By Noval Alexander
FRAMINGHAM – As a former candidate for City Council in 2019, while going door to door campaigning, one of the top 3 issues people had concerns and complains about was the rapid growth of apartments being constructed in Framingham and its potential negative impacts on traffic as well as quality of life issues.
Also while participating in a candidate forum sponsored by the environmental action group Green Framingham; I was the first candidate at that forum to propose a temporary apartment moratorium.
I was glad to see other candidates and eventual present City Councilors support this initiative.
There are several reasons why I support this; first, as a former School Committee member, I was and continue to be very concerned about our ability to manage our growing student population. More students not only impacts our schools but can have direct impacts on things outside our schools such as traffic and public works.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not inherently against having more students but we have limited resources and building capacity and having an all encompassing plan (to include developers) to manage growth is prudent for any community.
Secondly; I’ve had the benefit to have lived in several different communities here in Massachusetts and in Texas and the one thing they all had in common was they had a road map and a plan on how to manage growth. In particular, my former hometown of Round Rock Texas, a suburb of Austin, went from a population of roughly 38,000 in 1996 (when I arrived there) to just over 102,000 in 2010. As I recall, The Round Rock City Council and Mayor quickly realized they had to get ahead of this curve to manage this massive growth. They partnered up with the Chamber of Commerce, the school district, developers and other stakeholders in the City, County and State levels to coordinate and manage growth. Although Round Rock didn’t impose a moratorium, the model they have created has worked and has been replicated by many municipalities across the country. In addition, Round Rock has continually been noted by many publications as one of the top 10 best suburban communities in the U.S. Framingham needs a similar model and approach as we’ve put the cart before the proverbial horse. We need and deserve this moratorium even in the midst of this pandemic so we can emerge on the other side better prepared to lay the foundations for economic prosperity and properly manage future growth.
In closing; its unfortunate that our Mayor opposes this measure and its’ more concerning that she seems to believe ‘a small minority’ of concerned citizens support this.
Based on my brief encounters with residents on the campaign trail and others around town I’ve spoken to I’d venture to say that our Mayor is seriously off the mark on this issue.
My message to the administration would be to be more proactive, reach out to more constituents and the City Council.
If the Mayor still feels the moratorium is the wrong approach she should come up with and present an alternate plan that would address our future growth to include related stakeholders.
‘A small minority’ is more akin to a silent majority and should be treated as such.
Noval Alexander is a former School Committee member for District 5, and was a candidate for City Council in District 5 in 2019. He is a Framingham South High graduate.