Are we “anti-development?”

The Historical Commission’s goal is NOT to fully restore houses to their historic state – we are not here to recreate Sturbridge Village or Plimoth Plantation in the heart of Medford. Nor are we, personally or professionally anti-development – the commission includes historians, archivists and homeowners, as well as architects, folks in real estate, and building preservationists. You can read our bios here.

US! off-duty at Salvatore’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we’re not planning to turn Medford into a history theme park, what are we up to?

NOT US! a photo of a Plimoth Plantation wedding, via Boston Globe

The Medford Historical Commission, like most Historical Commissions in towns and cities across Massachusetts, is part of city government. Our procedures were put in place to allow the community to bring their preservation concerns to our public meetings, with developers present. During these discussions, we increase public knowledge about the historic uses of our buildings, neighborhoods and residences, about the city’s past residents, and about the past design and construction of the buildings in our city. And, finally, for buildings deemed both “historically significant” AND “preferably preserved” – a multi-step, public process – we discourage demolition in favor of designs that preserve the historic character.

Monthly Meetings – Our meetings are the second Monday of the month, and they were traditionally held in Room 201 in City Hall; like most of Medford’s city boards and commissions, we’ve been holding Zoom meetings since May 2020. The public is always welcome to listen in or speak up!!

Agendas & Minutes – Our agendas are posted in City Hall, and in the Transcript, and we try to post them on Facebook and here on the website.

This is the third post in a series of Clarifications & Corrections. The first post in the series was “Pro-Active Preservation,” about our ongoing survey and inventory research. The second was “Kissing Cousins” and it explained the different roles of the Historical Commission, the Historical Society and the Historic District Commission.

Kissing Cousins

Based on some recent conversations, there appear to be a few popular misconceptions regarding MedHC and its role. Here, we’ll try to address the (very) common confusion between the Medford Historical Commission and the Medford Historical Society and Museum.

(1) The Medford Historical Society and Museum is a private archive and museum supported by member donations. They describe their mission as “to collect and preserve the history of this historic city, to correct the myths that had grown up over the years, to build a historical library, to collect the artifacts of local history, and to celebrate historical anniversaries. In 2013, [they] added “Museum” to [their] name to mark [their] organization as a keeper of the city’s material and historical archives and artifacts.”

(2) As for, us, the Medford Historical Commission, we are a board of 7 Medford residents, each appointed by the Mayor and, together, we are one of Medford’s many Boards & Commissions. We are “the official city body charged with the identification of properties and sites in the city of historical significance, and the principal advisor to the city on matters relating to historic preservation. The Commission is further charged with reviewing all requests for demolition of buildings constructed more than 75 years ago or that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Massachusetts Register of Historic Places.” The Historical Commission was established under Section 8d of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws and Chapter 48 of the Medford Municipal Ordinances.

Most of our neighboring towns and cities have a Historical Commission, or similar board, for demolition review and related oversight.

But wait, there’s more!! (3) The city of Medford also has a Historic District Commission. Like the Historical Commission, the District Commission is an official City Board.

The Medford Historic District Commission was established in 1985 under Section 4 of Chapter 40C of the Massachusetts General Laws and Chapter 48 of the Medford Municipal Ordinances. This commission is the official city body charged with administration of the city-designated Historic Districts. This Commission’s role is to ensure that any visible changes to properties within the Historic Districts enhances, rather than detracts from, the area’s historic character. The Commission can issue certificates of appropriateness, certificates of non-applicability, and certificates of hardship with respect to construction or alteration of buildings and structures within the historic districts. By preserving the historic character of the Historic Districts and Medford in general, the goal of the Commission is to sustain and improve the significance of Medford’s place in American history and to increase the cultural and monetary wealth of Medford residents. Carefully managing the appearance of historic neighborhoods has benefits for all property owners.” (As explained by the Historical Society and Museum (!!) in their effort to clarify our differences, now posted on their News page.)

Still confused? Fair enough – we are all involved in the work of sharing, preserving and protecting Medford’s history as best we can.

This is the second post in a series of Clarifications & Corrections. The first post in the series was “Pro-Active Preservation,” about our ongoing survey and inventory research; in that post we wanted to address the misconception that the HC *only* identifies historic properties when they are about to demolished.

Do they even have a *permit* for that?

The question has been asked a million times – online or over the back fence. And now, there’s an answer – in late July, the city announced an online permit application process AND SEARCHABLE DATABASE.

“The City’s Building Department launched an online permitting system through CitizenServe, offering all applicants for permits available in the Building Department to submit applications and documents online. To access the online system, visit www.medfordma.org/departments/building-department.”

That said, residents can also SEARCH the permit database! You do have to hit the “Apply for a Permit” button, but that takes you to a page where you can actually search for permits – including, of course, demo permits.

Winter Hill Neighborhood Property Survey RFP Available 8/17

Outline of the Winter Hill Neighborhood. Oriented to the north.

In collaboration with the City of Medford Procurement Office, the Medford Historical Commission is pleased to announce that beginning on August 17, 2020, RFP 21-0191 for the Winter Hill Neighborhood Historic Property Survey will be available on the City’s online procurement platform. The following is our official announcement and how to get a hold of the documents:

LEGAL NOTICE

CITY OF MEDFORD

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

21-0191

Winter Hill Neighborhood

Historic Properties Survey

The City of Medford (City) is seeking proposals from qualified historic preservation consultants to undertake an intensive-level, neighborhood survey of cultural and architectural resources in the Winter Hill neighborhood of the City of Medford.

This project is being Electronically Bid (E-Bid).  Requests for Proposals will be available beginning Monday, August 17, 2020. Proposal Documents will be available online at:

https://www.bidnetdirect.com/massachusetts/cityofmedford.  All plan holders must have an active online account on http://www.bidnetdirect.com to acquire documents, receive project notifications, and to submit your technical and price proposal electronically.  

Proposers must meet the following minimum qualifications: a Bachelor’s degree in Historic Preservation, Architectural History, History, Art History, or a closely related field, plus at least two years full-time experience in an area relevant to the project; or a Master’s degree in any of the above mentioned areas.

All proposals shall be submitted online to http://www.BidNetDirect.com prior to September 17, 2020, at 2 p.m.   Hard copy proposals will not be accepted by BidNetDirect.com. or by the Awarding Authority.  You can register to become a proposer online at http://www.BidNetDirect.com.  For assistance, contact BidNetDirect.com at 800-835-4603.

Each Proposal shall be submitted in accordance with the Instructions within the RFP.   It is the responsibility of prospective proposers and or bidders to check http://www.BidNetDirect.com for new information via any addenda or modifications to this solicitation.  Addenda will be emailed to all Plan holders registered with BidNet.

Questions regarding this Request for Proposals must be written and submitted via BidNetDirect.com.

As noted above, all addenda shall be sent via BidNetDirect.com and emailed to registered Plan holders.

The City reserves the right to reject all proposals, in whole or in part, as determined to be in the best interests of the City and to waive minor informalities.

Shab Khan

Chief Procurement Officer

Additional information about the project area can be found online in the Survey Plan for South Medford at:

http://www.medfordhistoricalcommission.org/survey-plan/

August Agenda

We are still holding our monthly meetings on Zoom, and this month our meeting will start at 7:30 PM Monday, August 10th. Zoom info is in the agenda, below.

On the Agenda is a potential new initiative, in collaboration with Medford’s Community Preservation Coalition, to assist homeowners with preservation projects.

Also on the agenda are further discussions of the recent city council meeting (see video here), and concerns we share with the Building Department about review of permits for gut rehabs and demolitions.

Finally, our members will be joining the Historic District Commission for their public meeting at 6 PM, on Zoom. This public meeting will discuss a proposed Historic District to protect the Haskell-Cutter House. More on the home, and proposed district here.

May Meeting

Our May meeting will be a virtual meeting, via Zoom. Both Forest St and a house on Pleasant St are on the agenda.

The agenda includes instructions on how to login. While Zoom-Burnout is real, you might consider logging in, saying hello and then just listening in to the meeting while you tidy up from dinner.

April Meeting

In accordance with City Hall’s physical distancing policies, our monthly meeting for April was cancelled. It has been quiet – we have had no new applications for demolition, but our chair, Jen Keenan is still responding to all incoming inquiries and correspondence.

Our CPA and survey projects are, so far, ongoing – in fact, we were awarded a grant from the Masssachusetts state Historical Commission to continue the work of surveying and documenting the historic properties in Medford’s neighborhoods. Our focus in the upcoming year will be the Medford portion of Winter Hill, on Medford’s southern border with Somerville.

Jen has also checked in with all members and we are all doing as well as could be expected.

March Agenda

Another light agenda for March! With no new demo review cases, we have more time to work on other things: our Preserve Medford projects, our Survey and Planning work and our Site Review comments for large-scale redevelopment in Medford.

In the service of increased transparency, we ask that, starting this month, anyone with items for the agenda contact us on or before the Monday one week prior to our regular meeting. This will allow us to get all business into the published agenda in a timely manner. Our meeting dates are the second Monday of every month, so the deadline for inclusion on the agenda is simply the first Monday of the month.

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January Agenda

Our January Agenda is now available – it’s a light month, but check back soon. Our busy season is coming, as developers tend to submit their demo applications in early spring. Last year, we received 6 of our 10 demo applications in February and March.

We’ve also published our meeting dates for 2020 – the Commission will continue to meet on the second Monday of every month (except October, when we meet on the third Mon) at 7 PM in Room 201 of City Hall.

January 13
February 10
March 9
April 13
May 11
June 8
July 13
August 10
September 14
October 19*
November 9
December 14

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