The View From Prospect Hill – July 17

On July 17, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

prospect hill

City planners, residents and developers often find themselves at loggerheads when it comes to ironing out the best possible resolution to conflicting interests. This city certainly feels no shortage of such skirmishes.

The proposed housing development at 181/197 Washington St. has stirred up as much dust as just about anything else in recent memory.

Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) feels that it has presented the city with a good choice for the vacant lot, citing a need for more affordable housing and looking to the future with an eye for keeping less attractive alternatives off the site.

Opponents are mainly concerned with sightlines and the overall size of the proposed complex. Many would prefer the structure to exceed no more than four stories, while SCC maintains that a fifth floor is necessary to reconcile the expense of the development.

It is likely that some form of reasonable compromise will be achieved that will satisfy most of those who are concerned with the matter. SCC has already modified its initial plan at various stages. Elimination of all but a couple of floors of apartments is simply not on the table, so those who are unhappy with the project’s objectives will have to accept whatever trade-offs can be made in their favor and hope for the best.

That property values may be affected for those whose views are obstructed is an unfortunate consequence of growth, and is something not to be taken lightly. But a city must change and be renewed as time goes on, even while sometimes causing problems for a select few.

The results of avoiding growth and renewal can, in the long term, do a lot more harm than may be seen in this instance. That is something to be considered at this time, too.


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