Dennis Carlone’s petition for a new master plan is the basis for a very important policy order, co-sponsored by Councillors Nadeem Mazen and Denise Simmons, on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Monday, April 7 at 5:30 pm.
Read full text of the Carlone policy order here.
We support the Carlone-Mazen-Simmons policy order over another planning-related policy order sponsored by Mayor David Maher, Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan and Councillor Marc McGovern.
The two policy orders come in response to growing public concern about the impact that the recent surge in development is having on traffic congestion, housing affordability, social equity, pedestrian/bike safety, the environment and open space – to name a few. While both policy orders recognize that residents citywide are demanding – and deserve – a greater voice in the planning process, we believe that the Carlone-Mazen-Simmons order goes further toward ensuring a more democratic and comprehensive process because it places our elected City Council at the helm, rather than appointed staff.
In our opinion, the competing policy order would more likely sustain the unsustainable status quo that has residents in the Fresh Pond area and across the city up in arms. Quite frankly, we don’t think that we could have filled the Tobin cafeteria at our first meeting on March 24 if the status quo was giving residents a meaningful say in the planning process. Monday night’s Council meeting will no doubt spark a lively debate, and a favorable outcome could be critical to the future of our neighborhood.
What you can do to help NOW
1. Contact the City Council in support of the Carlone-Mazen-Simmons master plan initiative (Policy Order #14). Send emails to email@example.com and cc firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered into the public record. Or call (617) 349-4280.
2. If you have a relationship with Councillors Kelley, Cheung, or Toomey (the three who are not co-sponsoring either policy order), please contact them directly to ask that they support the Carlone order for a master plan.
3. Attend Monday’s Council meeting and speak in support of the Carlone-Mazen-Simmons master plan initiative. Call (617) 349-4280 after 8:30 am on Monday to sign up to speak, and/or sign in when you arrive at City Hall (by 5:30 pm) to add your name on the public testimony list. You will be given three minutes to express your views.
If you can make it to City Hall on Monday at 5:30 pm, we encourage you to do so. Even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking, you can applaud other speakers to show your support, and the debate is sure to be instructive on many levels.
Need talking points for your comments?
The Cambridge Residents Alliance has developed a MENU of TALKING POINTS that you could use to frame your emails and comments to the Council.
You are also welcome to attend the CRA meeting TODAY at 4:00 pm (Sunday 4/6) at St. Bartholomew’s Church off Prospect St. (next door to the Area 4 Youth Center). The group will be discussing the Carlone policy order and why a comprehensive master plan is so urgently needed.
Other Important Actions
75 New Street is on the Planning Board’s agenda for Tuesday, April 8, at 7:20 pm at City Hall Annex (344 Broadway). Thank you to everyone who submitted comments by email. We need folks to come and speak at the hearing, too. The 3-minute rule applies, so focus your comments on the aspect of the proposal that most concerns you.
Please forward this link to neighbors & friends. You and they can request to join our list by emailing FreshPondResidents@gmail.com.
Thank your for caring enough about the future of our neighborhood and our city to read to the end of this post.
I’m slightly confused. Every post you make talks about the danger of high density development in Cambridge (which you apparently define as four stories with surface parking, which in most of Cambridge doesn’t even register), yet one of your talking points calls for forcing MIT to build at least 2,501 units of housing in the densest part of the city! Due to market pressures those units will be built, no matter what policies Cambridge enacts. Given a choice, where would you put those units:
The Alewife area
A forest along 495
Personally, I’d select options one and two, but this group seems to be arguing for three. Is that correct?
The talking points are suggestions, not prescriptions. The reason we want the Council to lead a new master planning process is so that the growth goals, impacts and tradeoffs can be discussed more broadly. We are not against development in the Alewife area, but we do feel it’s unwise to keep building without an updated and comprehensive master plan. The Carlone-Mazen-Simmons initiative would start a public conversation about where we are and where we want to be, as a city.
This spot-on piece in Cambridge Day gets to the root of the difference between the two policy orders:
I don’t love the spacepods, or whatever you call them, but I do love the fact that my beloved city is building more places for more people to live, and I don’t see bike/ped safety getting worse. Te the contrary! When I was a kid on Alpine ST. in the 70s and used to walk to Zayre and ride my bike over to Fresh pond, it was MUCH less safe. And there is more open space by far! The new Alewife park, or reservation, or whatever, and Danehy, and the revamping of Fresh pond are all wonderful, and turning the old industrial section on Fawcett etc. into a residential neighborhood is all to the good. I remember getting bitten by a rottweiler in an old tow lot out there in the late ’80s. It’s much better now! And it’s better than when I bought my house 10 years ago! So I’m with Ted Pyne: development here is good for almost everyone, except those who want to drive through it at high speeds. Fortunately for us residents of the surrounding area, we usually don’t have to!
You may want to rethink your thought that “development here is good for almost everyone.” When the land that a business sits on is perceived as more valuable than the business itself, businesses close, employees lose their jobs, and new housing quickly goes up in their place. For recent examples, see the following properties, all formerly local businesses: J&C Adams Windows, Cambridge Lumber, Masse’s Hardware, BBN Technologies, ABT Associates, Faces, Tokyo Restaurant, etc. It can be argued that many of these businesses are now gone because they could not compete with newer, more agile businesses. That may be true. On the other hand, it may be that they could no longer resist the millions of dollars in developer money available for their parcels. That’s all well and good- the market always wins. Just don’t complain when the next round of businesses closes for the same reason (Cambridge Honda? Hi-Tech Autobody? Anderson & McQuaid?), and our special town grows a little less special year by year.