Name: Neil Osborne
Email Address (for public use): NeilOsborneforMedford@gmail.com
1. What are three issues you want to address if you are elected to the City Council?
a. My three top priorities include:
i. ensuring that the City implements a 311 non-emergency system to timely track citizen’s concerns to better address constituency services;
ii. providing more resources for the City’s Community Development office to become proactive about helping and encouraging businesses within the City and working to revitalize Medford Square and our satellite neighborhood squares;
iii. working to see that the City’s Charter (that governs the form of our local government)gets a complete review.
2. What is your understanding of climate change and what do you think Medford’s role should be, if any, in
preparing for climate change?
a. Climate change is happening through human activity and is causing our planet to heat up which has far-reaching and dangerous implications. At the city level Medford needs to continue to educate its residents about the local impacts from unabated climate change. No city or town can be an island on combating climate change. Medford needs to be part of regional discussions and actions. Where Boston and vicinity are extremely vulnerable to climate change with rising sea levels, and connecting waterways will certainly negatively impact Medford. Therefore, any planning processes Medford pursues going forward must include climate change adaptation and resiliency when thinking about infrastructure changes. Local government must recognize what policies further exacerbate climate change and always be exploring ways to adjust and change policies in order to reduce negative effects.
3. Do you think that residents understand enough about our city’s government? What changes would you push for to increase or decrease that understanding?
a. I’m concerned that a majority of residents are completely unaware of our strong Mayor and weak City Council form of government. Generally, most residents do not know they can petition the city council and have issue placed on our agenda for discussion. As a City Councilor, from behind the rails, we can constantly disclose the procedural steps to petition the council. Additionally, a Councilor can directly instruct residents when they meet them out in the community about procedural requirements.
4. Do you support the Green Line extension to College Ave? Do you think Medford should push for the extension to Route 16?
a. I am in support of the Green line extension to College Avenue in Medford. Once we have a fully functioning Community Development office with sufficient resources, residents can be assured that any challenges or disruptions can be mitigated at a Route 16 terminus. I continue to engage area residents to measure the acceptance of a Green line terminus at Route 16.
5. Medford’s streets have become treacherous to walk, bicycle and drive on. What plan would you push for to get all of our streets brought back to an acceptable level during your term?
a. I would discuss with fellow Councilors the benefits of adopting a Complete Street policy for Medford. I would also continue to work closely with the Bike Commission and the newly formed Walk Medford group to better help identify our most troubling areas and work with our DPW and Community Development office to make Medford user friendly for drivers, bike riders and pedestrians.
6. Are you familiar with “Complete Streets” policies? Would you encourage or discourage the adoption of a “Complete Streets” plan for Medford?
a. Yes. I would advocate for Complete Streets. See above response. Complete Streets is a common sense and cost effective policy of putting a street back together in a way that recognizes the different uses of public ways.
7. Do you think Medford should adopt the Community Preservation Act? Regardless of whether you believe we should adopt it, if it passes in Medford, what project would you like to see among the first 5 undertaken?
a. I’ve signed the petition to put Community Preservation Act on the ballot. I signed it because I believe our residents are willing to contribute towards affordable housing, maintaining cultural historic properties, and desire sufficient open spaces and recreational facilities within the City. I have an interest in seeing more affordable housing within Medford and I would advocate for embracing that focus.
8. The Mystic River is one of Medford’s great natural resources. Several organizations have been collaborating to improve the paths along the river to provide connected routes for recreational, transportational, and commuter walking and bicycling. One such path is the proposed “Clippership Connector” between Medford Square and the middle school complex at River Bend Park. What is your view about how the city should work with stakeholder on such a path? Should the city help to fund such a path?
a. Expanding this path and making an open, smooth clear path along the river greatly increases the usability of the area. It makes good common sense that the City invest in this improvement. We should certainly explore some private funding and seek grant funding but the bottom line is that a Clippership Connector would be an enormous benefit and Medford needs to take the lead to see it is properly designed funded and built.
9. What is your position on affordable housing? What steps, if any, would you push for to see more affordable housing in Medford? What would you do to keep Medford affordable for lifelong residents?
a. Affordable housing must become priority for the Council and the Mayor. Together we can establish a policy requiring more that 10% of new development projects be priced affordable. The future development of rental space places downward pressure on rental rates in the city making living in Medford more affordable. Seeking developers that specialize in creating affordable units is one proactive approach to address this important issue.
10. Do you think Medford has too many or too few liquor and entertainment licenses? Should Medford’s entertainment licensing rules be changed? How and why?
a. Allowing more places of entertainment in key downtown and neighborhood squares needs to be balanced on a case-by-case basis.While I’m in favor of more establishments having the ability to profit by selling liquor, each new establishment must fit into the neighborhood. I understand that being able to sell liquor will help make Medford restaurants more attractive for neighboring communities to patronize. Where an entrepreneur’s vision does not overpower needs of neighbors I would allow for more liquor and entertainment licenses.
11. Surrounding cities and towns have “sidewalk cafes” as part of their lounge and restaurant businesses, including those where the front of the building effectively opens up to the sidewalk. Would you support changes to ordinances and regulations to allow that type of establishment in the city?
a. I am open to sidewalk cafés but as stated above the vision of the establishment must not overpower the needs of residents. Each café would first need to meet with area residents and demonstrate sufficient area support.
12. What is one ordinance in Medford you would like to see changed? What change would you push for?
a. One ordinance that needs updating is the “Removal of Snow and Ice.” Residents need education about making our sidewalks passable after a storm. However, It would only be fair in changing the snow removal policy to include a change that would also stop DPW and snow removal contactors from pushing snow from streets and piling it on sidewalks and corners making it both unfair and near impossible for a home owners to clear. Increasing non-compliance fines should be reviewed along with equitable enforcement throughout the city.
13. Do you think there should be changes to Medford’s zoning? What sort of changes?
a. I’m not of the opinion that Medford is currently inadequately zoned. I would encourage a fulling functioning Community Development office and its Board to explore changes that would enhance the quality of Medford residents.
14. Boston and Cambridge have energy disclosure ordinances:
“In 2013, the City of Boston enacted the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). This Ordinance requires Boston’s large- and medium-sized buildings to report their annual energy and water use to the City of Boston, after which the City makes the information publicly available. Additionally, every five years, buildings need to complete an energy assessment or energy action; exemptions are provided for buildings that are already efficient or are making significant progress on energy efficiency.” Cambridge has a similar ordinance. Should Medford follow suit? Why or why not?
a. Energy efficiency is extremely important for all communities and is just one measure that helps mitigate impacts of climate change. I would be willing to explore a local ordinance that encourages better energy use that will track the data. If you are not measuring usage, you have no means of improving a process. Of course, this leads to much lower energy bills for residents and building owners throughout the city.