By Noval Alexander
FRAMINGHAM – Two topics always come up when I talk to residents of District 5:
1) how do we solve the increasing traffic problem?
2) why are so many new apartments being built Framingham?
Nearly 2000 apartments are due to come online within the next 12 months in a city of about 70,000 residents. That’s a very considerable increase. I’m hearing from residents who are seriously concerned about the impacts that all these new residents would have on our city and its resources.
It’s time for Framingham to place a temporary moratorium on all new apartments to give the Council, working with the Mayor, the time they need to determine how these all new structures play into our long term planning.
Managed growth is generally desirable, but we need to assess how all this growth will affect our environment and schools, how to address the inevitable increase in traffic, how to fix our recycling program, and how to ensure we will have enough resources for city services.
To be clear, I am not anti-apartment, and this moratorium would not be a ban on apartments. In fact, we need to do more to encourage diversification of our housing stock to enable our seniors to downsize and stay in town, and to encourage young families to move in. These are policies that would allow Framingham to be a dynamic city that’s consistent with the vision that I and many others have for it. We just need to take a collective breath and figure out what we want Framingham to look like in the years ahead.
Marlborough issued a six-month moratorium in 2017, which gave them the time to thoughtfully assess development decisions and to complete ongoing studies. Their moratorium has allowed them to make informed decisions in the best interests of the city and each of its neighborhoods. City officials analyzed existing housing options, looked at demand and determined how more housing will affect city services like education, public safety, and water and sewer.
Under our charter, the Mayor must publish a 10-year strategic plan for Framingham in 2020. Unfortunately, our city’s Strategic Initiatives and Financial Oversight Committee (SIFOC) — that’s the committee that’s supposed to consult with the Mayor on this plan — has barely begun their work.
Let’s face it: Framingham hasn’t had a strong history of planning for the future, which is probably a legacy of our old town meeting form of government.
We have been more reactionary than visionary. A city our size simply cannot maintain this sort of status quo: now is the time for vision and action.
To make a stronger Framingham for the future, we need to take a pause on new apartment development. As the city council member for District 5, I would be eager to work with the Mayor to craft a vision for the future and address our housing needs in a thoughtful way that takes all neighborhoods into account.
Noval Alexander, the current elected School Committee member for District 5, is a candidate for District 5 Councilor.