- Email cmgitt @ aol.com
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chrisgittinsbedford/
- Website https://www.chrisgittins.org/
Questions of the Selectmen Candidates asked by The Bedford Citizen
1 – Hiring a new town manager after 30 years is an opportunity to take a fresh look at the Town and perhaps change priorities. Do you have new goals that arise at this pivotal point in Bedford’s history? Yes.
When I imagine our future 5, 10, or 30 years from now, I see continued support for public goods like our library, our schools, our Council on Aging, and Springs Brook Park. We continue to support them because they improve our quality of life, help us build connections with our neighbors, bring us happiness and make our community strong. My vision for future Bedford builds upon our strong foundations. It includes:
- Carbon-neutral buildings;
- Infrastructure improvements to build our resilience to climate change;
- Convenient and comfortable public transportation; and
- Better connections between neighborhoods so we can safely walk or bike at all times of year to schools, work, shops, friends, and all other activities that we do in town.
These are ambitious goals. Let’s not constrain our vision of the future by how we’ve done things in the past or be discouraged by suggestions that we’re too ambitious. Time and time again, Bedford’s residents have shown that they are committed to the well-being of future generations. We have a tremendous amount of creativity, goodwill, and ability to solve tough problems. Let’s celebrate our creativity, our willingness to think big and our willingness to try new ways of doing things and apply them to achieve our vision for Bedford’s future.
The oldest and most current complaint in Bedford is about traffic. What opportunities for regional transportation would you welcome? Boston has the worst traffic in the nation and Bedford is paying the price for the lack of long-term regional transportation planning. When we look the root causes of traffic congestion, the takeaway is that significant reduction in local traffic requires fewer single-occupancy vehicles on the road, as opposed to building more and/or wider roads. In practice, reducing local traffic requires:
- Engaging with regional, state and national governmental organizations to develop smarter transportation options; in particular, to create more and better public transportation than we have now;
- Making a lot of good local decisions over an extended period of time. Let’s start today.
To the first point: I would continue Bedford’s collaboration with the Middlesex 3 Coalition, a regional group of business and governmental leaders, to address transportation issues along the Route 3 corridor.
In addition to supporting existing partnerships, let’s think outside the box. Let’s work directly with nearby communities where passthrough traffic originates to create better transportation options for the commuters who live there. For example, an express bus service to business districts in Burlington or Cambridge, or other locations where our pass-through commuters cannot reach with public transportation. The MBTA is not looking at these solutions, so we must act to do so.
To the second point: We have opportunities to reduce traffic at the local level by:
- Implementing the 2015 Bike-Pedestrian Master Plan, which will make it easier and more appealing to bike and walk rather than around town.
- Improving our infrastructure for public transportation, including making bus shelters more comfortable and making safe walking routes to get there.
- Supporting the Planning Board’s efforts to promote zoning changes that allow residents to live, shop and work in town, thereby reducing the amount of time residents need to spend on the road in their cars.
Lastly, Bedford needs to make evidence-based decisions when it comes to road improvements and traffic mitigation. The Old Billerica Road intersection with Route 62 may have eased pass-through traffic along Route 62, but it negatively impacted our residents who live on Old Billerica Road. As a scientist who has done a lot of project management, I have experience in evaluating where projects “went wrong” and didn’t meet their objectives. Let’s undertake a root cause analysis to understand why the outcome was so different than what we expected it to be. Leadership needs to understand what went wrong with Old Billerica Road – Burlington Road intersection so that next time we do better planning and get the outcome that we want and expect.
We can build a better Bedford together.
2 – Final campaign statement: Almost twenty years ago, I moved to Bedford into the house that my grandparents built in 1951. My grandfather made electronics components at General Radio and my grandmother worked at Page School, now Page Place Condominiums. My father was a member of the first graduating class at Bedford High School in 1958. I am fortunate to still live in the home that my grandparents built but now with my wife and two children. Our kids are benefiting from Bedford’s great schools, our daughter at Lane and our son at Davis. I served for three years on the town’s Arbor Resources Committee. I’m now a Cub Scout den leader. I see the hard work and commitment of community groups and volunteers on Town Committees and I appreciate that one of Bedford’s strengths is its residents who are so engaged and willing to pitch in to make our Town function so well.
I’m running for Selectman because I feel fortunate to live in a community with all the good things that Bedford has to offer. We have excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, and welcoming neighbors. We have thriving businesses. We have strong community organizations and volunteers who serve the Town through Town Committees. I don’t take these things for granted. I want to do my part to sustain our community and to build a better future.
The three foundations of my candidacy are
The first foundation is Community
- I am committed to supporting public goods such as our library, our schools, our Council on Aging, and Springs Brook Park because they improve our quality of life, help us build connections with our neighbors, bring us happiness and make our community strong.
- I support efforts that enable seniors to remain in Bedford, either by aging in place as my grandmother did or moving by to housing which better meets their needs.
The second foundation of my candidacy is Climate. We have a moral responsibility to pass on a livable climate to future generations. As a nation, we’re behind where we need to be with respect to energy efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, and building our resilience to climate change. Acting locally now to mitigate climate change will improve our quality of life as well as the lives of future generations:
- I will prioritize implementation of a Net Zero plan to reduce the town’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
- Bedford will like start construction of a new Fire Station within five years and the Police Station is slated for renovation. This gives us the opportunity to provide the facilities our emergency responders need while also improving energy efficiency, which reduces the long-term costs of operating the buildings. Let’s seize that opportunity.
The third foundation of my candidacy is Connectivity. Bedford grew from a rural to suburban community during the Golden Age of automobiles. As a result, we are playing catch-up to establish the infrastructure we need to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle routes and to reduce traffic. I will advocate for
- Implementation of traffic-calming measures and development of better public transit infrastructure;
- Continued collaboration with the Middlesex 3 Coalition to address transportation issues along the Route 3 corridor; and
- Implementation of the infrastructure recommendations from the 2015 Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan to improve connectivity of neighborhoods and to make Bedford more walkable and bikeable.
Our strong foundations enable us to address 21st century challenges. I humbly ask for your vote on March 9th. With our commitment, creativity, and willing to address new challenges, we can build a better Bedford together.
Letters to the Editor supporting Chris Gittins:
- Benjamin Bennett
- Heather Black and Mark Bailey
- Renu Bostwick
- Christine Dudley-Marling
- Stacey Katz
- Andy Kormack
- Tom Larkin
- Renae Nichols
- Dorothy and Xavier Perales
- Becky Titlow
Chris Gittins’ PSA on Bedford TV