Reinventing the wheel: Spoke Wine Bar returning under new management

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal

After almost five months, Spoke Wine Bar will reopen its doors on Holland Street.

Owner and operator Felicia “Flea” Foster first opened the cozy neighborhood destination bar three years ago, with David Jick, owner of Dave’s Fresh Pasta. The restaurant specialized in small production wine, craft cocktails, and small food plates from executive chef John daSilva.

Now, new owner Mary Kurth and new executive chef Eric Frier are ready to take the restaurant to a new level, complete with an improved menu and homey aesthetic, while simultaneously honoring Spoke’s legacy.

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Planning Board to continue discussing Federal Realty’s affordable housing waiver

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal

Tensions were high at Thursday night’s Planning Board meeting, as Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) again asked the board for an affordable housing waiver.

Multiple aldermen and dozens of community members stood up in the Aldermanic Chambers April 24, urging the Planning Board to deny the request. Though the board fully intended on voting on the waiver, they decided to continue the discussion and reconvene on May 18.

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Somerville ranked No. 3 ‘Green City’ in U.S.

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Over the past few years, Somerville has implemented a list of environmentally fueled goals to accomplish.

For starters, the city hopes to be carbon neutral by 2050, and have 50 percent of all trips be completed by public transit, biking or walking, as detailed in the 30-year SomerVision plan.

As a result of citywide efforts to be more sustainable, paired with demographics and planning, Somerville was recently named as one of the ”Best Green Cities for Families in 2017” by SmartAsset. The city was ranked third on the national list, falling just behind Cambridge and Honolulu.

Using information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency, SmartAsset developed a list of the top “greenest” cities in the country.

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“A seat at the table”: Union United urges US2 to meet and commit to formal CBA

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Earlier this month, Union Square master developer Union Square Station Associates (US2) signed an agreement with the City of Somerville to contribute an estimated $112 million to the city.

The contributions include funds for the Green Line Extension, infrastructure upgrades, new open space, and an agreement to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with community members via the Union Neighborhood Council.

Though community group Union United considers this a step in the right direction, they are pushing for more.

On Thursday, April 20, the group hosted a press conference outside the US2 offices at 31 Union Square, urging the developer to hold a formal meeting with the community and negotiate a CBA in good faith.

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Somerville parents opt children out of high-stakes MCAS testing

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

A group of Somerville parents is doing something a bit unprecedented: opting their children out of taking the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), the statewide standards-based assessment program for students from grades 3 to 10.

Jennifer Bullard, Nancy Clougherty, Brian Duplisea, Gina Garro, Jamal Halawa, and Renee and David Scott will not have their fourth and sixth grade children at the East Somerville Community School participate in this year’s round of MCAS, starting the week of April 24.

Because of drastic changes in MCAS testing, installed in 1993, parents argue the amount of stress and anxiety placed on students is concerning.

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Federal Realty seeks affordable housing waiver in Somerville’s Assembly Row

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Assembly Row developers say an increase in the amount of affordable housing required by the city may cause a halt to their project, at least temporarily.

Last May the Somerville Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance requiring 20 percent of residential development to be affordable units, an increase from the previous 12 1/2 percent.

The ordinance stemmed from what aldermen call a citywide housing crisis, resulting in the displacement of many residents who can’t afford the rising rents and property values.

On April 6, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), developers in Assembly Square, formally asked the Planning Board to waive the current affordable housing ordinance and allow them to build at the 12 1/2 percent established when they started the project in 2005.

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A brief history of economic development in Somerville

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal

With multiple development efforts in Davis Square, Union Square, and East Somerville, the city is on the edge of major changes.

Amidst those changes, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society in America Edward Gordon took a look back at past efforts in Somerville.

Since being hired by the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission 12 years ago, Gordon has led multiple walking tours in East Somerville and Union Square, highlighting historic neighborhoods.

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