Friday, March 16, 2001
State offers more analysis, few funds for housing and transportation
Transportation and housing issues continue to dominate the regional scene as MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination) towns try to cope with the fact that "these are residential towns and now they are becoming economic centers." With limited funding available from this legislature for concrete measures that could alleviate housing and transportation issues, the response to local problems at the state level is apparently to analyze them.
At the March meeting of MAGIC in Hudson, town representatives heard yet another chapter in the Magic Carpet study of alternative transportation options for the area. This time they were given a list of potential projects and studies generated by CTPS (Central Transportation Planning Staff) from conversations with local officials. They were asked to comment or add to the list of possible projects, only a few of which are hopeful of funding and most of which are in the high to moderate need category.
Projects range from a proposal for commuter rail schedule modifications, to bus services connecting area towns and existing transportation, to various proposals for cutting through traffic. As one representative put it, "The goal is mobility, whether private or public and we don't want to be cut off at the knees because a project doesn't fit potential funding."
So far all studies and research confirm what local planners already know, that shuttle service from the workplace to public transportation, runs into parking issues and that parking space is at a premium. Emerson hospital, for example, is considering a remote parking site with shuttles to the main building. Also, existing transportation studies focus on getting people from one place to another, ignoring problems of towns such as Carlisle which experience congestion as cars pass through on their way to other destinations.
Area planners also know that the number of cars on the road is directly related to the lack of transportation alternatives beyond the 128 beltway and feel that the solutions will have to be regional as well as local and will have to involve not only management and upkeep of roadways but rail, bus, bikepath and even air transportation management.
New economic patterns
Ed Tarallo, Deputy Director of MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council) presented some data on economic development in MAGIC area. Looking at the 1990 to 1999 period, the largest growth has been in the service area and the biggest decline in manufacturing. Six of the top ten economic communities in the state are in the MAGIC area, although Hudson is in the top ten for unemployment. Tarallo said while layoffs increased from 1997 through 1999, there has been a shift in the pattern with manufacturing jobs not decreasing as much. New census numbers will be available in about three weeks and will not only lead to redistricting, but will enable planners to reevaluate research necessarily based on 1990 census figures.
Housing and Chapter 40B
Legislative plans to provide affordable housing presently focus on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Law (Chapter 40B) which allows an override of local zoning bylaws if a town is below the mandated 10 percent of affordable housing stock. With very few units in town that qualify as affordable, 40B could impact Carlisle and be of concern to many residents.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito