Malden Vol. 28, No. 39 -FREEMalden Hosts First Gun Buyback Program – see page 5 ADVOCATE www.advocatenews.net Published Every Friday 617-387-2200 Friday, September 27, 2019 Mayoral forum reveals a real choice for voters By Barbara Taormina R esidents packed the auditorium of the senior center Wednesday night for Malden Access TV’s mayoral candidates’ forum. After listening to 90 minutes of both political and personal talk from the candidates, some undecided voters left the forum feeling there were no knock-outs and both Mayor Gary Christenson, who is seeking his third term, and challenger John Matheson, who has represented Ward 3 on the City Council for the past eight years, offered convincing arguments about their ability to lead the city. MATV Government Affairs Coordinator Guillermo Hamlin moderated the forum with panelists Serge Perfini, who represented the Chamber of Commerce, Henry Zhao, a Malden High School freshman and member of the Chinese Cultural Connection, Mass Senior Action Council member Marcia Manong and Jim Mitchell, editor and publisher of The Malmost of us can’t afford,” he said. Matheson said he has been MAKING A POINT: Mayoral candidate John Matheson (left) and Mayor Gary Christenson squared off in a debate on September 25, which, according to some residents, ended in a draw. (Photo Courtesy of Paul Hammersley/Mayor's Office) den Advocate, asking the questions. Christenson and Matheson outlined their positions on topics that ranged from development and affordable housing to trash bags and community gardens. The candidates went back and forth on several major issues, with Christenson touting his administration’s accomplishments and Matheson criticizing his record. When asked about their specific plans for providing more affordable housing for seniors, Christenson pointed to the three-prong strategy recently presented by the Malden Redevelopment Authority. Christenson said the city is working on establishing an affordable housing trust fund supported by half of the incoming mitigation money from new developments, conducting an inclusionary zoning feasibility analysis and creating a revolving security deposit fund to help residents displaced by rent increases move to new homes. “We’re also working on some other issues we hope to forward to the Council,” said Christenson, who did not offer any specific plans to provide affordable housing for seniors. Matheson hit back by pointing to Christenson’s record on residential housing development. “He’s had this city for eight years and we’ve had a boom in market-rate apartments that fighting for plans to build affordable housing for seniors and veterans at the Malden Hospital site. He added that Christenson supported a developer’s proposal for build several hundred more market-rate units on the site. “Malden Hospital is an opportunity to take the remaining development that will occur in the city and do it right,” he said. But on affordable housing and other issues, Christenson repeatedly stressed that Matheson criticizes programs and floats proposals without any plans to carry them forward. “He has served alongside me for eight years. Where is his affordable housing plan?” asked Christenson, who urged voters to ask for the details. “It’s not the what, it’s the how,” he added. The candidates had a similar exchange on blue trash bags and the administration’s plan to replace them with barrels and recycling bins which will cost FORUM | SEE PAGE 17 Bay State Commons pressures Historical Commission to lift demo delay for Legion building By Barbara Taormina M $3.39 $2.55 GALLON GALLON We accept: MasterCard * Visa * & Discover Price Subject to Change without notice 100 Gal. Min. 24 Hr. Service 781-286-2602 embers of the Malden Historical Commission and the Bay State Commons co-housing group are struggling to find a compromise on a plan to preserve historical elements of the former American Legion post on Pleasant Street. Last month, the Historical Commission members agreed the building was historically significant and “preferably preserved.” Commission members voted to delay Bay State Common’s application to raze the building and replace it with a co-housing project with 30 units built around shared interior and exterior spaces. The city’s Demolition Delay Ordinance gives the commission the authority to put a demolition permit on hold for up to a year while owners consider alternatives to preserve the property or sell it. This week, members of the commission met with Bay State Commons’ lawyer, Roberto Demarco, and an architect for the project to discuss elements of the Legion building that could be saved and incorporated into the design for a new building. Demarco told the commission that the Bay State Commons members are willing to try and blend the granite steps and some columns from the side portico into the new building. The group also agreed to add an oculus window and create a mini park with a plaque describing the history of the building. “At this point any additional work proposed by this board gets us into an area of extreme expense,” said Demarco, who also told the commission that members of Bay State Commons, who bought the property three years ago, are suffering financially because of the demolition delay. He also told commission members that a lawsuit has been drafted and is ready and waiting to be filed. Demarco and others who support the plan for a new building have argued that time and renovations have stripped the Legion building of its historical characteristics and made it a poor candidate for preservation. However, local historian Frank Russell has said that the Legion building is the last of several 19th century suburban estates that were built along Pleasant Street. According to Russell, several of the building’s original features, such as the front gable, floor-length windows and the entry way, could be preserved to bring the building back. Commission members seemed to be hoping for more preservation than Demarco said the Bay Stater Commons group is willing to consider. They suggested the building exterior and setting should reflect its original grander and fit with other buildings in the neighborhood. But Demarco repeatedly stressed that overhauling the design for the new co-housing building is impossible, and preserving a handful of details is the most the group could do. Except for Inna Babitskaya, commission members seemed to accept that preserving the building is not realistic and retaining elements that capture some of its original characteristics is the most they could expect. Babitskaya felt that that saving architectural details is not enough and that the building should be preserved. Demarco left the meeting with a list of elements the commission asked Bay State Commons to incorporate into their designs for their new building. Architects will provide sketches to the commission to be discussed at their next meeting on the project.

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