Minutes of 4/14 FPRA Meeting

IMG_8868Here are minutes of the FPRA’s April 14th public meeting held at the Tobin School.

Jan Devereux, FPRA President, gave some area development updates:

  • Tokyo Restaurant (on Fresh Pond Parkway near Tobin School) – the City was contacted by FPRA about the lack of maintenance of the site (snow not being removed from sidewalks this winter, graffiti on the wall, and the “temporary” metal fence falling over onto the sidewalk). The generally derelict condition of the building is also of concern. It is uncertain if the new owner intends to develop the site. Post-meeting update: Staff at the adjoining auto repair business unofficially reported that their boss Eli, who acquired the Tokyo property last fall, said recently that he is thinking of extending the auto repair bay over the Tokyo property. We believe this would require a special permit because it is in the Parkway Overlay District. There is now a policy order on the 4/27 Council agenda, asking the manger to report on the possibility of acquiring the site for affordable housing. Stay tuned.

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FPRA Meeting on April 14 at 7 pm

Construction continues on the 244-unit at 165 CambridgePark Dr.

Construction continues on the 244-unit building at 165 CambridgePark Dr.

The Fresh Pond Residents Alliance will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, April 14 at 7:00 pm at the Tobin School (197 Vassal Lane, Cambridge). We will share updates on various development and planning projects in our area. All welcome.

Reflections on the Climate Change Study

ccva-precipitationFollowing the public presentation of the city’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment study on March 17, we asked two of the group of FPRA members who attended, Alison Field-Juma and Peggy Barnes Lenart, to reflect on what they had heard. Both are members of our flood study group. The presentation slides may be found online. 

The CCVA presentation was covered by Boston.com.

What are your initial impressions of the preliminary findings of the climate change assessment? We are not surprised, but are dismayed that our communities will be facing these kinds of threats. That said, we are very pleased that we now will have some good information to use in building resilience. Continue reading

Tokyo: From Sushi to Snow Shoveling Scofflaw

Tokyo_snowLast year at this time the possibility of the long-shuttered Tokyo restaurant being redeveloped weighed heavy on neighbors’ minds. The proposed design for a 4-story apartment building seemed overly large for the site, capitalizing on the parcel’s commercial (BA) zoning to maximize density through reduced setbacks from the street. Questions were raised about how close the building would be to the heavily trafficked pedestrian and bike route to Fresh Pond (see post from 3/7/14).

Fast-forward a year and part of that route has been impassable for weeks, owing to the new owner’s refusal to shovel his sidewalk frontage along Vassal Lane. Further, the temporary chain link fence that the former owner put up to secure the lot is leaning out into the public way, presenting a hazard to passersby. Numerous complaints via the city’s iReport mobile app have not prompted any action by the new owner to remedy this dangerous situation. Continue reading

Climate Change Vulnerability Study to be Presented 3/17 (New Date)

100-year storm projected flooding in 2070

100-year storm projected flooding in 2070

The Fresh Pond/Alewife area has always been vulnerable to flooding, even without the looming threat of rising sea levels and increased precipitation predicted with climate change. As our area comes under intense development pressure, the FPRA is concerned with how to design new buildings and retrofit established neighborhoods to withstand periodic flooding and how to protect sensitive areas like Fresh Pond Reservoir (the city’s water supply) and the Alewife Reservation (a protected wetland habitat) from increased, polluted stormwater runoff. For over two years the city has been preparing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment that will inform new planning and building regulations as well as emergency response measures. The interim results will be presented on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:00 pm (NEW DATE) at MIT in the Stata Canter’s Kirsch Auditorium.. And, if you think a warming climate will mean fewer massive snowfalls like this, read this article on research by an MIT climate scientist.

Please use comments section to add your questions to the ones below: Continue reading

New Street Redesign: Plans Prioritize Safety for Walkers & Cyclists

Proposed design for crossings at New St and Concord Ave

Proposed design for crossings at New St and Concord Ave

Last month the Department of Public Works held a second public meeting to review designs for the planned reconstruction of New Street, a critical infrastructure improvement that the FPRA has championed for the past year. The designs presented at the meeting are now posted on the DPW site.

Option 2 was preferred by those who attended the meeting and will be the one implemented. We are pleased with the progress, and thank Kathy Watkins and DPW staff for being responsive to residents’ concerns.

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Recent Press Coverage of FPRA Concerns

Fawcett St after a heavy rain last summer

Fawcett St after a heavy rain last summer

This week Boston.com continued its coverage of the development boom around the Alewife area, this time focusing on the potential risks of building in the floodplain in advance of the long-awaited findings of the city’s Climate Change Vulnerability Study (to be presented on February 12 at 6 pm at MIT Tang E51).

Read the most recent Boston.com full story.*

Also this week the Cambridge Chronicle ran a guest editorial by FPRA President Jan Devereux on the debate over hiring a city ombudsman as a resource to help level the playing field for residents to evaluate and respond to large development proposals. There is now a policy order on the City Council agenda on Monday, January 26, to reconsider this idea.

Watch this video first, then read the Chronicle editorial here.

* The first story in the Alewife series is here.