In Blog

Somerville City Hall
Board of Alderpersons
93 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02143

Dear Alderpersons,

Before you vote on the Home Rule petition for Clarendon Hill developer Redgate, I want to call your attention to another project, developed under a Home rule petition, which has been a disaster for the local community.

The Essex Sports Center in Middleton sits on a parcel owned by the regional school system, who wanted to develop it for use as a hockey rink for local high school teams, as well as other sports facilities. Local state lawmakers, including Republican Minority Leader Sen. Bruce Tarr, sought and received the Home Rule petition for a $1.1M budget on the project.

This agreement, which allowed the developer to pay workers less than the prevailing wage, was supposed to keep costs down for the school system. Instead, the final cost of the project ballooned to more than three times that budget, to $3.7M! The skyrocketing cost wasn’t the only catastrophe. The developer was accused of not paying workers what they’d earned, known as wage theft.

Today, the project is mired in lawsuits, and the operator of the Essex Sports Center is way behind on its tax payments to the regional government. That’s because when local governments fail to demand that developers adhere to community standards, the people and the community always lose.

Eliminating ground rules is irresponsible. It doesn’t encourage responsible contractors to try harder, it tells them you’re taking sides with the bad actors who continually look for loopholes and shortcuts. Let’s instead help those developers who have a track record of doing the right thing—building the affordable housing we so desperately need, and adhering to our community standards. Those who won’t, well, let’s show them they’re not welcome here.

The Clarendon Hill project is benefitting from taxpayer money and investments. Shouldn’t it offer taxpayer protections?

Jack Lister
Somerville Resident