Cambridge City Council candidates will discuss our areas’ priorities and what actions they would take if elected, on Tuesday Oct. 3, 6:30-8:30 pm at Russell Youth Center, 680 Huron Ave., Cambridge. COME AND ASK YOUR QUESTIONS!
The FPRA has developed the following positions that we feel are important for City Council candidates to address. While our focus is the Fresh Pond/Alewife area, many would benefit the city as a whole.
- Find and support traffic solutions. We cannot continue to add population (both commercial and residential) without taking clear actions to ensure that traffic does not get worse. Improving transit, pedestrian and multi-use paths and bridges, and other local and regional solutions must be sought. Development that will create a net increase in vehicles and congestion on roadways that are not yet failing should not be allowed without a clear path to mitigating the impacts. Failing intersections should not be made worse. A highly congested area has economic, health and quality of life impacts.
- Improve transit and mobility. This neighborhood has a lot of potential for safe, effective and efficient mobility if, and only if, investments are made in the infrastructure that will link up roads, build multi-use bridges, and improve access to efficient public transit. This will not happen by itself. The stakeholders in this area need the support of the City to build what needs to be put in place. We believe that the infrastructure and easements should be put in place first, before further development occurs. Waiting for development to pay for it has resulted in many lost opportunities.
- Build for climate resilience. There is no question but that the impacts of climate disruption will be felt severely in this neighborhood. Development must integrate the best options to make not only the structures resilient, but also the community. Smaller building footprints with well-designed site plans and amenities will allow for more open space that can store floodwater, filter pollutants, provide space for trees and vegetation, public spaces for social contact and networks, and multi-use paths and other ways to increase non-car mobility.
- Increase green open space. We will not end up with a livable community without investment in significant new public space, particularly green/vegetated open space. Trees and vegetation will be crucial in reducing the heat island effect of the built environment. These spaces filter stormwater pollution and reduce pollution entering Alewife Brook and other local waterbodies. Green infrastructure can store floodwater while at the same time creating visual beauty and make it a place that people want to be. We need more open space for pedestrian use, facilities to store power for the microgrid of the near future, and to create gathering places that foster social interaction.
- Maximize affordable and workforce housing and diversity. Many cities and neighborhoods in this state are segregated due to housing availability. Our neighborhood values a diverse population and needs to provide a housing mix that supports low and moderate income families, including 3-bedrooom units. We strongly support the maximum inclusionary housing percentage.
- Keeping people out of harm’s way. There are engineering solutions to protect buildings from long-term flood damage, but the city needs to be sure that the people who live or work on those buildings are not put in harm’s way. This includes access to emergency services during floods, notification of all prospective tenants and purchasers of flooding risks, protocols for communication during storms/emergencies, etc. This should inform the placement of buildings, particularly residences, in floodplains.
- Build a stable and invested population. Transience is rarely good for a neighborhood, especially one that will be called upon to weather the challenges of flooding. A diversity of housing type is desirable and needed regionally, and the Alewife area should have a reasonable proportion of ownership units. Current development has been almost exclusively of studio and 1-2 bedroom rental units. Increasing the number of 3-bedroom units for families and ownership options will create a more invested and resilient population.
- Keep the pressure on climate change mitigation. Development should meet the standards set out in the citywide Net Zero policy and expect all developers to build buildings that meet the highest standards for energy and water use and conservation.
- Support clean elections. Not taking campaign contributions from developers sends a clear message to the public that community interests are foremost. This is especially important right now in this neighborhood where developer interests are the biggest players in the future of how this area looks, works, thrives, and survives climate change.