Friday, December 18, 2015

A more suitable location for a Skatepark at Farm Pond

A slightly different location for a skatepark along Farm Pond was discussed at the December 17 Skateboard Advisory Committee meeting. It is located a bit further south from the original location.
Skatepark concept by George Lewis at the selected site

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Railroad Six Sports Bar - family restaurant or dive?

Hoodwinking the Board of Selectmen?

On January 25, 2011, The applicant Salvatore Bellone and his attorney, Anthony Buono, spoke before the Board of Selectmen to discuss the nature of the Railroad Six Sports Bar and Grill.

Attorney Buono: "Mr. Bellone's intent is to make the Happy Swallow (Railroad Six Sports Bar) a family-oriented restaurant. He (Salvatore Bellone) is quite the spiritual and religious, and he would really like to change the nature of the clientele and scope of the business to something that is more family-oriented... It is NOT our intent to make it anything other than a family-oriented restaurant."

(In closing): "We are not interested in attracting anything other than a family clientele. It's a complete break from the past  and I think that that is really important for this Board to understand: It's a complete break from the past."
Mr. Giombetti: "We will look forward to a family restaurant"

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Planning for Downtown Streetscape design

To enlarge, click on photo. Right click again to enlarge once more

Except for one open space at Concord and Howard Street, Downtown Framingham has a strong, unbroken streetscape of buildings from two to four storeys high. Maintaining a four-story height would provide density without causing shadows from tall buildings. Limestone and lighter color brick are predominant in the Central Business district. Maintaining similar volume and materials will create a harmonious appearance.

New construction along the main streets in Downtown should be no higher than existing 4-stories. If there is an unique case, a building design may be permitted up to 5-stories provided that it is stepped back 20’ from the front so that the additional height is not visible from across street level nor will it cause increased shadows. Construction of one-story structures is not permitted.

If designed properly, the current open space at the corner of Concord and Howard Streets could become the central focal point in Downtown Framingham. It is where the north-south axis meets with an east-west axis joining future development to Farm Pond and to the Dennison Building at Bishop Street.

It is important to reflect the details and materials of the downtown Common side to the opposite side of Concord Street. A new building at Concord and Howard would be set back approximately 30 feet to allow open space and outdoor cafe. Similar details of the Common would include duplicating the granite posts and metal rails along the street. Similar material, height and color of the TD Bank building would help create a strong east-west direction.

A new building at Concord and Howard could be a multi-business use of destination type businesses such as a small art theater and restaurant with outdoor cafe.

 See related article showing possibilities when incorporating FarmPond to Downtown:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MAPC - A cruel joke to those living in Southeast Framingham

On September 28, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council met with the community of the Southeast Framingham neighborhood at Woodrow Wilson School. The purpose of the event was to create an action plan to improve the area by developing a vision and development framework with the community. It's end goal is to attract investment, foster job creation and improve housing, open spaces and streetscapes.

The meeting divided the people in attendance into several smaller groups for discussion. Each group was to talk about Southeast Framingham's strengths and weaknesses, and to discuss developing a collective vision of areas for preservation, enhancement and growth. For example, people were asked what they wanted. One person mentioned she would like to see a bakery, another wished for a playground. There was talk of shops and apartments along Waverly Street heading from Bishop Street to the Natick line. One representative from MAPC talked about cleaning up Beaver Dam Brook.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A bit of Framingham History solved

In a previous posting last week, I asked: How are the pictures of a horse and wagon related to the TD Bank at the Framingham Center Common?

Answer: The center portion of the building (above) with the four columns was once the C. Masterman and Son Framingham Market. The building however was originally located in another part of Framingham Center on Main Street on the other side of route nine. It was moved in 1968 and became the present TD Bank on Auburn Street.

Encroachment continues to other sites

The previous article about blight included encroachment by automobile related business along Howard Street. These businesses use the CSX property directly behind their buildings as if it were their own to use and destroy. They also use the sidewalk as theirs to store vehicles or do repairs. It happens along Waverly Street and many other locations also. It happens along the 350 Irving Street property.

Landscape Depot has encroached on an abandoned train line along the left side of the Eversource property. The area marked in purple indicates the portion they have illegally developed. The photographs below hat they have done.

Landscape Depot has also encroached on Town property marked in orange. It is the sidewalk.

Images above show encroachment into an abandoned train line (see map above shown in purple). You will see excavation of train property in June 2009 and what the same area looks like completed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blight in Downtown Framingham

Howard Street is considered part of Downtown Framingham. It is the east-west axis from Farm Pond to Bishop Street in the Central Business District. The street is an area where filth and contamination appear to be ignored by the Town. There is no enforcement. Owners are disrespectful of the property and others who live in the area. These businesses are along the train tracks and encroach on CSX property to store car hulks, parts and waste products. Like the auto businesses along the east end of Waverly Street, they also use the Town's sidewalks and streets as an extension of their facilities. They don't care. Lack of effective enforcement and fines sends the message that they can do whatever they want.

The town departments speak about "gateways" into Downtown. There are other gateways such as the dreadful businesses on the east end of Waverly Street, those along Frankin Street and route 126. The welcome mat is out, "Come to Framingham and we'll let you pollute and do whatever you please."

While blight and contamination continue and enforcement and strong fines are non-existant, there will never be any success to revitalize the Downtown.

Auto related business on Howard Street have encroached on CSX property and use the area as a junkyard.

This is an example of auto businesses on Howard Street using Town sidewalks and streets as an extension of their business. How compliant are these businesses properly storing and disposing petroleum products and chemicals? Recent Town by-laws require all businesses that have floor drains be permanently sealed.

Owner of businesses at 243 Howard Street will be appearing at the October Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting to request approval for additional types of businesses including auto paint shop. Encroachment in rear on CSX property storing trash and unregistered vehicles, permanent parking along sidewalk are some of the numerous blight and code violations presently on sight. Inspection of property should be made by the Town. Town Bylaws require that floor drains be permanently sealed.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

What is the relation of these two pictures?

Here are two pictures. Can you tell me the connection between the photo of the horse and wagon and the TD Bank building at the Framingham Center Common?
(For answer, please go to: "A bit of Framingham History solved") 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mystery Building

I am sure many of you have driven past this building. Where is it? Do you know the original name of the building?

Answer:  The above photo is the Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank which stands at the corner of Franklin and Park Streets in Downtown Framingham. The building, likely built c.1938, is a remarkably handsome building unlike the typical New England architecture of the time. Perhaps the Art Deco style was chosen to reflect a progressive, confident nature of the bank following the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Opportunity to improve Southside

The corner of Mellen and Waverly Streets is considered the beginning of the downtown area. The Silton land and parcels owned by the Town might better be used to create a beautiful development of retail shops on the first level and small apartments or condominiums on the upper three floors. It is also adjacent to the entrance of Cedar Woods along Waverly Street.

No more automobile related business here. I call it our "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to turn things around for Southside and spark interest in this part of Town. After all, it's part of the Downtown and a quick walk to the train station.

For information about Cedar Woods...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Contamination abounds - but talk is scarce

Town, State and Environmental agencies must take blinders off and take action to address extensive contamination in an Environmental Justice Neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Two brooks

Choices for you. Choices for your family. Choices for your neighborhood.
Take your pick...

Photo on right taken of Beaver Dam Brook showing oil film, sludge, debris blocked
at the 2nd Street crossing (off Waverly Street)

Letter sent to Zoning Board of Appeals for tonight's ZBA meeting:

Members of the Zoning Board of Appeal,

Congratulations from the auto junk yards, auto repair, radiator repair, auto storage, auto paint shops, used car dealers for work well done. You have allowed us to make this part of Framingham a welcome door for us to do as we please. With many thanks from landscape businesses, mulch, stockpile and junk yards. You have allowed no limit to the number of businesses such as ours.

Yeah, so what if there's contamination complaints from the Environmental Justice community. As long as it is business as usual for us.

With your help, the sky's the limit. For the rest of the community, our legacy is below their feet.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mystery picture

What is this? Where is this? Respond to my post titled
"Mystery picture" on FramGov
 (Photo: George Lewis)

Mystery solved! Thank you to everyone who sent a response. Some people knew the subject looked like steps. Not the downtown library and not the Bowditch grandstands. One person said in keen detail: "Front steps of the memorial building , taken in the morning because of the shadow of the rails on the steps (which are the newer tread shape - indicating a recent picture) appears to be cast from the east and is long enough to be about at a 45 degree angle - don't know what time of year so I can't nail down the exact time of day but I'd venture earlier so about 7 or 8 am. Taken on the center rail left side because the right side would have had a shadow from the old concrete light bases.... the left rail would have shown the actual base and if it were taken of the top of the stair the architrave would have cast a shadow so I think you took it while standing on the plaza...."

Everything said was accurate. I only faulted the person for one mistake. The photograph was not taken about 7:00 or 8:00 am. It was taken at 9:00 am.
Thanks everyone.

Memorial Building stairs taken later in the day. Note change in the direction of the shadow.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Environmental Injustice: unequal protection depending where you live

Many Environmental Justice populations are located in densely populated urban neighborhoods, in and around the state’s oldest industrial sites, while some are located in suburban and rural communities. These high-minority/low-income neighborhoods sometimes encompass only a small portion of the land area of the Commonwealth but they host, or are in close proximity to, many of the state’s contaminated and abandoned sites, regulated facilities, and sources of pollution.

Everybody has a right to clean water and clean air, and nobody has a right to degrade and destroy the environment. We're not talking here about little critters which few people see. We're talking about healthy communities where we can send our kids out to play, where we can live and bring up our families knowing that everybody's doing their part in using and disposing of toxic chemicals properly.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Former gas plant site harbors cyanide, other toxins

By Gerard F. Russell
Worcester Telegram and Gazette Staff
Posted Aug. 29, 2015

Worcester Telegram newspaper of August 30, 2015.
Front page article about contamination at Framingham
Irving Street site owned by EverSource.
There is no yellow caution tape or sign warning of deadly toxins, but 350 Irving St. is a cyanide-laden wasteland.

Home to several thriving businesses, it was once the site of an 1800s-era manufactured gas plant where the process left toxic byproducts: oil, coal tar, PCBs, cyanide, petroleum hydrocarbons and many other hazardous chemicals.

A portion of that site was sold to a local businessman who is now feeling the sting of hazardous pollution. An Auburn man is suing a company he worked for at the location.

Framingham's Sudbury Aqueduct runs through toxic site

By Gerald F. Russell
Worcester Telegram and Gazette Staff

According to an easement granted to Commonwealth Gas in 1982,
a permanent right-of-way was allowed over the aqueduct (see
area in red) requiring construction of a bridge. The
easement states, “a suitable reinforced concrete slab with at
least one (1) foot clearance between the bottom of the concrete
slab and the top of the aqueduct” was required. DEP and
MWRA officials say they do not know if such a structure exists.
See April  15, 1982 agreement by going to the Massachusetts Registry
of Deeds, South Middlesex County, Book 14584 Page 511.
The 22-acre Eversource property on Irving Street is dissected by a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority aqueduct, called the Sudbury Aqueduct, that is used in emergencies by the water authority that delivers drinking water to millions of people in eastern Massachusetts.

It was taken out of service in the 1980s but was used as recently as 2010 during a major pipeline break in Weston. At the time, it was used for three days.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Elements of good skatepark design


If you think that quality skateparks come from pushing around some dirt and pouring “crete” on a bump, think again. Building a concrete skatepark is a labor intensive and highly specialized endeavor. Further, if the builders don’t get it right the first time out, you’ll be skating their lumpy transitions and similar mistakes and for a long time to come.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Examples of Skateparks and sizes

12,000 sf: Ponderosa Skatepark and Skatepath
NOTE: Framingham Matters editor suggests the skatepark design to include a "skate path" that loops back.

     The Ponderosa skatepark in Bend, Oregon, consists of an approximately 8,000 square foot main park and 4,000 square foot skatepath and features a variety of street and transition opportunities including quarter- and half-pipes, stairs, rails and ledges. The final design was based on public input, site opportunities and constraints and budget.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Suggested skatepark locations

Suggested locations for a skatepark.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What better place for a skatepark than at Farm Pond?

Across Dudley Road from Cushing Memorial Park is a sunny open area near the Bocce Court and adjacent parking area. It is a fitting place to have an outstanding skatepark. Not only could it serve the young skateboarders, but could become a place for families and people to relax, exercise and enjoy this area close to Farm Pond as well. A well-designed skatepark could be an attractive addition to the draw of the Cushing Park area.

The ideal location for a skatepark is at Farm Pond, opposite Cushing Park. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Selecting best location for a skatepark is primary goal 

A skatepark is only as good as the site that it’s located within. And because a skatepark’s site is so critical to the ongoing success of the facility, finding the perfect one can often be one of the most arduous parts of the skatepark development process. Some of the most important criteria to focus on when evaluating potential skatepark sites are:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blight and slumlords: Time to renew Operation Red?

Blight, unsafe and unhealthy housing properties owned by slumlords continue to be a problem to control. Read about a novel method in Framingham which began in 1996 to eradicate this problem. Perhaps it's time to renew this program.

Scarlet plywood brings shame to slumlords
From Boston Business Journal, June 2, 1997
By Jim Miara, Journal Staff

In the real old days, shame was a sensation strong enough to incite repentance in sinners and to strike a universal chord as a literary theme in such works as "The Scarlet Letter."

Although daytime talk show guests leave the impression that shame has lost much of its moral force in today's society, Framingham's "Operation Red," which exposed slumlords to public scrutiny, would indicate that it still has considerable sting.

Clever thieves in the new technological world: Be wise, be wary, be prepared

Long-term parking

A family left their car in the long-term parking area while away. During that time, someone broke into the car. Using the information from the car registration in the glove compartment, the thief drove the car to the car owner's home and robbed it. If you are going to leave your automobile in long-term parking, do NOT leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote garage door opener. Please review any other personal information you may have in the car.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Automatic Trash Collection

1. When will the new service start?
The new automatic trash collection service is scheduled to begin the week of Monday July 6, 2015.

2. How and when will the new refuse carts be distributed?
Our vendor, Cascade Cart will be responsible for the initial distribution of all carts to Framingham residents. We anticipate that distribution of the cart will take approximately four weeks. The carts will be distributed in the month of June, 2015. Residents are requested not to use their new refuse cart until their scheduled day of refuse collection during the week of July 6-10, 2015.

Although photos were taken December 2013, the trash situation is much the same today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Translate this website in any language around the world

     English: Read information about Framingham matters in any language. Select preferred language on left column.
     Spanish: Lea la información sobre asuntos de Framingham en cualquier idioma. Seleccione el idioma preferido en la columna izquierda
     Portuguese: Leia as informações sobre assuntos de Framingham em qualquer idioma . Selecione o idioma preferido em coluna da esquerda
     Russian: Читайте информацию о вопросах, Framingham на любом языке . Выберите нужный язык на левой колонке
     Chinese: 閱讀關於在任何語言弗雷明漢事項的信息。
     French: Lire des informations sur les questions de Framingham dans toutes les langues . Sélectionnez la langue préférée sur la colonne de gauche
     Greek: Διαβάστε τις πληροφορίες σχετικά με Framingham θέματα σε οποιαδήποτε γλώσσα . Επιλέξτε τη γλώσσα της προτίμησής στην αριστερή στήλη
     Hindi: किसी भी भाषा में फ्रामिंघम मामलों के बारे में जानकारी पढ़ें।
बाएँ स्तंभ पर पसंद की भाषा का चयन करें
לייענען אינפֿאָרמאַציע וועגן פראַמינגהאַם זאכן אין קיין שפּראַך .
סעלעקט בילכער שפּראַך אויף לינקס זייַל

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day: honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military
Framingham will begin its Memorial Day observances at 11 a.m. Monday, May 25, with a program on the steps of the Memorial Building, 150 Concord Street, according to an announcement on the town’s website. On the agenda is the presentation of medals to the families of three late World War II veterans, Bernard Sullivan, Wilfred Mitchel, and Francis Moran; the latter two were killed in action while flying combat missions over Italy. Guest speakers will include state Representative Katherine Clark, and two Army captains, Douglas and Alissa Morrison.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Parents speak about the need for a safe dedicated skatepark

Jayden of Nobscott with mother and sister
From Heather Bachman ...
     "I am so encouraged to read that the need for a skate park in Framingham is a budding conversation! I live in Nobscott, and have a 12 (well, nearly 13) year old skateboarding son. He began skating when we lived in Atlanta at 4 years old. There were many, lovely public skate parks which we used to enjoy going to on the week ends along with a picnic. It became something of a "family" outing ritual. I loved seeing older kids helping him learn to skate and the "etiquette" of skating. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet other parents, and enjoy conversation while our children of all ages, races and genders were being active!

My son, Jayden has now gotten a few of his friends here interested in skating and ironically just came to me last Friday to inform me that they want to do what's necessary to fund-raise monies to build a park here in Framingham. They had the thought of the former grocery in Nobscott plaza being transformed into an indoor park. They did have a point of utilizing "dead" space.

I would be happy to be involved in spearheading an effort to make, what sounds to be, many of our young residents dreams a reality. Anyone care to join?"

From  Katherine Lopez ...
Samuel, a young skateboarder
and student at Cameron School
"I recently became aware that there is a movement to have a Skatepark in Framingham. As a parent of an eleven year-old boarder, I was thrilled and eager to help this idea become a reality. As a skateboarder in Framingham, it is hard to practice your craft (die-hard skateboarders will say it is an art as well as an emerging sport) when there are no safe arenas to do so. For me to support my son in his endeavors, we must travel at least one-half hour to Acton, Hopkinton, Hudson, Sherborn or Waltham to find an outdoor park. This takes time and money (gasoline, food and drink for the boarder) that we would prefer to put into OUR community.

My son is not a football, soccer, basketball or baseball player. I have no doubt he could be good at any of these as he is a wonderful athlete. He chooses,

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Improvements of conservation land at Cedar Woods approved by Town Meeting

Destruction of wetland setbacks at Cedar Woods (above) will be a thing of the past. Town Meeting approved monies for cleaning and protecting Cedar Woods for future walking trail.

Waverly Street gateway to Downtown Framingham: Sale of Silton Glass property and land swap offer great opportunities

Building suggestion at Waverly and Mellen Streets / George Lewis

Silton Glass at Waverly and Mellen Streets

Idea for the Waverly Street entrance to Cedar Woods Conservation Trail / George Lewis

Proposed landscaped entrance to Cedar Woods Conservation Trail is highlighted.
 Frontage of parking lots on Waverly Street should include trees and shrubs.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Voting and demographics: A point of view from 2005

NOTE: Although this news article was published in 2005, the subjects are very much current. Recently, there have been discussions regarding this year's very low voter turnout and disparity of citizen participation. Read for yourself and decide if the views in 2005 are the same today.

Was the political deck stacked against a new library in Framingham?
by Ray Hainer, Commonwealth Magazine, April 1, 2005

Route 9 slices the state’s biggest town almost perfectly in two, and the two halves have come to resemble each other less and less. If you live on the north side, chances are that you make more money than the average resident on the south side. You’re also more likely to own your home and have a college degree. And you’re far more likely to be a white Anglo, as Framingham’s growing immigrant population, most notably Brazilian, is concentrated in the town’s southernmost neighborhoods. Framingham residents may not think about the schism on a daily basis, but this geographical division may have cost the town $1.65 million in state aid, earmarked for the rebuilding of the McAuliffe branch library on the north side. At a special town meeting in March, library proponents won 95-51, but with a turnout of 150, that was five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to move the project ahead—and the lack of support from south side representatives proved to be fatal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Framingham Headed for Disaster?

Comments by Deborah Butler, TMM Precinct 7 

Eurie A. Stamps, Sr.
Listening to the plans for discretionary construction projects, as they are described to the Board of Selectmen and various committees, gives me an uncomfortable feeling like we’re arranging chairs on the Titanic! While I’m not advocating austerity budgeting I wonder if the Estate of Eurie A. Stamps, Sr. v. Town of Framingham case in Federal Court could leave the Town reeling to the likes of which we haven’t seen since the $1M SMOC settlement. Attached (below) is Judge Saylor’s summary judgment memorandum and order affirming two of the ten counts in the original complaint that causes me this angst. I’ve yet to hear a word from the CFO or Town Manager about the wisdom of curbing multi-million dollar projects such as Loring Arena and the Athenaeum until the Stamps case is resolved and the financial implications, if any, are known. Given the $1.6M gap in the school budget and a pending tax override vote can we really afford to continue down this path?
Click on photo to read document

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Flashback to a health issue

July 2, 2011: Business owner says messy conditions don't affect the quality of his work. The mess, he said, doesn't get in the way of him making a good product. What was it that caused an uproar?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Experiences of dual property tax rates in Worcester

Revaluation Results Lead To Questions About Process
Worcester Business Journal, May 29, 2012

For cities like Worcester, Fitchburg and Marlborough, with dual property tax rates, the triennial state-required property revaluation can get complicated, as evidenced by the recent uproar over Worcester's latest assessments, which more than doubled the values of some commercial and industrial properties over 2011.

“I can tell you that the feedback from our clients is really of shock. Most of them are completely shocked and confused, and it's really a tough blow to landlords that have been really struggling for the past five years,” said Matthew J. Mayrand, vice president of real estate brokerage firm Kelleher & Sadowsky Associates Inc. of Worcester. “I think there's almost a perception that you're dealing with all these extremely wealthy business owners and in many cases, it's small businesses that are struggling.”