The West Medford commuter rail station’s problems are obvious. Who is responsible for fixing them is less clear. Resolving that question is job one for stakeholders interested in seeing station conditions improve.
A group of about 35 interested citizens, business owners, elected officials and MBTA representatives began to map out a strategy at a community meeting on Monday, Sept. 8, organized by Medford resident Matthew Haberstroh and moderated by State Rep. Sean Garballey.
Attendees contributed suggestions for short- and long-term upgrades that would improve not only the appearance of the Playstead Road station, but also comfort, safety, and accessibility for users.
Immediate fixes identified included repairing a broken awning, signage, lighting and fencing; more frequent cleaning and trash collection; adding seating and bike racks; and tackling derelict landscaping.
On a larger scale but just as urgent, the station needs to be made accessible for people with disabilities, either by the installation of mini-high platforms, or construction of an entire new station that would provide access, shelter and improved safety for both inbound and outbound passengers.
But first, the station’s complicated jurisdiction must be sorted out. The MBTA owns the railroad right-of-way and its contractor, Keolis Commuter Services, operates the trains and is responsible for station maintenance. But sections of the facility, including its only covered waiting areas, are part of a High Street commercial building that houses Rite-Aid pharmacy. Also abutting the platforms are parcels owned and maintained by the U.S. Postal Service and the City of Medford.
“The first thing we have to do is figure out who is responsible for what, and then get all the parties talking to each other,” said State Sen. Patricia Jehlen, who attended the meeting at the Medford Public Library. “This meeting is a good first step.”
Jehlen helped facilitate recent improvements to Wedgemere Station, one stop north of West Medford on the Lowell commuter rail line that included full handicapped accessibility. “That project took about three years of work, but it was successful because the town and the MBTA worked together on it. I’m happy to set up a meeting with the City of Medford and the MBTA to get that conversation going.”
In addition to Jehlen and Garballey, elected officials attending the meeting were Medford City Councilors Rick Caraviello, Fred Dello Russo Jr., Adam Knight, Breanna Lungo-Koehn and Michael Marks; staff member Dan Hurley represented State Rep. Paul Donato. Also contributing input at the meeting were Medford Tree Warden Aggie Tuden, and Jay Mustapha and Edmund Tavernier from the Maintenance Services Division of the MBTA/MassDOT.
Haberstroh said he was pleased with the meeting and especially grateful for the turnout of elected officials and MBTA staff.
“It was great to see so many people who are interested in this issue come out and share a lot of good ideas,” Haberstroh said. “Working together, I’m confident we can bring the West Medford station up to par with others north of the city – clean, safe, fully accessible, and a proud reflection of our community.”
- Submitted by Matt Haberstroh