Taxes, Land, Development and the Green Line Maintenance Facility
Green Line advocates would like the state to explore other options for a Green Line maintenance facility in East Somerville.
Due to land takings, a maintenance facility planned as part of the Green Line extension would take away $258,425 in annual property taxes from the city of Somerville, according to a new environmental assessment of the Green Line extension project.
The maintenance facility, which would be built in the Inner Belt section of Somerville, would also displace 183 jobs, all at M.S. Walker Wholesale Distribution, according to the environmental assessment.
The loss in current and future tax revenue due to land takings is among the reasons some Green Line advocates are suggesting the state look at other options for the facility.
"We're … pretty happy they're moving ahead" with plans for the facility and Green Line extension, said Wig Zamore, speaking after a presentation about the maintenance facility held Wednesday evening at the Holiday Inn in East Somerville. "It's great they're working on it."
That said, Zamore, and others, would like to see the impact of the maintenance facility in Somerville minimized.
In the future: Green Line's largest storage facility
In addition to displaced jobs and losses in taxable land, the Somerville Green Line maintenance facility, once operational, would house more Green Line vehicles than any other facility along the subway line.
According to Wednesday's presentation, the Green Line extension would add about 25 vehicles to the existing Green Line fleet, bringing the total fleet from 170 vehicles to 195 vehicles. The Somerville facility would house 80 of those when the T isn't operating.
There would be a jumble of tracks that would bring Green Line vehicles in and out of the facility.
The site of the maintenance facility, near Inner Belt Road and Third Avenue, would require the state to make four land takings: Full takings at 20 Third Ave. (M.S. Walker Wholesale Distribution) and 44-48 Third Ave. (APCA Third Avenue, LLC), and partial takings at 70 Inner Belt Rd. (CRG West Parking Lot) and 200 Inner Belt Rd. (Fine Arts Storage Partners).
"It would take a lot of taxable land out of commission," said Ellin Reisner of Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership.
The future of Brickbottom and Inner Belt
The Green Line is expected—or hoped—to breathe new life into the Brickbottom and Inner Belt neighborhoods of Somerville, industrial areas between the McGrath Highway, I-93 and a large collection of railroad tracks. However, if the maintenance facility dominates the area too much, it could put a damper on future development, suggested Zamore.
"The more you can push the heavy regional infrastructure against [Interstate] 93, the better off you are," he said.
For instance, if the state considered moving the Green Line facility onto the site of the adjacent Boston Engine Terminal parking lot, "[maybe] they could save two big city blocks" for more productive economic use, said Zamore.
At Wednesday's presentation, engineering and design consultants working on the Green Line extension project said the state hasn't asked them to look at any options other than the one currently on the table.
The maintenance facility will add to the existing collection of railroad tracks, train terminals and busy roadways in Inner Belt and Brickbottom.
"There is just a lot of infrastructure in that area," said Jeremy Bowman. "It is just a little frustrating that everything gets dumped on Somerville."