Q&A: At-Large City Council Candidate Christine Long

Why are you running for a City Council seat?

A seat on City Council would provide me an opportunity to continue to serve my current constituents in a larger capacity than my current role as a Planning Board member. Councilors will be responsible for crafting and adopting policy and making critical budgetary decisions that involve how the municipality spends money on its operations and capital improvements.

What would you like to tell voters about your qualifications?

I hold a BA from Boston College in prelaw/political science and an ABA in Business Administration from Lasell College. I owned and managed two small business construction corporations, Castle Construction Corp. (union) and Castle Care Inc. (non-union) for over thirty years. I am currently the Capital Improvement Coordinator for Newton Housing Authority. My current positions involves assessing and identifying capital needs under both DHCD and HUD funded guidelines, managing design and construction contracts; State certified procurement officer ensuring regulatory and bidding compliance while interfacing with staff, tenants and regulatory partners.

What if any are your plans to keep in touch with residents – to seek their input and communicate your votes and other activities?

I will continue in the same way I currently do as a highly visible and accessible Planning Board member. Residents and taxpayers deserve elected officials that they can rely on to respond in a timely way to their inquiries, questions, comments, concerns.

District 2 has two long-vacant or near-vacant commercial areas: Nobscot Plaza and the old Saxonville Lumber. What do you think should be done about these properties?

I live on Hemenway Road which is in close proximity to the Nobscot Plaza. Even though the Plaza is physically in Precinct 5 (District 2) it directly impacts those living in Precinct 2 and 1 (District 1) in addition to those stakeholders living and owning businesses in District 2. There have been ongoing discussions between municipal leaders and both land owners of these two plazas regarding future redevelopment possibilities. Zoning proposals for mixed use and potential redevelopment need to be resolved to bring property owners and residents together in agreement in order to move forward.

A major concern I have as a Planning Board member is the long term impact that the current influx of residential development will have on Framingham in addition to the further sacrifice of valuable commercial properties. Public input is essential in any effort to redevelop these two sites. In addition, owner cooperation is also a key element to moving either site towards the goal of redevelopment. The Planning Board is in the process of researching potential zoning changes to meet the current and future needs of both Framingham and the parcel owners to translate into viable, potential redeveloped sites. At this writing Framingham is in a transitional phase that effectively freezes processes until after January 1, 2018, at which time rezoning efforts are planned to move forward.

Town officials have rightly complained about vacant properties in town. However, the town itself has left the old McAuliffe branch library building sitting vacant for almost a year and a half. What should be done with this building?

The new council will need to compile a list of all vacant municipal properties and take action to renovate, reuse and develop a plan that addresses forgotten properties that could potentially serve as an important function for residents and municipal employees. The former McAuliffe library is just one of many buildings that are owned by the municipality that need to be addressed as to future plans.

There have been a number of complaints about the traffic lights installed to support expected development at the old Saxonville Lumber. Do you have any comments about this?

As a Planning Board member involved in decisions that resulted in the $1 million improvements to the affected intersections, these improvements were studied and recommended by Framingham’s engineering department and their consultant along with the agreement of the engineering studies of the consultant for the applicant. To date, I have not heard complaints about the traffic improvements but those complaints should be addressed to the DPW’s Engineering Department for their review. I do agree that the traffic does run slow at peak hours and perhaps the signal timing should be reviewed for some change.

What are your opinions regarding Friends of Saxonville’s proposals to redesign McGrath Square? Renovate the Athenaeum?

Any proposal to redesign or renovate Framingham-owned buildings or roadways should be vetted through the public process. I applaud the Friends of Saxonville for stepping up to the plate to address issues that are of concern to them. This is the best way to start a process for change.

Do you have any thoughts to share about how to balance desire for more development with strains on transit infrastructure? The competing needs of vehicular traffic, bicyclists, and pedestrians?

This topic needs a thorough public review process. It is a complex, complicated issue and involves a number of critical stakeholders that need to be heard, their ideas need to be discussed, reviewed and considered before any solutions can be offered. Framingham needs to improve its walkability and encourage interconnected ways for the bicycle and pedestrian community. Public transit needs to be encouraged and implemented on a larger scale with the cooperation of MA DOT [Department of Transportation] in order to reduce vehicular demand. This is a regular topic of the current Planning Board and there is no simple answer.

How can Framingham best balance the need to serve less fortunate members of our community with the need for a viable tax base?

This is another topic that needs to occur with a broad-based community discussion and a new council. The council needs to review the budget closely to examine and eliminate unnecessary expenses to reduce the residential and commercial tax burden.

If elected, how do you plan to help Framingham transition from a town to a city?

I pledge to work with other councilors and the public to ensure a smooth, cooperative transition.

What’s the best way for voters to find out more about your candidacy? (Web site, Facebook page, etc.)

www.Longforcitycouncil.com; Email: Christine@longforcitycouncil.com; Facebook@ChristineLongforCouncilorAtLarge; cell #508-561-3825.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the voters of District 2?

I respectfully ask for one of your two votes on September 26, 2017. Please feel free to contact me with your comments, questions and concerns. Thank you!

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