Showing posts with label infrastructure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label infrastructure. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Conversation with Town Councilor Cobi Frongillo - 05/02/22 (audio)

FM #787 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 787 in the series. 

This session of the radio show shares my conversation with Town Councilor Cobi Frongillo conducted in the Franklin TV/Franklin Public Radio Studio on May 2, 2022. 

We talk about Cobi’s recent conference trip and recent bike ride around Franklin. 

The recording runs about 53 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Cobi as we discuss the conference takeaways, housing, transportation, zoning, and how it applies to Franklin.

Audio file ->


Conference website -> 

Session streaming links -> 

Day 1 conference thread - 

Day 2 conference thread - 

Day 3 conference thread - 

Mass Housing Partnership’s “DataTown” highlights for Franklin

Bike ride thread -> 


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial. 

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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!


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one of the data points from the Mass Housing Partnership’s “DataTown” highlights for Franklin
one of the data points from the Mass Housing Partnership’s “DataTown” highlights for Franklin

Monday, March 21, 2022

MA topics recap - pilot payments, infrastructure funding, land preservation, and remote meeting access

“It’s about fairness. It’s about how do you want to participate in this city that you get city services from: police, fire, public works. I think you should share in those costs.”

So spoke Boston’s late former mayor, Thomas Menino, back in 2010, when talking about nonprofit universities and hospitals—”eds and meds” in popular parlance—and their community responsibilities.

House Bill 3080 (Senate Bill 1874) authored by Erika Uyterhoeven of Somerville and cosponsored by 19 fellow state legislators, would finally realize Menino’s vision and empower cities to set common rates. Under the legislation, cities could require  payments of up to 25 percent of commercial property tax rates for nonprofits with over $15 million in property and could include provisions for in-kind community benefit contributions in lieu of cash."

Continue reading the article online ->

"EFFORTS TO REPLACE  the MBTA’s entire Green Line trolley fleet, a statewide move toward electric vehicle adoption, and projects to make infrastructure more resilient in the face of climate change impacts would all get a boost under a $9.7 billion bond bill Gov. Charlie Baker outlined on Thursday.

Nearly two months after he first hinted at plans to file a new transportation bond bill, Baker offered an initial glimpse at a proposal the head of the MBTA expects will play a “catalytic role” to maximize money headed to Massachusetts under a new federal infrastructure law.

Once filed, the legislation will kick off debate over years of investments in the state’s pothole-dotted roads and bridges, aging public transit, and infrastructure ill-equipped to withstand the brunt of climate change."
Continue reading the article online ->

"WE OFTEN THINK  of floods, hurricanes, snowstorms and the like as threats to our normal way of life, but the COVID pandemic has shown us a unique threat that affects everyone in a very different way — isolation and inability to gather together.  What brought many of us through the last few years was the availability of nearby open spaces for outdoor passive recreation.  As much as we need to plan for 100-year floods, we also need to plan for 100-year pandemics.  Enter the Public Lands Preservation Act.

Massachusetts has a wonderful collection of State Parks with a huge variety of sites and activities along with Mass Audubon, The Trustees, The Trust for Public Land, and many local and regional private land trusts.  Most of the publicly owned open spaces are nominally protected in perpetuity under Article 97 of the Commonwealth Constitution.  However, the protection can be removed by a two-thirds vote of each branch of the Legislature.  Forty to fifty laws are enacted every legislative session removing protection from parcels protected “in perpetuity.”  How can we prevent this erosion of public land?  Enter the Public Lands Preservation Act."
Continue reading the article online ->

"THE DARKNESS OF the pandemic brought a surprise element of transparency to government, and a range of groups, including those representing individuals with disabilities, this week are calling on the Governor’s Council to resume online streaming of meetings where elected officials vet judicial candidates.

“In the case of government entities based in Boston, like the Governor’s Council, live streaming enables people to tune in from every corner of the state; discontinuing remote access is devastating for regional equity,” eight groups wrote in a letter Thursday that was sent to the eight-member council and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who chairs council meetings where Gov. Charlie Baker’s judicial nominees are considered. “Remote access is the latest instance of universal design — alongside curb cuts, elevators, closed captioning, audiobooks, and other features — that began as accommodations and expanded to universal popularity. Like these innovations and others emerging during the pandemic, remote access to public meetings should become a permanent feature.”
Continue reading the article online ->


MA issues recap - pilot payments, infrastructure funding, land preservation, and remote meeting access
MA issues recap - pilot payments, infrastructure funding, land preservation, and remote meeting access

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Recap: Strong Towns event fostering discussion across rather than within a vertical and reframing a question to get at the issue

Quick Recap:
  • Multi-level discussion around how to create sustainable communities. Lots of participation from area communities as well as a good representation of State legislators
  • This is a time with the infrastructure bill to help correct some of the imbalance in the liabilities local communities face. Parallel noted to what was done with infrastructure spending coming out of the World War II period to help the economy shift gears from war production to goods production.
  • To fix a problem it maybe important to reframe the question to address the broader issue. An example of this is around congestion. If we consider that "Congestion is a demand to be in a place", then congestion is a good thing, so let's create alternatives to get there. Let's not always use auto transportation as the first approach. Parking is heavily subsidized. Consider walking and biking as more than 'exercise'.
  • A good start to enabling the conversation we need to have. Consider going across rather than always staying in a vertical approach. Need to be aware of issues with being able to utilize the grants and programs coming. The timeline and resource requirements for such may not be enough to utilize them all due to other economic constraints (i.e. supply chain issues).

As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter while I participated in the event at THE BLACK BOX. 
The Twitter hashtag #st1115 can be found online The thread begins with
Photos from the event can be found in one album:
  • Strong Towns event getting underway here at @BLACK_BOXonline with Town Councilor Cobi Frongillo, State Rep Jeff Roy, Congressman Auchincloss and Charles Marohn from Strong Towns #st1115
  • Little note of interest in that in Cobi's prep for running for the open spot last year he found Strong Towns in the bio of Congressman Auchincloss. #st1115
  • Both Cobi and Rep Roy remark on the collaboration among the three levels of government as key to getting things done and particularly here in Franklin #st1115
  • Congressman Auchincloss participating remotely as he needed to be in WDC for the signing of the infrastructure bill later today #st1115  part of the wonders of tech to make this happen with Franklin TV live streaming the event
  • Charles Marohn talks of the choices to build infrastructure in the post WWII era as a way to avoid going back into the depression of the 30's. The parallel is there to what can be done today #st1115
  • We have responsibilities to address the liabilities created at the local level. The macro economy needs to serve the needs of the local leaders. What does it look like? Pipes in the ground; walking, exercise opportunity  #st1115
  • This is a moment where we can connect the macro level to the local leadership #st1115
  • Question: how do we address messaging around what Newton saw where single family housing was proposed to restricted? #st1115 foster a mixed neighborhood and intergenerational existence
  • Lets look at how we can allow folks to remain in their house and to gain additional income to do what they need, i.e. fix their roof #st1115
  • Question: on how to address infrastructure and schooling costs when faced with new development? #st1115 we have lost capacity to address needs at an intermediate step or approach, need to find a way to neighborhood level growth
  • Question: on unfunded mandates, how do we break that cycle? #st1115  infrastructure bill trying to square up with this funding to cover local liabilities. "subject to appropriation" language added to bills to ensure funding
  • Auchincloss advocates looking to find more of education at a national level, special Ed is probably the largest MA local requirement #st1115  a more broad approach could create more equality in the delivery
  • Question: what do you do to include public engagement? #st1115 four step plan mentioned (will add link to more on this later) a humble approach to address issues, cities are a co-creation, not something someone else does
  • Question: from Attleboro resident, how do deal with nodes of congestion; #st1115 how do we connect the rest of the Town to the downtown? "Congestion is a demand to be in a place" or congestion is good, let's create alternatives to get there
  • "No neighborhood should have radical change, nor should any neighborhood be exempt from change" #st1115
  • Question: Rehoboth no public water, a right to farm community, no master plan and rapid growth residentially #st1115 not a sustainable process, protection of farms to avoid turnover, (master plan?)
  • Question: from a MassBike advocate on transportation, how do we move away from an 'alternative' and 3 years out from disabilities act; #st1115 reliability of public transportation we need to make it dependable and resilient
  • To the extent that we subsidize parking is an issue, until we change that we won't make progress; biking and walking is not just exercise, needs to be a policy shift #st1115
  • Question on the grant requirements and capacity of being able to get things done and recognize that it will take time to do, across state and local levels; thought to make it easier to build things? #st1115
  • Let's look to more coordination across the local levels rather than at a grant single focus level. It is a burden #st1115 Brookline Q - can't ink development with MBTA and developers bifurcation between state and local levels
  • Q - how do we deal with an unnamed online retailer who has brought in distribution, warehouses, etc. #st1115 how do we communicate the quality of life associated with it? Need to have the local discussion
  • Q - what about the sustainability of transit? The train station is permanently subsidized, it is not likely sustainable, only bus transportation comes close to sustainable for a node like ours. What about the regional context? Franklin got to be what it is due to problems created in other Boston neighborhoods  that got folks to move out here
  • Thanks around from Rep Roy, etc. #st1115
More about Strong Towns can be found online ->
Cobi Frongillo talked about the Strong Towns four step approach in his interview preparing for the local election in Nov 2021:
A lot of people around me might hear me talk about a group called Strong Towns. I like a lot of what they say, but I particularly like their four-step approach to community leadership. The first step is to humbly observe where people struggle in your community. Second step is figure out the next small thing you can do to fix that struggle. Third is do that thing, do it right away. And the fourth is repeat that process. I do think that that's the strongest approach to public policy.
The full interview audio (and edited text) can be found ->

Audio recording of meeting to be available in couple of days


Town Councilor Cobi Frongillo, State Rep Jeff Roy, and Charles Marohn from Strong Towns; Congressman Auchincloss attended remotely
Town Councilor Cobi Frongillo, State Rep Jeff Roy, and Charles Marohn from Strong Towns; Congressman Auchincloss attended remotely

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

VIDEO: Auchincloss: BIF A Big Deal


VIDEO: Auchincloss: BIF A Big Deal


This morning (11/08/21), Jake joined "Way Too Early" on MSNBC to discuss passage of the historic bipartisan infrastructure package, what comes next for the Build Back Better Act, and how Democrats can sell a winning progressive agenda through the Midterms and beyond. Happy Infrastructure Week (for real this time)!  





On BIF: "A Big Deal":

"It is a big win for Democrats. More importantly, it's a big win for the United States. We have just made long overdue investments in this country's infrastructure and our economic competitiveness. We are upgrading our roads and our bridges and our public transportation system; we are ensuring that every family has access to clean water; and we are providing high-speed internet to rural, suburban, and urban cities and counties throughout the country – the 21st Century version of electricity. And, by the way, we're also upgrading the electoral grid as well. This is about core, physical infrastructure. This is about allowing the United States to compete on the world stage against China, and it's also about boosting the earning potential of working and middle class families. It's a big deal.  


On Next Steps to Passing Build Back Better:  

"I'm confident we'll pass [the Build Back Better Act] and as you said, there's going to be twists and turns along the way. We're trying to do big things with small margins, so that's going to require intense negotiations. That's important, better policy comes out the other end of a good, vigorous back-and-forth of ideas. It's the exact opposite of what we see from the Republican Party under Donald Trump where they are really a cult of personality in lock-step with whatever their leader Tweets. Here in the Democratic Party, we want to debate ideas. And we have fashioned a Build Back Better agenda that really meets the moment. 

"It is going to provide Social Security for kids. That means expanded tax allowance for working and middle class families with kids, so they have more disposable income to spend on high-quality nutrition and other needs. That means guaranteed three and four year old early education for every kid in the country, and that means more affordable childcare for families in all fifty states. This is improving outcomes for kids across America and it's going to be historic. 

"We are also taking a big bite out of healthcare costs – what people pay at the counter for prescription drugs, what seniors pay for long term care, what Americans in states without access to Obamacare pay to get coverage. 

"And finally, we are finally going to take the big, bold action necessary to meet the climate emergency with clean energy tax credits and a host of other climate resiliency measures. The Build Back Better agenda is historic, it's necessary, and we are going to get it done."  

On Selling the Progressive Agenda: 

"[Passing this legislation is] critical. Americans need to feel, not just hear, about the legislation that Democrats are enacting. I'm from Massachusetts as you mentioned, right next to Boston. And we just saw on Election Night my friend Michelle Wu become the next Mayor of Boston. Michelle ran on a progressive platform, but with a 'get it done' attitude and agenda. And I think that is the balance that Democrats are going to want to strike nationally. We are going to be unapologetic, be big and bold about what we're trying to accomplish for this country, whether it is ensuring voting rights, whether it is investing in our infrastructure, whether it is improving outcomes for kids. But we're going to do it in a way that is concrete and really lets people feel the deliverables that we're enacting."

To learn more about  Jake Auchincloss, visit or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

"Massachusetts will need to make major investments in infrastructure"

"If the heavy rains of this summer are emblematic of our future normal as climate change progresses, then so, too, is this: Much of that rainwater overwhelms local sewers, triggering the release of hundreds of millions of gallons of raw, untreated sewage into Massachusetts waterways.

When the rain falls, as it has so many days this month, aging sewers can fill and overflow, spilling pathogen-laden sewage into the same places where people fish, swim, and boat. It’s a problem that plagues the state, even without the expected impact from climate change.

Despite billions of dollars that have been spent to repair and upgrade sewers around Boston Harbor, for example, sewage overflows from Quincy have remained a persistent problem. Quincy recently signed a settlement with the federal government, agreeing to spend $100 million to fix its sewers. And just this week, discharged sewage was pointed to as a possible cause of an oily sheen, dead fish, and putrid smells on a section of the upper Charles River."

Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)

One of the major infrastructure pieces for Franklin just came online; the new water treatment plant on Grove St. The next item to come up for discussion later this year is the replacement project for the Beaver St interceptor, our major sewer connection. The project has been talked of for years and earlier this year, received funding for the full project plans and costs to be developed. That proposal is likely to come up during the fall. Stay tuned for it.

Recap of Jan 6, 2021 Town Council meeting which included authorization to fund the development work for the project design

The Finance Committee posted agenda for Nov 2020 including the interceptor project presentation document

My notes of the meeting

The Oct 21, 2020 Town Council meeting segment with the Beaver St interceptor presentation and discussion

key graphic depicts the sewer gravity flow along with the depth of the access points
key graphic depicts the sewer gravity flow along with the depth of the access points