased with the terms of this
agreement, and deeply grateful to Secretary Davey and his team." 

"It is with this type of partnership and
cooperation that we will deliver the Green Line Extension project for our
customers," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Davey. "I thank the Mayor and City
of Somerville for their ongoing support and interest in sustainable
transportation. As progress is becoming more and more concrete, I encourage
city residents to continue to engage in the process."

The City anticipates that the acquisition
and preparation of the station site and adjacent parcels would be achieved through
the SRA at a cost of approximately $8 million. 
"We're currently working out the details of how this aspect of the
overall development of Union Square will fit into an urban revitalization plan
as we explore the potential use of DIF funds and other financial options," said
Mayor Curtatone. (DIF, which is the acronym for District Improvement Financing,
is a technique that, with state oversight and approval, allows cities and towns
to designate new property taxes generated by a specific development project to underwrite
bonds that pay for initial acquisition or infrastructure costs.  The City is already using DIF to pay for roadway
and utility work at Assembly Square, where projected tax revenues will far exceed
the City's debt service costs.)

"We expect to bring a detailed proposal
for a Union Square Urban Revitalization Plan to both the SRA and the Board of
Aldermen later this month," Curtatone said.

In return for the City taking on the cost
and labor of acquiring the land, relocating current tenants and providing
short- and long-term easements to the MBTA for construction and operation of
the Union Square station, MassDOT and the MBTA have agreed to  pay for environmental cleanup and remediation
costs at the station site, and to proceed on a timetable calling for the start
of station construction in the spring of 
2014 and completion of "an operational transit station by the late 2016-early
2017," according to the text of the MOA.

In addition, the MOA recommits the state
to several GLX milestones, including:

  • Breaking ground
    and beginning construction in October 2012 on the rehabilitation of Medford
    Street Bridge in Somerville
  • Awarding the
    contract for Final Design Services, scheduled for presentation to the MBTA
    Board of Directors at its meeting in September 2012
  • Advertising for
    the Construction Management/General Contractor contract, which will be the
    construction firm that ultimately builds the GLX project.

"This is a project that means a great
deal to everyone who cares about the economic, social and environmental health
of our entire region," said Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville).  "It's been hard work keeping the Green Line
on track all these years, but deeply satisfying to see it taking shape at last.  Along with the Red Line in Davis Square and
the coming of the Orange Line to Assembly Square, the Green Line Extension
finally knits all of Somerville back into the fabric of the region's
transportation system." 

"Transit-oriented development at Union
Square is important not just for Somerville but for the entire metro region,"
said Representative Tim Toomey (D-Cambridge). "I'm proud to have been part of
the effort to push this long-delayed project forward.  It's exactly the kind of investment that the
Commonwealth should be making now to support economic growth in the future."     

"The positive effects on our residents
and on the local business community make this a very welcome announcement,"
said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. "But as always, there will be a need to
manage the acquisition process with care and sensitivity, and to be very
prudent about how we decide to pay for the properties the City will have to
acquire.  I look forward to working with
the Mayor and my colleagues on the Board of Aldermen to make sure we have those
bases covered.  This is a tremendous
opportunity and we need to make the most of it."  

is a great step forward towards the building of the Green Line station in Union
Square and for the continued advancement of Somerville's first downtown," said
Union Square Main Streets Director Mimi Graney. 
"Through this agreement, the State and City show a real partnership in
the shared goal of creating a more pedestrian-oriented, economically vital
district and a strong regional transportation system."

happy to see that this MOA puts legal teeth into our campaign to keep the Green
Line project on the move," said Ellin Reisner, President of the Somerville
Transportation Equity Partnership, a community-based transit advocacy group. "I
think it's a great step forward, but I don't think it means that we can relax
our vigilance or ease off on the pressure to get this project done.  That said, I congratulate both Secretary
Davey and Mayor Curtatone on reaching this important deal."

state and city officials are working hard to avoid any further delays in the
Green Line Extension, and this agreement is a demonstration of the state's
goodwill and determination to see this project through," said Curtatone. "The
approach contained in this MOA is also a way for the City to guide development
at a pivotal location in Union Square. 
Any expenditures the City makes now will be amply rewarded by proceeds
from subsequent land transfers and by tax revenues from future economic
activity.  This is a welcome development
for Somerville, but its environmental and economic benefits will be felt
throughout the region."

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