Property Owner


Union St. from Rockdale Avenue to County St., and all side streets between Union St. and Court Street will undergo roadway reconstruction this summer. This project involves drainage, grading, pavement, curbing, sidewalks, driveways, and landscaping. The Department of Public works is holding a public meeting tonight, Wednesday, April 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Buttonwood Community Center (Warming House) where the project plans and drawings showing recommended construction will be presented. The DPW is inviting all concerned residents and property owners to this meeting, to receive your input and to give you the opportunity to ask questions. Please attend this important meeting.


Richard Leary
609 Union St.


Comments on the Union St. Roadway Reconstruction Project

Submitted on 4/22/98 by:
Richard Leary
609 Union St.
New Bedford, MA 02740
(508) 994-2903



I would like to submit the following comments and suggestions as citizen input to the design and engineering planning process for the Union St. roadway reconstruction project. Union St. is heavily used by both vehicles and pedestrians. It is one of the primary links between the center of the city and Buttonwood Park and surrounding neighborhoods. It should be regarded as a key element in any and all efforts to revitalize the neighborhoods through which Union St. passes, as well as the revitalization and renewal of New Bedford as a whole. It, and its side streets, should be regarded as a counterforce to tendencies toward decay and stagnation of the general central-west area, and a reinforcement to, and amplifier of, more positive tendencies. I believe it is important to incorporate aesthetic as well as functional considerations into the design and planning process. This project should utilize appropriate and enlightened design to help reverse the decline of Union St as a residential and commercial area, to give the residents reason to feel pride in their street and sidewalks, and hopefully, in turn, greater pride in their residences, their neighborhoods, and their city.


I am strongly opposed to full-width concrete sidewalks. I believe that such sidewalks constitute a permanent blight, diminish the attractiveness of the areas in which they are located, and preclude or inhibit future expanded tree planting and beautification. Have grass ribbons, as wide as possible, on both sides and along the full length of Union St.


Allow for future flower planting projects at certain points on the street. This would considerably enhance the beauty of the street and the perception of it, and the neighborhoods.


Streets should be tree-lined, providing a shade canopy to encourage use of sidewalks, and transforming the appearance of Union St. The Union St. project should signal a new emphasis and commitment by the city to intensive tree planting on all streets and in all neighborhoods. The decline in the number of trees on our city streets over the decades, and the failure to establish a vigorous, sustained tree planting and maintenance program, have been major factors in the decline in the physical appearance of many of our city's neighborhoods.


Plant disease-resistant types of trees. Increase the density of tree planting. Get expert advice on tree planting.


I believe lessons-learned from the Court St. reconstruction project should be incorporated into the design and planning process, and that feedback should be solicited from Court St. residents. I think this solicitation could be easily done by a simple mailing, and might be of benefit in the planning process.


Reduce the amount of signage, especially "No Parking on This Side of Street" signs. There is simply too much signage on all the streets of the city. It constitutes visual blight.


Erect vertical poles and signage at 90° and at standard, consistent heights. Avoid poles and sign-placement that are too high and ruin the scale of the street. Too many signs and poles are erected in the city with little or no attention to proper placement.


Use better-designed street-name signs that are more aesthetically pleasing than those on Court St. Balance function with form. The new signs on Court St. and elsewhere in the city are too big and look terrible.


Grade for drainage so as to avoid buildup of puddles on the street and to help in keeping the street clean and free of grit. This has been a longstanding problem and source of aggravation for homeowners on Union St., almost always exacerbated when road excavation and subsequent resurfacing along the side of the street has been performed.


I would also hope that design and engineering be used effectively and appropriately to help to reduce speeding on Union St. Perhaps additional stop signs on Union St. at the east and west boundaries of the Hathaway school.


Put some of the burden and responsibility for maintaining clean and safe streets on the residents. Put more of the burden for knowing and abiding by vehicular and parking regulations on the citizens. Depend more on laws and enforcement than signage to alter and reinforce responsible citizen behavior.


If possible, use special paving at certain points on Union St. This can separate areas where pedestrians should walk from automobile traffic and add variety to the road surface.


Somehow improve the lighting. Both the pole design, and the illuminants themselves. Return to white-light sources.


Establish incentive for ongoing maintenance and improvements on the part of residents.


Baltimore: Building Blocks for a Livable City - Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke


Citizen Empowerment


By allowing citizens to help shape neighborhood agendas for solving problems, they develop a deeper sense of the obligations of responsible citizenship. Those obligations and responsibilities are based upon a compact between government and community. In making this compact a dynamic partnership, agreements can be developed between the City and neighborhoods that spell out the roles and responsibilities of City government and neighborhood organizations in addressing neighborhood priorities. Empowerment alone cannot build or rebuild civic infrastructures in our neighborhoods. However, citizen involvement, facilitated and supported by City government, is the springboard enabling citizens to take charge of their own lives and communities.   Through participation and collaborative planning residents become stakeholders in their respective neighborhoods. Such involvement also gives people a personal stake in achieving and sustaining innovative solutions to neighborhood-defined priorities.   The model we have created in the Sandtown-Winchester community demonstrates the possibilities and successes of a multi-faceted approach to improving the quality of neighborhood life.   The Sandtown-Winchester Community Building In Partnership involves:   a focused partnership strategy to build, rebuild and sustain a livable community. a strategy in which citizens have primary responsibility for defining their vision. active resident involvement in shaping programs to achieve the vision. active recruitment of partners with interests in capacity building. the provision of technical and financial assistance by City government. development of comprehensive problem-solving strategies.


This strategy has been extended to East Baltimore through the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition, a partnership between the City, state, residents, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and area businesses to revitalize a 180 square block area of neighborhoods.   Empowerment is really a form of civic educations that enables citizens to effectively offer the support and involvement necessary for building and sustaining community. City government can design isolated programs and services for our neighborhoods. But this approach will do little to expand the capacity, vision and enthusiasm for participating in improving the quality of neighborhood life.