Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

July 31, 2012

Cambridge Bike Sharing Stations

Filed under: cycling — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:16 am

Cambridge Bike Sharing Stations (Hubway)
Penny FarthingThe initial project in Cambridge will include 24 bike sharing stations in locations throughout the city. The entire system in Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline and Boston is interchangeable so you can use any bike or station at your convenience. Several of these stations have now been installed and the rest should be installed over the next week. An official opening event will take place on Wed, Aug 8 but each station is operational when it is installed.

Click here for a map of the stations in Cambridge.
Note that stations will be installed throughout the month of August.
To see if a station is live and operational, go to http://thehubway.com/stations (map of the entire Hubway system)

CDD Bike Share website

July 29, 2012

2011 City Council and School Committee Candidates – Campaign Finance Reports

Filed under: 2011 Election,campaign finance,City Council,School Committee — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 6:00 pm

The 2011 Cambridge municipal election for City Council and School Committee has come and gone, but the money continues to flow in and out of the candidate campaign accounts. Campaign finance reports are one indicator of the strength of a campaign, but some candidates can and do run successful campaigns on a shoestring. Other candidates raise and spend extraordinary amounts of money and are either not elected or barely squeak through.

Below are the 2011-2012 figures for City Council and School Committee candidates and the totals for the previous two years (2009-2010) for both City Council and School Committee candidates.

There were several interesting new candidates in 2011 for both City Council and School Committee and several strong candidates from 2009 who made another run.


City Council Candidates
2011-2012 City Council Campaign Finance - 2011 Candidates (updated Sept 1, 2012)
CandidateOpenReceiptsExpendituresBalanceDate#1 Votes$/VoteNotes
Cheung, Leland$8081.63$72635.06$75314.53$5402.168/15/20122017$37.34
Davis, Henrietta$2818.98$54310.99$54472.00$2657.977/31/20121436$37.93
Decker, Marjorie$1775.77$93365.89$70094.79$25046.874/30/20121123$62.42includes $ raised for 2012 State Rep. race, no add'l reports
Kelley, Craig$9765.37$12211.25$13714.54$8262.088/15/20121098$5.66$7500 candidate reimbursement subtracted
Maher, David$17868.78$53283.00$70661.02$490.768/15/20121686$41.91
Marquardt, Charles J.$3459.50$11063.25$11046.37$3476.388/15/2012501$22.05
Mello, Gary$0.00$487.02$487.02$0.002/29/2012135$3.61reimbursements subtracted, committee dissolved
Moree, Gregg$0.00$4873.20$4921.45-$48.254/15/201256$87.88account overdrawn
Nelson, Matt$2164.50$15386.53$16532.93$1018.108/15/2012542$30.50
Pascual, Jamake$0.00$60.00$60.00$0.005/31/201263$0.95
Reeves, Ken$4780.97$59515.65$55264.23$9032.398/15/20121013$54.56
Seidel, Sam$2007.45$20725.72$22389.30$343.878/15/2012788$28.41
Simmons, Denise$2972.36$36700.17$33739.41$5933.128/15/20121266$26.65
Stohlman, Tom$2734.24$475.00$2184.42$1024.827/31/2012344$6.35
Toomey, Tim$4886.73$45902.63$47646.53$3142.831/31/20121705$27.95no longer on depository account - no records for 2012
vanBeuzekom, Minka$2879.00$34725.66$34787.38$2817.288/15/20121038$33.51
Ward, Larry$248.47$16753.83$17002.30$0.004/30/2012835$20.36Account apparently closed
Williamson, James$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.004/15/2012175$0.00

A detailed report is here: http://rwinters.com/elections/CCfinance2011-2012.pdf (updated periodically)


City Council Campaign Finance (2009-2010) - updated Feb 18, 2012
CandidateOpenReceipts (2009-10)Expend. (2009-10)BalanceDate#1 Votes$/VoteNotes
Adkins, Lawrence$34.93$495.00$199.80$330.1312/31/2010103$1.94
Cheung, Leland$0.00$21757.50$13675.87$8061.6312/31/2010756$11.48$5000 repaid loan subtracted
Davis, Henrietta$11185.16$57901.70$66267.88$2818.9812/31/20101858$35.67
Decker, Marjorie$1867.27$101624.90$101716.40$1775.7712/31/20101285$79.16includes money related to State Senate campaign
Flanagan, Mark$0.00$140.35$140.35$0.0012/31/2010112$1.25
Glick, Silvia$0.00$12466.22$12424.01$42.2112/31/2010256$48.53
Kelley, Craig$6465.86$12620.92$9321.41$9765.3712/31/20101250$7.46
Leavitt, Neal$0.00$5856.17$5439.21$416.9612/31/2010136$39.99
Maher, David$12827.62$58636.50$53595.34$17868.7812/31/20101286$41.68
Marquardt, Charles J.$0.00$34909.40$31449.90$3459.5012/31/2010385$81.69
Nelson, Matthew P.$0.00$2255.00$90.50$2164.5012/31/2010--Filed papers for candidate account (Dec 2010)
Podgers, Kathy$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0012/31/201078$0.00no records
Reeves, Ken$6401.11$65906.34$67526.48$4780.9712/31/20101166$57.91
Seidel, Sam$775.16$27934.02$26701.73$2007.4512/31/2010900$29.67
Simmons, Denise$8689.90$117709.78$120780.40$5619.2812/31/20101785$67.66includes money related to State Senate campaign
Stohlman, Tom$0.00$5525.00$2790.76$2734.24 12/31/2010378$7.38
Sullivan, Edward$3950.24$25100.00$28420.48$629.7612/31/2010885$32.11
Toomey, Tim$34043.27$68070.73$97092.27$5021.7312/31/20101748$55.54includes money related to State Rep. campaign
vanBeuzekom, Minka$0.00$22097.64$19218.64$2879.0012/31/2010682$28.18
Ward, Larry$132.86$16933.34$16817.73$248.4712/31/2010736$22.85
Williamson, James$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.0012/31/201090$0.00

A detailed report is here: http://rwinters.com/elections/CCfinance2009-2010.pdf


School Committee Candidates
School Committee Campaign Finance (2011-2012) - updated Feb 18, 2012
CandidateOpening BalanceReceiptsExpendituresCurrent BalanceDate#1 Votes$/Vote
Fantini, Fred$4235.79$4543.00$5708.86$3069.9312/31/112371$2.41
Forster, Bill$0.00$1527.19$494.45$1032.7412/31/11330$1.50
Gerber, Joyce$0.00$2310.00$2259.63$50.3712/31/11434$5.21
Harding, Richard$86.88$9484.53$9565.86$5.5512/31/111850$5.17
Holland, John$0.00$7945.00$7680.72$264.2812/31/11388$19.80
McGovern, Marc$2500.00$15837.00$16053.00$2284.0012/31/111771$9.06
Nolan, Patty$386.47$7779.00$8079.89$85.5812/31/112126$3.80
Osborne, Mervan$0.00$31109.19$29948.74$1160.4512/31/112065$14.50
Stead, Charles$0.00$406.18$406.18$0.0012/31/11293$1.39
Tauber, Nancy$141.36$11233.29$9912.00$1462.6512/31/111490$6.65
Turkel, Alice$3600.53$11344.48$13506.44$1438.5712/31/112111$6.40


School Committee Campaign Finance (2009-2010) - updated Feb 18, 2012
CandidateOpening BalanceReceiptsExpendituresCurrent BalanceDate#1 Votes$ per #1 vote
Fantini, Fred$4966.00$6080.38$6810.59$4235.7912/31/102045$3.33
Grassi, Joe$10.00$6205.00$6225.88-$10.8812/31/101881$3.31
Harding, Richard$0.00$10710.60$10623.12$86.8812/31/101996$5.32
McGovern, Marc$1873.00$17741.00$17114.00$2500.0012/31/101954$8.76
Nolan, Patty$1385.69$9645.00$10644.22$386.4712/31/101745$6.10
Stead, Charles$0.00$599.87$599.87$0.0012/31/10392$1.53
Steinert, Alan$0.00$26540.00$26539.98$0.0212/31/101447$18.34
Tauber, Nancy$223.82$9875.00$9957.36$141.3612/31/102043$4.87
Turkel, Alice$0.00$21904.69$18304.16$3600.5312/31/101793$10.21

Click on the field names to sort in ascending order and again to sort in descending order.

As always, you can look this up yourself at the website of the Office of Campaign & Political Finance (OCPF) to get the most current information.

Cambridge Candidate Pages

Midsummer at the Council – July 30 City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:39 pm

Update: Here are the main things that happened at the marathon July 30 City Council meeting:

1) Action on the Forest City/MIT Zoning Petition was delayed until a Special City Council meeting scheduled for Mon, Aug 6 at 7:30pm with this as the sole agenda item. Mayor Davis and Councillor Maher indicated that there may be additional provisions included in the agreement that would protect 168 expiring-use affordable housing units that are part of University Park.
[Cambridge Chronicle report by Erin Baldassari]

2) The appropriation and authorization to borrow $81,500,000 to provide funds for architectural design, construction and other associated costs of the King School project was passed unanimously to a 2nd Reading.

3) The City Council Zoning Petition for School Site Zoning was ordained unanimously.

4) The NorthPoint Zoning Petition was ordained unanimously.

5) The North Mass. Ave. Rezoning Petition was ordained unanimously, and the related zoning petition for the Trolley Sq. area is to be re-filed on Sept 5.

6) The Area Four Neighborhood Preservation Petition (a.k.a. the Permanant Parking Petition) was received and referred to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee (where it will be received with great laughter and derision). – RW


Midsummer at the Council – July 30 City Council Agenda Highlights

The annual Midsummer meeting of the Cambridge City Council always sports one of the longest agendas of the year (being the only meeting between June and September). This year is light compared to other years with "only" 26 items on the City Manager’s Agenda, 10 on the Calendar, 5 Applications & Petitions, 43 Communications (mainly from an orchestrated effort opposing the Forest City/MIT zoning petition as a proxy for Central Square zoning recommendations yet to come), 71 Resolutions, 34 Orders, and 7 Committee Reports. Most of the items are the usual drivel, but a few stand out or are guaranteed to generate comment. Here are the items that caught my attention:

King School/Putnam Ave. Upper School Reconstruction:
Manager’s Agenda #20. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $81,500,000 to provide funds for architectural design, construction and other associated costs of the King School project.

The list of new features associated with this school is impressive. Some residents have argued that a complete teardown is not necessary and that may be a part of the discussion at this meeting.


Manager’s Agenda #26. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-57, regarding the City Council’s request for a report regarding the question of appropriate regulation of satellite dishes.

The report includes proposed language for a possible ordinance regulating how satellite dishes could be located on buildings. Federal law does not allow these devices to be too harshly regulated nor fees to be charged, but there is some flexibility to allow regulation of placement on building unless there are no feasible alternatives.


Forest City/MIT Zoning Petition:
Unfinished Business #7. 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 May 15, 2012 to discuss the petition of Forest City/MIT to amend the Zoning Ordinances by extending the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District from Green Street out to Massachusetts Avenue in the area adjacent to Blanche Street and further to provide for the potential development of a residential building on Sidney Street between Massachusetts Avenue and Green Street. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after June 25, 2012. Planning Board hearing held May 1, 2012. Petition expires Aug 13, 2012.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk’s Office, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public meeting held on June 27, 2012 to continue discussion on the petition of Forest City/MIT to amend the Zoning Ordinances by extending the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District from Green Street out to Massachusetts Avenue in the area adjacent to Blanche Street and further to provide for the potential development of a residential building on Sidney Street between Massachusetts Avenue and Green Street.

Committee Report #5. 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 meeting held on July 25, 2012 to continue discussion on the petition of Forest City/MIT to amend the Zoning Ordinances by extending the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District from Green Street out to Massachusetts Avenue in the area adjacent to Blanche Street and further to provide for the potential development of a residential building on Sidney Street between Massachusetts Avenue and Green Street.

The twisted rhetoric and misinformation that has grown around this matter is beyond incredible. Here are a few truths to consider:

  1. A previous petition, the Novartis Petition to create a new Special District 15 along a portion of Massachusetts Avenue between Albany Street and Windsor Street, passed 9-0 on June 20, 2011. There was no request from "the community" to build any housing whatsoever. There was no requirement that they provide retail space. The sole tenant is a pharmaceutical company. The Forest City/MIT proposal includes 13-15,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail. Its sole tenant for the rest of the building is Millennium, a pharmaceutical company that is already a tenant of University Park.
  2. In the new Special District 15 created as a result of the Novartis Petition, the maximum FAR is 3.5 and the maximum height as-of-right is 120 ft. (plus mechanicals) which can be increased to 140 ft. via Special Permit. In contrast, the Forest City/MIT proposal is to build a 95 ft. building (plus mechanicals). The height associated with the Novartis proposal was never opposed by "the community".
  3. The original Forest City/MIT proposal did not include housing, but the revised petition did include housing in response to suggestions from the City Council and the Community Development Department. That proposed housing was controversial and was subsequently removed in response to pressure from "the community". There is simply no way to rationally make the case that Forest City has been anything other than responsive to feedback from elected officials and "the community".
  4. The original zoning for University Park required 400 units of housing of which 150 were to be "affordable". There are now 674 units of housing in University Park of which 26% are classified as "affordable" – well in excess of City goals.
  5. The block at the heart of this petition currently contains a boarded-up former bar, the Thailand Cafe, an MIT garage for service vehicles, an auto glass replacement shop, the former Salvation Army Thrift Store, and the All-Asia bar (which is relocating to Prospect Street under a new name). This block has been an eyesore for many years. It generates about $55,000 in real estate taxes per year. If the petition passes, there will be retail opportunities for local companies and it is estimated that the City will receive about $2.4 million in real estate taxes every year. In addition, an Incentive Zoning payment and a Community Benefit Mitigation payment will total about $2,163,000.

Much of the public comment associated with the Forest City/MIT petition has centered on matters unrelated to this site or the petition. It is being used a proxy for possible future Central Square zoning recommendations yet to come. It is likely that there will be future recommendations for strategic increases in density in Central Square – largely driven by the desire to create more housing opportunities in the area and to provide other community benefits. Opponents have stated that the Forest City/MIT petition should be delayed pending the final report of the Goody Clancy study and its associated advisory committee, yet all indications are that the current proposal is consistent with that process. This makes this assertion little more than a red herring or a transparent delay tactic.

Ultimately, the fate of any zoning petition comes down to how the nine city councillors will vote, and six votes are needed for ordination in this case. It will be a shame if this matter is decided not by the merits of the proposal but by entirely political considerations. One councillor has a long-term friendship with one of the opponents. Another pro-density councillor lives on Essex Street where some of her neighbors are at the core of the opposition – based on an unrelated concern that parking lots on Bishop Allen Drive may one day become sites for future housing. These and other councillors have been seeking rationale for voting against this petition even though those who were on the Council in 2011 voted unanimously in favor of the Novartis Petition that provided fewer "community benefits" and more height than the current proposal. If this petition fails, it will be a victory for hypocrisy.


City Council Zoning Petition for School Site Zoning:
Unfinished Business #8. 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 May 23, 2012 to discuss a petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge by adding to Section 5.50 entitled "Special Dimensional Regulations" a section 5.54 entitled "Special Regulations for Municipal Elementary and Middle (K-8) Schools. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after June 25, 2012. Planning Board hearing held June 5, 2012. Petition expires Aug 21, 2012.

Committee Report #4. 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 meeting held on July 19, 2012 to conduct a follow-up meeting on the petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge by adding to Section 5.50 entitled "Special Dimensional Regulations" a section 5.54 entitled "Special Regulations for Municipal Elementary and Middle (K-8) Schools.

This petition is primarily crafted to allow sufficient flexibility in the reconstruction or renovation of the proposed middle/upper schools that are at the heart of the so-called "Innovation Agenda." This should be relatively noncontroversial.


North Mass. Ave. Rezoning Petition:

Manager’s Agenda #24. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the Planning Board’s recommendation with regard to the North Massachusetts Avenue Rezoning Petition.

Unfinished Business #10. 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 June 6, 2012 to discuss the petition from the Planning Board to rezone the North Massachusetts Avenue area. A hearing was also scheduled at 4:15pm to discuss a petition of the Planning Board to amend the Zoning Map for an area along North Massachusetts Avenue in the vicinity of Trolley Square and Linear Park from Business A-2 to Residence C-2B. The petitions were discussed together. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after July 2, 2012. Planning Board hearing held May 15, 2012. Petition expires Sept 4, 2012.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Administrative Assistant, City Clerk’s Office, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public meeting held on June 28, 2012 to continue discussion on the petitions from the Planning Board to rezone the North Massachusetts Avenue area and to amend the Zoning Map for an area along Massachusetts Avenue in the vicinity of Trolley Square and Linear Park from Business A-2 to Residence C-2B.

Order #20. That the petition to amend the zoning map along Massachusetts Avenue in the vicinity of Trolley Square and Linear Park from Business A-2 to Residence C-2B be re-filed on Sept 5, 2012.   Councillor Maher

There are two petitions in play here. The Planning Board petition to incentivize retail in this stretch of Mass. Ave. has plenty of neighborhood support and the blessing of the Planning Board. It will likely be voted at this meeting. The other petition that is more specific to the Trolley Sq. area has not yet been passed to a 2nd Reading and expires before the next City Council meeting, hence the Order that it be re-filed.


Northpoint Zoning Revision:
Unfinished Business #9. 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 May 23, 2012 to discuss an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance on a petition filed by CJUF III Northpoint LLC to amend Article 13.700 – Planned Unit Development in the North Point Residence District. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after June 25, 2012. Planning Board hearing held June 5, 2012. Petition expires Aug 21, 2012.

This is a relatively minor revision to previously approved zoning for this area (2003). It has the blessing of the Planning Board.


The "Permanent Parking Petition":
Applications & Petitions #1. A zoning petition has been received from Susan Yanow, et al. transmitting a zoning petition entitled "Area Four Neighborhood Preservation" requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map in Area Four and the Central Square area.

There was an unsuccessful effort at the June 18 City Council meeting to introduce this petition as a late order. The petition proposes to do the opposite of every anticipated recommendation of the ongoing Goody/Clancy process relating to the Central Square area. Ironically, these same petitioners endorse waiting until the final Goody/Clancy report before any action is taken on the Forest City/MIT petition. This is just civic comedy – proposing the opposite while at the same time arguing that Goody/Clancy should be used as a guide. This petition would also sanctify the permanent existence of surface parking lots around Central Square.

There is a need for a robust discussion on the pros and cons of additional density in Central Square to take place. We should all look forward to such a discussion. This petition contributes nothing to that discussion.


Resolution #21. Resolution on the death of Anne F. Williamson.   Councillor Maher, Mayor Davis

Anne Williamson was a long-time friend and one of the most reasonable and rational people I have known in civic affairs in Cambridge.

Resolution #48. Resolution on the retirement of Gordon Gottsche.   Councillor Toomey, Mayor Davis, Vice Mayor Simmons

Gordon Gottsche, the Executive Director of the non-profit Just-A-Start, is practically a Cambridge institution. We should all wish him well in his retirement.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council in Executive Session the nature of the possibility of six lawsuits, their status, and any others that might have been filed.   Councillor Reeves

This seems like the next step in what will likely be a miserable effort by this councillor to leverage the upcoming process of hiring the next city manager. Let’s hope that there are at least five city councillors who will not allow themselves to be led around.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to create the placement of appropriate signage or indication of entry into the City of Cambridge on or around the North Bank Pedestrian Bridge.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

This is a nice sentiment, but there’s a small problem of geography. A significant part of North Point Park on the Cambridge side of the new bridge is actually in Boston. The city boundary is determined by the historic channel of the Charles River, and many iterations of filling and redefining the boundary of the river have led to this oddity. Perhaps there should be a legislative fix putting the park entirely in Cambridge, but this really is a metropolitan park and the municipal boundaries should not be overly emphasized.

Order #14. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and report back to the City Council on whether a tagging program could be implemented to notify owners of bicycles that have been removed from sign posts by the Department of Public Works and contact information for retrieval of said bicycle.   Councillor Kelley

As we like to say, "Same Roads, Same Rules." When an automobile is tagged and towed on street cleaning day, the cops and tow truck drivers never leave a note. Cyclists are obligated to know the rules, and that includes rules regarding the use of sign posts for long-term personal parking.

Order #16. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council statistical information regarding enforcement citations for loud motorcycle mufflers, car radios and the City’s plan to address these issues.   Councillor Kelley

I am completely in support of this Order and for action to be taken to crack down on this aural abuse, but this matter has been brought up time and time again and it never goes anywhere.

Order #18. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff on whether, and under what conditions, emails to both Council@Cambridgema.gov and to individual Councillors, at both their personal and City emails, may be shared with the general public and what, if any, redaction of personal information should be done prior to such sharing, whether the sharing of an email is by forwarding it to others or by posting it to a website.   Councillor Kelley

This is an intriguing Order. Some of the hate mail originating from nitwits on the right and left might provide for entertaining reading. My personal belief is that anyone who sends inflammatory e-mail does so in full recognition that it may come back to embarrass the writer. On the other hand, if there was an expectation that ordinary messages to public officials would be thrown into the public arena, this would likely lead to fewer people contacting elected officials. Perhaps simply asking elected officials to use reasonable discretion is answer enough to this Order.

Order #30. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to report back to the City Council with an estimate of how sequestration would affect municipal finances and the finances of human services organizations that partner with the City.   Councillor Cheung

I have to confess that I have no idea what this Order is asking. I know what carbon sequestration is and I know what it means to sequester a jury, but beyond that I have no idea.

Order #32. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City departments on the feasibility of providing bike regulations to a wider audience including through media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, public service announcements and newspaper ads, increased enforcement and installation of signs informing bikers that they must obey the rules of the road.   Councillor Cheung

Though this is certainly a good idea, I believe it can be fairly said that almost all cyclists are completely aware of the Rules of the Road. Some of them just choose to ignore those rules. Will a few "tweets" change their scofflaw behavior? Probably not. In contrast, it’s likely true that periodic aggressive ticketing of cyclists does have the desired effect.

Order #33. That the City Manager is requested to work with the appropriate City departments to expand enforcement of the prohibition on Cambridge pick-ups by non-Cambridge cabs not specifically called to Cambridge.   Councillor Cheung

There is another point of view that questions the whole idea of granting exclusive rights to certain cab operators and perhaps even the very idea of hackney licensing. Does this licensing really serve the public good? Or does it merely inflate the value of hackney licenses and drive up consumer costs? Though it would have to be done across all city and town boundaries, perhaps we’d all be better off if hackney licenses were eliminated. This, of course, won’t put any "Elect Candidate X" bumper stickers on any Cambridge cabs. – Robert Winters

July 27, 2012

City Council to discuss last December’s fatal bicycle crash

On Monday, July 30, 2012, the Cambridge City Council is to discuss a City Manager’s report on the December, 2011 fatal truck/bicycle crash at Vassar Street and Massachusetts Avenue. (I commented on that crash in an earlier post in this Forum).

The city has posted the agenda of the meeting. The City Manager’s report on the crash is on that agenda.

I’ve posted that report here — indented, with my comments unindented:

July 30, 2012

To the [City Council]:

In response to Awaiting Report Item Number 12-63 relative to a report on safety issues at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Vasser [sic] Street, Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation Susan E. Clippinger reports the following:

In response to the fatal bicycle crash on December 27, 2011, the Traffic, Parking + Transportation Department conducted a review of the intersection that included the operation of the traffic signal, signs and pavement markings of the intersection, and a review of the crash history of the location.

Using both the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Cambridge Police Department crash information, TP+T reviewed 19 incidents involving bicycles which occurred in the 5 years between 2007 and 2011 (excluding the fatality which was under investigation). The purpose of the review was to determine if a common type of crash was frequently occurring and if engineering measures could be implemented to prevent future crashes.

A Policy Order Resolution from the May 14 City Council meeting (third page here) describes Vassar Street and Massachusetts Avenue as the second-worst intersection for crashes in the city, and reports 55 crashes, with 24 involving “cars” (which I take to mean all motor vehicles). Clippinger reported on 19 bicycle-motor vehicle crashes over a 5-year period — however, single-bicycle, bicycle-bicycle and bicycle-pedestrian crashes are just as real. Perhaps Clippinger did not report on 5 of the bicycle-motor vehicle crashes because evidence was too sparse, but on the other hand, what about the remaining 31? All 55 crashes were serious enough that police reports were filed. Also, bicycle crashes of all kinds, especially those not involving motor vehicles, are greatly under-reported to police.

A couple years ago in a national Webinar, the City’s bicycle coordinator, Cara Seiderman, said that there had been no crashes on the Vassar Street sidepaths. Evidently, she excluded intersections, and even so, her statement was incorrect. There had been at least two bicycle-pedestrian crashes on the sidepaths in which someone was taken away in an ambulance. Following each of these crashes, one of the parties e-mailed me, having read my online comments about the sidepaths. There have almost certainly been additional crashes.

Clippinger’s report continues:

We found that in 17 of the 19 crashes, the bicycle was proceeding through the intersection and was not turning left or right. In eight of the 19 crashes, the vehicle was turning right. A common cause of this type of crash is that either the driver fails to yield upon turning or the bicycle is traveling too fast to stop in time for a vehicle that is in the process of turning.

Clippinger places the responsibility on the motorist to look to the right rear to yield to bicyclists who are foolishly overtaking on the right. Bike lanes to the right of right-turning traffic at intersections, as here, encourage bicyclists to make this mistake.

It also appears that most of these crashes were minor; only two crashes resulted in the cyclist’s being transported to the hospital.

17 of the 19 cyclists described in the report evidently were lucky. Such “coffin corner” crashes are often fatal when the right-turning vehicle is a large truck or bus. However, Clippinger doesn’t report how serious any of the injuries were, whether or not the cyclists were transported to the hospital. To be fair, she may not have had access to this information. It’s hard to get.

Based on the limited information we have on the location and direction of the cyclist involved in the December 27 crash, TP+T determined that this crash is not consistent with the crashes experienced previously at this location. Further, we determined that the traffic signal operation, signs, pavement markings, and layout of the intersection did not contribute to this crash.

I agree that this was a different type of crash. However, features of the intersection almost certainly contributed to the crash. As I noted in my review of the Tech article — and as reported by eyewitnesses — the right turn was difficult for the trucker because of a bulbout and street furniture on the corner. It is likely that the driver was looking into his right side-view mirror to make sure that the truck cleared the street furniture, and so failed to see the bcyclist. To clear the street furniture, the truck crossed the centerline on Vassar Street, placing it in head-on conflict with traffic in the oncoming left-turn lane, one of the possible locations of the cyclist. The layout of the intersection had nothing to do with this?

However, I think that the cyclist most likely was crossing in front of the truck from right to left. In that case, he had been riding wrong-way on the Vassar Street sidepath, and then turned to his right across the street. The sidepath and connecting bike lane enable this conduct. He could have been looking to the right for traffic, and failed to notice the truck on his left. Also, his brakes may have functioned poorly in the wet.

Clippinger concludes:

TP+T remains fully committed to improving the safety of our roads for all users, particularly for pedestrians and bicycles. We continue to research causes of crashes citywide, and each year we use that information to make engineering improvements we feel will reduce the number and severity of crashes.

“We feel”. I’d prefer a stronger report, examining all types of crashes, and a bicycle program guided by careful research rather than feelings.

July 21, 2012

Looking even further back at North Point – and an invitation

Filed under: Cambridge,East Cambridge,planning — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 12:17 pm

Come for a walk
Sun, July 22, 2012. Charles River’s Edge: Cambridge-Charlestown-Boston.
Approx. 5-6mi. walk via North Point Park, brand new North Bank Bridge, USS Constitution, and Charles River Dam. Meet at 10:00am at the gazebo at Cambridgeside Galleria Mall fountain. Bring lunch and desire to explore. We’ll cover the past, present, and future plans for this historic area. L Robert Winters ((617) 661-9230; Robert@rwinters.com).

[This is listed with AMC Local Walks, but it’s open to all.]

Here are a few historical images from 1990 of this area:

View toward North Point from bridge
View toward North Point from Craigie Bridge – 1990
North Point Park site - 1990
Site of future North Point Park – 1990
Group Shot 1990
North Point Visit (1990) with Michael Rosenberg, Alice Wolf,
Tim Toomey, Robert Healy, Sheila Russell and others
Fred Salvucci & Alice Wolf
Fred Salvucci & Alice Wolf at North Point – 1990
Liz Epstein & Fred Salvucci
Liz Epstein & Fred Salvucci at North Point – 1990
The Miller’s River is in the background.
Fred Salvucci at Tower A
Fred Salvucci at Tower A in 1990 with new CANA ramps
under construction. The new bridge now runs through the
center of this shot – inches from Tower A.
Hugo, Liz & Fred
Liz Epstein at North Point (1990) with
Hugo Salemme and Fred Salvucci
High Bridge (I-93)
View from below of the High Bridge – 1990
View toward North Station
View toward North Station from road – 1990
View toward North Station
View toward North Station from RR tracks – 1990
Charles River RR bridges - 1925
Charles River RR bridges – 1925 aerial photograph
View from Charlestown toward North Point
View from Charlestown toward North Point at opening of bridge – July 13, 2012

July 14, 2012

Looking Back at the New Charles River Basin

Filed under: Cambridge,cycling,East Cambridge,planning — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:54 pm

North Bank Bridge

July 13, 2012 – The new North Bank Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians connecting North Point Park in East Cambridge to Paul Revere Park in Charlestown at the Charles River opened on Friday, July 13, 2012. This bridge went through many different designs before it was finally constructed. It’s a dream come true for all the people who have followed this evolving story over the last few decades, and the story is not yet done. More connections will follow over the next few years. Shown below are some recent images (2012), two images taken during the walk over the Zakim Bridge prior to its opening, several images of the groundbreaking for North Point Park (June 2002), and a set of images taken in April 2002 of this area. New photos of the area will be posted soon, but it’s always good to look back at what used to be. – Robert Winters

North Bank Bridge before opening
North Bank Bridge before opening
North Bank Bridge
North Bank Bridge (from invitation)
Zakim Bridge
Zakim Bridge
Zakim Bridge
Zakim Bridge
North Point Park plan
Plan for North Point Park showing proposed pedestrian bridges
Groundbreaking - June 2, 2003
Groundbreaking for North Point Park (June 13, 2002)

New temporary ramps for I-93

Threading the new temporary CANA ramps

View across the site of the future North Point Park

The old duckboat ramp at collapsed seawall

View from Boston side of RR bridge toward future park
with temporary loop ramps in background

View from north bank looking toward Boston Sand & Gravel

View toward Zakim Bridge from under temporary ramps

View of Boston Sand & Gravel from across RR tracks

View of old Charles River lock from North Point

View of Tower A and RR bridge from North Point with temporary
ramp over Tower A at left, new bridge and Zakim bridge
under construction in background

View from North Point toward Boston just upstream of RR bridge

Millers River seen from under new Zakim Bridge

View from under new Zakim Bridge (old I-93 at left)

View from between the old and the new I-93

Zakim Bridge during construction

View from under old I-93 bridge

View from downstream of old I-93 bridge

The magnificently decrepit old I-93 bridge

Looking through the old toward the new

Zakim Bridge under construction

View of old I-93 bridge looking upstream from Boston side

RR bridge viewed from downstream on the Boston side

View from Boston toward Charletown of old I-93 bridge
after removal of ramps over City Square, Charletown

View upstream from locks on new Charles River Dam

View across site of North Point Park showing duckboat,
old warehouses, new and old bridges (April 2002)

July 12, 2012

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Initial Years, 1963 to 1982

Filed under: Cambridge Redevelopment Authority,East Cambridge,Kendall Square,planning — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 6:16 pm

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Initial Years, 1963 to 1982

By Thad Tercyak


This narrative was submitted in response to the following invitation:
The November 28, 2011 edition of the Cambridge Civic Journal reported (a) that several informative documents regarding the history and background of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority were made available and entered into the record and (b) “Any additional information on the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority or the history of urban renewal in Cambridge are also welcome…. – Robert Winters, Editor.”


The following narrative provides additional background information on the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) and pertains to the history of urban renewal in the City of Cambridge during the initial 19 years of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, from 1963 to 1981. It was during this period of time that the CRA initiated the Kendall Square Project, acquired, cleared and improved 43-acres of land which was an urban eyesore of underutilized and obsolete industrial and warehouse buildings and made the land available for construction of public improvements and private development in accordance with the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan. As a result of these activities, the CRA was in a position to undertake completion of the remaining pieces of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, also known as Cambridge Center. The subsequent efforts of the CRA and its developer culminated in the development of the Cambridge Center Project.

This period of time coincides with the tenure of Mr. Robert F. Rowland as the CRA Executive Director who, among the many people and organizations involved in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, provided leadership during the Project’s difficult and, at times, painful periods.

In 1968, as an economist-urban planner specializing in urban redevelopment projects and completing seven years as a director of two major urban renewal projects with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, I was hired by the CRA as an Associate Director. I left the CRA in 1990. I participated in virtually all of the events described in this narrative which occurred during my 22 years with the CRA, 1968 to 1990. Descriptions of the events which occurred between 1963 and 1968 before I joined the CRA and descriptions of the events after I left the CRA in 1990 are based on CRA records and reports, and conversations with CRA staff.

Initiation of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project

Before joining the CRA, Robert F. Rowland was a city planner with extensive urban redevelopment experience, and at various times served as Director of Community Development with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), Deputy Director of the Providence Redevelopment Authority, and as a partner in a consultant firm specializing in city planning and urban redevelopment projects.

In 1963, Rowland commuted to his job with the BRA, parking his car in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Kendall Square rapid transit station parking lot. He noticed that the area north of the rapid transition station was severely underdeveloped with underutilized, largely vacant, obsolete industrial and warehouse buildings, a blighting influence on the surrounding area. 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 MIT, direct subway connections to Harvard University and downtown Boston, and easy connection to Logan Airport.

Rowland was also aware that there was competition in the Boston area to provide a site for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop a technologically sophisticated 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 CRA Board 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 subsequently appointed CRA Executive Director.

In 1964 the CRA presented the concept plan to Cambridge City Council. The Council reacted favorably and voted to have the CRA prepare a redevelopment plan for the Kendall Square area with two general objectives:

  1. to provide land for both NASA and private development which would generate needed tax revenues and employment opportunities for the City of Cambridge; and
  2. to secure maximum federal funds to finance implementation of the redevelopment plan.

With respect to the first general objective, the City of Cambridge, with support for the project 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 ascertained that development could be expedited through the use of the urban renewal process because of its unique advantages, including:

  1. Preparation of a redevelopment plan sponsored and approved by the City of Cambridge.
  2. Land assembly through the use of local “quick-taking” eminent domain powers.
  3. Financing of most of the project costs by the Federal government.
  4. CRA control over developer selection and approval of developers’ plans.

With respect to the second general objective, the CRA advised the City of Cambridge to take advantage of a complex urban renewal financing formula which could be used “to secure maximum federal funds to finance implementation of the redevelopment plan”. The formula, based on Section 112 of the Housing Act of 1949 as amended in 1954 and 1955, provided that expenditures by educational institutions and hospitals located within a mile of an urban renewal project and conducting activities that contribute to the objectives of the urban renewal project can be used as credits (“Section 112 credits”) to cover the local share of the cost to carry out the project. The CRA took the lead in contacting MIT officials and congressional representatives in working out the details required to secure federal approval of the Section 112 credits financing plan. Consequently, the City and MIT entered into an agreement which provided that MIT submit to the City for its approval a Development Plan which included MIT property located within a mile of the redevelopment area to be used exclusively for educational purposes. Then the expenditures incurred by MIT to acquire land and buildings in accordance with the Agreement 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 net project cost.

In 1965, the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project prepared by the CRA was approved by the City of Cambridge, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal government. The project covered a 43-acre site in and around Kendall Square, comprised of four parcels: Parcel 1
(19 acres) and Parcel 2, (10 acres), both designated for use by NASA; Parcels 3 and 4 (14 acres combined) designated for private development.

In 1966, NASA signed a Land Disposition Contract with the CRA which provided that the CRA transfer, as soon as possible, ownership to NASA of 19 acres of land (Parcel 1) ready for construction of improvements by NASA. The CRA immediately started land preparation activities, delivered the land on schedule and NASA constructed a 14-story office tower and five low rise buildings. A particularly difficult task for the CRA was securing permission to fill the Broad Canal, which ran through the middle of the project area. The CRA had to deal with the nightmare of resolving the bureaucratic requirements of a multitude of agencies involved in relocating the Canal to an underground pipe system.

NASA Quits; DOT Releases Land

Then in 1969, without warning, NASA announced the closing of its facility in Cambridge and its intent to withdraw from the project, in spite of bitter objections and protests by the City of Cambridge. Subsequently, NASA’s interest in the site was transferred to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In 1970, the DOT established on Parcel 1 the National Transportation System Center, later named after John A. Volpe, Secretary of DOT and former governor of Massachusetts.

Since Parcel 2, 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 be likely to benefit Cambridge more than if the land were to be developed by the federal government. The CRA met with DOT Secretary Volpe, and made 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 it undermined the City’s program to effectively market the rest of the project area for private development.

On November 23, 1971, almost 2 years after NASA announced it was quitting its obligations to the City of Cambridge regarding development in the Kendall Square Project and after prolonged negotiations among the CRA, DOT, U.S. General Services Administration, and HUD, DOT Secretary Volpe released DOT’s rights to Parcel 2 to the CRA.

Amending the Redevelopment Plan

Retrieving the rights to Parcel 2’s 10 undeveloped acres required that the CRA amend the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan in order to designate new reuses for the land. The 10 acres plus the 14 acres originally designated for development by NASA became a 24-acre site for private development and had a tremendous impact on the development potential of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project. Unfortunately, the atmosphere for carrying out a new planning effort came at a particularly inopportune time.

The Boston Area real estate market was in the doldrums for a good part of the 1970’s and new development was at virtual standstill. Turmoil created by the Vietnam War protests made for difficult conditions for rational land use planning as some protesters attended planning meetings for the main purpose of expressing their objections to the war. Locally, community groups proposed contradictory project objectives, including “quick-fix” land uses, such as a beer distribution warehouse, a soccer field, open space, even restoring the Broad Canal. Cambridge City Council created a task force comprised of representatives from a cross-section of Cambridge organizations to work with the CRA in a new planning effort. A number different
land use plans were developed, but the City could not arrive at a consensus on land uses for the project.

Over time, a cloud descended over the project’s development potential as efforts to resolve planning problems were frustrated and grumbles concerning the apparent lack of progress in redeveloping the site began to be heard.

During the time Cambridge City Council was struggling to settle on an acceptable Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan, the CRA was busy completing land preparation activities and creating vacant land ready for new construction once the planning deadlock was resolved.

Land Preparation Activities

Land preparation activities executed by the CRA included roughly the acquisition of 100 parcels of land, relocation of 100 businesses, demolition of 50 buildings, clearance of 43 acres of land, construction of public improvements and creation of new traffic patterns.

Relocation is among the most difficult land preparation activity because the redevelopment authority must interface with the people who are disrupted by the project. Practically all of the relocation in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project involved businesses, as only a handful of families were affected. Some businesses did not object to being acquired or relocated because they were already planning to leave the area. However, most of the Kendall Square businesses endured various degrees of hardship by being required to move. There were understandable feelings of shock, anger, bewilderment, and vows to resist moving. Consequently, the CRA carefully selected staff for the relocation operation, making sure they had the sensitivity to patiently work with people who had to move, treating them with dignity, respect and courtesy. There were no forced legal evictions and the Kendall Square relocation operation required years to accomplish as some businesses took that long before they moved.

It is during the land preparation stage that a redevelopment agency experiences its most difficult time because of the problems associated with relocation operations and some of the other activities, such as demolition of buildings, site preparations, discontinuances of existing streets, and construction of new streets and utilities, are messy, noisy, dirty, unsightly, and often a public nuisance.

The land preparation activities phase is the nitty-gritty, heavy lifting period of the redevelopment process. Its purpose is to transform land containing outmoded, derelict buildings and blighting uses into vacant land ready for construction of improvements designated by the renewal plan. But if the real estate market is not receptive to the reuses designated by the renewal plan, the land remains vacant until market conditions favorable to the renewal plan’s reuses come into existence. The longer the time land remains vacant, the more complaints are heard about the lack of progress and the amount of time that has gone by since the start of the redevelopment project.

ULI Panel Helps To Break Deadlock

To help break the planning deadlock, the CRA retained the advisory panel services of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to review the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project and suggest ways to move the project in the right direction. ULI’s advisory panel services program approaches a project from all perspectives by assembling experts in the fields of market potential, land use and design, financing and development strategies, and organizing for implementation.

In carrying out the assignment for the CRA, panel members first spent two days reviewing comprehensive briefing materials prepared by the CRA staff; touring the project and surrounding area; and individually and in teams talking 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. Then the panel spent the next two days framing their recommendations and drafting a report which was presented to the public.

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 suggested a sophisticated large, planned-unit development approach. The panel stated there were two approaches to redevelopment to consider:

  1. Dispose of the land for an optimal type of development that will reflect the highest and best use of the land, thereby bringing the greatest long-range benefit to the Cambridge community.
  2. Dispose of the land to take advantage of its short term marketability, enabling the CRA and Cambridge City Council to respond promptly to concerns being expressed respecting development delays.

The ULI panel’s preference was for the first approach: “Cambridge Center is a unique opportunity area, one that should be reserved to maximize its locational advantages”. The CRA adopted the ULI panel recommendations respecting an optimal type of development. The ULI panel’s professionalism and diligence in carrying out its mission impressed and gained the confidence of the Cambridge City Council. The Council sent a message to the real estate development community that it was ready to change the development climate in Cambridge by approving zoning for a mixed-use plan amendment to the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area and urging the CRA to move forward with development.

Attracting Developers

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 that the CRA could overcome developer skepticism concerning the development climate in Cambridge by establishing a track 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, such as infrastructure construction and improving the appearance of vacant land through dust control measures, fencing, etc.

The CRA, working closely with Cambridge representatives and the local congressional delegation, intensified local efforts to secure federal funds needed to complete the project. As a result, in 1974 HUD agreed to reserve an additional $15-million for the project. Then in 1975 Congress passed and President Ford signed legislation limiting Cambridge’s share of the project cost to the initial $6.4 million, contributed in 1965, in the form of Section 112 credits. Consequently, Cambridge’s share of the project costs was negligible.

Selecting a Developer

In 1976, 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 the DOT. The CRA established a Development Advisory Group comprised of experts in large-scale project financing and real estate negotiations to provide counsel in its negotiations with developers; and
a Design Advisory Group consisting of local independent architects to help evaluate large-scale design proposals.

In 1978, an invitation for proposals to develop 14 of the 24 acres comprising Cambridge Center based on the theme that “The Best Site to Develop in Boston is Not in Boston”, met with encouraging response from developers. Four well qualified finalists were selected from among the developers who submitted proposals. The CRA interviewed in depth each of the four finalists. The Development Advisory Group examined each developers finished projects, financial soundness and marketing performance. The Design Advisory Group evaluated each developers design team. After exhaustive interviews and analysis, it was determined that Boston Properties had two important advantages over its competition:

  1. Boston Properties’ two principals had worked as a team for many years producing a number of successful 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 had demonstrated a net worth adequate to sustain a large and complex development such as Cambridge Center, including current assets sufficient to fund first-rate development planning; a willingness to invest those funds in Cambridge Center; a cash flow arising from a broad, geographically diverse base of real estate investments that could support start-up costs and sustain development during tough economic times; and a proven ability to manage investment property effectively while adjusting to economic changes.

Selecting Boston Properties as the developer of Cambridge Center was a difficult decision by the CRA because of pressure from supporters of the other finalists.

Building Construction Begins

In 1979 a development agreement between the CRA and Boston properties was executed, including conditions that the developer commence initial development activities by constructing a major building within seven months, and depositing $250,000 as security for the developer’s performance. Boston Properties met its obligation by starting construction of a 13-story office building as required by the agreement.

In 1981 Boston Properties commenced construction of a 12-story office building with ground floor retail and a 5-story, 863-space garage with an open space park built on the roof of the garage.

Subsequently, the CRA revised its development agreement with Boston Properties to include Parcel 2’s 10 acres, so that the area comprising Cambridge Center totaled 24 acres.

Summary

In 1963 Cambridge City Council designated the CRA as the lead agency with major responsibility for carrying out the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project. In 1964 the CRA Board appointed Robert F, Rowland as its Executive Director. During Rowland’s tenure from 1964 to 1982, the CRA accomplished the following objectives:

  1. Initiated the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project after NASA chose Cambridge as the location for its Electronics Research Center;
  2. Secured financing for the project;
  3. Completed land preparation activities;
  4. Persuaded U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to release its hold on ten acres of, land designated for development by NASA;
  5. Prepared and secured approval of a revised Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan;
  6. Prepared development sites for new construction;
  7. Selected Boston Properties as project developer and collaborated with Boston Properties to initiate development of Cambridge Center.

During Rowland’s 18-year tenure as the CRA Executive Director, what had once been a 43-acre urban eyesore was cleared and improved with infrastructure making the land immediately available for development of the reuses designated by the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan. The CRA guided the Kendall square Urban Renewal Project through difficult periods fulfilling Cambridge City Council’s original objectives: (1) to provide land for private development which would generate tax revenues and employment opportunities for the City of Cambridge and (2) to secure maximum federal funds to finance implementation of the redevelopment plan.

In 1982 Rowland left the CRA and Joseph F, Tulimieri was appointed the CRA Executive Director.

A Blessing in Disguise

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 development delays caused by the withdrawal, it was a blessing in disguise because an additional 10 acres of land could be disposed of as recommended by the ULI panel “for an optimal type of development that will reflect the highest and best use of the land, thereby bringing the greatest long-range benefit to the Cambridge community”. The 10 acres 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 which would attract additional high tech development in the rest of the Kendall Square area and the eastern sector of Cambridge.

The combination of (a) the presence of MIT ; (b) Technology Square, which included Rogers Block, a CRA urban renewal project containing 4.5 acres of land located west of the Kendall Square Project, started in the 1960’s and developed by Cabot, Cabot and Forbes in partnership with MIT and (c) decisions by the Whitehead Institute and Biogen in 1982 to locate in Cambridge Center were key elements leading to the emergence of high-tech development in the Kendall Square area, and providing the impetus for major technology and biotechnology development in the eastern sector of Cambridge. From the 1980’s Cambridge Center experienced an acceleration of biotech development until the City of Cambridge declared a building moratorium in 2000. After the moratorium additional development consumed virtually all of the land designated for development in the original boundaries of Cambridge Center.

As a result, within a 1 mile radius of the Kendall Square Project, there are over 80 biotechnology firms. One observer noted that “officials at the world’s top research institutions (came to) view Kendall Square as a neighborhood with its own peculiar identity, a place where scientists can meet to discuss angiogenesis or algorithms over a beer or dine next to a Noble laureate”. (Woolhouse, “Making a High Tech Mecca”, Boston Sunday Globe, June 26, 2011).

To date, virtually all of the original 24 acres of the Cambridge Center project have been developed. The project initially anticipated development of 1.4 million sq. ft. of gross floor area with a valuation of $250 million. As of late, the project achieved development of around 3 million sq. ft. of gross floor area with a valuation of $650,000 million, generating $13 million in real estate property taxes and 6,000 jobs.

In 2001, market conditions and local public policy directed the CRA to focus on housing involving further development of Parcel 1 of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project.


POSTSCRIPT

Rowland’s contributions to the success of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project and Cambridge Center were substantial, but scarcely recognized. For example, in the Nowiszewski Plaza located next to the Marriott Hotel are two plaques. One plaque entitled “A Tribute to the Members of the Cambridge City Council” contains the names of Cambridge City Council members who served during the development period of Cambridge Center. The other plaque entitled “In Recognition of the Efforts of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority in the Development of Cambridge Center” contains the names of all the people who served as members of the CRA Board starting with Paul R. Corcoran, Chairman, 1957-1960, 1967-1970, and going through to Charles C. Nowiszewski, 1976-1985. The only name on the plaque associated with the CRA outside of CRA Board members is that of the present Executive Director and Secretary who succeeded Rowland, the CRA Executive Director from 1964-1981. This is an omission that deserves to be corrected. The plaque should read:

Robert F. Rowland
Executive Director and Secretary 1964-1982
Joseph F. Tulimieri
Executive Director and Secretary 1982-present

Footnote:

During Rowland’s tenure as the CRA Executive Director, the CRA carried out redevelopment operations which helped to improve and stabilize the Wellington-Harrington Urban Renewal Area by (a) working with property owners to rehabilitate their properties by providing construction advise, arranging financing, and enlisting support from Just-A-Start; (b) carrying out spot clearance of blighted properties, such as junk yards; and (c) providing cleared land for construction of housing, and public and private improvements.

The CRA has informative reports pertaining to its activities in the Wellington-Harrington Urban Renewal Area.

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