Conversations on Master Plan to Begin in June

Is this how we want the Cambridge of the future to look? (160 Cambridge Park Dr.)

Is this how we want the Cambridge of the future to look? (160 Cambridge Park Dr.)

Below is an email the FPRA and other neighborhood groups received on May 30 from (Ms.) Iram Farooq (Acting Deputy Director for Community Development) regarding the initial public meetings to inform the city’s master plan process. A subsequent email informed us that Kathryn Madden of The Madden Planning Group will facilitate these preliminary “conversations” with residents.

Please note that the first conversation will be held on Tuesday, June 10 from 6:30-8:30 pm in the Tobin School gym. Residents of any area may attend any meeting; they are not neighborhood-specific. A strong turnout would show residents care (we do!). We also hope to see many of you at the FPRA meeting on Wednesday, June 4 at 7:00 pm in the Tobin School auditorium. Continue reading

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FPRA Meeting, June 4 at 7 PM

The Fresh Pond Residents Alliance will meet on Wed., June 4 at 7 pm in the Tobin auditorium. Please join us if you can. Residents of all areas of Cambridge (and Belmont) are welcome.

  • The McKinnon Co. will share plans for (another) large project on Cambridge Park Drive, the dead-end street that starts at the Alewife T and parallels the new bike trail along the Alewife Reservation wetlands. The complex would include 378 rental units and a 791-space shared use parking garage. Once all the planned construction on Cambridge Park Drive is complete, there would be about 1,550 apartments on this cul-de-sac bounded by the commuter rail tracks and the wetlands. The only egress is onto Route 2.
  • The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority will talk about its strategic plan and how it might relate to the Fresh Pond-Alewife area.
  • We will hear an update on the ongoing fight to save the Silver Maple Forest from a 298-unit development (15 acres on the Cambridge-Belmont border right off Rt. 2 and bordering the wetlands of the Reservation). Clear cutting could begin as soon as August if we don’t pull out all the stops.

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Aerial view of 180R Cambridge Park Drive

Aerial view of 180R Cambridge Park Drive

Building on the Great Swamp

Two new buildings facing each other on Cambridge Park Drive will hold 642 apartments. The Pfizer building sits at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Two new buildings facing each other on Cambridge Park Drive will hold 642 apartments. The Pfizer building sits at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Sunday morning I took an exploratory, and revelatory, bike ride, and I feel as if it’s time for a reality check. Is the gargantuan scale and density of all this new development  around Alewife really such a smart idea, even if it is near transit? As a friend asked recently, “Have we drunk the density Kool-Aid?” Folks, I fear we have. Continue reading

All According to Plan? Concerns Aired at May 13 Meeting

FPRA_meeting051314Well over 100 residents and a cadre of city officials attended our May 13 meeting, filling the Tobin School cafeteria for two hours of vigorous debate. On hand to listen to our presentations on planned, proposed, and possible new development in the Fresh Pond-Alewife area were: Cambridge Mayor David Maher, City Councilors Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen, and Marc McGovern. Assistant City Manager for Community Development Brian Murphy, Director of Community Planning Stuart Dash, and School Committee Member Patty Nolan attended as well. Continue reading

New St Hearing a Flashpoint

NewStSignOne thing we can say, 75 New Street always draws a crowd. On May 20, a week after the FPRA faithful filled the Tobin cafeteria for a discussion of the project, more chairs had to be added to the second floor room at City Hall Annex to accommodate the members of the public spilling out into the hallway, as the Planning Board resumed its review of a project that has become the “poster child” for ill-conceived development. Continue reading

New Street Redux: Hearing May 20th

75 New St current site

75 New St current site

The Cambridge Planning Board will resume its consideration of a proposed 93-unit residential development at 75 New Street at a public hearing on Tuesday, May 20, at 7 pm at City Hall Annex (344 Broadway at Inman St.). Cambridge residents  are encouraged to attend the hearing and to comment on the project’s design, either in person or by emailing Liza Paden at lpaden@cambridgema.gov.

The FPRA opposes the design and the developer’s request for special permits to reduce setbacks and allow a change in use from light industrial to high-density residential for the reasons stated in our May 13 letter to the Planning Board. The text of the letter is available online with this petition. Please sign our petition if you agree.

The proposed new building is Phase II of the developer's project.

The proposed new building is Phase II of the developer’s project.

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The 93-unit building would be 4 stories tall.

The 93-unit building would be 4 stories tall.

The new building would be next door to Phase I.

The new building would be next door to Phase I.

Sidewalks on New Street make the location too pedestrian unfriendly for the project to be considered "transit-centered."

Sidewalks on New Street make the location too pedestrian unfriendly for the project to be considered “transit-centered.”

New Street empties into one of the most clogged intersections in the city.

New Street empties into one of the most clogged intersections in the city.

The most direct route to the T goes through a busy parking lot with no sidewalks.

The most direct route to the T goes through a busy parking lot with no sidewalks.

Meeting May 13th, 7 PM: Join Us!

180R Cambridge Park Dr. rendering

130 Cambridge Park Dr. rendering

Progress! With the City Council’s unanimous approval of the Carlone-Maher policy order earlier this week, Cambridge is one step closer to developing a new master plan. So what’s next?

The Fresh Pond Residents Alliance will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, May 13, at 7:00 PM at the Tobin School (197 Vassal Lane). All welcome!

City Councilors will be present to update us on the master plan initiative. (Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen and Marc McGovern are confirmed; others may attend as well.) We will discuss how to make the most of the series of community meetings that will take place with an independent consultant over the next two months. We will talk about next steps, goals and strategies. We invite you to share your greatest hopes and concerns for Cambridge as a whole as well as for our area. This is the moment for neighbors and neighborhoods to come together and talk about the big picture — we must capitalize on this opportunity to weigh in on the future of our city.

BUT while we wait for a plan — what’s on the development horizon?

We also will provide updates on the proposed 93-unit development at 75 New Street, which comes before the Planning Board on May 20, on the status of the Tokyo project, and on the proposed 388-unit development at 180R Cambridge Park Drive, which was approved by the Cambridge Conservation Commission and will come before the Planning Board on June 17.

180 Cambridge Park Drive is on the right

180 Cambridge Park Drive is on the left

Another view of 180R Cambridge Park Drive

Another view of 130 Cambridge Park Drive