By Debra Parkhurst
State Representative Ken Gordon met with the Selectmen on February 27 to review recent accomplishments and future goals along with priorities that affect the town such as the renovations at Ashby Place.
On the economic development front, Rep. Gordon worked on behalf of Bedford to pass legislation that allows Bedford to have an additional eight (8) liquor licenses.
He also supports Bedford and Burlington in their work on theMiddlesex 3 Coalition. The Coalition works on transportation services along the Route 3 corridor in an effort to reduce traffic congestion as well as fill in public transportation gaps. While Bedford has MBTA bus service between the center of Town and Alewife during regular business hours, the service between Bedford and outlying districts, such as Lowell and Burlington, is difficult. The Coalition created a local TMA (Transportation Management Administration), which connects workers from the Lowell area to the commercial and corporate workspaces in Bedford and Burlington and provides transportation for hours outside the norm (nights and weekends). Until people become used to how these local shuttles operate, ridership may be low, and there is a start-up cost. The State legislature passed a bond of $148,000 to subsidize some of these costs. Noting the transportation barriers between various agencies, Selectman Margot Fleischman thanked Rep. Gordon for his advocacy. While the State grapples with larger MBTA problems, Rep. Gordon noted that Bedford and Burlington are involved in solving some of their own problems. He praised Town Manager Rick Reed for his leadership on the Coalition.
The Selectmen told Rep. Gordon of their frustration regarding the inability of the Town to use its own CPA funds for much-needed kitchen and bath restorations at Ashby Place. Rep. Gordon agreed that determination seems“inconsistent with the purposes of the Community Preservation Act (CPA).” Originally built with state funds, changes to current statutes prohibit CPA funds from being used for the necessary renovations at Ashby Place, although the town was willing to “step up” by earmarking $300,000 in the FY18 CPA budget. The Selectmen asked Rep. Gordon to help find a solution, suggesting that perhaps some state housing funds could be set aside for local authorities to take care of these aging buildings. Selectmen Fleischman said there is a “sense of urgency” about Bedford’s units; Bedford residents were displaced as eight (8) units were taken “off-line” to do the renovations, even while waiting lists for such units are growing.
Rep. Gordon reported that legislation was filed regarding the registry fee that provides State matching funds for the CPA. Bedford was the first community to sign up for these grants. However, as more communities sign on, fewer matching funds are available. For the program to continue to be successful, funding must be enhanced.
On other issues, Rep. Gordon reported:
- For the first time, funding for military students is already in the Governor’s budget for $1.3 million (with a “floor” amount of $400,000). Bedford’s portion is currently set at $517,000.
- The state is relying less on hotels and motels for emergency housing, and more on “constituent housing” – small groups that can share a home.
- Early voting in the recent presidential election was successful, with some 40 percent voting early.
Rep. Gordon regularly holds “office hours” for residents at Prince Street Café on the second Saturday of the month, at the Council on Aging on the third Monday, and recently met with residents at Steve’s Pizza on a Tuesday night. He is a member of the following Massachusetts Legislative committees: