Jean M Nuzzo
What is your vision for Medford?
Medford of tomorrow is rich with experiences and a robust center of commerce. Our squares are destination centers and our green spaces are a magnet for gathering. It is a place of civic involvement and government transparency, welcoming to all and full of choices to suit each need. As a community we look to lift each other up and lend support where we can; embracing our history and maintaining our character as we move forward toward a better tomorrow.
What experiences have prepared you to serve on the city council?
Having lived in Medford my entire life, I have a good understanding of who we are as a city, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our potential. A degree from Bentley, and over 20 years experience in construction and development, provides me insight to make proper and informed decisions on the many issues facing our city. Accordingly, in recent years, I have been involved in community meetings, particularly at the city council, board and commission hearings, and online. I am concerned about the potential impacts our decisions can have, in assuring that Medford creates space for all, and in limiting resident displacement as we adapt to the pressures of development.
Over the past four years, what actions of the city council did you most support or oppose, and why?
- the City Council’s and the abutter’s appeal to Land Court of the zoning board of appeal’s decision to grant 11 variances to build approximately 500 housing units with insufficient parking. The court case eventually settled resulting in new owners, a reduction to 350 units, and an increase in commercial square footage. This effort gave voice to the neighborhood, which influenced the design and size of the project. Community involvement is crucial in planning and implementing large scale changes.
- an inclusionary Zoning Ordinance requiring 15% affordable housing to increase our affordable housing stock to reach safe harbor status.
- a public notification panel ordinance which requires a property owner seeking variances to post notice on the property involved, legible from the street, for community members to participate and voice their concerns and/or support for the proposed project during Zoning Board hearings.
- a new Police and Fire Headquarters. The existing building is not suitable in its current condition, nor does it meet departmental requirements and it cannot be feasibly renovated to do so.
- Charter Review- to bring Medford’s governing structure into the 21st century.
- the rezoning amendment for Mystic Ave proposed on June 25th. This zoning change would have resulted in devastating impacts on the neighborhood and for the city at large.
- The rezoning would have changed usage of a mile long commercial corridor to include high rise residential use (adding possibly thousands of housing units) without the necessary guiding principles in place to determine the future character of the area, nor with any substantial city wide awareness of the change and impact.
- The last major zoning amendment to the city ordinances, Station Landing, was in 1986. This change was preceded by several years of discussion on the city council floor, input from the property owners, and most importantly, input from the residents of the city. In contrast, the proposed Mystic Ave rezoning was planned by the mayor, who does not have authority over zoning, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) an organization that is well known for their dense housing initiative. Furthermore, the city council, who has sole authority over zoning, was ready to pass this ordinance on August 13th after a seven-week review period over the summer when the council does not have regular meetings and without substantive involvement.
- Any major zoning initiative must include city-wide resident participation, over a considerable amount of time, that seeks to arrive at what best meets the needs of the community.
- demolition of the existing library structure in favor of investigating renovations and upgrades.
- This opposition was after careful review of the project packet that I received as a result of my FOIA request, and specifically because of the structural engineer’s report and the fact that no due diligence was shown in investigating saving the existing structure and completing upgrades.
- The paperwork provided indicated preconstruction efforts focused solely on demolition and replacement. This was apparent from the single set of schematic drawings in the packet and in reviewing project budget options.
- This lack of due diligence is troubling considering that Medford taxpayers will shoulder the burden of 20M+ depending on fundraising, project selections and construction administration efforts and that the current building, made of steel and concrete, was built to last having been designed to be a bomb shelter. The structural engineer never indicated that it was uninhabitable, nor was the building occupancy permit revoked. Therefore, at a minimum, residents and taxpayers should have had the benefit of a complete analysis on the scope and costs of a true renovation and upgrade to arrive at an informed decision.
Which social issues do you care about, and why? How would you advocate for those issues?
Homelessness, substance abuse, child abuse, hunger/food insecurities, poverty, inequity in healthcare, and eldercare.
When we don’t have our basic needs met, it is difficult to function well and therefore, we miss out on opportunities that might otherwise provide us benefit.
I would assure accessibility to a good education by working with the school committee to create equity in education, provide whole food selections for our students and supplemental snacks for afterschool/home, work to improve medical care offerings within the city, and identify and establish resources to support individuals and families in need and communicate the offerings widely.
Caring for our vulnerable, and providing a hand to lift them up, helps each person to achieve all that is within; allowing them to contribute to society in a positive way thus increasing self-image.
What concrete steps can Medford make to address our environmental challenges, whether global or local?
- Protecting our mature tree canopy and indigenous flora and fauna; create a tree ordinance.
- Promote energy efficient decisions, provide opportunities for equipment upgrades, implement preventative maintenance schedules to keep equipment functioning properly.
- Educate residents on Mass Save programs for energy efficiency incentives in their homes.
- Conserving our water usage, locating and repairing leaking supply pipes.
- Better inform the community on recycling guidelines to limit recycling contamination, increase recycle pick up to weekly and investigate single stream waste pick up options.
- Offer a curbside composting pick up.
- Establish a parking and transportation demand ordinance and commission to encourage multimodal transportation.
Medford is a diverse city with many marginalized communities. What initiatives would you implement to support these communities?
- Foster inclusivity and a position of community empathy and support.
- Develop community activities that strengthen relationships across diverse demographics and encourage multi-cultural events to promote understanding and recognition of commonality.
- Encourage and give voice to the marginalized by offering active listening technique workshops to help our residents become more tolerant of each other’s perspectives and support the need to be heard and understood. Meaningful dialogue, and feeling heard, can make a world of difference.
How will you address Medford’s affordable housing crisis?
- Comprehensive zoning that protects our neighborhoods and increases our commercial tax base. A robust business community can decrease the tax burden on residents, keeping it affordable to those who might otherwise be priced out due to exponentially increasing taxes and fees.
- Create an ordinance that establishes overlay districts through investigating the feasibility of various categories including, but not limited to, Planned Unit Development districts, Mixed Use Residential districts, Accessory Housing districts, Senior, Assisted and Co-living Districts.
- Create an ordinance that establishes an Affordable Housing Trust (AHT) in conjunction with an approved Housing Production Plan (HPP) to provide safe harbor.
- Create neighborhood tasks force/work groups to investigate community needs and current barriers to meeting them and support the city council and zoning consultant’s efforts in comprehensive zoning review.
- Amend linkage fees to include a value to fund the AHT.
What are your long term plans for expanding tax revenue?
Expand our commercial tax base, and improve our PILOT structure with Tufts
Would you implement any changes around our city’s parking systems?
Parking Kiosks are detrimental to our business districts. Therefore, at the completion of the contract, we should not extend Republic’s terms; but instead hire residents as meter persons to enforce parking limits. We should earmark parking fees to be used for road and sidewalk improvements as well as employing street porters to help keep our business districts clean, and to fund beautification projects to create place and draw shoppers to these areas.
Some infrastructure challenges that face our city are degraded roads, lead pipes, and gas leaks. What initiatives would you implement to address these issues?
- Compile a master list, posted online, indicating locations of streets and sidewalks in need of repairs and/or replacement; including those streets in queue for upgrades and the forecasted project start date. Furthermore, this document would include any identified gas leaks along with the utility company’s assigned priority levels and expected repair deadlines from the same.
- Create an ordinance that requires contractors working on subterranean projects to meet specific industry criteria for replacement and restoration of street surfaces and sidewalks when completing their projects. As of now, contractors are not required to, nor do they, restore the road opening to a satisfactory standard.
- Provide opportunities for property owners to replace their service when street upgrades are made. This would extend the pricing structure of the larger project to the property owners and mitigate future excavations of the street and sidewalks post project completion.
- Create an ordinance requiring replacement of lead pipes when ownership of a property is transferred and a project of significant value is begun.
What do you think should be done with the Malden hospital site?
Malden residents and Friends of Fellsmere Heights are working diligently to come to a solution that best serves the community. However, considering there have been several hospitals in the area that have closed overcrowding the remaining hospitals and creating healthcare inequity; I would like to see the Malden Hospital site restored to its original status as a community hospital. A second choice would be a project that includes senior and assisted living, veteran and disabled housing and recreational green spaces that protect indigenous flora and fauna while improving overall quality of life.
Now that Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, would you encourage dispensaries in Medford? What would you do with the revenue?
City Council should create an ordinance that allows the sale of marijuana but restricts it from general residence and school districts; and prohibits public smoking much like cigarettes.
This new revenue source could fund school supplies and technology for our classrooms, improving our meal offerings for lunch, and adding breakfast and healthy snacks to our program offerings. Additionally, our seniors could benefit from an upgrade to the center’s meeting space such as comfortable seating, a digital screen, a new sound system and better lighting. I would also like to see a senior shuttle for those living throughout the city that need assistance getting to and from the center. The balance of the revenues could fund city wide repairs to roads, sidewalks and infrastructure upgrades.
What is your vision for promoting civic engagement and increasing voter turnout in our city?
- Community meetings should be held at a time that is convenient and in a place that is accessible to all residents.
- We should implement using current technologies to encourage real-time community participation in addition to speaking from the podium.
- Post notices of city meetings, especially the zoning board of appeal meetings, in public areas and use reverse911 to remind people of election day.
- Provide a voting day shuttle to help mobility challenged come to vote.
How can we increase citizen engagement in city council meetings?
- Transparency in process and accessible information sharing.
- Speaking at the podium can be intimidating. Also, the rules for speaking are not clear. Having council rules and meeting information/documentation readily available online can help encourage more individuals to comfortably approach the council.
What is your stance on city charter review?
We need charter review to bring our governance into 2019
Everyone grows up holding personal biases. Please share an anecdote about a time that your own biases were confronted, and how you responded.
I had the opinion that a visually impaired person could not see at all. Then someone I know became afflicted. What I learned was that blindness is a spectrum with varying degrees of sightedness. I tried to be helpful and do things for them; what they wanted, and needed, was the ability to learn to adapt and do for themselves. That is human nature. Individuals want independence and the ability to care for themselves. Help that brings them to this is the best kind.