It’s only between Main Street and Broadway so far, but it’s a start!
June 10, 2016
December 24, 2015
White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve
February 13, 2014
December 31, 2013
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.
December 9, 2013
FaTeague – Dec 9, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda
There are basically two noteworthy items on this week’s agenda and both of them relate to Kendall Square. The first is the Ames Street Land Disposition. There’s a public hearing at 6:30pm on the proposal by the City of Cambridge to sell a 20-foot wide strip of public land along the eastern edge of Ames Street between Main Street and Broadway in Kendall Square. The land would be sold to a private owner with the condition that it would be combined with adjacent land to enable the construction of a residential building with ground floor retail. The public hearing is being held pursuant to the requirements of Section 2.110.010 of the Cambridge Municipal Code, regarding Disposition of City Property. [text from the call of the meeting]
The Cambridge Revelopment Authority (CRA) supports the plan as does the Planning Board as indicated in:
City Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation supporting the proposed Ames Street Land Disposition.
Date: Dec 3, 2013
Subject: Ames Street Land Disposition
Recommendation: The Planning Board supports the proposed disposition.
To the Honorable, the City Council,
The Planning Board recommends that the land disposition proceed in accordance with the terms outlined in the City Manager’s Nov 18, 2013 report, the attached Request for Proposals and the winning proposal submitted by Boston Properties Limited Partnership.
The Board finds that the report adequately and correctly summarizes all of the considerations with regard to the land disposition. The proposal has many significant benefits to the City, including the addition of new housing to Kendall Square and the activation of the streetscape with ground-floor retail and small open spaces on Ames Street. The financial arrangements will also benefit the City, as the report indicates that the price offered for the Property is within the range of the City’s independent appraisals, that the buyer will also assume responsibility for public roadway improvements associated with the project, and that the project will generate ongoing tax revenue for the City. The report also indicates some potential drawbacks of the proposed project, such as shadow impacts, which will be assessed by the Planning Board as part of its project review requirements.
Taking into account all considerations with regard to this disposition, the Planning Board finds that it is an appropriate action to be taken by the City.
Respectfully submitted for the Planning Board,
Hugh Russell, Chair
Most reasonable people, including most or all of the city councillors, will likely agree with the assessment of the Planning Board. Nonetheless, the hearing is likely to bring out those who continue to object to last year’s approval of the downsizing of a rooftop garden in exchange for a greatly extended time during which it will be maintained for public access (an additional 28 years). Some will likely testify that this is some kind of scandalous giveaway to big, bad corporations. Others will argue that the City should somehow try to leverage the delivery of All That Is Good in exchange for this unimportant strip of the public way. This is nothing but bad political theater.
Communication #3. A communication was received from Charles Teague, 23 Edmunds Street transmitting his reply to Cambridge City Council response on Open Meeting Law Complaint dated Nov 5, 2013.
Speaking of bad political theater, the meaningless saga continues of the unhappy activist filing Open Meeting Law complaints when votes don’t go his way. This week’s agenda brings a tedious 76 page communication from Charles Teague, the new right-hand-man of Councillor-Elect Dennis "Pearl Harbor" Carlone. The thought that this kind of pointless harassment may become the norm for the new City Council is enough to drive away even long-term Council-watchers like me. Is this what civic activism has degenerated into? Will every significant City Council vote now be subject to complaints filed with state agencies?
In baseball, when the 3rd out is registered in the bottom of the 9th, you accept your loss and head for the locker room. You don’t file a protest with the Baseball Commissioner. The antics of Teague and company are the civic equivalent of bad sportsmanship, and this may soon become the norm.
You can never predict how an idiotic complaint like this will ultimately turn out, but the incident that was the subject of the complaint is simple to describe:
(a) MIT filed several iterations of a zoning petition for an area in and around Kendall Square where MIT owns a significant amount of property. The petition went through many public hearings before finally coming to a vote on Apr 8, 2013.
(b) During the weeks and months leading up to ordination, MIT representatives met with all of the city councillors and developed a memorandum of understanding that included substantial commitments.
(c) Prior to final ordination on the night of the vote, a series of amendments were proposed by several councillors. Councillor Kelley objected strenuously to the late arrival of the proposed amendments. There were so many opportunities to propose amendments during the months, weeks, and days leading to this vote, that there was no excuse for trying to rush these amendments through.
One such proposed amendment by Councillor vanBeuzekom would have required "net zero" energy standards on any new buildings. This enjoyed a temporary victory on a 5-3-1 vote with Councillors Cheung, Decker, Simmons, vanBeuzekom, and Mayor Davis voting YES; Councillors Kelley, Maher, and Toomey voting NO; and Councillor Reeves voting PRESENT. This led to very clear expressions from MIT representatives that such a requirement would invalidate the commitments to which they had previously agreed. This was communicated to Councillor Maher and through him to Mayor Davis. When informed that this burden could threaten MIT’s other commitments, Mayor Davis reluctantly asked to change her vote from YES to PRESENT which defeated the amendment 4-3-2. This was a vote change that Mayor Davis clearly did not relish, but she did it for the greater goal of passing the entire package. All of this took place in full view of the public.
(d) The MIT/Kendall zoning petition was then ordained on a 7-1-1 vote with Councillor vanBeuzekom voting NO (as expected) and Vice Mayor Simmons voting PRESENT. The revised Letter of Commitment from MIT was approved unanimously.
There was NOTHING unusual in what transpired that evening. However, a photograph of MIT representatives explaining their position to Councillor Maher was used to claim that some sort of shenanigans had taken place. This led to a complaint being filed long after the period for such complaints had expired. The City Clerk and City Solicitor drafted a response that was approved by the City Council, and we now get this 76 page followup from the disgruntled political activist.
Many people have noted that the current City Council has at times engaged in pointless interpersonal bickering, and this is fair criticism. However, unless some of the newly elected councillors and the incumbent councillors take some affirmative action early in the 2014-15 term to set a good tone, we may find ourselves looking back longingly toward the relative peace and harmony of the 2012-13 City Council. – Robert Winters
June 8, 2013
April 22, 2013
This last week has been one of pure horror in Boston, Cambridge, Watertown and vicinity – the Marathon Day bombing that killed 3 people and maimed many others, the murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier and subsequent carjacking, the gunfight in Watertown that put an end to one of the murderers, and finally the dramatic capture of the other murderer. The fact that these murderers have been living in Cambridge for the last decade and that one of them recently was awarded a scholarship from the City of Cambridge left many of us stunned. We now have some resolution as the investigation continues and charges are pending, but this was a week few of us will soon forget.
Life goes on, I guess, and so do civic affairs, including the following items of interest on Monday night’s agenda:
Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the FY2014 submitted budget and appropriation orders.
Here’s a table showing the total proposed budget by department as well as the figures from last year and from 9 years ago together with percentage changes. Draw your own conclusions, but one thing that jumps out is the steep increase in public investment. We’ll get more details Monday night when the Budget Book is publicly available, but it’s likely that new school construction and ongoing sewer work will comprise a substantial part of the budgeted amount for public investment. On a minor note, how is $143,940 justified for maintaining the "Peace Commission?" Isn’t it about time we took another look at consolidating some of these non-regulatory, yet budgeted, boards and commissions?
City of Cambridge Budget Totals by Department – FY2014
|GENERAL GOVERNMENT||FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
|PUBLIC SAFETY||FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
|Traffic, Parking & Transportation||$8,175,095||$10,551,435||$10,935,015||3.6||33.8|
|Police Review & Advisory Board||$77,210||$70,730||$73,440||3.8||-4.9|
|Weights & Measures||$98,910||$134,325||$138,540||3.1||40.1|
|COMMUNITY MAINT/DEVELOPMENT||FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
|HUMAN RESOURCE/DEVELOPMENT||FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
|Human Rights Commission||$158,730||$220,160||$249,380||13.3||57.1|
|EDUCATION||FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
|Schools Operating (TOTAL)||$122,053,195||$144,987,705||$150,989,445||4.1||23.7|
|INTERGOVERNMENTAL||FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
|Cherry Sheet Assessments||$11,569,960||$19,700,025||$20,126,950||2.2||74.0|
|Cambridge Health Alliance||$6,500,000||$6,500,000||$6,500,000||0.0||0.0|
|FY05 submitted||FY13 submitted||FY14 submitted||1 yr % change||9 yr % change|
There are also these items of interest, offered with minimal comment:
Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-03, regarding a report on the possibility of a gun buy-back program.
This is not recommended due to limited effectiveness and better alternatives.
Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-20, regarding a report on the feasibility of providing a service in which residents are able to look up their voter registration status online.
This is feasible and the City is looking into implementing it at some point in the near future.
Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the Gartner IT Strategic Plan report.
Seems like a good thing looking toward the future of "e-government", but I’ll need a robot to read the report for me.
Manager’s Agenda #24. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a request from Boston Properties that the City of Cambridge consider the disposition of approximately 8,660 square feet of land on the east side of Ames Street between Main Street and Broadway to enable Boston Properties to develop residential uses on that site.
This is part of the fulfillment of a promised 200,000 square feet of housing, though it’s not clear if all of that is to be associated with this project. The proposed development will also include ground floor retail and is consistent with the City’s future plans for the reconfiguration and reconstruction of Ames Street.
Unfinished Business #16. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Council Order Numbers 13 and 14 of Mar 18, 2013, regarding revised zoning language to the Section 11.700 entitled Interim Regulations for Medical Marijuana Uses. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Apr 15, 2013. Planning Board hearing held Jan 22, 2013. Petition expires Apr 22, 2013.
This interim measure is something of a formality and will likely be ordained at this meeting.
Resolution #2. Retirement of George Fernandes from the Electrical Department. Mayor Davis
Don’t worry, we’ll turn off the lights at the end of the meeting. This is another significant retirement.
Resolution #24. Thanks to the City of Cambridge’s first responders for their assistance in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy. Mayor Davis, Councillor Maher
When this resolution was filed, nobody knew just how significant a role the Cambridge Police and the MIT Police would play as events unfolded. We should salute all of the officers and other police personnel who were involved.
Order #1. That the City Council go on record urging the 113th Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform as outlined in this resolution that addresses (1) earned legalization with a path to citizenship; (2) updated future immigration of families and workers; and (3) improved immigration enforcement and border security that is consistent with our nation’s values. Vice Mayor Simmons
This is, of course, a very large issue that should have been addressed directly some time ago, but it seems inevitable that the debate will now be influenced by the very small sample of events that unfolded here over this past week.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk’s Office, transmitting a report from Councillor Leland Cheung, Chair of the Cable TV Telecommunications and Public Utilities Committee for a public meeting held on Apr 2, 2013 to discuss the ability of the City’s existing utility infrastructure to meet long-term increases in demand.
This was an interesting meeting about a topic that most people don’t even think about – utility infrastructure and capacity. The report is very informative.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 3, 2013 to discuss an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create a new Section 6.100 Bicycle Parking, and to create a new definition for Bicycle Parking in Article 2.000, modify the yard standards in Article 5.000 as they relate to bicycle parking and modifying various sections of Article 6.000 to remove references to bicycle parking.
This is a good idea and overdue, though the proposal really doesn’t go far enough. As proposed, bicycle parking would be mandatory for most new residential and commercial developments, but it fails to address major renovation of existing residential buildings. Multi-family houses with existing basement space suitable for bicycle storage are being turned into million-dollar condos and these projects should be subject to the same regulations as new developments.
Though not on the agenda, I do hope some brave councillor speaks to the now obvious value of surveillance cameras as an important tool in protecting public safety. A Late Order empowering the City Manager and the Cambridge Police Department to switch on the equipment already installed would be a nice gesture. – Robert Winters
April 10, 2013
How can we plan for urban growth in Cambridge to promote a more diverse, livable, and sustainable city for all residents?
An esteemed panel will address the coming demographic shifts that will put further pressure on the Cambridge’s housing market and our transportation systems, and talk about solutions that can make Cambridge a leader in defining a new urban America in the age of climate change.
- Frederick P. Salvucci, Former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation and current MIT Professor of Civil Engineering
- Barry Bluestone, Founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University
- Amy Cotter, Director of Regional Plan Implementation for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
Moderated by Renee Loth, Editor at ArchitectureBoston and former Editorial Page Editor for the Boston Globe.
Thursday, April 11th
1000 Massachusetts Ave.
All are welcome! Please register online to let us know you’ll be participating in the discussion: http://abettercambridge.org/register-forum
Sponsored by A Better Cambridge | Working to build a more diverse and dynamic Cambridge on the path toward sustainable growth.