Monday, July 15, 2013

Councilor At-Large 2013 Q & A: Aikaterini 'Katerina' Pangiotakis Koudanis

Katerina Panagiotakis Koudanis, a Wentworth Institute graduate and Lynn Historical Commission member, is currently running for Councilor At-Large in this year's municipal election. Here she answers a few questions regarding her vision for the city of Lynn and her candidacy for public office.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you have decided to run for City Council.

I am an ordinary Lynn girl, devoted to family, my hometown; who loves nature, history, architecture and being involved in the community. My run for Councilor-at-Large is because my heart is at-large for Lynn.

With a background in architecture and planning, aiming for ‘green’ development, I earned a degree in architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology of Boston, and my experience includes urban design studies abroad in a number of European countries. Through education and experience, I want to share a perspective with master planning in mind for ‘smart growth’ with honest, neighborly and ‘green’ planning goals while appreciating Lynn’s assets.

My principles are simply family, nature and true democracy. I believe in time-honored laws of nature pertaining to sustainable design for a happier and healthier living.

My goals are large yet practical. I wish to help:

• Organize the balance of open government as a cooperative unit with residents. Increasing representation: Cultural and neighborhood liaisons to council and school committee.
• In believing “it takes a village to raise a child”, I believe we can in a big city by strengthening family neighborhoods as ‘Super Block’ nodes.
Reorganize infrastructure flow
Increase awareness and safety
Increase cooperative unit of government and representation
*See map for yellow boundary lines

• Support existing building industry: Incorporate Business and Innovation Commission or encourage a ‘common marketplace’
• ‘Smart growth development‘ and ‘Green’ policy with incentives; Encourage a Beautification and Sustainability Commission
• ‘Green’ & safer transportation routes: i.e. bike trails in safe routes to schools, open space and squares. Connecting Lynn Woods to waterfront and to Northern Strand Trail. Rail trail could have gardens for residents who do not have back yards, as a slower traveled curvy trail.
*See map for light green lines
* Preservation of greenbelt, i.e. existing open space
Goals to preserve wildlife and recreational corridors by increasing conservation value
of land, and to set buffer areas to prevent future legal battles.
*See map for green shaded areas
• Resolution to substance abuse issues, prioritizing Lynn families first.

Map Legend 
*Strengthen areas and corridors with identity (yellow boundaries in plan above)
*Commercial: overlay squares (white circles in plan above)
* Bike trails among major routes (light green line in plan above)
*Preservation of greenbelt, i.e. existing open space (green shade in plan above)
* Historic and Cultural areas on National and State registry (pink shade in plan above)

To date, how much personal interaction have you had with residents and potential voters? What do you believe to be common areas of concern for Lynners? 

Some of my major contributions include:

-As a Sunday School Teacher of St. George Greek Orthodox Church for more than twenty years:

• I organized the nurturing of 200 tree seedlings with the Sunday School children in honor of caring for and reforesting the planet.
• The seedlings now trees, beautify Lynn Shore Reservation and Pine Grove Cemetery.

-As a member of the Historic Commission I helped initiate:

• The preservation of a remaining Ten-footer shoe factory from the Brick Yard of Lynn.
• The Historical Significance Awards
• Lynn’s Most Endangered Historic Resource List
• Historical Resources map of Lynn
• Offered advice pro-bono to businesses in signage and frontage appeal

-As a concerned citizen I stand at the forefront with others in protecting our neighborhoods:

• At the Lynn/ Salem line: Organizing and raising awareness in opposition to Lowe’s and Super Wal-Mart, helping the community shelve zoning concerns, major traffic issues, flooding, pollution of watershed, degradation of home values, loss of local commerce/ ‘good jobs’, wildlife habitat and open space.
• In the Highlands: Fought to educate and advocate for preservation of High Rock and surrounding neighborhoods from irreplaceable damage.
• On Green Street: Fighting to help neighbors ensure the zoning laws are followed and not violate a change in use without neighborhood approval, i.e. setback and footage requirements.
• At the gateway to downtown Lynn: with the former MBTA lot, now health care offices, in requesting retail and gallery spaces be required near the center of Lynn’s major transportation system and route into a main square, with respect to downtown’s architecture.
• At the Lynn/ Peabody line: inventoried protected species to ensure further there is no further damage of green space.
• Overall: attending planning meetings, inputting feedback to the MAPC, MPO and other agencies

-At the regional borders along the greenbelt, increased conservation value by:

• Certifying 3 vernal pools with a team of others
• Documenting species on the Natural Heritage of Endangered Species Program
• Inventorying several historical and archaeological areas and working with the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah and other agencies.
• Helping name ‘Spring Pond Woods’ and becoming one of the ‘1000 Great Places in Massachusetts’

I believe in general Lynners want what anyone wants. Maintaining a good and healthy life, open to clean air with safety, preservation of our valued treasures, open space, with a lively, intelligent and honest growth.

In terms of amenities, where do you feel Lynn is most deficient? How could this be addressed?

Interests lacking in the city are:

• Environmental policies or incentives that serve the good of the people.
Suggestion: Create green policy or tax incentives in living green.
• Enforcement of Zoning or respect of the new Site Plan review which will benefit the interest of the entire community.
Suggestion: City Hall increases responsibility
• Neighborhood identification and representation.
Suggestion: To organize neighborhoods with liaisons. See map.
• Options in the educational curriculum of public schools: in arts, music, science, and philosophy.
Suggestion: survey the community’s wishes for optional curriculum choices.
• Walkable, easily accessible shopping districts and direction to squares and important places.
• ‘Green’ infrastructure: i.e. Pedestrian, bicycle friendly streets and use of ‘green’ materials.
• A waterfront amusement park and venue. Boutique-hotels. Farming industry. Renewable energy farming over brown fields and roof tops.
Suggestion: Reevaluate waterfront plans.
• Common market place areas or venues
Suggestion: Encourage or create a Business and Innovation Commission
• Housing buyer programs for Lynn’s young adults.
Suggestion: Rent-to-buy Program
• Solving the root of crime related issues, for long term solutions.
Suggestion: Encourage education and aim for corrective policy.

What type of city do you believe that Lynn should be aspiring toward? Long-term what would Lynn ideally look like in 5 years?

Lynn is becoming an engaging community, where many citizens and parts of government are looking for better ways to work together. We need to continue encouraging this, and only then will the involvement and inclusion of contributing residents enlighten Lynn’s growth with fun, intelligence and a healthy living environment. Planning should be considered 300 years ahead, so ‘smart’ development is made for the good of the whole community and generations ahead. Within five years, we should address endangered resources: building industry, good jobs, losing open space and important places, and people failing in society, and reorganization of the schooling system i.e. rehabbing for a passive design.

Where can voters get more information on your candidacy and learn more about you?

Local media such as The Daily Item, Lynn Happens, Without Borders magazine, and Primer Momento online news are a great information news source.

Information about me, concepts, news links, calendar of events and photos can be found on

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