Over the twelve years that I have been a selectman, I have, of course, recognized the issues that flow from G. L. c. 40B and the 40B developments I saw effecting other towns, so I have had possible solutions percolating in my mind. Also, I feel that as a matter of essential justice, that it is correct and proper for our society to provide affordable housing. Given those starting points, I have made several suggestions over the years about ways for Medfield to make progress on meeting the 10% affordable housing threshold, that exempts towns from unwanted 40B developments.
- The first proposal came from what I believe may have been at the first Massachusetts Municipal Association annual convention I attended, and I did not learn about the MMA for several years after becoming a selectman, so maybe around 2003 or 2004. The Falmouth Housing Authority’s director was a presenter at that first MMA meeting I attended, and he told about Falmouth’s planned and systematic conversion of existing housing into affordable housing. When the proper housing became available, Falmouth would buy it and convert it into affordable housing. This technique has the benefit of creating affordable housing without changing the impacts on and/or densities of existing neighborhoods. When I presented that idea to my colleagues, I specifically recall suggesting that the Town of Medfield should be buying every unit at Medfield Gardens that came on the market, in an effort do what we could to meet our 10% affordable housing threshold. Another time when I saw a newspaper ad offering for sale a six unit property on Green Street (almost at North Street), I suggested that the town buy it to convert to affordable housing. Converting existing housing makes for a long road to get us over 10%, unless most of Medfield Gardens suddenly became available, but such a plan could be part of a larger strategy.
- Second, there is vacant land next to Tilden Village, which I understand is controlled by the Medfield Housing Authority. I suggested that the town should sponsor building more elderly housing on that location. Medfield can certainly use more elderly housing, and the municipal budget impacts would be minimal. Where the facilities at Tilden Village already exist, for the new construction there would be savings from not having to construct what already exists there – i.e. no need for an additional administrative office and community meeting room. I was told that the then Medfield Housing Authority was not interested in doing so.
- The third proposal I made was for the town to build affordable housing on other town owned land. The town itself owns parcels all over town.
There was no interest expressed in pursuing any of these ideas.