Public Opinion about the Project
Much public opinion has been expressed about the
Trade Center Park project, principally in two venues: newspaper
coverage and public hearing testimony including three Conservation
Commission meetings, and at least four public hearing sessions before
the Woburn Planning Board.
The Daily Times Chronicle ("DTC") and
The Woburn Advocate have both carried stories about the project.
Following are links to some of the DTC articles:
a concern at Trade Center Park (9/13/06)
Center Park back before Planners (10/2/06)
set special meeting for Nov. 2 for Cummings plan (10/25/06)
decision yet on courthouse at Trade Center (11/3/06)
request more traffic info before taking vote (11/16/06)
Coverage of the project has even been picked up
by the Harvard Crimson, Harvard University's daily student-produced
Threatens Memorial to Revolutionary War Alum (12/8/06)
Planning Board Public Hearings
As part of the open meeting process of any major
building project, the Woburn Planning Board has already held three
public hearings to date on the proposal. City officials, traffic
consultants, representatives of Trade Center Park, Woburn citizens,
and others have all voiced their opinions, with traffic impact and
analysis generating the majority of the discussion, and the proposed
courthouse of secondary concern. The following is a sampling of
comments offered at the hearings.
Robert A. Mulligan, Chief Justice for Administration
and Management of the Massachusetts Trial Court, appears to be the
person most directly responsible for spearheading the rebuilding
of the existing courthouse in Cambridge. In his remarks at the November
2 public meeting, Justice Mulligan stressed the Court's deep commitment
to being an excellent neighbor within all of the dozens of communities
in which it has courthouses.
Addressing the issue of security in relation to
the presence of Middlesex Superior Court, Woburn Police Chief
Philip Mahoney testified that he and his department have collaborated
extensively with Court staff to establish a joint security plan.
He stated that he has no public safety concerns whatsoever relating
to the Courthouse. Chief Mahoney also noted that he had spoken with
the Cambridge Police Chief, who reported that the Sullivan Courthouse
in Cambridge, which houses both the District and Superior Courts,
has had no adverse public safety impact on that community.
Don Cooke, a special traffic engineering
consultant for the city of Woburn, with the firm of Vanasse Hangen
Brustlin, Inc., issued a final report in agreement with the package
presented by Cummings. He testified at length about Cummings' proposed
off-site improvements, and said that his report was the result of
considerable back-and-forth between his office and Cummings Properties'
traffic consultants. He concluded that Cummings had adequately analyzed
the impacts of its project and, "at this point I feel comfortable,"
describing the impact package as "a chance to fix some problems,"
as quoted in the DTC. Specifically regarding the Main Street/Elm
Street/Alfred Street/Sylvan Road ("MEAS") intersection,
he testified that with the proposed improvements, the traffic post-development
will improve and will be better than it currently is, particularly
during afternoon rush hour.
In response to questions about the traffic analysis,
Cooke said that Cummings' analysis is very conservative and uses
estimates that are on the high side, so actual traffic will be less
than what is projected. He added that though he believes the analysis
is appropriate and adequate, it can be revisited in the future and,
if necessary, signal timing can be adjusted to actual counts.
Ward 6 Alderman John Ciriello also testified
at the public hearing: He commented that he doesn't question what
Cummings Properties does for the city or the first-class nature
of the building, but he is worried about the traffic impact at the
MEAS and other intersections, including the rotary. He also commented
on the landscaping buffer on the north lot line and the perceived
need for a sidewalk on Sylvan Road running east from Pearl Street.
He also wanted a time schedule for implementing the improvements.
Former Mayor John Gilgun testified in support
of the project. He said the tax revenue generated from the project
would help the city, particularly since there is a plan in the pipeline
to build three new elementary schools. He is quoted in the DTC to
have said, "I can't for the life of me see why we can't look
at this as a win-win situation for the city of Woburn."
Field Terrace resident and former Ward 4 Alderman
William J. Mulrenan, in supporting the project, asked the
board to consider Cummings' record and said the office buildings
at Trade Center Park are, according to the DTC, "going to be
Former Ward 5 Alderman and City Council President
Paul Medeiros, described by the DTC as a frequent Cummings
foe when he was a member of the City Council, testified in favor
of the Trade Center Park project. As quoted in the DTC, "An
office use is not a bad use. If this were going into the W.R. Grace
property [on Washington Street], I'd be supporting it. We'd at least
know we're going to have rest on the weekends." Medeiros also
suggested the buildings might act as sound barriers for noise from
Former Ward 4 Alderman William Booker also
spoke in favor of the project, stating that the city and Cummings
can make the project work for both sides. He spoke favorably about
Cummings' role in the community.
Also touting Cummings' philanthropy and citing its
contributions to organizations like CMARC and the Woburn Boys &
Girls Club, Garden Terrace resident John Casey testified
in favor of the project. He also noted that Cummings "employs
The safety issue of the 128/Main Street rotary was
the major concern articulated by Robert Boissonneault, a
resident of Granny Smith Lane. He said that it was rated fourth
worst in the state going back 10 years and questioned whether the
improvements to the rotary would improve it or make it a more dangerous
intersection. He produced his own drawing with questions about the
design of Sylvan Road as it passes through the Stop and Shop parking
lot. He also questioned the north access drive to the site and the
height of the building.
Elm Street resident Gerald McCabe, also concerned
about the rotary, questioned the traffic study and called the proposal
a "win-lose" situation for residents, although he said
he has nothing against Cummings. In addition to the rotary, he echoed
some of Boissonneault's concerns about Sylvan Road and the north
access drive, where he said he and his wife conducted their own
traffic counts. In general, he said, as quoted in the DTC, "the
project is too big for the roadways in North Woburn, even with the
James McCurdy, resident of Ward Street, was
not convinced that the traffic would not continue to gridlock even
after the improvements, and also questioned the security associated
with the courthouse. He remarked, per the DTC, "I wasn't expecting
seven-story buildings, which will change the character of the neighborhood."
Carol Finnegan of Granny Smith Lane also mentioned security
issues as concerns, as well as light and noise from the new buildings.
Woburn resident Gerry White of Pearl Street
spoke in support of the project, noting that Cummings Properties
is a good neighbor.
Joseph Freitas of Pearl Street and Mark
McGuire of Winter Street were both worried about traffic backing
up on Main Street and drivers looking to get to and from the site
using residential side streets like theirs. They also cited problems
with water pressure in the area as well as sewer problems, something
City Engineer Jay Corey was asked to address at an upcoming meeting.
Pearl Street resident Kerstin Lochrie, who
confessed she was on the fence when she arrived at the hearing,
spoke in favor of the project. She testified that some development
is going to go on the site, that we don't need more apartments or
houses, and that the proposed office and courthouse is the best
use. Lochrie said she has two children at the Linscott School in
North Woburn, and the classrooms are already bursting at the seams.
A number of other people have also expressed concern about not wanting
any kind of additional apartments or condos in the area.
Mary Laing of Cedarwood Road, in supporting
the project, echoed Lochrie's observation that something is going
to go on the site, and office is the best use.
Denise Carbone of Dobbins Drive questioned
the MEAS and Sylvan Road/Pearl Street intersections and the schedule
for completion of the improvements.
Elm Street resident Cristy Gunduz said she
was seriously concerned about the safety of her children along Elm
Street. even before the new office buildings are constructed. She
wanted assurances that Elm Street will not become a cut through.
Her husband, Don, also spoke and complained that there is
too much traffic in the area.
Bruce Garvey of Emeline Street testified
in favor of the project, urging the Board to listen to the traffic
professionals who have endorsed the off-site improvements proposed
by Cummings. Don Manzelli, himself a prominent area builder, was
also supportive of the development, and Cummings generally.
Christine Ramirez-Platt commented about the
MEAS intersection and the scope of the proposed traffic improvements.
She also stated that the building was too high for the area, even
if it is permitted by zoning.