Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 10, 2016

Opening of the First Section of the Grand Junction Path – June 9, 2016

It’s only between Main Street and Broadway so far, but it’s a start!

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

You can't cut the ribbon without these

You can’t cut the ribbon without these

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Trains Keep Rollin'

The Trains Keep Rollin’

December 24, 2015

White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve

Filed under: Cambridge,Kendall Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:28 pm

White Squirrel at Volpe Center
White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve

February 13, 2014

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project
Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989

By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

The purpose of this narrative is to provide additional information about the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority’s (CRA) Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project and to describe the role of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) in helping to jump-start development of the CRA’s Cambridge Center Project in 1979-1989, a major factor in helping to attract high-tech companies to locate in the East Cambridge industrial area. UMTA provided the MBTA with critical financial assistance made available under President Carter’s Urban Initiatives Program.

Kendall Urban Initiatives Project 1980
KENDALL SQUARE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT
Urban Initiatives Project – 1980

To understand the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, it must be divided into two phases:

Phase 1. 1963-1979. The objective was to transform a 43-acre blighted urban industrial area into vacant land for construction of improvements.
Background. The Kendall Square Urban Redevelopment Project planning activities during Phase 1 included creating, initiating and financing the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project; preparing an urban renewal plan to accommodate development by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and, after NASA withdrew from the Project, preparing an entirely new plan for development by private developers; a painful, prolonged and laborious process because Cambridge was unprepared to carry out the difficult and complicated tasks involved in overhauling the original plan with an entirely new plan.

In 1965, when the City of Cambridge approved the CRA’s original Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, it anticipated that the Project would attract NASA-related private development to replace a blighted industrial area of old, deteriorated and underutilized buildings with a modern, attractive industrial area which would generate tax revenues and jobs. In 1970, when NASA withdrew from the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project and transferred its interests in the Kendall Square Project to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the feeling in Cambridge was that the project had been delivered a tremendous setback because it lost its major developer; a severe blow to the city’s efforts to expand its economic base.

The 1970-77 period involved two major activities:
(1) The execution of land preparation activities in order to transform a 43-acre industrial slum into vacant land for new construction. The activities required the acquisition of 70 parcels of land, relocation of the Broad Canal to an underground water system, relocation of nearly 100 businesses, demolition of 50 buildings, construction of infrastructure, and formation of new traffic patterns of circulation. Land preparation activities are the "nitty-gritty, heavy-lifting" period of the redevelopment process because most are messy, noisy, a public nuisance and a favorite subject of complaint.

(2) The resolution of planning issues in order to amend the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan to designate new reuses for the land. Activities included negotiations between the CRA, DOT, and the U.S. General Services Administration to retrieve the rights to develop 10 acres of vacant land left behind by NASA; and rejection by the Cambridge City Council of four redevelopment plans prepared by a task force comprised of representatives from a cross section of Cambridge organizations working with the CRA.

In 1976, the CRA engaged the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) advisory panel services to review the Kendall Square Project and propose ways to help break the multi-year planning deadlock. Among the "Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations" of the ULI panel:

• Only a few properties in the country have a broader array of locational advantages as the Kendall Square area and the opportunities associated with the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Cambridge Center is a unique opportunity area, one that should be reserved to maximize its locational advantages.

The MBTA’s Kendall Station subway is one of the more spectacular assets affecting the redevelopment potential of the CRA’s Cambridge Center project (emphasis added).

• Attracting developers will not be easy. Citizen concerns, political pressure, economic uncertainty, the absence of a united and strong development process, high taxes, environmental constraints, contentious political climate, and congested surface transportation have combined to create a credibility problem with the real estate development community relative to the City of Cambridge. With few exceptions, the lack of credibility has been a severe restraint to real estate development in Cambridge.

These development problems are such that all but the most determined developer, the one who perceives a very close relationship between locational advantages and development opportunities, will be deterred from coming into the community (emphasis added).

Engaging the ULI greatly helped to break the planning deadlock because the panel’s expertise gained the confidence of the Cambridge City Council and the CRA. The panel advised the CRA to make extraordinary efforts to impress potential developers by efficiently completing site preparations and all major pre-physical development activities. The CRA responded by removing legal and technical impediments to development by completing an Environmental Impact Statement; securing plan and zoning amendments; carrying out a $7-million public improvements program; and implementing traffic circulation plans, such as widening Binney Street to provide direct major access to Memorial Drive.

In 1977, Cambridge City Council approved a mixed-use development plan for the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project. For marketing purposes the name Cambridge Center was adopted to refer to the 24 acres in the Kendall Square Project Area separate from the land occupied by DOT. In 1978, the CRA invited proposals to develop Cambridge Center, and in 1979, selected Boston Properties as the initial developer.

Phase 2. 1980-Present. The objective was to sell the vacant land created during Phase 1 for private development.
The CRA and Boston Properties executed a Development Agreement which provided that the CRA would sell land to Boston Properties in stages after approval of development plans; and Boston Properties was required to start construction of an office building within seven months of signing the agreement.

Because of the disorderly events of the 1970’s, expectations regarding development of the CRA’s Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project were gloomy. Mortimer Zuckerman, one of the two Boston Properties principals, was aware of the difficulties: "It was a very bleak time when the Kennedy Space Center moved to Texas…There was just a lot of land there" (Woolhouse, "Making a High Tech Mecca", Boston Globe, June 26, 2011)".

The CRA realized that to overcome Cambridge’s credibility problem with the real estate community, it had to establish a reputation for being able to work efficiently and effectively with Boston Properties in stimulating private development of the Cambridge Center Project. The MBTA was about to provide the CRA with the opportunity to establish that reputation.

The MBTA operated three facilities in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area: the Kendall subway station (Kendall Station), bus layover facilities, and a traction power substation. The Kendall Station was old (built in 1912), dilapidated, obsolete, with dimly lighted platforms. The traction power substation was considered to be obsolete and a blighting influence, and its 50′ high fire-damaged brick facade dominated the heavily travelled Main Street eastern entrance to the Kendall Square area.

The MBTA recognized that because of the improvements designated for the CRA’s Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, the MBTA facilities would have to be modernized. During the mid-1970’s, the MBTA and the CRA staffs met to coordinate plans regarding future reconstruction efforts. It was decided that reconstruction would be integrated with the CRA’s redevelopment activities, and the CRA’s Concept Design Plan for the Kendall Square Project would be used as the standard for urban design amenities.

By coincidence, Jimmy Carter was the U.S President from 1977 to 1981, and his Urban Policy plans included shifting the allocation of federal resources to favor urban areas. Priority was to be given to projects that leveraged the expenditure of federal funds and strong incentives would be awarded to projects engaged in efforts to attract private investments to urban areas. The effort would be called the President’s Urban Initiatives Program.

Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project
The MBTA determined that its Kendall Station met the qualifications to receive designation as a Urban Initiatives Project because it was already integrating its plans for modernizing the Kendall Station with the CRA’s plans for the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, and that the CRA had executed a Development Agreement with Boston Properties to attract private development and investments to the Cambridge Center Project. In its application to UMTA for project approval, the MBTA made the following points:

"The project’s financial assistance will be used to provide Kendall Station improvements in support of a major urban redevelopment effort and to stimulate private investments for urban improvements… The CRA has designated Boston Properties as developer for Cambridge Center and Boston Properties is expected to generate $150 million of private investment over the next 10 years and produce in excess of one-million square feet of office, hotel, retail, and open space. More immediately, Boston Properties is prepared to begin construction in October, 1979, of the first office building (13 stories) involving 250,000 square feet of space and costing approximately $20 million. This initial investment could be followed the next year with a second building of the same magnitude".

UMTA designated the Kendall Station project as an Urban Initiatives Project, agreeing that "the proposal has excellent characteristics for effectively achieving the President’s intentions in calling for an UMTA Urban Initiatives Program". The Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project involved the CRA, the MBTA, and Boston Properties. It included Parcel 4 of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, a triangular 5-acre site bordered by Main Street, Broadway and Sixth Street around the Kendall Station.

Initially, because of budgetary constraints, the MBTA programmed construction of the Kendall Station improvements for the late-1980’s and called for only a modest renovation of the existing facilities and entrances; and the program for the traction power substation provided only for replacement of electrical equipment, with no provision for replacing and relocating the building. This schedule was of grave concern to the CRA because the Kendall Station, in its present antiquated condition, would have an adverse effect on the initial marketing efforts by Boston Properties to attract private development to the area.

At that time, Boston Properties marketing efforts highlighted the locational advantages of the Kendall Station: (1) The MIT campus was in the immediate neighborhood. (2) Two subway stops easterly from the Kendall Station was downtown Boston, and two subway stops westerly was Harvard University. (3) The MBTA public transit system provided access to virtually the entire Boston Metropolitan Area. (4) The Kendall Station was within easy walking distance of any location within the Cambridge Center Project area. The CRA believed that an efficient and timely transformation of the Kendall Station from old, dilapidated and obsolete to a modern, attractive, and well-designed subway station, and the simultaneous construction of buildings by Boston Properties and public improvements by the CRA could have a dramatic positive effect on Boston Properties’ marketing efforts. Also it could stimulate private development of the vacant land in the rest of Cambridge Center; and might influence the real estate community’s perception of Cambridge’s credibility.

The CRA requested (1) the MBTA reschedule construction of the Kendall Station to start during the early 1980’s, and the proposed station improvements be upgraded to match the CRA’s design standards; and (2) the traction power substation be replaced and relocated so that it could be subsumed within the private development occurring on-site. The MBTA was supportive, but because the MBTA system had operated at a loss during the past five years, it had determined that "no part of the costs associated with the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project can be financed from MBTA revenue".

Designation of the Kendall Station modernization plans as an UMTA Urban Initiatives Project also qualified the MBTA for the maximum amount of Federal assistance, making it eligible to receive funding from UMTA. Accordingly, UMTA provided the critical financing the MBTA needed to reschedule construction of the Kendall Station to begin sooner, upgrade design standards, and relocate the new traction power substation.

Then a rare event took place in the City of Cambridge. Two public agencies – the CRA and the MBTA – and a private developer – Boston Properties – initiated meetings to discuss the funding, design and construction details of the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project. They entered into a variety of formal and informal arrangements to cooperate in the planning and development around the Kendall Station. Their arrangements extended from land use planning and urban design to land acquisition and transfer policies, construction activities, and the maintenance of public and private improvements. For example:

• The Kendall Station modernization would include lengthening the subway platforms from four cars to six cars, relocating the stations entrances, and upgrading the stations interiors.

• The MBTA’s new traction power substation would be integrated with the improvements planned by the CRA and Boston Properties.

• The CRA’s design standards for the renewal area would be used to plan project improvements related to the Kendall Station reconstruction.

• The CRA was awarded a $5.1-million grant to provide transit-related improvements and urban design amenities, including street and sidewalk improvements, a bus contraflow lane, a Transit Plaza, an urban park at the gateway to the project, and pedestrian connections to nearby neighborhoods.

Urban Initiatives Project Area - 1980

Construction Coordination
A particularly difficult task was the coordination of simultaneous construction activities by the three entities in performing over- lapping construction work within tight, limited areas where the lines of responsibilities were difficult to draw. The parties devised a cost-sharing formula to determine how much of the total cost would be the responsibility of each party if the entire job was performed by a single contractor. A contractor would then be engaged and each party would pay its agreed-upon share of the total contractor cost. For example:

• The MBTA dug a huge excavation across Main Street and abutting vacant land. The excavation was for the expansion and renovation of the Kendall Station (to be constructed by the MBTA); and for an area to provide services to the buildings on Parcel 4 (to be built by Boston Properties). The building service area was to be located under a Transit Plaza (to be built by the CRA) so that it would be out-of-sight.

• The new northerly entrance to the subway (to be built by the MBTA) would abut the Transit Plaza (to be built by the CRA) and include an extended canopy from the wall of an office building (to be built by Boston Properties). The canopy would provide the MBTA patrons with a covered walkway and direct access to a food court (to be built by Boston Properties).

• The three parties collaborated on the location and design of the new traction power substation (to be built by the MBTA) so that a 12-story office building (to be built by Boston Properties) could be constructed on air rights over it.

• As construction was completed by the MBTA and Boston Properties, the CRA was to construct public improvements in the abutting public ways.

The redevelopment of Parcel 4 was a team effort by the CRA, the MBTA, and Boston Properties. The renovations by the MBTA in modernizing the Kendall Station, and by the CRA in constructing public improvements and urban design amenities, created an environment to reinforce Boston Properties’ marketing efforts to attract highly-qualified companies to locate in the Cambridge Center Project.

Kendall Station - Urban Initiatives Project - 1985
KENDALL STATION
Urban Initiatives Project – 1985

Urban Initiatives Project Area - 1985
Urban Initiatives Project Area – 1985
Construction Coordination

Urban Initiatives Project Area - 1989
Urban Initiatives Project Area – 1989

Transit Plaza contributions
The Transit Plaza, named Nowiszewski Plaza, abutted the Kendall Station’s exit/access, and was surrounded by active uses. It included a multicolored paving pattern, and a 75-foot sculptured tower, which also served as an emergency exit for the hotel, ventilation for the building service area under the Plaza, and amphitheater seating. Boston Properties funded the tower and the gold-leaf octahedron adorning its top, and was obliged to operate, maintain, and repair the Transit Plaza.

(NOTE: The Transit Plaza was subsequently modified.)

Urban Initiatives Project - 1989
Urban Initiatives Project – 1989

Pedestrian Circulation
Efforts were made to facilitate pedestrian circulation and activities: 5 Cambridge Center contained Legal Seafood restaurant; 3 Cambridge Center had a food court and MIT Coop store; and 2 Cambridge Center, a hotel abutting the Transit Plaza, had a restaurant, bar, and a public easement through the hotel lobby connecting to a pedestrian way to the surrounding area. The Transit Plaza provided exit/access for the subway, outdoor use of tables and chairs, amphitheater seating, and occasional entertainment programs, fairs and informal performances by free-lancers. Directly east of 1 Cambridge Center was an urban park, "Galaxy at Murphy Park". Also, Boston Properties constructed an elevator-accessible 1-acre public park on the roof of a parking garage. (Note: The garage roof was subsequently modified.)

"Galaxy at Murphy Park"
The eastern gateway to the Kendall Square area at the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, was a triangular site used to construct "Galaxy at Murphy Park". Galaxy was conceived through the successful collaborative efforts of the CRA and the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

The CRA considered Galaxy to be one of the most attractive features of Cambridge Center.

The centerpiece of Galaxy was an environmental structure which featured a 5-foot-in-diameter "earthsphere" placed in a fountain. Water spray – during the warm months – , or steam – during the cold months – enveloped the sphere to create the appearance of "floating" on clouds. Surrounding the fountain were 12" moon-globes which were perforated in individual patterns. At nighttime, the globes were illuminated from within and its shadows cast light and patterns on the pavement around the globes; and when steam from the earthsphere passed over the globes, rays of light were visible coming through the perforations. Surrounding the fountain were benches for sitting; two rows of trees and shrubs; and grassy open spaces.

Boston Properties was responsible for operating, maintaining and repairing "Galaxy".

Urban Initiatives Project 1989
Urban Initiatives Project 1989

Urban Initiatives Project 1989

National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)
In 1990, NAHRO’s Annual Agency Awards of Excellence in Housing and Community Development chose the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project for its Administrative Innovation Award. "The Kendall Square Project showed excellent coordination of public and private funding, as well as excellent planning and team work by three major agencies over the 10-year development period. A joint development carried out among two public agencies, the CRA and the MBTA, and a private developer, Boston Properties".

Summary
Although the project was complex, the objectives of the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project were achieved:

• The MBTA modernized and expanded the Kendall Station by relocating station entrances, lengthening the station platforms, and renovating the station’s interiors; and constructed a new traction power substation to replace the old, outmoded one.

• Boston Properties marketing operations attracted qualified competent companies to locate within the Urban Initiatives Project area, resulting in the construction of 1.1-million square feet of mixed-used development, including two 12- to 13- story retail, office buildings; a 13-story office building constructed on air rights over the MBTA traction power substation; a 25-story hotel; a 4-story retail, office building; and a 863-car garage with a one-acre open space roof–top garden.

• The CRA constructed public improvements throughout the area: streets and sidewalks, landscaping, Transit Plaza, Galaxy park, and pedestrian walkways.

• UMTA provided the critical financing the MBTA needed to reschedule and upgrade its Kendall Station facilities. UMTA considered the Kendall Station Project to be a successful Urban Initiatives Project because it attracted private investments to the Cambridge urban area, and "a model for other cities on the positive impact that transit accessibility can have on community development".

• The joint public-private cooperative effort helped to create an environment that supported Boston Properties’ marketing operations and provided a jump-start to generate momentum to develop Parcel 4.

In 1979, when the MBTA submitted its application for Kendall Station designation as an Urban Initiatives Project, the CRA’s expectations were that the Cambridge Center Project would be completed in about ten years and produce 1.7-million square feet of mixed-use development and generate $200-million of private investments. Thirty years later, the Cambridge Center Project is in its last phase, and upon completion is projected to have produced 3-million square feet of mixed-uses, and generated about $1-billion of private investments, $15-million of property tax revenues and about 6,000 jobs.

The joint public-private team enterprise in the successful redevelopment of Parcel 4 was a factor in the real estate development community’s apparent re-evaluation of its skepticism about the development climate in the City of Cambridge. Starting in the 1980’s, private investments were made to develop the rest of the Cambridge Center Project, and subsequently a flood of development occurred in the East Cambridge industrial area.

END

P.S.: Robert F. Rowland was the CRA Executive Director in the 1970’s when planning to integrate the CRA’s and MBTA’s urban redevelopment operations in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project were initiated, and which resulted in the designation of the Kendall Station as an Urban Initiatives Project.


Thad J. Tercyak Professional Resume
1610 N Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center, FL 33573; Phone (813) 633-5746 (Nov-May)
108 Alden Village Ct., Cary, NC 27519; Phone (919) 460-4526 (June-Oct)
E-Mail: tedtercyak AT cs DOT com

Professional Employment
Cambridge Redevelopment Authority: Associate Director, 1968-1990.
Boston Redevelopment Authority: Project Director, Washington Park and South End urban renewal projects; 1961-1968.
Cuyahoga County Planning Authority (Cleveland, Ohio): Economist, 1957-1960.
Connecticut Development Commission (Adams, Howard & Greeley, City Planning Consultants): Economist, 1956-1957.

Academic
University of Pittsburgh: Master’s Degree, Public Administration, 1961.
University of Connecticut: Master’s Degree, Economics, 1956.
Boston University Metropolitan College: Part-time Instructor, Urban Renewal, 1975-6.

Publications

Cambridge Civic Journal:
"Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes"; June, 2013.
"Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, Initial Years, 1963 to 1982"; July, 2012.

Urban Land Institute:
"Joint Development at Kendall Square"; April, 1991.
"Marketing Public Land"; February, 1986.
"Cambridge Center Project Design"; April, 1985.
"Panel Revisits: Cambridge Center: Downtown Redevelopment"; February, 1985.

Journal of Housing:
"Project Design: A Cooperative Effort"; September/October, 1984.
"Kendall Square: An Urban Renewal Success"; September/October, 1982.

Urban Land Institute (ULI) , Advisory Services Panelist:
An Evaluation of the Development Potential and Revitalization Strategy for the Silver Triangle Site, Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, 1992.
An Evaluation of Kennedy and LaGuardia Airport Access for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of New York, 1991

Professional Resume, summary
Mr. Tercyak’s professional background includes Master’s degrees in Economics and Public Administration; 22 years as Associate Director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority; 7 years as project director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Washington Park and South End urban renewal projects; 5 years as an economist with city and county planning agencies; and Urban Land Institute advisory services panelist evaluating potential development projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and for downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. Several articles published in the Cambridge Civic Journal, Urban Land Institute Magazine and Journal of Housing. Part-time instructor, Community Development, Boston University Metropolitan College.

December 31, 2013

K2C2 Final Reports Released

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,Kendall Square,planning — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:58 am

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe 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.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

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

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Kendall Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:21 pm

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.

Carlone AccusesSpeaking 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

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes

By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

In 2012, the Cambridge Civic Journal published "Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Initial Years, 1963 to 1982". The following commentary focuses on six pivotal episodes during the 1963-1982 time period which provided the impetus for major development in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project. Successful development of the Kendall Square Project was a major factor in helping to attract high-tech companies to locate in the eastern sector of the City of Cambridge. Today there are over 163 institutional research companies within a 1-mile radius of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area (Source: Boston Consulting Group, Capital IQ DB, U.S. Census Bureau, National Science Foundation.)

The episodes are described in chronological order.

1. Conceptualization and initiation of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project

In 1963, Mr. Robert F. Rowland, a city planner with extensive urban redevelopment experience, commuted to his job with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), parking his car in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Kendall Square rapid transit station parking lot. He noticed the area north of the rapid transit station was severely underdeveloped and an urban blight with underutilized, largely vacant and obsolete industrial and warehouse buildings. Because of the extent of urban blight, there did not appear to be any prospects for private development there. As a city planner, he visualized the land as an ideal site for urban redevelopment because of its unique locational advantages, including the rapid transit station, proximity to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), direct subway connections to Harvard and downtown Boston, and easy connection to Logan Airport.

Rowland was aware President John F. Kennedy had assigned the task of sending an American astronaut safely to and from the Moon before the end of the decade to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which was searching for a site in the Boston area for development of its Electronic Research Center.

On their own time, Rowland and two associates sketched out a redevelopment plan for the Kendall Square area which would accommodate NASA and provide land for NASA-related private development. He presented his concept plan to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) which asked him to work with the CRA to move the plan through the redevelopment process. Rowland agreed, left his job with the BRA, was hired by the CRA and in 1964 was appointed CRA Executive Director.

In 1964, the CRA presented the concept plan to the Cambridge City Council. The Council voted to have the CRA prepare a redevelopment plan for the Kendall Square area with two objectives: (1) to provide land for both NASA and private development which would generate needed tax revenues for the City of Cambridge and employment opportunities; and (2) to secure maximum federal funds to help alleviate concerns about Cambridge’s ability to finance its share of the cost to carry out the project.

With respect to the first objective, the City of Cambridge, with support from local and congressional representatives, convinced NASA officials of the advantages of a Kendall Square location. After discussions and consultations among the CRA, NASA, Cambridge representatives and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it was determined that development could be expedited by using the urban renewal process.

2. Financing Cambridge’s $6.5-million share of the project cost

With respect to the second objective, the CRA advised Cambridge officials to take advantage of a complex urban renewal financing formula which could be used to "secure maximum federal funds" to finance Cambridge’s share of the cost to carry out the project.. The formula, based on Section 112 of the Housing Act of 1949, provided that expenditures by educational institutions and hospitals on facilities located within a mile of an urban renewal project that contributed to the objectives of the urban renewal project can be used as credits ("Section 112 credits") to cover the local share of the project cost.

The CRA took the lead in coordinating the efforts of Cambridge, MIT officials and congressional representatives to work out the details required to secure federal approval of the Section 112 credits financing plan. The City and MIT entered into an agreement which provided that MIT prepare a Development Plan which included MIT property located within a mile of the redevelopment area to be used for educational purposes. After the City’s review and approval of the plan, the expenditures incurred by MIT to acquire land and construct buildings in accordance with the plan could be used as Section 112 credits. Subsequently, when the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project was approved, MIT provided $6.5-million dollars in Section 112 credits to cover the City of Cambridge’s entire share of the project cost.

3. NASA Quits. CRA amends Kendall Square redevelopment plan and objectives

The original Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan covered 43 acres of land and designated 29 acres for use by NASA and 14 acres for NASA-related private development. The initial four years of the project were executed expeditiously. The CRA transferred 19 acres of vacant land to NASA for construction of a 14-story office tower and five low-rise buildings, and prepared an additional 10 acres of vacant land for future development by NASA. In 1970, without warning, NASA decided to abandon its operations in the project. It indicated it did not need the 10-acre site of vacant land designated for its development, and was transferring its interests in the project to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT established the National Transportation System Center on the site formerly occupied by NASA and named it after John A. Volpe, Secretary of DOT and former governor of Massachusetts

Cognizant that the 10-acre site originally designated for NASA’s use under the terms of the original Kendall square Urban Renewal Plan was still undeveloped and in CRA possession, the CRA recognized an opportunity to expand the area of land which could be developed for private uses which would benefit Cambridge more than if the land was developed by the federal government. The CRA decided to amend the Kendall Square Plan to designate new reuses for the undeveloped land even though that meant starting again the complicated and time consuming process of preparing a second Kendall Square Plan.

The CRA commenced negotiations with DOT Secretary Volpe, making the case that DOT should relinquish its rights to Parcel 2 because NASA’s withdrawal from the project was a breach of its contractual obligation with the CRA; a flagrant disregard of its commitment to the community; and had undermined the City’s program to market the project area for private development. After 2 years of prolonged negotiations among the CRA, DOT, U.S. General Services Administration, and HUD, Secretary Volpe released DOT’s rights to Parcel 2 to the CRA.

When NASA decided to withdraw from the Kendall Square area, the feeling in the City of Cambridge was that the project had been delivered a tremendous setback because it had lost its major developer. As it turned out, despite the years of development delays caused by NASA’s the withdrawal, it was a blessing in disguise because the additional 10-acres of land plus the 14 acres already designated for private development became a 24-acre site large enough to create a critical mass for high-tech development in the Kendall Square Project which eventually helped to attract additional high-tech development in the eastern sector of Cambridge.

4. Urban Land Institute Advisory Services engaged to help break planning deadlock.

Cambridge was unprepared for carrying out the difficult and complicated tasks involved in overhauling the original plan and replacing it with an entirely new plan. Cambridge City Council created a task force comprised of representatives from a cross-section of Cambridge organizations and the Cambridge Planning Department to work with the CRA in the re-planning effort. A number of plans were developed, including proposals with contradictory project objectives, including "quick-fix" land uses, such as a beer distribution warehouse, a soccer field, open space, even restoring the Broad Canal, but the City could not arrive at a consensus.

Over time, a cloud descended over the project’s development potential and grumbles concerning the apparent lack of progress in redeveloping the site began to be heard, even mockery about changing the name of Kendall Square to "Nowhere Square".

To help break the planning deadlock, the CRA retained the advisory panel services of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to review the Kendall Square Project and propose ways to move the project in the right direction. In carrying out the assignment for the CRA, panel members first spent two days reviewing comprehensive briefing materials prepared by the CRA staff and touring the project and surrounding area. Then individual panelists and teams conferred with nearly 100 community spokespersons, citizens, business persons, government officials, members of the local real estate community, and others interested and concerned with the future revitalization of the Kendall Square area.

The ULI panel concluded that only a few properties in the country had a broader array of locational advantages as the Kendall Square area and the opportunities associated with the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: "Cambridge Center is a unique opportunity area, one that should be reserved to maximize its locational advantages". The ULI panel presented a point of view that the Kendall Square Project was a valuable asset that has the potential to produce great benefits to the City of Cambridge; and that the CRA and Cambridge City Council should resist the impulse to dispose of the land to take advantage of its short term marketability in response to concerns being expressed about development delays. The panel urged the CRA and City to be patient and adopt an optimal type of development that reflected the highest and best use for the land which would bring the greatest long range benefit to the Cambridge community. The panel proposed a long-term, sophisticated, large-scale, mixed-use optimal type of development.

The ULI panel’s professionalism and diligence in carrying out its mission impressed and gained the confidence of the CRA and Cambridge City Council which endorsed the panel’s recommendations and approved a Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan for a mixed-use development, with the general objectives of generating tax revenues and jobs.

The ULI panel also warned that attracting developers would not be easy: "Citizen concerns, political pressures, economic uncertainty, and the absence of a united and strong development process have combined to create a credibility problem with the real estate development community". The Panel advised the CRA could overcome developer skepticism about the development climate in Cambridge by establishing a record for getting things done.

The CRA responded by removing all legal and technical impediments to development; completing an Environmental Impact Statement; securing plan and zoning amendments; and carrying out a $7-million public improvements program, including construction of infrastructure and execution of traffic circulation plans.

5. Boston Properties selected to develop Cambridge Center

For marketing purposes the name Cambridge Center was adopted to refer to the 24 acres in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project outside of the land occupied by DOT. In 1978, the CRA invited proposals to develop Cambridge Center. Four well qualified developers were selected as finalists, including Boston Properties which was not as well known in the Boston area as the other developers. After exhaustive interviews with each developer and analysis of each development proposal, the CRA designated Boston Properties as developer for Cambridge Center because it had two significant advantages over its competition:

1. Boston Properties’ two principals had worked as a team for many years producing a number of successful well-designed real estate developments nationwide. In contrast, the other finalists had undergone changes or formed new teams, making evaluations of future performance difficult.

2. Boston Properties’ financial capabilities were impressive. It was well capitalized and had a net worth adequate to sustain a large and complex development such as Cambridge Center. It had current assets sufficient to fund first-rate design and site planning; a cash flow arising from a broad, geographically diverse base of real estate investments that could support substantial start-up costs and sustain development during difficult economic times; and a proven ability to manage investment property effectively and efficiently.

Boston Properties turned out to be the right choice because it had the background, experience, resources and patience to attract the type of users that met the standards proposed in the ULI recommendations, that of promoting land development to its highest and best uses. Subsequently, the development of Cambridge Center benefitted the City of Cambridge by achieving goals for the amended Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan set by the Cambridge City Council: generating $15-million in annual property tax revenues and 7,500 jobs.

6. High-tech development

The combination of (a) the presence of MIT, an international leader in high-tech research and innovation; (b) Polaroid’s decision to locate in Technology Square, a real estate development started in the 1960’s by Cabot, Cabot and Forbes in partnership with MIT that also included Rogers Block, a CRA urban renewal project adjacent to the Kendall Square Project; (c) the presence of Draper Laboratories in the immediate neighborhood; and (d) decisions by the Whitehead Institute and Biogen in 1982 to locate in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area were key elements leading to the emergence of high-tech development in the Kendall Square Project, and helping to attract major technology and biotechnology development in the eastern sector of Cambridge. Today there are over 163 institutional research companies within a 1-mile radius of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area.


P.S. Robert F. Rowland was CRA Executive Director during all the episodes from 1963 to 1982.

As CRA Associate Director, Thad Tercyak participated directly in the episodes from 1968 to 1990.

April 22, 2013

The Bottom Line – April 22, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,Kendall Square — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 1:54 am

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 GOVERNMENTFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Mayor$430,035$554,040$558,7850.929.9
Executive$1,353,140$2,068,675$2,008,150-2.948.4
City Council$975,570$1,642,165$1,683,1252.572.5
City Clerk$720,925$1,067,130$1,119,7654.955.3
Law$1,780,975$2,061,495$2,163,2404.921.5
Finance$8,837,560$12,350,575$13,292,3507.650.4
Employee Benefits$20,499,920$31,796,130$32,787,2003.159.9
General Services$984,345$726,475$732,6950.9-25.6
Election$756,540$1,004,285$1,013,5650.934.0
Public Celebrations$671,505$799,370$891,94511.632.8
Reserve$37,500$37,500$37,5000.00.0
TOTAL$37,048,015$54,107,840$56,288,3204.051.9
PUBLIC SAFETYFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Animal Commission$228,870$298,585$309,7003.735.3
Fire$28,891,840$40,111,145$43,350,2758.150.0
Police$31,515,220$45,643,095$47,186,0153.449.7
Traffic, Parking & Transportation$8,175,095$10,551,435$10,935,0153.633.8
Police Review & Advisory Board$77,210$70,730$73,4403.8-4.9
Inspectional Services$2,261,215$3,115,045$3,180,0452.140.6
License$726,735$986,140$1,030,9704.541.9
Weights & Measures$98,910$134,325$138,5403.140.1
Electrical$2,239,640$2,792,005$2,840,9101.826.8
Emergency Management$137,820$0  -100.0
Emergency Communications$3,097,485$4,242,970$4,434,4254.543.2
TOTAL$77,450,040$107,945,475$113,479,3355.146.5
COMMUNITY MAINT/DEVELOPMENTFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Public Works$23,648,125$31,945,265$32,859,6902.939.0
Community Development$4,472,620$5,482,210$5,676,3403.526.9
Historical Commission$457,580$587,025$632,9407.838.3
Conservation Commission$89,760$101,925$123,47021.137.6
Peace Commission$76,215$139,595$143,9403.188.9
Cable T.V.$999,500$1,436,360$1,474,7952.747.6
Debt Service$23,917,070$47,526,975$49,716,2504.6107.9
TOTAL$53,660,870$87,219,355$90,627,4253.968.9
HUMAN RESOURCE/DEVELOPMENTFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Library$5,461,430$8,710,520$8,946,3952.763.8
Human Services$14,581,590$22,480,760$23,155,0803.058.8
Women’s Commission$155,860$225,425$233,1153.449.6
Human Rights Commission$158,730$220,160$249,38013.357.1
Veterans$510,885$981,165$1,005,3752.596.8
TOTAL$20,868,495$32,618,030$33,589,3453.061.0
CITY TOTAL$189,027,420$281,890,700$293,984,4254.355.5
EDUCATIONFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Schools Operating (TOTAL)$122,053,195$144,987,705$150,989,4454.123.7
INTERGOVERNMENTALFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
MWRA$16,177,455$21,006,055$21,346,8151.632.0
Cherry Sheet Assessments$11,569,960$19,700,025$20,126,9502.274.0
Cambridge Health Alliance$6,500,000$6,500,000$6,500,0000.00.0
TOTAL$34,247,415$47,206,080$47,973,7651.640.1
GRAND TOTALS$345,328,030$474,084,485$492,947,6354.042.7
 FY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
WATER$17,098,120$14,144,080$14,238,7000.7-16.7
PUBLIC INVESTMENT$8,834,255$21,277,065$92,715,930335.8949.5

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

“A Better Future for A Better Cambridge” – updated

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,Kendall Square,planning — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 2:45 pm

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
7:00PM
Cambridge College
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.

Web: http://abettercambridge.com | Facebook: http://facebook.com/ABetterCambridge | Twitter: @ABetterCambMA

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