Kickoff Meeting Sparks Dialogue, Spurs Push for Master Plan

Fresh_Pond_Residents_mtg_3-24-14About 150 Cambridge residents gathered on March 24 at the Tobin School for our group’s first meeting to share concerns about the “tsunami of development” underway in the Fresh Pond/Alewife area of Cambridge. In addition to residents from all areas of the city, attendees at our town-hall style forum included MA Rep. David Rogers and Cambridge City Councillors Dennis Carlone and Marc McGovern, and Carlone aide Mike Connolly. Also present were School Committee member Patty Nolan, former Councillor Minka von Beuzekom, and staff aides to MA Rep. Jon Hecht and Cambridge Mayor David Maher.

Our kickoff event raised awareness about the surge of recent development in the Alewife/ North Cambridge area – over 2,500 residential units constructed or in the pipeline since 2010 – and prompted a vigorous discussion about the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and the environment. Many attendees were unaware of the 2006 zoning changes that unleashed this “gold rush,” and were shocked by the scale and density of growth around the area (see slide presentation from meeting). Continue reading


In Solidarity with our Neighbors in East Cambridge

TemplateEast Cambridge is at the opposite end of town from Fresh Pond (yet only 4 miles away), but the future of the Sullivan Courthouse should concern residents of all neighborhoods — as should the future of Concord-Alewife area. Neighborhoods are not islands, though we may actually become islands if over-development along the Mystic River floodway continues unchecked. We are all connected. We are all stakeholders in the planning process. We must overcome our natural tendency to pay attention only when the threat is in our own backyard. Continue reading

Join the Conversation, Mon. 3/24, 7:00-8:30 pm

IMG_6155Like living near Fresh Pond? The future of Huron Village, as we know it, is on the line. Thousands of new units are in the pipeline, including 93 more units proposed at 75 New St. between Fresh Pond and Danehy Park, 20 units planned for the former Tokyo restaurant site, and 108 units on Concord Ave. at Wheeler St. by Trader Joe’s. The majority are small luxury units; where is the affordable family housing we need? See map of recent development. 

Inappropriately high-density development in the Concord Ave.-Alewife area is already having a negative impact on our quality of life and on the environment and safety. Namely:

  • Increased traffic congestion
  • Increased air & noise pollution
  • Public transit at or nearing maximum capacity
  • Reduced safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Threat to fragile Fresh Pond-Danehy-Alewife eco-system

When will we reach the tipping point?

The Fresh Pond Residents Alliance invites you to a discussion forum.

Monday, March 24, 7:00-8:30 pm at the Tobin School

  • Share your concerns and ideas.
  • Learn what residents can do to ensure that future growth is sustainable.
  • Help preserve the future quality of life in our neighborhood!

Join our group by emailing:

Phase I of a 108 unit + retail development on corner of Concord Ave. & Wheeler St. by Trader Joe's.

Phase I of a 108 unit + retail development on corner of Concord Ave. & Wheeler St. by Trader Joe’s. Traffic on Wheeler empties onto Concord right at the rotary and will add to traffic going in and out of the shopping center at the same intersection. A nightmare for drivers and people going to and from Fresh Pond Reservation.

Sayonara, Tokyo

tumblr_n1eneuBGRe1ttj5ufo1_1280Coming soon: A 4-story, 20-unit condo building will replace the former restaurant at 307 Fresh Pond Parkway (see developer’s plans).

Once popular, the restaurant has been shuttered for many years and the owner has neglected the site, allowing windows to remain broken and weeds to grow unchecked. Snow is seldom shoveled from the sidewalk, which is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists to access the signaled crosswalk to Fresh Pond Reservation. An ugly chain link fence surrounds the parking lot. No question, the derelict property is an eyesore and the site could be put to better use.

But is a 4-story (45’) modern condo building — set only 10’ feet back from the Vassal Lane sidewalk — the most appropriate addition to a neighborhood of traditional detached wood-frame homes? Twenty units is roughly the equivalent 10 two-family houses, shoehorned onto to a single 13,910 s.f. lot. Continue reading

“Nobody Goes There. It’s Too Crowded.”

DSC_0797Or, “You can’t get there from here.” These expressions describe Fresh Pond Parkway at certain hours, and yet over 2,000 new units of housing are in the pipeline with no improvements to the transit infrastructure in the Concord Alewife corridor. Just because these units are within a 1/2 mile of the Red Line terminus at Alewife does not mean that every new resident will forgo driving and hop on a bike; the units are also conveniently located right on a major regional artery that leads to Route 2 and Interstates 95 and 93, and to points west, south and north of Boston where many people also happen to work. Continue reading

Mattress Capital of the World?


Despite the tacky banners, this is not the intended way to enter these stores.

It’s official: With the grand opening of the Fresh Pond area’s third mattress store last month, we are in the running to become the “mattress capital of the world.” Jump for joy, a Sleep Number store, one of the company’s 425 U.S. locations, has come to the newly constructed retail building near the Sozio rotary on Fresh Pond Parkway. (Old timers will remember the site as the former home of Fresh Pond Seafood.) Sleep Number’s arrival will shake up — or wake up– the competition, the twin Sleepy’s stores located a pillow’s throw away, one in the Whole Food’s shopping center and the other just across the parkway in the Trader’s Joe’s complex. Continue reading

High-Density Housing on New Street: A Terrible Idea

A stroll down New Street — walk at your own risk!

It’s already a challenge to walk (or cycle) from the Sozio rotary along New Street without facing off against cars, but a largely car-free lifestyle is the vision driving a developer’s plan to construct 93 rental units at 75 New Street (see sp286 plans), currently the site of JC Adams Windows (photo below). The proposed new building would be next door to the same developer’s recently assembled 54-unit rental building known as Park 87. (I say “assembled” because this developer favors in modular pre-fab construction.)


Site of proposed 93-unit building

The plan calls for only 94 parking spaces for 93 units. Street parking along a short stretch of New Street (on the Danehy side) is limited to 2 hours, so any additional cars would park…where exactly? (Likely, in the Danehy lot which is supposed to be for park users only.) Those spots are already full at peak hours (weekend mornings and early evening) due to overflow from Evolve Fitness, which is located opposite the JC Adams site.

Cars parked along New St make the road too narrow for 2-way traffic

Cars parked along New St make the road too narrow for 2-way traffic

Cars are regularly parked on and across the sidewalks along New Street. It is impossible to walk the length of the street without stepping out into the road. There are no bikes lanes on New Street either, and when cars are parked on the street the road narrows to a single lane of traffic.

Cars regularly block the sidewalks along New Street

Cars regularly block the sidewalks along New Street

Residents of 75 New Street will be given incentives to use public transport, but good luck getting safely to and from Alewife, a 15-minute walk across the parking lot of the Fresh Pond cinema and shopping center without any sidewalk separation to protect them from cars zipping through the lot. Without clearly marked lanes, the lot is the Wild West for drivers, too. And who would be foolhardy enough to attempt this walk after dark?

New Street ends at the shopping center parking lot

New Street ends at the shopping center parking lot

For drivers, the only escape from New Street leads smack into the dangerous and often gridlocked Sozio rotary (right turn only onto the parkway toward Alewife or left onto overbuilt Bay State Road to cut through residential neighborhood streets back to Concord Ave). To avoid the rotaries, many drivers already cut through the shopping center parking lot, which isn’t a proper road, to go west on Route 2, or to get back on Concord Avenue toward Belmont by going under the parkway bridge and cutting through the Trader Joe’s parking lot. Ironically this shortcut to Belmont drops drivers right on the doorstep of the same developer’s project on Wheeler Street and Concord Avenue (66 modular units are being stacked right now). But according to the traffic department’s study, neither of these two new buildings at known choke-points will have a negligible impact on traffic. Go figure.

The planning board will review the developer’s application for special permits for this project on Tuesday, March 4 at 8 pm at City Hall Annex (344 Broadway).

Please sign a petition to deny permits for this project.