At-Large City Council Candidate Christine Long
Editor’s Note: Some responses are blank as candidate did not answer
Years lived in Framingham:
In less than 100 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a city councilor?
Website or Facebook page link: www.longforcitycouncil.com/
Election announcement submitted to Framingham Source during the nomination period
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only
Name one business that Framingham needs: Amazon
Name one amenity Framingham is missing: fine arts
How much would you vote to increase (or decrease) the tax levy in your first year of office? – 5%
Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? Yes
Should Framingham become a sanctuary city? No
Would you support the creation of a dog park in Framingham? Yes
Would you support the construction of a splash pad in Framingham? Yes
Would you vote for a debt exclusion override to build a new school in Framingham? undecided
Should City Hall remain in downtown Framingham? No
Do you support Framingham State purchasing the Maynard Building for its new partnership with Danforth Art? Yes
What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Garden in the Woods
Name one thing you personally did in the last year to improve the Framingham.
Question #1 – In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing Framingham?How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
Education is the most important asset that a community can provide to its residents. Without excellent schools the community suffers in every possible way. However, we must keep in mind that our tax rate must lend to affordability so that our seniors and young families can continue to stay in Framingham.
Since level funding by definition is when the schools are funded at the same dollar amount as the prior year this automatically creates a problem due to many unpredictable variable cost factors. Contractual obligations that involve unions and its employees in addition to uncontrollable increases in costs that involve variables such as special education, employee health insurance, etc., can only be addressed if the municipality applies a level service funding approach to meet the needs of the school district.
Unfortunately, level funding never equates to level services. Framingham must provide at a minimum level services to its school district to continue to provide the same level of services to students that was provided in the previous year. This would mean there would be no reductions in staff or programs. Although this means
that the costs of staff and services automatically increase annually, it does support a commitment to the educational needs of the community. Framingham has continually experienced a fiscal shortfall in this area and this particular issue needs to be a major focus of a new council and cannot continue to be funded at a minimum level that does not meet the needs of the Framingham School District.
Lastly, busing is an additional cost that is not factored into the 50% figure. The reality is that the School budget is closer to 70% or our entire fiscal budget. The issue of neighborhood schools v. busing needs to be reconsidered.
Although the City Council will have a limited role in working with the School Committee it is imperative that the Council is able to ensure that its efforts are cooperative and collaborative to work towards a positive goal of providing the schools with the support and funding needed to be successful in education our children.
As a parent of two daughters, one of whom attended Framingham schools, I understand the importance of funding diversified, quality programs and
how proper staffing is key to providing quality education programs for our children. In turn, quality education enhances and increases our attractiveness as a community to those considering making Framingham a place to raise their children.
The council needs to be apprised of all associated costs and expenses regarding the school budget in order to work with the Mayor to evaluate and make informed decisions regarding adequate funding to meet the needs of the school district. Proper level service funding must be maintained with an allocation towards
allowing for unanticipated additional costs (cost plus approach) that may occur throughout the school year to ensure that staffing and programs and not interrupted. In this way continual shortfalls would be avoided and eliminated from future reoccurrence.
Question #3 – Traffic is a major issue throughout Framingham. How will you work with the city council and the mayor to alleviate this headache for residents.
Framingham is a major transportation hub within the metrowest region. As such, Framingham is the recipient of “pass through” traffic that is difficult to control and manage. In the past year the Framingham Planning Board contributed approximately $60,000 of our mitigation monies held and earmarked for traffic and
transportation improvements to the Department of Public Works for a study being performed by VHB consultants. The cost of the first phase of this study is approximately $200,000. This collaboration with DPW to invest in a Master Transportation Plan and Municipal Traffic Study will lead to the creation and eventual adoption of a Master Transportation Plan for Framingham that is much needed. A Master Transportation Plan will provide the needed guidance when making land use decisions as to how traffic and infrastructure improvements can best be managed.
In addition, the Planning Board spent $30,000 on a traffic study for the 9/90 area and there have been multiple studies done throughout Framingham on a case by case basis during project review.
MA DOT is an integral and critical part of the discussion when speaking to traffic particularly since many of our roadways are owned by the State. In order to be
able to understand and make educated decisions when permitting projects in addition to how Framingham can work with MADOT to build and improve its transportation system, this Plan must be funded. The first phase of the study is expected to be completed within a few weeks. The Planning Board will be contributing more mitigation money funding to the DPW for the second phase of this study shortly. Please visit the Framingham Planning Board webpage
for information on this topic.
Question #4 – Framingham is home to Framingham State University and MassBay Community College. How will you work with two to make sure they are community partners with the City of Framingham?
Again, education is the most important piece of any community. I would like to see a community commitment to the expansion of these two colleges within Framingham that integrates them more into the community. Framingham leaders need to encourage higher education institutions to provide housing opportunities for its students within Framingham much like Lasell College has partnered with the City of Newton with continued expansion of housing opportunities and programs. Likewise, Boston College has continued to improve and expand its housing options and programs in Chestnut Hill. Consideration of a PILOT program (payment in lieu of taxes) should be part of any discussion with non-profit institutions since MassBay and Framingham State are both State Schools and not private organizations like Lasell and Boston College.
Expansion of programs and living facilities increase opportunities for small business to locate in Framingham in addition to existing mid-size and large corporate based partners such as Bose, TJX, Genzyme, Staples, etc. An uptick in student presence in a community would provide additional revenue and encourage a diversity of businesses to consider locating within Framingham.
Zoning is the critical piece in order to redevelop those sites that are currently stagnant and blighted.
The Planning Board has worked diligently to follow directives laid out in Framingham’s Master Land Use Plan adopted and revised in 2014. Moreover, the Planning Board continues to follow a work plan that is based on the Master Land Use Plan to upgrade, improve and amend zoning to address areas of blight, decay and in need of rezoning. The Planning Board and a collaborative working group worked very hard to create the Central Business Zoning in 2015. This change in zoning incorporates mixed used and a variety of offerings to attractive new business to the downtown area.
Framingham leaders need to engage owners of these parcels in meaningful discussions that include public participation of all those stakeholders to come to consensus as to the best and highest use for the redevelopment of these sites. Private property owners of these plazas have to have a reason to want to engage with the City to redevelop these properties. Tax incentives or other municipal credits should be considered to encourage plaza owners to redevelop their parcels.
Currently, I am a member of the Steering Committee that is reviewing zoning proposals for the Golden Triangle. Upon completion of the review sometime in December, the recommendations will be presented regarding zoning options for redevelopment that includes a more cohesive, interconnected use of land. With respect to the Technology Park, the Transfer of Development Rights zoning article was adopted in 2015 to provide an opportunity to enhance “smart growth” options for new redevelopment within the Tech Park parcels while preserving open space parcels elsewhere.
Question #6 – Framingham is home to several major businesses, but it also has many small businesses within its borders. How can the city of Framingham be more responsive to the business community? What steps would you recommend?
for use by residents.
provide more offerings and develop more community programs for youths and families. The addition of Lifetime Fitness and the expansion of the services at the YMCA permitted by the Planning Board have been great additions to the health and fitness services offered in Framingham.
This is of great concern to me. The Fountain Street Studios being closed is a great loss to Framingham participants and residents. Framingham lacks in the area of fine arts and needs to find ways to draw this sector into the municipality.
In turn activity generated by the fine arts will draw a larger audience to Framingham as other communities have experienced such as Salem, Cambridge, Boston, etc. Cultural arts is a must have for any community to expect to grow and increase its attractiveness to those wanting to make Framingham their home.
Question #10 – As one of only 3 individuals who will be elected city-wide, how will you work to make sure that Framingham is united and not 9 individual districts? Give specifics.
As the current Chair of the Planning Board, former Town Meeting Member, former Chair of Standing Committee on Public Works and Government Study, I am accustomed to working with groups of all sizes to obtain the necessary buy-in of all stakeholders towards achieving any given particular goal. I am able to work with all personality types and mindsets to come to a compromise to achieve the goal at hand. Consideration of all stakeholders opinions, ideas and particular points of view is essential when developing policies and proposals that ultimately affect everyone within a municipality in order to arrive at the best of all possible final products that a group can achieve. Up to this time, zoning proposals have been carefully vetted by all residential and commercial stakeholders, in addition to the Standing Committee on Planning and Zoning, Boards and Commissions having an interest, with Town Meeting finalizing the vote through the public
hearing process. The Planning Board has heightened social media that continues to improve its community outreach and is inclusive of municipal departments to provide the best possible review of all proposals regarding zoning as well as land use applications.