August 28, 2014
Volpe Center News
This week my office received some welcome news regarding an issue I have been working on for a number of years now. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a Request for Information to gather innovative ideas for redevelopment of the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center property in Cambridge, MA. There has long been great interest in this land which is really one of the last under-developed parcels in Kendall Square. At the same time, hundreds of employees work in the Volpe Center. My main focus has been on ensuring that they and other stakeholders have a voice in the process, and that Volpe’s employees won’t be displaced by private development.
This announcement by the GSA and DOT is an important first step in transforming the Volpe Center property. The federal government is exploring a land or building exchange for construction of a space that better fits the needs of the current workforce within the existing property footprint. Kendall Square has thrived over the years with the addition of new businesses, housing, restaurants and open space. The Volpe Center property represents another opportunity to build on the transformation of the area while at the same time ensuring that Volpe’s employees can continue conducting cutting edge research as part of a unique public-private development. You can learn more here: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/196375
Last week I joined my colleagues Congressmen John Tierney and Earl Blumenauer at a forum to discuss regional approaches to transportation. Local business leaders and community representatives joined us to talk about their transportation needs and share their thoughts about why the regional impact of transportation decisions is so important to consider. Issues surrounding transportation impact all of us, whether we are traveling on highways, via public transit or on a bike path. Investments in infrastructure create jobs and improve the overall economy. I enjoyed participating in the forum and talking with participants about the role that the federal government can play in helping states and local communities address infrastructure issues.
I recently met with the Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS) to talk about their mission as well as what I expect to see on the agenda in terms of financial services issues when Congress returns to session in a couple weeks. The BSAS is a nonprofit organization that serves as a forum for local investment professionals. The BSAS focuses on issues that impact the investment community with a particular emphasis placed on ethics in investing. The BSAS also offers networking, financial literacy services and educational opportunities for its members. We had a wide-ranging and lively discussion and I appreciated the invitation to meet with BSAS members.
I was in Charlestown this week touring Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s new facility, meeting with staff and talking with patients. It was the first opportunity I had to spend some extended time at the new location. It truly is a beautiful building with views of Boston and the Mystic River. The hospital is also home to a new playground that Mayor Menino helped make possible. It is completely accessible; every slide, swing and merry-go-round can be used by a child in a wheelchair. I am always impressed with the care and thought Spaulding Rehabilitation devotes to patients and their families, and the community. Services are available on an inpatient and outpatient basis. The Spaulding network extends beyond the Charlestown location, providing services for patients at facilities throughout Massachusetts. Staff conducts cutting edge research, developing new therapies, techniques and equipment to help patients overcome injury and illness through rehabilitation. I learned a lot and had a chance to say thank you to staffers for the great work that they do for our wounded warriors, for survivors of the Marathon bombings and for others in need of their services.
Gibson House Museum
I toured the Gibson House Museum in Boston’s Back Bay, which has been designated a National Park Service National Historic Landmark. This single family residence, carefully preserved, is open to the public for tours. Original furnishings from the Gibson family can be found throughout the four floors of the house. Visitors really get a sense of what life was like for a relatively wealthy family in the late 19th century living in Boston’s newly developed Back Bay. They had central heating and indoor plumbing, but also seven servants for six family members. I was interested to see that a son of the family had kept his invitation to the wedding of Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice to Nicholas Longworth, Speaker of the House. My Washington, D.C. office is in the building named for him. The National Park Service offers so much in the Greater Boston area, from the Boston Harbor Islands to the Freedom Trail. Smaller facilities such as the Gibson House also contribute so much to our knowledge of the past. To learn more, you may visit the Gibson House online at http://www.thegibsonhouse.org/
New England Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers
I met with representatives of the New England Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers (AILA). I thanked them for the work they do, much of it pro bono, for refugees, political asylees, and other who have overcome great odds to find safety in the United States. We discussed our shared frustration that immigration reform seems so difficult to achieve. I told them I felt it important that immigrants, documented or undocumented, be treated humanely while they are in the United States but that some, including some children, would be deported in accordance with our laws. Reform cannot be accomplished if the public believes our laws are not respected and enforced. It was a frank and substantive discussion, and I thank the AILA for meeting with me.