OPINION: 10 Goals For Framingham in 2022

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By Adam Steiner

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FRAMINGHAM – The end of the year is a time for reflection for many of us, and a chance to look back on our successes and challenges – and more importantly, identify opportunities for future growth and improvement. As your City Councilor for District 3, I have taken this role and opportunity to heart, and for the last several years have asked for your help to develop goals for the coming year.

Above all, I will maintain my independence as a voice for the residents of District 3. Each issue and vote taken up by the Council is considered with the interests of our district in mind. I will work hard to balance the needs and integrity of District 3 in relation to the larger goals of our city, but I will always remember that I am your elected representative and represent each of you.

It has been my honor to serve as your City Councilor, and I look forward to continuing our work together so that we can make Framingham the best place for all of us to live, work, and raise our families. These last few years have been hard, and anything but normal. But there is a lot of hope and opportunity in the years to come. There is so much we can accomplish in the new year, and as is tradition—and with the input of so many of you in District 3—I have once again made a list of goals to get us started:

We must think creatively to reduce our overall tax burden on our residents. There is untapped opportunity for innovative approaches to keeping taxes affordable without sacrificing the services our citizens rely on to maintain our quality of life. In fact, moderating our tax burden helps us attract and retain businesses and this commercial vitality reduces our reliance on homeowners to foot the bill.

Many areas within our district are at a crossroads in terms of development. The Nobscot plaza has been in transition for several years, with many promises made, some that were kept, and several that were broken. We must closely monitor development and progress at this site, and several others within our district, to ensure compliance, and to keep the integrity of our neighborhoods.

Too many of our sidewalks and buildings are inaccessible—not just for those with physical challenges, but for parents, children, and anyone who wants to walk around our neighborhoods and take advantage of our many local businesses. We need to do better, and that means prioritizing funding in our budget and mandating compliance in our permitting to make our neighborhoods and city a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly place.

Traffic is top of mind for everyone who lives in Framingham, and with development continuing in and around our district, it is of particular concern for District 3 residents. In addition to making our city more walkable, we must support and find initiatives to keep our traffic flowing with minimal interruptions without compromising the safety of our drivers, pedestrians, and families. I am specifically concerned about the Nobscot plaza intersection during and after construction, the dangerous McAdams/Frost/Edgell junction, speeds on the long straight roads of Pheasant
Hill, and Route 9/Temple Street among many others.

Climate change is a looming concern that none of us can afford to ignore. Framingham has missed out on too many opportunities to embrace clean energy and improve efficiency in all of our city operations. As we move into a new administration, the Council and incoming Mayor have the benefit of a fresh start and must work together to reduce our carbon footprint. An all-encompassing climate action plan should include alternative energy sources such as solar panels and heat pumps, energy audits, electric and hybrid vehicles, and charging stations, which individually are relatively small changes that can make a big impact, and we cannot wait.

One unique opportunity to support our sustainability and transportation goals is expanding the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail through Framingham. The trail has the potential to become not just a recreational hub for cyclists, pedestrians, and dog-walkers, but a transportation link that connects to neighboring towns and commercial and industrial areas in Framingham. It is not hard to imagine the trail being used to commute to nearby municipalities and to explore not just Framingham, but many of the vibrant towns surrounding us—and bringing visitors from those towns to our beautiful city. The discussion needs to go beyond the purchase of the rail trail to include the vision for the future of the BFRT and this discussion should include the input of abutters, local businesses, bikers and walkers, and others.

Route 9 will always be a hub for our region, but it is inaccessible and dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. With only one access point for safe above-the-road crossing, we are missing an opportunity to make our city truly walkable from end to end. In partnership with our state delegation, the council and incoming administration must work together to create an additional cross bridge for bikes and pedestrians, and remove a significant barrier for many within our city limits.

In November 2020, Framingham voted to approve the Community Preservation Act, providing dedicated funds to preserve and maintain open space, historical landmarks, affordable housing, and recreational land use. Thoughtful and prudent use of these resources creates an opportunity to significantly improve our quality of life, but we must be strategic in our implementation. A city-wide plan in conjunction with thoughtful development plans will preserve
our neighborhoods and historical landmarks while providing our residents with much-needed housing and accessible green space. As the planning for these funds continues in earnest, the Council, CPA committee, and incoming administration must work together to ensure that we use these funds to the benefit of all.

We have many city-owned buildings that are underutilized, inaccessible, or unused. We must take a thousand-foot view of all of our assets, and examine the needs of our residents, city employees, and core functions to ensure we are maximizing the potential of our city’s real estate holdings. Together, we can collaborate on thoughtful development and usage for the buildings we have available to us and make sure we are utilizing the space we have for the services and functions we need most.

Perhaps most importantly, we must prioritize and address the immeasurable impacts of the COVID pandemic on our residents. No one has emerged from this unscathed, and the challenges many have endured will last a lifetime. Together, we must collaborate on policies to address the ongoing financial impact on our local businesses, employees, and many of our most vulnerable citizens. But well beyond our bottom line, we must acknowledge the lasting impact the pandemic has had on the social-emotional well being of so many, particularly for our children, students, and older residents who lost so many important connections that are vital to their emotional and mental health. It is our responsibility as city leaders to provide the resources to help everyone regain their equilibrium as we continue to work through this crisis, and move beyond mere survival to helping everyone truly thrive in our new normal.

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Adam Steiner is the current City Council from District 3 and current vice chair of the City Council.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176


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