A DavisNow presentation, a Foss Park ribbon cutting, and the Iluminaciones light sculpture
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DavisNow presents on the potential of brick pathways
On Nov. 17, representatives from DavisNow gave a presentation on brick walkways systems to Mayor Joe Curtatone, Councilor Lance Davis, and Somerville department directors. Three experts shared their knowledge, offering information on “how brick walkway systems have evolved and how they are being successfully implemented by cities and towns throughout New England,” according to DavisNow.org. The presentation was intended to introduce viewers to the possibility of using brick, replacing old brick in places where it previously existed, and Chris Iwerks, principal of BIA.studio, identified some areas where old brick had switched to concrete, such as Hyland Street and parts of Elm Street.
“We [had] experts who know about this talk about new things that have happened with the technology for putting bricks in,” said Iwerks. “And then, secondly, all the places around us—Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, and further out, all of these cities and towns that are making decisions to either keep brick that they have or put new brick in, instead of concrete ones. A lot of people think that brick is not going to be an accessible walking surface. The City has determined that actually. In the neighborhood plan … they say, we’re going to have concrete walks and a little strip of brick along the curb.” However, Iwerks said that Curtatone appeared to be impressed by the presentation and that he would try to take action soon.
The presentation identifies other cities where the installation of brick has been successful, such as in Cambridge, Newburyport, Waltham, and Barnstable. It also included a study of different types of bricks—such as water struck, sand cast, and wire cut—acknowledging that not all varieties are entirely the same. According to the presentation, brick walkways offer a smooth ride for wheelchairs, making them ADA accessible. There are other advantages that the use of bricks, as opposed to concrete, pose.
“It is superior in durability. Because concrete does things, like when you salt it … it cracks, it spalls,” said Iwerks. “Depending on how good the mix is, it can deteriorate. … Durability is one thing. Maintainability [is another]. When concrete has a problem, and you have to fix it, we can certainly cut it out and pour a new slab. But when they do, the color often has nothing to do with the surroundings. In front of my house, right now, they’re redoing a piece of the sidewalk, where they put in new gas lines. Each one of those patches is a bright, white square. You don’t really end up with a nice looking place, once you start doing that. With brick, you can make repairs, and they wouldn’t even know that you’d made repairs. So, I’d say, durability, maintainability, and life cycle cost [are advantages].” He added, “The last thing is character. If you’re a place that has a brick heritage, like Somerville does, and you have a place that has brick walks, maintaining that character is one of the big advantages of brick.”
Foss Park Field Improvements ribbon cutting
Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conversation Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper, Mayor Joe Curtatone, Senator Pat Jehlen, and Reps. Mike Connolly and Christine Barber will come together for a ribbon cutting honoring the state’s completion of the Foss Park Field Improvements on Dec. 17. It is open to the public and will be held at Foss Park, 49 Fellsway West, at 10 a.m.
According to a post from Connolly, the state legislative delegation has been advocating for improvements to the park over the years. The improvements include “a new, multi-use athletic field, field lighting, pathway upgrades, and drainage improvements.” The legislative delegation had also heard concerns from the public about the loss of trees, so additional trees are being planted, and the design was intended to minimize the impact on trees. While the delegation supported a new, multi-sport turf field at Foss Park, it also called for the abandonment of plans for a turf field at the Draw 7 Park along the Mystic River.
“This stance allowed us to balance Somerville’s enormous need for additional recreational and athletic facilities with the need to ensure the most sustainable and resilient approach to open space, particularly along the river,” wrote Connolly. “DCR has now confirmed that they will move forward with designs for a natural surface at Draw 7 Park, complete with a living shoreline.”
Rock n’ Soul Holiday Concert
Red on Red Records is holding a holiday concert at the Crystal Ballroom, at the Somerville Theatre, on Dec. 17, 7 p.m. It will be a benefit for New Beginnings Reentry Services, an organization that aims to empower incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. Performers include The Dogmatics with Barrence Whitfield, Linnea’s Garden with Carissa Johnson, Devil Love with Andrea Gillis and Abbie Barrett, and others. Tickets can be bought on Ticketmaster.
Iluminaciones Light Sculpture debuts
A large-scale light sculpture called Iluminaciones, created by Zebbler Studios, will shine in an alleyway in Union Square. It will be celebrated on Dec. 9, and it will be located at 329 and 341 Somerville Avenue. The pixel-mapped LED sculpture’s ribbon cutting will mark the start of the Somerville Arts Council’s Illuminations extravaganza.
“Iluminaciones is inspired by the holiday light installations and celebrations in Catholic nations of Europe, a portal to the old world whose design reflects the industrial roots of New England,” said light artist Zebbler Peter Berdovsky.
“Art brings so much life and joy to our community, so we are always looking for new ways to create public art,” said Mayor Joe Curtatone. “I want to thank the Arts Council and Zebbler Studios for finding a fun and funky way to add light and art to Union Square during these cold, dark months.”
The installation will be on display through the spring of 2022.
Somerville Bicycle Network Planning Meeting
Mayor Joe Curtatone and the City of Somerville Mobility Division will be holding a virtual community meeting to discuss Somerville’s “first citywide bicycle network plan,” according to a press release. It will take place on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.
“The City’s goal is to create a comprehensive network of streets where people of all abilities will feel comfortable and safe riding their bikes through Somerville. To achieve that vision, the City is collaborating with Street Plans, an urban planning, design, research-advocacy firm, to develop a citywide bicycle network plan,” reads the press release. “The plan will designate corridors for various bikeway facilities, connect gaps in the current network, and guide future improvements. It will also include actionable policy, project, and program recommendations to guide the implementation of an inclusive bicycle environment for all Somerville residents.”
To learn more and register to attend, visit somervillema.gov/bikenetwork.
This article is syndicated by the Somerville Wire municipal news service of the Somerville News Garden project of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.