Select Stories from the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):

Cambridge's Berman recognized as distance-running trailblazer (by Dan Guttenplan, Apr 17, 2015)

Housing prices soar after years of stability in Cambridge (by Sara Feijo, Apr 17, 2015)

Cambridge councillors' actions fuel strong criticism from rest of board (by Sara Feijo, Apr 15, 2015 - account of Apr 13 Council meeting)

Cambridge councillors raise concerns over CHA's psychiatric merger (by Monica Jimenez, Apr 14, 2015)

Cambridge Police to crack down on texting (Apr 13, 2015)

Neighbors honor longtime Cambridge cobbler at doc screening (by Sara Feijo, Apr 11, 2015)

Volpe reps say Cambridge development to be a collaboration (by Sara Feijo, Apr 11, 2015)

Cambridge schools begin superintendent search (by Sara Feijo, Apr 9, 2015)

Free Wi-Fi, trees, public toilet top citizens' budget choices for Cambridge (by Monica Jimenez, Apr 8, 2015)

MIT's Kendall Square Initiative

To the members of the MIT community,

We write to tell you about exciting developments in MIT's Kendall Square and east campus design process, the planning study for west campus, and key steps we are taking regarding housing for our graduate and undergraduate students.

In pursuing these opportunities, we have benefited tremendously from five years of substantive input and analysis from the Cambridge and MIT communities. This has included an extensive public process, the Task Force on Community Engagement in 2030 Planning report, the Graduate Student Housing Working Group report, the East Campus/Kendall Gateway Urban Design Study with guidance of the East Campus Steering Committee, and key leadership from the School of Architecture and Planning. We will continue this path of engagement, ensuring significant faculty and student involvement in the working groups discussed below. We are also creating opportunities for the community to offer input to the process in the coming months.

Next steps in the design process for Kendall/east campus

In our September 23 communication, we described the process for selecting the Kendall/east campus architectural firms and announced the teams designated to design the individual buildings in the development area. Recognizing the value provided in the past, we have re-launched the East Campus Steering Committee and are continuing to rely on the expertise of School of Architecture and Planning faculty, as well as the vital input of student representatives. The newly-formed faculty Committee on Campus Planning has been briefed on the overall vision for the MIT campus, as well as the plans for Kendall/east campus, and we are committed to collaborating closely with the Committee to ensure that our shared visions for the campus are being realized.

The planning team has been focused on increasing the vitality of the Kendall/east campus area, by incorporating the diverse uses that have been recommended by all sectors of the MIT and Cambridge communities — hoousing, connected open spaces, retail, innovation space, childcare, and commercial space. The plan also identifies a prominent location for the MIT Museum and assures the incorporation of elements that reflect the essence of MIT in the gateway area.

The site plan below shows the proposed uses for the various parcels. Details regarding precise configurations, square footage, height, and number of housing units are still being examined as the design process proceeds, and will be shared at a community meeting when available. The plan will reflect the approved zoning for the district, and we believe this plan will serve to propel the area towards the objective of creating a vibrant mixed-used center with a captivating gateway to the MIT campus while preserving capacity for future academic uses.

Kendall East

Thanks to the engagement of the Cambridge and MIT communities and the recommendations from the Graduate Student Housing Working Group, we now have an enhanced understanding and a robust plan for housing. Graduate student housing is designated at site O, and we are committed to completing new housing prior to replacing Eastgate Apartments. Site O has the capacity to replace all of the housing in Eastgate (201 units), and provide approximately 270 additional units of graduate housing. Residential housing is planned for Site L on the north side of Main Street, with a mix of affordable, innovation and market rate units. We believe that the presence of new housing together with significantly expanded retail spaces and improved public space will play an integral role in enhancing the liveliness of the area, and opportunities for additional graduate student housing are also being explored in the west campus area.

We look forward to sharing proposed building designs for Kendall/east campus at initial community meetings on May 6th. Once we have had the opportunity to collect broad feedback, we will submit design schemes to the Cambridge Planning Board for its public hearing and review process.

Unlocking the west campus potential

Over the past few months we have initiated a formal planning process for the west and northwest areas of campus. The intent of the current study is to create a long–range development framework to accommodate futuure academic and residential uses on the MIT campus west of Massachusetts Avenue to complement east campus design efforts and the ongoing renewal of the main campus. We have also formed the West Campus Steering Committee to provide input as the west campus study team works to identify sites to accommodate potential new building initiatives, including undergraduate and graduate housing. Student representation on the Steering Committee is key to the west campus study.

Similar to the east campus plan, there is great interest in enhancing the west campus area in order to bring more vibrancy to MIT's main entrance. A temporary open space landscape will be created on the site of Bexley Hall, and a series of open spaces and walkways are being envisioned as part of the overall west campus design framework. We are working to understand development capacity and the urban design opportunities this capacity holds for the future of west campus.

A critical part of MIT's campus renewal program is the renovation of some of our undergraduate residence halls. We are working on strategies to sequence the renewal of the residences, and are considering opportunities to add to our housing capacity to enable renovation of the residence halls. In the context of the west campus planning study, we are evaluating the possibility of developing the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse as an exciting site for a mixed-use development. It could possibly include undergraduate residences, maker space on the first floor, collaborative spaces on the top level, and retail along Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street. The Metropolitan Warehouse Advisory Group, being led by the Offices of the Associate Provost for Space Planning and Campus Planning, also includes students and a wide cross-section of the MIT community.

We are also studying additional sites to accommodate new housing for graduate students and opportunities to renovate the graduate residences in west campus. We have accepted the recommendation of the Graduate Student Housing Working Group, which identified the need to provide housing to accommodate an additional 500-600 graduate students beyond what is currently available, and will work toward achieving this target over time with developments in both the east and west campus areas.

Share your thoughts

These two processes in the Kendall/east campus area and now in the west campus area have been shaped in great measure by the steady commitment and energetic involvement of many members of the MIT and Cambridge communities. Over these past few years, we have learned a great deal about what is important to various sectors of our community, and believe that the Kendall/east campus plan now holistically reflects our shared values. This learning process has led us to approach the west campus planning effort in a very similar fashion. As is our practice, there will be many opportunities for information sharing and the solicitation of input as we proceed.

In the meantime, we encourage you to share your thoughts on either of these processes by sending email to Thank you for your past and future involvement as we work to shape our campus to reflect MIT's spirit of innovation and collaboration.

Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor
Martin A. Schmidt, Provost
Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Wed, May 6

Noon-2:00pm   Presentation on MIT's Kendall Square Initiative (MIT Student Center, W20 Room 491 - A light lunch will be provided.)

6:00-8:00pm   Presentation on MIT's Kendall Square Initiative (Kendall Marriott at 50 Broadway - A light supper will be provided.)

Apr 14, 2015 - Rhythm & Blues singer Percy Sledge died this morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the age of 73. He is best known for his unforgettable classic 1966 hit "When a Man Loves a Woman," which reached No. 1 on the charts.

Taking a Look at the April 13, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Founding FathersHere are a few items that might prove interesting:

Reconsideration #1. Councillor Toomey notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration of the vote taken on Mar 30, 2015 to refer to the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee City Manager Agenda #18 and Calendar #8 as amended regarding the Pearl Street Reconstruction Project.

It's anyone's guess where this will end up, but it did seem odd that this Order would be referred at the last meeting to a committee whose Chair will likely be hostile to it. There really is a need to review some of the boneheaded projects that have been trotted out under the "Complete Streets" banner, but it's doubtful that committee action will lead to anything other than politicizing this. A better term would be "Dysfunctional Streets" to describe road designs that provide no actual additional bicycle safety while rendering streets dysfunctional, e.g. Vassar Street where trucks have no other option than to park on sidewalks, a stopped vehicle brings all traffic to a standstill, and where the safety of any cyclist choosing to ride in the road is greatly compromised. While driving on the newly-choked Western Avenue the other day I got to witness first hand how even the simple act of parking a car can turn Western Ave. into a one-lane, highly congested road.

Manager's Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a recommend on the reappointment of Christopher Bator to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority for a 3-year term, effective Apr 13, 2015.

This is not controversial - just an opportunity to once again marvel at how the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority has pivoted over the last few years from being nearly irrelevant to becoming the vehicle of choice for some really important initiatives.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine what types of traffic, parking, and other citations the city has legal jurisdiction over and to confer with the appropriate city departments to institute a day-fine policy in Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen

This is a ridiculous proposal. A day-fine is "a fine tied to an individual's daily income". This proposal suggests that people whose reported income is low should pay less for parking violations or speeding tickets. The Order notes that "License suspensions and legal fees resulting from unpaid citations have been shown to have a disproportionately negative effect on low income individuals and households." There's an even simpler solution - don't park illegally or drive at excessive speeds that endanger others.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council at the next regular meeting with an update on the Citywide planning process (Master Plan) including next steps and a timeline.   Councillor McGovern

My sense is that when this Magical Master Plan is eventually decided (and I really am interested in the requested timeline), there's a good chance that it won't fulfill the hopes and dreams of those who have come to believe that all clocks must be stopped until it's in place.

Order #9. That Article Six of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance entitled "Off Street Parking and Loading Requirements and Nighttime Curfew on Large Commercial Through Trucks" be amended in Section 6.20 entitled "Off Street Parking Regulations" to include information in "Carsharing Provisions." [attachment]   Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Simmons

Order #12. That the City Council refer to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board, for hearing and report, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinances in Section 20.300 "Central Square Overlay District" regarding the granting of Special Permits in the Central Square Overlay District.   Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen

Order #14. That Article 13 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinances entitled "Planned Unit Development Districts" be amended in section 13.53.2 of 13.50 entitled "PUD-4, PUD-4A, PUD-4B and PUD-4C Districts: Development Controls" by striking out the first sentence and substituting in place thereof the following new sentence: The minimum size of the Development Parcel within PUD-4B shall be two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) square feet.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Cheung and Councillor McGovern

This is a rare thing indeed - three City Council zoning petitions introduced in a single meeting. Almost all zoning petitions tend to originate with either property owners/developers who want to build something or with activists trying to block something from being built. It has become rare for the City Council to initiate the process, and here we hit the trifecta! I'll wait to hear more explanation of the motivation behind Order #9 and Order #14. As for Order #12, I was at first intrigued at what seemed to be an acknowledgement that providing incentives for new housing in Central Square might be a good direction consistent with some of the C2 recommendations from a couple of years ago. Then I read what Councillor Carlone wrote on his blog. Apparently the primary purpose of the zoning proposal in Order #12 is to remove the argument occasionally heard in regard to the ongoing Normandy/Twining petition that if housing cannot economically be built at Mass & Main (Lafayette Square) then an office or lab building would be the default option.

This chess move by Councillors Carlone and Mazen and their sponsors would affect the entire Central Square Overlay District in regard to any Special Permit application for Additional Height. There may be some merit in this proposal but it's also quite possible that it will have some unintended consequences. Either way, it's being introduced at this time apparently as an attempt to derail the Normandy/Twining proposal. Having a broader conversation about delivering new housing in the Central Square area is consistent with the C2 recommendations, but one really has to raise an eyebrow when those now suggesting this are the same people who have squelched that conversation in the past. Besides, as we have heard the naysayers chant time and time again, how can we do anything without first having The Master Plan? [sarcasm intended] - Robert Winters

Update: Order #12 Failed on a 1-7-1 vote (Mazen YES via speakerphone; Carlone ABSENT). I don't recall it having ever happened that a proposed zoning amendment was defeated when introduced without even being formally referred to the Ordinance Committee and Planning Board. This was a stunning rebuke of Councillors Carlone and Mazen (and their supporters). - RW
[Video of meeting at; Order #12 discussion starts at 2:19:20.]


Upcoming Civic Opportunities

Thurs, Apr 16

3:00pm   Cambridge Biosafety Committee meeting. (Windsor Community Health Center, 119 Windsor Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Tues, Apr 21

7:00pm   Planning Board meeting  (2nd Floor Meeting Room, City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway)

General Business

1. Update from the Acting City Manager for the Community Development Department

2. Adoption of Meeting Transcript(s)

3. Board of Zoning Appeal cases

a. BZA 6489-2015 – 704 Huron Avenue, Special Permit for modification of existing antenna and addition of 6 antennas

b. BZA 6364-2015 – 245 First Street, Variance to convert a portion of the parking facility to technical office use.

c. BZA 6360 – 2015 – 154 Pleasant Street, variance to demolish rear portion of a dwelling and construction of an addition in the setback.

Public Hearing

7:00pm   Chestnut Hill Realty Zoning Petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge, Section 20.600 Basement Housing Overlay District by including language to clarify the intent of the provisions to apply to multifamily structures that are wholly or partially located in Residence C, C-1, C-1A, C-2A, C-2B, C-3, C-3A, or C-3B base zoning districts.
The purpose of the Basement Housing Overlay District, as currently described in the Zoning Ordinance, is to allow for the creation of studio or one-bedroom apartment units in appropriate unused basement level space of certain existing multifamily residential buildings that have one or more existing basement level apartment units. The regulations are meant to promote the maintenance and improvement of older buildings, including improved stormwater and wastewater management, and provide additional housing without building new structures or increasing the size of existing structures. The Overlay District includes the corridor along Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard Square and Porter Square.

Wed, Apr 22

5:30pm   The City Council's Housing Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue the March 19, 2015 discussion on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department. (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, Apr 27

5:30pm   City Council meeting and Budget Overview  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, Apr 28

4:00pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss amendments to the Cambridge Municipal Code in Chapter 9.04 entitled "Offenses Against Property."  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, Apr 29

4:00pm   The City Council's Economic Development and University Relations Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss recommendations to ensure that all positions hired directly by the City of Cambridge, or by outside vendors, uphold the same high employment standards that the City urges all businesses to uphold. (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30pm   Cambridge Election Commission meeting.  (1st Floor Meeting Room, 51 Inman St.)



1. Executive Director’s Report

2. Assistant Director's Report

3. Commissioners' Reports



Unfinished Business

1. 2015 Annual Census

New Business

1. Annual Organizational Meeting

Mon, May 4

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

7:00pm  The City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal by the City of Cambridge to dispose of a long-term leasehold interest in the Foundry Property at 101 Rogers Street to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) and on a request for diminution of the full disposition process. The public hearing is being held pursuant to the requirements of Section 2.110 of the Cambridge Municipal Code, regarding Disposition of City Property.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, May 6

Noon-2:00pm   Presentation on MIT's Kendall Square Initiative (MIT Student Center, W20 Room 491 - A light lunch will be provided.)

4:00pm   The City Council's Human Services and Veterans Committee will meet. (Sullivan Chamber)

6:00-8:00pm   Presentation on MIT's Kendall Square Initiative (Kendall Marriott at 50 Broadway - A light supper will be provided.)

Thurs, May 7

9:00am   The City Council's Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss FY2016 City Budget. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, May 11

4:00pm   2015 Scholarship Award Ceremony (Sullivan Chamber)

5:30pm   Roundtable/Working City Council Meeting with the Cambridge Housing Authority to discuss RAD. No public comment. No votes will be taken. Meeting will not be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, May 12

5:30pm   The City Council's Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing on a zoning petition filed by Chestnut Hill Realty to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge, Section 20.600 Basement Housing Overlay District by including language to clarify the intent of the provisions to apply to multifamily structures that are wholly or partially located in Residence C, C-1, C-1A, C-2A, C-2B, C-3, C-3A, or C-3B base zoning districts. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, May 13

6:00pm   The City Council's Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss FY2016 School Department Budget. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, May 14

9:00am   The City Council's Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss FY2016 City Budget. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

Mon, May 18

5:30pm   City Council meeting  (Sullivan Chamber)

Tues, May 19

5:30pm   The City Council's Economic Development and University Relations Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss how economic development impacts and supports the quality of life of Cambridge residents, and to investigate the feasibility of establishing an agreement with ride-share services such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. (Sullivan Chamber)

Wed, May 20

5:30pm   The City Council's Neighborhood and Long Term Planning, Public Facilities, Arts and Celebration Committee will meet.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, May 21

9:00am   The City Council's Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss FY2016 City Budget (if necessary). This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

3:00pm   Cambridge Biosafety Committee meeting. (Windsor Community Health Center, 119 Windsor Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Likely City Council Challengers for 2015 (as of Apr 14, 2015)

Likely School Committee Challengers for 2015 (as of Apr 14, 2015)

Who else are you hearing about?

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

April (and beyond) Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation

These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.

A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
Wake Up & Weed
Dates: Thursdays, starting April 9
Time: 10am to 12 noon
Meeting Place: Volunteer trailer in the lower parking lot
    Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Contact: Kirsten at (617) 349-6489,
Fresh Pond Kids' Walks!
Dates: Fridays, April 10, 17, and 24
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Meeting Place: Maher Park Parking Lot, 650 Concord Ave.
    Join CWD staff and volunteers for casual nature explorations, designed for young kids and their parents/caretakers, and play in our urban wild! Please come dressed ready for the weather (and in clothes that are OK to get a bit dirty). Solid rain or thunder cancels. Contact: Kirsten at (617) 349-6489,
*This series is for small family/caretaker groups only - if you wish to bring a class or other organized group, please contact Kirsten for alternative opportunities.*
Migratory Bird Walk #2
Date: Sunday, April 19
Time: 8 to 10am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Every bird walk is unique and an opportunity for surprise sightings. That is part of the thrill of birding! We can only guess in advance what we might see and hear. At this time of year many of the birds are courting and claiming territories, so we will probably hear plenty of bird song. Beginners welcome, and we will lend you binoculars. Led by Nancy Guppy. Register with Elizabeth Wylde at
Spring Walk for Families - REGISTER by April 17
Date: Tuesday, April 21
Time: 9:30 to 10:30am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    We'll search for signs of spring and take note of animals and insects moving about. Children 8 and up must be accompanied by an adult. Limit: 24 participants. Please register by April 17 with Ranger Jean Rogers at
Sprout the City Spring: Throw Seeds!
Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 1:30 to 2:30pm
Meeting Place: Ranger Station at Water Dept., 250 Fresh Pond Pkwy
    Go guerilla in a good way: help spread wildflowers around Cambridge! Native wildflower species are not only beautiful, they also provide nectar and seed sources for wildlife and reduce erosion. Make "seed bombs" out of compost, clay and seeds at this workshop to toss around town! Contact: Kirsten at, (617) 349-6489.
Garlic Mustard Muster
Date: Wednesday, April 22
Time: 6 to 7:30pm
Meeting Place: Maher Park Parking Lot, 650 Concord Ave.
    Join our Community Weed-Out kick-off! We'll tackle garlic mustard to free up our woodland for native species like wild violet. No experience necessary! All tools are provided; long sleeves, pants and a water bottle are recommended. Latecomers welcome; you'll find us weeding near Black's Nook. Contact: Kirsten at, (617) 349-6489. Groups: please register in advance.
Pick a Tree, Plant a Tree - an Arbor Day workshop with Ranger Jean
REGISTER by April 18

Date: Saturday, April 25
Time: 1 to 3:30pm
Meeting Place: Maynard Ecology Center, Bsmt. of Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Did you know that each human on Earth needs 7 mature trees to take up the CO2 we breathe out? Do you know where your 7 trees are? Learn about selecting and planting trees in your Cambridge location. After activity based learning inside the Maynard Ecology Center, apply what you've learned by planting a tree on the Reservation. Rain postpones to May 2. For directions on what to bring and wear, please register by April 18 by emailing
Spring Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, May 3
Time: 8 to 10am
Meeting Place: Register for meeting location and parking information
    Many of our summer residents will have returned, including tree swallows, catbirds, grackles, and red-winged blackbirds - and perhaps phoebes, vireos, and orioles. They will be singing up a storm, courting mates, defending territories, and some will be hard at work building nests. Led by Nancy Guppy. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. To register and for important meeting and parking information, email Elizabeth Wylde at
Birding by Ear
Date: Saturday, May 9
Time: 7:30 to 9:30am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Bird walk leader Herb Pearce will help us learn to identify and locate birds by their songs. At this time of year we may also hear babies in the nest and see their parents bringing them food. We will use guides with pictures of the birds to help you get to know them. Birders of all experience levels are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Register with Elizabeth Wylde at
Nesting Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, June 6
Time: 7:30 to 9:30am
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Many birds choose Fresh Pond Reservation as the place to build their nests and raise their young. There is an abundance of insect food and plenty of safe habitat. We may hear birds singing to protect their territories and see others gathering food for their hungry babies. Walk leader Nancy Guppy will help us look for Baltimore orioles, yellow warblers, warbling vireos, and redwing blackbirds, all of which spend the breeding season at Fresh Pond. Beginning birders are welcome! If you don't have binoculars you may borrow a pair from us. Register with Elizabeth at
Summer Solstice Bird Walk
Date: Sunday, June 21
Time: 6 to 8pm
Meeting Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    If you can't bear to get up at dawn to look at birds, this walk, led by Nancy Guppy, is for you. Just as people take advantage of the longest days of the year to continue their outdoor activities, so do birds. They spend the extra hours of daylight foraging for food for their hungry babies. Beginning birders are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Register with Elizabeth at

Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants. Upcoming Programs

The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
Fresh Pond Reservation users are getting involved! The Cambridge Water Department's Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program brings people together on a regular basis to monitor plants, conduct maintenance activities, and to learn about the ecology and history of the area. You can find out about projects that are being planned for this summer, including invasive plants removal, Purple Loosestrife nursery monitoring, bird box monitoring, and more. Call Kirsten Kindquist at 617-349 6489 or email for more information.

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review (2013)"

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review (2014)"

Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at and in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.

• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing

AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.
AMC Local WalksFri, Apr 17. Back Streets of Boston. Leisurely 4-mi. walk along the back streets and alleyways of downtown Boston, Beacon Hill, and the West End, including stop at bakery/pastry shop, 6:30-9:00pm. Meet just inside the main doors at entrance to South Station T Stop and Train Station on Summer Street. Rain cancels. L Marc Hurwitz. AMC Local WalksSat, Apr 18. Blue Hills, Milton. 7-mile hike on a variety of trails in the Blue Hill Section of the Blue Hills Reservation. Some steep trails, including the Skyline Trail with views, 10 am-3 pm. Meet at Houghton's Pond parking lot. From I-93/Route 128 Exit 3, go north to the stop sign at Hillside Street and turn right. Go 0.2 miles to the lot on the right. Joint with Friends of the Blue Hills. L Steve Olanoff.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 19. Walden Pond/Sudbury River hike on less traveled paths. Hike on less-traveled paths. 6 miles. Meet at 10:30am near the restrooms at Walden Pond parking lot (parking fee). From Route 2, take Route 126S for 0.3 miles, then turn left into the lot. Winter storm cancels. Call if in doubt. L Jim Loughlin. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 19. Marblehead Light and Castle Rock, Marblehead. Approx 4-mi walk from Deveraux Beach to Castle Rock and Marblehead Light followed by optional hot chocolate break. 12:30-3:30pm. Take Rte. 114 or Rte. 127 to Ocean St. or Beach St. Go E to Devereaux beach pkg lot. Storm/icy roads cancels. L Sara Epstein.
AMC Local WalksMon, Apr 20. Half-Marathon Walk, Minuteman Nat'l Park, Lexington. Brisk 13-mile walk on Battle Road Trail to Fiske Hill in Lexington, Meriam's Corner in Concord, and back. 9:30am-3:30pm. Bring lunch/water. From Route 95/128, exit 30B in Lexington, take Route 2AW one mi. to Visitor Center lot on R. Storm cancels. L Marc Hurwitz. AMC Local WalksSat, Apr 25. Warner Trail, Wrentham. 9:00am-4:00pm. 10-mi. mod. hike from Wampum Corner to Crocker Pond. Bring lunch & water. We will spot cars before the hike. Meet at Crocker Pond Conservation Area on Myrtle St. (off Rte. 1). Heavy rain cancels. Email Jim if uncertain. L Laura Cerier, CL Jim Goyea.
AMC Local WalksSat, Apr 25. Middlesex Fells, Malden. 6-mile hike, some rocky steep hills to cliff views including waterfall w/lunch at pond, Moderate-rated hike, not for beginners. 10:00am-2:30pm. Bring lunch/water/hiking shoes. Meet on Washington St. side of Oak Grove T sta. From Rte. 93 exit 32 in Medford take Rte. 60 E 1.2 mi., L on Highland Ave. 0.5 mi., R on Glenwood St. 0.6 mi., L on Wash. St. 0.1 mi., R into T sta. lot (fee) or park on street. Email if severe weather. L Mike Tuohey. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 26. Mt. Misery, Farrar Pond, and adj. conservation areas. 9 mi. [70+ temp may lessen distance.] Meet at 9:30am in Lincoln RR commuter pkg. lot. From Rte. 95/128 take exit 28 in Waltham, follow Trapelo Road W 2.5 mi., L on Lincoln Rd 1.4 mi., R just before tracks into RR sta. lot. L Jim Loughlin.
AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 26. Middlesex Canal, Billerica. Joint with the Middlesex Canal Association. Meet at 1:30pm at the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitor Center in the Faulkner Mill in North Billerica (where Faulkner St. crosses the Concord River). The walk will be over 3-4 miles of generally level wooded terrain and streets, for 2-3 hours, rain or shine. The route follows the canal south of the Concord River. Sites to be visited include a guard lock, an anchor stone for the floating bridge which once carried the towpath across the river, and many stretches of canal, some still watered. The Museum, Visitor Center and bookstore will be open from 12:00pm-4:00pm. Museum phone 1-978-670-2740. L Robert Winters, CL Roger Hagopian, CL Marlies Henderson. AMC Local WalksSun, Apr 26. Minute Man National Park. Spring on the Battle Road. Share some revolutionary tales along the Battle Road in the Minute Man Park from 9:30am to noon. Walk 7 brisk miles from the Visitor's Center to the North Bridge. Meet at 9:30am in Concord at the Old Manse parking lot on Monument Street. We will carpool to the visitor center. Walk trails to Meriam Corner for a break and on paved roads to the Old North Bridge and the parking. Directions: follow 2A to Concord Center. Follow signs to North Bridge. Bring water and snacks. Rain cancels. L Eveline Weyl.

Hearing on Mass. & Main

Apr 2 - The City Council's Ordinance Committee met on Wed, April 1 for a hearing on the Normandy/Twining Zoning Petition to rezone an area in the Lafayette Square/Mass. & Main end of Central Square. There was plenty of public comment on both sides of the issue, but perhaps the most bizarre testimony was given by Larry Lessig, a prominent activist/academic, who rattled on about money and politics with barely any (informed) reference to the matter before the committee. Perhaps Professor Lessig should have researched the topic before the committee (a rezoning petition) before lecturing the councillors about how corrupt he has decided they are. Following his rant, Lessig headed back home to Brookline.

It's pretty clear that Lessig's appearance at the Ordinance Committee came at the request of Councillor Mazen (apparently not, see below). Councillors Carlone and Mazen (and at least one other new candidate) have apparently decided that one of the central narratives of their joint City Council campaign will be to brand most of the other incumbent councillors as corrupt - even though there is absolutely nothing to support that assertion. This year's municipal election campaign promises to bring more of the same.

The Ordinance Committee later voted 6-3 to forward the Normandy/Twining petition to the full City Council with a positive recommendation. Only Councillors Mazen, Carlone, and Kelley voted to keep the matter in committee. It's doubtful whether the self-righteous Prof. Lessig will care one way or the other. - RW

A Whodunit

Apr 3 - I have been emphatically informed by a Larry Lessig disciple that it was not Councillor Mazen who invited The Great Professor to City Hall to lecture the city councillors on their bad behavior. [It was Mazen's announcement of the Coming of Lessig that tipped me off, hence the presumption that it was Mazen's invitation.] Very well, but since it's quite obvious that his visit was not based on his longstanding interest in all things relating to Central Square (though he does apparently know where it is), he surely must have been invited. But by whom? Hmmmmm..... Let's speculate!

Well, Lessig's write-up of his Great Visitation indicates that his "research" came from Doug Brown, the Treasurer of the Devereux campaign for City Council. Could they be the ones who brought in The Professor to educate our lowly councillors on their evil-doing? There was also an announcement from Dennis "Pearl Harbor" Carlone announcing the arrival of The Prophet.

That raises an even more interesting possibility (all speculation, of course!). Could the invitation have come from Carlone's trusty aide, Mike "No Money" Connolly, a Lessig adherent who continues his involvement with the Communications Committee of the Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA), the group that is not only orchestrating the opposition to the Normandy/Twining petition but also actively organizing a slate of candidates for the November municipal election? City Council aides are paid by the taxpayers. Does the job description include active involvement in a political campaign and inviting people to committee hearings to berate other city councillors?

This is, of course, all speculation! Everyone likes a good whodunit.

There's also the rather curious timing of the Grand Alternative Vision for the Normandy/Twining properties introduced during the Ordinance Committee meeting by Councillor Carlone. Apparently this Grand Alternative Vision was known to activists with the Cambridge Residents Alliance prior to the meeting, but I'm not aware of any public availability of The Great Work prior to its appearance late in the Ordinance Committee meeting. This is interesting in light of Carlone's support of a recent Order that reads:

Order #8 (introduced Jan 29, referred to City Manager on Feb 20 for feasibility). That the City Manager is requested to ask all City Departments to have documents and presentations made available to the public and the City Council at least three business days in advance of the scheduled meeting to allow ample time for review.   Councillor McGovern and Councillor Carlone

Apparently, Councillor Carlone now realizes that advanced notice is just not feasible, especially when there's the urgent need for a good delay tactic. I have no opinion of the merits of Carlone's Grand Alternative Vision, but I suppose if my drawing skills were better I could have hustled up some sketches as well. Together with the eternal delay in considering the recommendations of the C2 Committee issued many moons ago, perhaps my sketches would have included images of cans being kicked down the road along Mass. Ave. It is perhaps necessary to point out that the Normandy/Twining petition was introduced precisely because the City Council has done little more than kick the C2 can down the road for so long without any tangible action. At least that conversation might now actually begin.

I have to admit to being greatly entertained by statements by prominent CResA members about the wonderful possibilities of building housing on municipal parking lots in Central Square. These excited voices include those who signed the Area 4 Neighborhood Preservation Petition just a few years ago, a zoning petition that would have created a new Municipal Parking District MP in Central Square to include all of the parking lots along Bishop Allen Drive. The proposal included the following clauses in Section E:

8.1 - District MP shall not allow the construction of any permanent structures of any type whatsoever, except those necessary to collect parking fees, and/or provide charging facilities for electric vehicles. The maximum height of any permanent structure, other than for public lighting, must not exceed 15 feet, inclusive of signage.

8.2 - No residences, businesses, or other entities shall be permitted to construct structures in MP districts, except as follows: Public performances, festivals, community events, farmer's markets, and other temporary uses in accordance with procedures previously established by the Cambridge Traffic and Parking Department.

Signers of that "Permanent Parking Petition" included, among others, #1 (Susan Yanow), #4 (Charles Teague), #17 (Nancy M. Ryan), #18 (Paul Stone), #29 (Patricia Lee Farris), #30 (Jonathan King), #31 (Richard Goldberg), and #35 (Richard Krushnic). My favorite quote from the April 1 Ordinance Committee meeting after referral of the Normandy/Twinning petition with a positive recommendation: "It sucks. I can't believe they accepted permanently zoned parking on the residential side of Bishop Allen as part of the package," said Nancy Ryan.

In the end, the City Council voted 6-3 at the Ordinance Committee to move the Normandy/Twining petition to the full City Council without any additional consideration of Carlone's Grand Alternative Vision. It will undoubtedly make an appearance at the Planning Board hearing (Apr 28) on this matter and when the City Council discusses the Ordinance Committee report in a few weeks. Maybe the good people of the Planning Board will even incorporate some of its elements into its recommendations before issuing their report to the City Council. At least they'll have the advantage of seeing The Great Vision before their meeting. - RW

Regarding Campaign & Political Finance

Apr 4 - On the specific issue of "Money in Politics", I should perhaps more completely express my point of view on the subject. I believe in full disclosure of how much money is received by political candidates and who contributed that money. I also believe in the need for a clear account of campaign expenditures. The Commonwealth's Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) does a pretty good job of making that information easily available to the public. It's quite ironic that one of the loudest of the incumbent city councillors on the issue of "Money in Politics" actually does the lousiest job of providing clear campaign finance information to the OCPF. As the saying goes, "Do as I say, not as I do."

I don't really care what the individual campaign contribution limit is nor do I especially care if property owners/developers make sizable contributions to certain candidates - as long as it's all disclosed. People are free to draw any conclusions they want from the campaign finance information - even wrong-headed conclusions. Candidates and their campaigns are also free to draw attention to the "purity" of their campaign contributions if they feel that's a good tactic for winning an election, but let's understand this to be as much a tactic as a principled stand. Any such "clean" candidate then also has to fully understand the phrase "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." If a candidate chooses to question the integrity of other candidates, then that candidate should not be surprised when their own integrity is possibly questioned.

Personally, I would prefer that all candidates just stick to "the issues" and the presentation of their own viewpoints on where Cambridge should be heading and how, as an elected official, they might be able to contribute to that future. It's ironic when the supposedly "clean" candidates are the ones heaving the greatest amount of mud.

It's worth mentioning that historically those Cambridge municipal candidates who came from the tonier parts of town (Avon Hill, Shady Hill, Coolidge Hill, Brattle Street, the Larches) have always been able to generate sizable campaign chests with relatively minimal effort. Other candidates often have to work harder to generate campaign funds and it's pretty obvious that receiving a few big checks will free up time for other campaign activities. Few, if any, candidates enjoy having to be constantly begging for contributions.

In the end, I still have to come back to the fact that candidates like Craig Kelley and Fred Fantini manage to carry out successful campaigns on a shoestring simply by maintaining good contact with their constituents (most likely voters). Other candidates are learning to do this better (though I have to say that it's a bit fishy when the frequency of the candidate newsletters increases dramatically only during municipal election years). I would also prefer that City Council "aides" play no role whatsoever in what is so obviously their councillor's political campaign. If they choose to do that, their councillor really should list "City of Cambridge" among their in-kind contributors. It's all about full disclosure.

There's also the matter of the role of supposedly "non-profit" organizations (Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods, Cambridge Residents Alliance, and others) during municipal election campaigns and in their their year-round activities relating to municipal elections. At what point does carrying out a political agenda, including the support of candidate slates, run afoul of the laws regarding non-profit organizations? I'm not aware that these organizations even file their receipts and expenditures with the OCPF, though they really should. At least the old Cambridge Civic Association in its heyday never claimed non-profit status. It was simply an "association" and they even took the step to separate out the financial aspects of their biennial election activities from the finances of the association. Perhaps it's time to ask for full disclosure for all parties actively involved in the municipal elections. - RW

Back to Lafayette Square...

Apr 5 - The diversionary tactics surrounding the Normandy/Twining proposal for the Lafayette Square end of Central Square have included, among other things:

  • claims that this is all about the corrupting influence of money in politics;
  • the 11th hour introduction of a Grand Alternative Vision from one councillor after years of silence;
  • concerns from activists that this proposal might prevent future housing from being built on the very same parking lots that they previously petitioned to be zoned permanently as surface parking lots;
  • concern that this petition is "spot zoning" that doesn't take into account more wholistic planning for the greater Central Square area as discussed in the C2 recommendations several years ago;
  • stoked-up fears of gentrification; and
  • suggestions that the permittting of one new tall building will have a "domino effect" leading to the "Manhattanization" of Central Square and possibly all of Mass. Ave. out to the Arlington line.

In truth, this is just a zoning petition that at its core attempts to realize some of the main themes espoused in the C2 recommendations - primarily residential development rather than office/lab development and a focus on enhanced ground floor retail and publicly accessible space for gathering, etc. Let's not forget that this whole latest wave of planning for Central Square was ignited by the Mayor's Red Ribbon Commission on the Delights and Concerns of Central Square that began meeting in 2010. That process culminated in a report that was finalized in December 2011. Though not so clearly spelled out in the formal report of the Red Ribbon Commission, one of the most prominent themes that emerged was the idea that Central Square could and should support a significant amount of new housing - especially for middle-income people.

This was followed by the so-called "C2 Committee" whose official name (Central Square Advisory Committee) unfortunately duplicated that of the existing committee established decades earlier with the designation of the Central Square Overlay District. That 21-person committee met frequently with consultant Goody/Clancy and the Community Development Department to develop a wide range of ideas and recommendations that were issued in a report in December 2012 and finalized the following year [Final Report].

One of the most central recommendations from the C2 Committee was that new housing should be seen as a desirable goal for Central Square and that permitting additional height to incentivize the creation of that housing was a good trade-off. Another core recommendation was that ground floor retail should be seen as a community benefit and that ideas like exclusion of the floor area of such retail space from density calculations or providing subsidies to retail tenants might be worthwhile incentives.

The C2 Report has now been sitting on the shelf for a couple of years due to City Council inaction. The Quest properties were bought by Normandy/Twining around the time the original C2 recommendations were issued and the new owners have clearly taken seriously the priorities spelled out in those recommendations. In the absence of a zoning plan from the City Council (or even a discussion), eventually Normandy/Twining introduced their own petition. This should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

Is the Normandy/Twining proposal the perfect expression of what would be best for Central Square? Perfection is a lot to ask. It is an interesting plan that takes into account a lot of constraints and desirable benefits. The nature of the Normandy/Twining properties puts a lot of constraints on what can be built - both physically and economically. They necessarily have to build around properties they don't own, and they attempt to make best use of a patchwork of parking facilities that were assembled over decades by the previous owners. They are choosing to build housing and ground-floor retail rather than labs and offices. They are responding to widely held desires for better interconnections with the surrounding neighborhood. They're also asking for building heights that may at first seem unprecedented until you look at the nearby Manning Apartments on Green Street that are of comparable height. They have promised a significant percentage (20%) of dwelling units to be set aside for people with limited incomes.

Reasonable people can disagree about the costs and benefits of the proposal, but it was clear from the start that this was a proposal that had to be seriously considered, and the fact that more people have spoken in favor of it at public meetings than those who are opposed is something that might not have been expected. (Personally, I don't believe the raw numbers of people who speak on any issue to be especially revealing.) The proposal is potentially a game-changer in terms of new transit-oriented residential development in Central Square with less required parking and with the potential to economically support existing Central Square businesses. - RW

City of Cambridge Announces East Cambridge Traffic Pattern Changes
Two-way traffic patterns return on April 1 (and that's no joke!)

Two Way TrafficThe temporary one-way streets created in East Cambridge in February because of snow impacts will return to their previous two-way traffic pattern as of Wednesday, April 1. The affected streets include: Otis St, Thorndike St, Hurley St, Fifth St, and Sciarappa St. Crews will begin removing “Do Not Enter” signs throughout the neighborhood on March 31. Coinciding with the return of the regular traffic patterns in East Cambridge is the beginning of the City’s monthly street cleaning operations.

“We appreciate the support that we received from East Cambridge residents in observing the temporary one-way streets this winter,” said Joseph Barr, Director of the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department. “The street cleaning operations that will occur this Wednesday and Thursday in the neighborhood should facilitate resident’s repositioning their vehicles parked on the affected streets so that they are facing in the appropriate direction.”

Beginning on Monday April 13, parked vehicles that are facing the wrong way will be ticketed. Drivers are asked when returning to the area, that they park their vehicle in the appropriate direction.

Residents with questions about these traffic changes can contact the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department at 617-349-4723 or by email at

Out Like a Lamb - What's Happenin' at the March 30, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Out Like a LambAs this brutal winter stumbles to a welcome end, the City Council meets on Monday to do its thing. Here are a few noteworthy items (at least to this Council watcher).:

Manager's Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a rescission of the remaining amount of the loan order ($1,600,000) authorized by the City Council on Feb 13, 2012 for the renovations to the original police station at Five Western Avenue.

How can you not like it when a project comes in $1.6 million under budget?

Manager's Agenda #12. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-07, regarding a report on variance requests and application results since January, 2010. [really big attachment]

I'm reminded of the time several summers ago when a City Council request for information from the Police Department yielded a stack of paper several feet high resting on Councillor Kelley's desk. This is just a PDF file and not nearly as voluminous, but it always reminds me that you shouldn't ask for information that requires some effort to generate unless you have some notion of what you'd like to do with that information once you get it. This request came from an Order by Councillor Kelley that was adopted on Feb 20, 2015. If the goal is to identify shortcomings in the Zoning Ordinance that routinely lead to many requests for variances, that would be a useful exercise that might warrant some tweaks to the Zoning Ordinance. It's just as likely that the intention might be to crack down on variances without examining why people seek them in the first place.

Manager's Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of members of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committees for two year terms, effective Apr 1, 2015.

Manager's Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the status of the Pearl Street reconstruction project.

I occasionally wonder what would happen if someone like me who questions some of the bicycling infrastructure decisions made internally by the City were to apply to be on the Bicycle Committee. My sense is that diversity of opinion is not welcome on that particular committee and that applicants are screened accordingly. Regarding the Pearl Street project, I fear that the plan is to wait out the opposition and proceed with the elimination of curbside parking when the best opportunity arises - regardless of need or the preferences of abutters.

Manager's Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the recommendation from the Planning Board to approve 1) the disposition of the leasehold interest in the Foundry Building; and 2) a diminution of the disposition process as it relates to the provision of a traffic study and provision of real estate appraisals of the Foundry Building.

Unfinished Business #12. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the Foundry Building process, including the City's plans to collaborate with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (the "CRA") to redevelop the Foundry building in a way that meets the vision and objectives expressed by the City Council and the community...

It's good to see some progress on the Foundry matter. I really don't know what balance will ultimately be struck among the competing interests and financial constraints associated with this building, but at least things are moving forward. It's great to see how the revitalized Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is playing an active role in this and other initiatives.

Unfinished Business #11. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing held on Dec 19, 2013 to conduct a public hearing on an amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.67 entitled relating to Plastic Bag Reduction. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Feb 24, 2014.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 12, 2015 to discuss amendments and other related documents associated with the plastic bags ordinance.

It's likely that this proposed ordinance will be voted at this meeting. The essential elements are that (1) plastic checkout bags would be banned in Cambridge (which won't affect those of us who shop almost exclusively in Somerville and Everett), (2) a mandatory fee of at least 10¢ will be charged for every paper bag used at checkout (not sure what this means regarding single- vs. double-bagging), and (3) a minimum thickness (3 mils) will be established for what constitutes an approved reusable bag. There are only limited provisions for exemptions.

Personally I use only reusable bags and have done so for years. I imagine most municipal election candidates this year will be distributing reusable bags emblazoned with their names and the usual #1 Vote request. Perhaps I'll vote for candidates based on who provides the most durable shopping bags. Councillor Toomey was way ahead of everyone last time in this regard.

Unfinished Business #13. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.

It's interesting how many committee reports have been submitted since this proposal was submitted by Councillor Toomey. Anything that moves things along is welcome. Now if only we can come up with a Rules Change that would prevent significant matters from being endlessly kicked down the road - and I'm definitely thinking of Central Square here which is only now getting some renewed attention years after a broad range of recommendations were presented as part of the K2C2 process. There will be an Ordinance Committee hearing on those recommendations on Wed, April 15 (at 5:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber), but only for the purpose of discussion with no actionable items before the committee.

The Normandy/Twining zoning proposal for the Mass. & Main area of Central Square is also now before the Ordinance Committee. The petitioners recently increased the percentages of permanently and privately subsidized units in their project to 20 percent should the proposed zoning be approved. Their original petition called for 17 percent affordable and middle-income units. They have now doubled the percentage of affordable units (50 to 80% of area median income) from 8.5 percent in the original petition to 17 percent and will maintain 3 percent middle income units (80 to 120% of area median income). The proposal would deliver 40 affordable and 7 middle income housing units for a total of 47 permanently and privately subsidized units out of a total of about 230 units. Enhanced ground floor retail opportunities and neighborhood connectivity are also included in their proposal.

Unfinished Business #14. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 3, 2015 to continue discussions on the zoning petition filed by Whitehead Institute to amend the Zoning Ordinance, Sections 14.32.1 and 14.32.2 to provide for an increment of 60,000 square feet of GFA to be allowed by special permit in a portion of the MXD District, in Section 14.70 by retitling "Special Provisions Applicable Within the Ames Street District: and by adding a new Section 14.72 "Special Provisions Applicable Outside the Ames Street District. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Mar 30, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Dec 16, 2014. Petition expires Apr 8, 2015.

This zoning petition will likely be ordained at this meeting.

Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Chestnut Hill Realty, requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Basement Housing Overlay District Section 20.600.

I won't pretend to understand what the intent of these technical amendments are. As was the case when the original zoning was introduced and passed, I'll just say that it would be a shame if any basement space in buildings that is actually necessary for bicycle storage and other needs of residents is lost just to pack in a few more income-producing units. On either side of my house on Broadway there are buildings that maximized the rentable space by eliminating options for on-premises bike parking and seriously compromising the options for storing and managing waste and recycling.

Resolution #24. Reminder to Cambridge residents that street cleaning will begin the first week of April.   Councillor Toomey

Run for your lives! The sweepers are coming! Don't get towed!

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with all relative City departments to increase the number of electric charging stations available in the City, to determine the feasibility of making these stations free and to recommend other incentives that may include, but not be limited to, free resident parking stickers and allowing electric cars to park at parking meters free of charge as ways to encourage the purchase and use of electric cars.   Councillor McGovern

Let me see if I got this straight. This proposes to provide free parking and free electric charging to anyone with an electric vehicle. Why stop there? The City should also pay the rent and mortgage costs for these superior beings. But seriously, I would think that driving an energy-efficient vehicle that costs less to operate should be more than enough incentive. I also expect that any lost revenue or added energy costs borne by the City will ultimately lead to increased parking fees for those of us less enlightened beings who still have more conventional engines in our vehicles.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate city departments to update the City Council as to whether there are any proposed increases to Common Victualer (CV) and Liquor License renewal fees, to determine if there is a liquor license cap in the Central Square area and to the suitability of raising the liquor license cap in and around the Central Square area.   Vice Mayor Benzan

I'm not sure what's behind this, but my understanding is that there is a cap on the number of liquor licenses that may be sold, but the License Commission has been issuing nontransferable "no value" pouring licenses to restaurants In Central Square and elsewhere in order to help those businesses.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the local business associations, neighborhood groups and city departments to conduct a series of cleanups of our neighborhoods and City Squares, primarily Kendall, Harvard, Central, Alewife, Inman, Huron Village and Porter.   Vice Mayor Benzan

These kinds of events are always best organized by the local business and neighborhood associations and by individuals with whatever assistance the City is able to affordably provide. The City should simply let the organizers know what help they might be able to provide, but let the residents and business owners take the lead.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with an update on the analysis that has been done to understand the finances of new development in Central Square, including the report by economic consultant Sarah Woodworth.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Mazen

I am curious about the underlying purpose of this Order. While it's certainly a good idea to have a firm grasp on the economic realities surrounding development proposals like the one contemplated for Mass. & Main (Normandy/Twining), my suspicion is that this could be an effort to cook up grounds to justify blocking the proposal. We'll all benefit from an honest discussion of the economics, but hopefully not just as a smokescreen for a separate agenda.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the status and next steps for the Beekeeping ordinance.   Councillor Carlone

I wasn't aware that there was an actual proposed ordinance to allow and perhaps promote beekeeping, but it's a good idea worth pursuing. On the other hand, it seems a bit ridiculous that this should be over-regulated or banned in the first place.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City personnel to determine and provide an update to the City Council on parking needs and availability in the Central Square area and to confer with the appropriate City personnel to determine, as part of the broader question above, the cost and feasibility of adding additional parking levels to the Green Street Garage, to determine how many additional feet the garage could be expanded to as of right and how many extra parking spaces that would yield, and what changes, if any, would be needed to existing zoning laws in order to build the garage to its maximum capacity.   Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Carlone

Though I think it would be a good idea to ensure a sufficient supply of parking in and around Central Square, I can't help but note that if a proposal to add commercial parking was made a decade or two ago it would have been aggressively opposed by some activists. Those were the days when the Parking Freeze was giving way to the current Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance. Times have changed, vehicles run much cleaner, and there are now other competing priorities. Perhaps additional parking capacity at the Green Street Garage would replace what might be lost by building on surface parking lots elsewhere in Central Square. Perhaps the idea is to calm the fears of those who see the building of new housing as an existential threat to the well-being of their on-street parking. In any case, it's a discussion worth having. - Robert Winters


Start of Monthly Street Sweeping Operations (and towing!) begins April 1 (no joke!)
Residents and visitors urged to observe posted signs prior to parking vehicle

Street SweeperThe Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin street sweeping operations on Wednesday, April 1. Cambridge’s monthly street sweeping operations run from April through December each year. In addition to neighborhood sweeping, City squares are cleaned daily by both mechanical street sweepers and by hand crews.

“We’ve had a very severe winter and with all of the snow a lot of debris has gathered and remains on sidewalks and in gutter lines. Some roadways may have snow within the parking lanes, and our crews will maneuver street sweeping equipment to clean in between snow piles to the extent possible. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to remove the remaining snow, crews are now being deployed for street and park maintenance and there is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done in both of these areas.” said DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riordan. “The first month of street sweeping is critical, given that the streets have not been swept since last November/December.”

The WorksCambridge’s Street cleaning program plays an important role in the city’s stormwater management program.  By sweeping up sand and other debris, catch basins are kept clean and able to function efficiently. This debris also contains heavy metal particles and chemicals that get deposited on roadways through the wear and tear of vehicle parts, and leaking engine fluids, and so an effective street sweeping program also helps reduce a significant source of pollution to the Charles River and the Alewife Brook.

For information on street cleaning operations, visit CambridgeMA.Gov or call the Department of Public Works at (617) 349-4800. Residents are encouraged to sign up to receive weekly email notifications regarding street cleaning in their neighborhood through the City’s Eline notification system at . Updates are also available on Twitter at @CambMA and Facebook at CambridgeMA.Gov.

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 2, 2015)

Mar 27 (from Marc McGovern) - The Mayor's Income Insecurity Commission is looking at how expensive it is to live in Cambridge and what an individual or family needs to be financially secure. They created a survey (link below) and hope that you will take a few minutes to fill it out. It is only 12 questions. They are looking for Cambridge residents of at all income levels to take part. The survey is confidential. Link:

On March 17, the City and its consultant presented the preliminary findings of its Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The slides from that presentation may be viewed here. Additional reference materials may be found here. An interim report and technical appendices will be issued by the end of April.

Members Sought for Cambridge Peace Commission

City SealCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking individuals interested in serving on the Cambridge Peace Commission. Composed of up to 20 members who serve three-year terms and represent the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic diversity of the city, the Peace Commission meets on the third Wednesday of most months at 6:00pm, at 51 Inman St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, Cambridge. Prospective members must reside in Cambridge.

Commission members are volunteers appointed by the City Manager who work with the staff in fulfilling the mission of the Cambridge Peace Commission and in accomplishing its goals. Members are expected to attend regular meetings, participate in organizing the Commission’s events and activities, and do some work outside of Commission meetings. Members are encouraged to learn about the day-to-day work and projects of the staff, and offer advice and viewpoints that reflect the Commission’s mission and role within City government.

As a department of the City of Cambridge, the Peace Commission works with other municipal agencies, communities of faith, nonprofit organizations, and the community as a whole to build connections and strengthen relationships, and to promote positive dialogue and foster understanding. The Commission fosters a community where differences and diversity are understood and celebrated, so that all residents can contribute to making Cambridge an equitable and peaceful community. It pays special attention to traumatic events and violence affecting Cambridge and its residents, and coordinates and supports compassionate community responses to support recovery and healing.

The Commission supports Cambridge’s Sister City relationships, including those with: Les Cayes, Haiti; San José Las Flores, El Salvador; and Yerevan, Armenia. It also celebrates Cambridge residents and local efforts with recognition programs and events, and raises awareness about local and global peace and social justice issues through educational forums, discussions, and presentations. For more information about the Commission, see its web page at

A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by April 27, 2015 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300; Fax 617-349-4307

Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Perhaps the most notable items this week are the announcement of the annual water/sewer rates, a couple of committee reports relating to the proposed Twining/Normandy petition, and a resolution on the tragic death of Marcia Diehl - a friend to thousands of Cantabrigians, including me.

Manager's Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $6,000,000 from Free Cash to the General Fund Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance account ($4,825,000) and to the General Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account ($175,000) and to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Maintenance account ($1,000,000) to cover winter 2014-2015 snowstorm expenses associated with snow plowing contracts, salt and other material, and repair costs.

Some years the "Rainy Day Fund" can be a "Snowy Winter Fund". Few should be surprised at this additional cost after a record-breaking winter. Spring (technically) arrives with the vernal equinox this Friday at 6:45pm EDT.

Manager's Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-04, regarding a report on next steps to converting the Watertown Branch rail line.

We're getting there - slowly but surely. This will one day be a nice addition to the off-road recreational facilities for the local region, and will also provide pretty handy access to the Arsenal Mall area.

Manager's Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the block rates for water consumption and sewer use for the period beginning Apr 1, 2015 and ending Mar 31, 2016.

The recommendation is for a 0% increase in the water consumption block rate and a 6.8% increase in the sewer use block rate, resulting in a 4.9% increase in the combined rate for the coming year. This is the fifth consecutive year that the City has been able to produce a 0% increase in the water rate.

Average Changes in Water/Sewer Annual Bills
Residential Type FY15 Average FY16 Projected Annual Variance % Change
Single Family $730 $766 $36 4.9%
Two Family $1,020 $1,070 $50 4.9%
Three Family $1,480 $1553 $73 4.9%

Unfinished Business #12. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.

It's interesting that at the first meeting after Councillor Toomey introduced the Order calling for this modification in the City Council Rules to hasten the delivery of committee reports, this agenda contains 5 committee reports.

Resolution #27. Condolences to the family of Marcia Deihl.   Councillor Simmons

Marcia was killed while riding her bicycle last Wednesday afternoon, March 11. Reports indicate that she was likely exiting the Whole Foods onto Putnam Ave. or riding along Putnam Ave. when she was struck and killed by a truck traveling on Putnam Ave. Many of us are eager to learn more details about this tragedy. Though I didn't know Marcia nearly as well as some others who are now really suffering from this loss, I really loved her sense of humor and her distinctive way with words. Our shared interests included old VWs, kitsch, Zippy the Pinhead, and everything about Cambridge. [Globe story on Marcia Diehl]

Marcia Diehl (early '70s)
Marcia Diehl (early 1970s)

While looking over old email messages from Marcia, I came across this one from 2009: "We really need a Cambridge History thing, or class, or institutionalized available web site. My specialty is the 70s, and I loved working with Charlie (Sullivan) and the Historical Commission looking for old photos. I have performed a few Cambridge history in music shows, one of which 'When Hippies Roamed the Earth' is centered around the Inman, Harvard, and Central Square cultural and political counterculture. Another one was songs related to social justice history at Old Cambridge Baptist Church."

Two years ago (Feb 2013) Marcia wrote this in the CCJ Forum: "I remember being called a 'barnie' and having garbage thrown at me when a bunch of us college grad hippie pinkos lived in communes on the Broadway and Columbia corner in 1971-2. CRA paid us a thousand each to relocate and we carried our stuff across the street to a Chiccarelli building. At a rent control strike hearing, she yelled 'THEY WANT MY BLOOD, THEY WANT MY BLOOD!' Ah, memories. I've lived kitty corner to Villa Vellucci in almost-East Cambridge, attended many times, and busked in Harvard Square. Now retired and living two blocks from where I did 35 years ago in my favorite spot in the universe, Cambridgeport, I know I am not worthy to be a Cantabrigian."

You were as worthy as anyone who has ever lived here, Marcia. I hope we can name a park or a garden after you.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to review the questions raised from Kim Courtney and report back to the City Council on such matters the City Manager considers appropriate to address.   Councillor McGovern, Mayor Maher, Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen [Attachments]

I suspect there must be some connection here between the apparent licensing irregularities with Mr. Kapsalis (owner of The Cellar and a neighboring liquor store) and a petition that was submitted to the License Commission several months ago attempting to block Ms. Courtney and her partner from opening a competing establishment near to Mr. Kapsalis' businesses. That petition was pretty much 100% fraudulent and even included fake names at my address. I was able to see the petition when an investigator from the License Commission came to my house verifying the names of those who had apparently signed the petition. It also had the name of at least one friend of mine who said he had never signed such a petition. Even a casual look at the petition showed that it was all likely written by the same person. Who does something like that? I never patronized The Cellar or his liquor store anyway, so they won't be missing my business.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Jan 22, 2015 to discuss the Normandy/Twining zoning petition to amend Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new Section 20.800 entitled Mass. and Main Residential Mixed Income Sub district within the Central Square Overlay District.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Feb 26, 2015 to discuss the refiled Normandy/Twining petition to amend the Zoning Ordinances in Article 20.000 of the Zoning Ordinance and the zoning map of the City of Cambridge by adding a new section 20.800 entitled Mass and Main Residential Mixed Income Subdistrict within the Central Square Overlay District.

The next couple of months should prove interesting. The Cambridge Residents Alliance was spawned a few years back in response to proposals for new housing in and around Central Square. [In short, they don't want it.] They've now spawned yet another entity specifically trying to block new housing at this Lafayette Square location. It's anybody's guess how this zoning proposal will fare and how the actual building will take shape should the zoning change make it possible.

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Jan 13, 2015 to discuss the production of language for a city-wide affordable housing overlay district, to be considered by the City Council to identify areas in the city that would be best suited for an affordable housing overlay district.

I'm still curious to see what people have in mind with this proposed "affordable housing overlay district." So far all I've heard is the sentiment that only low- and moderate-income people are welcome in areas like Central Square, and that's not a particularly sustainable (or even friendly) perspective. - Robert Winters



The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) announced on Feb 18, 2015 the establishment of the Forward Fund, a new microgrant program intended to support innovative pilot projects by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses throughout Cambridge. They will be awarding Planning & Design grants up to $2,500 and Capital grants up to $10,000 for a wide variety of projects that contribute to the civic and social capital of Cambridge.

THE SEGREGATION OF THE STREET - With all the swirling controversy about whether to install segregated bicycle facilities on Pearl Street, this article provides a great perspective on the difference between perceived safety and actual safety.

Perhaps it's time to rein in the Cambridge Bicycle Committee

The Cambridge Bicycle Committee (or, to be more precise, current and former members and others who share their mindset) has a Facebook page [Cambridge Bikes!]. It's been interesting hearing what some of the members are saying in response to Councillor Toomey's proposed Order questioning the removal of parking on one side of Pearl Street from Central Square to the Charles River in order to segregate cyclists. Here are some gems:

Tom Meek - The message is the city wants to get more people on bikes.... Don't like it make a pretty $$$ on your house and move elsewhere where you can buy a pad with a big driveway for 1/2 as much lol

Matt Carphree - Street parking in Cambridge costs the user less than 7 cents a day. A nickel, and two pennies to rent 200 square feet of prime real estate in one of the thirty most population dense cities in the USA. Hellas yeah if I was on that crack, I'd fight anyone threatening to take it away!

Matt Carphree (Parking scarcity is never a supply problem. It's a pricing problem)

Douglas M. Kline - In addition to the points already made (to amplify one, an annual resident parking sticker should cost at least $1,000 and as much as $2,000 in some neighborhoods and that would put a dent in the demand for on-street parking), no one promised that on-street parking would always be available and life is full of risk. Car owners have a lot of nerve assuming that they will always have what they should never have been given in the first place. Also the distinction between adding cars and taking away spots is hardly more than semantic unless you intend to take away a spot for each car that is sold or whose owner moves away and doesn't expect to regularly use the space any more such that spots for cars currently owned by current residents are grandfathered in and others are eliminated and all on-street parking will eventually be eliminated.

The more I hear from these people of the Cambridge Bicycle Committee the more I am convinced that they're out of control and that Councillor Toomey's Order is both timely and appropriate. Rarely have I seen this level of self-righteous hostility in Cambridge - and I'm a year-round daily cyclist. - Robert Winters

PS - Here's a sterling example of a graphic that violates every principle of statistical survey design:

How to skew a survey result

The image on the left suggests a cyclist about to be run over by a bus. That's the image used to illustrate the Pearl Street design option the Bicycle Committee and its staff does not want you to choose. It's in the online survey instrument they circulated among people they hope will vote the way they want. The inclusion of this graphic renders the survey invalid. That's Statistics 101.

We're taking some time off from Cambridge InsideOut. We hope to be back on the air in April 2015.

Recent Broadcasts of Cambridge InsideOut    [complete list of shows]

Aug 19 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 79 and 80 with Terry Smith

Cambridge InsideOutAug 5 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 77 and 78 with Patty Nolan

July 29 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 75 and 76 with Brian Corr

July 22 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 73 and 74 with Marc McGovern

July 15 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 71 and 72: News and Events, July 2014

July 1 - Transportation Safety w/guest Rozann Kraus

June 24 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 67-68: More News Around Town

June 17 - Tales from the Democratic Convention and other news from around town

June 10 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.

June 3 - Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 61 and 62 – News and Commentary

Watch Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm. The co-hosts are Susana Segat and Robert Winters.

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

MAPC Study: 435,000 new housing units needed by 2040

A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]

Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.


Open for Comments - CCJ Forum

Taking a Look at the April 13, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Apr 13, 2015)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2015) - the April Fool's Day edition

Web page includes two videos of Cambridge bicycle infrastructure (Mar 31, 2015 by John Allen)

Out Like a Lamb – What’s Happenin’ at the March 30, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting (Mar 29, 2015)

Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Clinic for Dogs Only: April 11 (posted Mar 26, 2015)

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (updated Mar 23, 2015)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Mar 20, 2015)

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates (last updated Mar 19, 2015 - updated periodically)

Items of Interest on the March 16, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda (Mar 16, 2015)

Cambridge School Committee 2013-2014 Campaign Finance Summaries (updated Mar 15, 2015)

Nominations Sought for 2015 Outstanding City Employee Awards (Mar 6, 2015)

In Like a Lion: Mar 2, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting (Mar 2, 2015)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Feb 27, 2015)

Flotsam and Jetsam – Coming up at the Feb 23, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting (Feb 22, 2015)

Plowing, or sweeping under the rug? (Feb 21, 2015 by John Allen)

Catch Up – The City Council will have a Special Meeting on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 9:00am (Feb 20, 2015)

Brian Murphy, 1964-2015 (Feb 5, 2015)

Early Marathon Monday – Coming up at the January 26, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting (Jan 26, 2015)

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (Jan 2015) - posted Jan 18, 2015

Campaign Finance – 2013 Cambridge City Council candidates (May 25, 2013, updated Jan 14, 2015)

Cambridge Public Library Receives National Honor Award in Architecture (Jan 9, 2015)

Looking ahead – January 5, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting (Jan 4, 2015)

Age Distribution of Voters in Cambridge Elections: 2007-2014 (Jan 4, 2015)

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher (June 10, 2014)

Master Plan Mythology and other Big Items on the Apr 7, 2014 City Council Agenda (Apr 7, 2014)

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989 (Feb 13, 2014)

K2C2 Final Reports Released (Dec 31, 2013)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge (Nov 10, 2013)

Completing the Square (June 11, 2013)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes (June 8, 2013)

April 1 Cambridge News (Apr 1, 2013) - the April Fool's Day edition

On becoming a True Cantabrigian (Dec 29, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, Initial Years, 1963 to 1982 (July 12, 2012)

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area – Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (Apr 5, 2012)

“Cycle track”: a sidewalk by another name (posted Aug 11, 2010, letter of Paul Schimek)

The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998

April 2, 2015 - Another fun April Fool's Day

April 2, 2013 - Well, that was fun. Thanks to everyone for being such a sport on April Fool's Day.

Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)

Introduction: Memorandum from the Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 on its Final Recommendations
Full Report (reformatted in HTML) Goals
Public Places to Build Community Public Places elements
Retail, Cultural and Non-Profit Diversity Housing
Connecting People to the Square Foster a Sustainable Future for Central Square
Leverage Future Private and Public Investments Definition of Central Square Districts
Zoning Recommendations Transfer of Development Rights
Transportation Recommendations Location Specific Issues

The Neverending Study of Central Square

Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters

Feb 1980 - CDD report entitled "Central Square - Commercial Area Revitalization District

June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square

Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)

1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)

Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan

1989 - Draft Central Square Development Guidelines

May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"

Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!

Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)

May 1995 - Central Square Improvements Project, Master Plan Report

May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)

May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"

Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study

Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)

Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)

June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)

2009 - CDD Central Square Customer Intercept Survey Report

2011 - Central Square Market Profile

2011 - Red Ribbon Commission Study Report

2012 - Goody/Clancy report and recommendations

2013 - K2C2 Final Reports

THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik (33½ minutes)

FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee

City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)

City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)

City Council Committees (for the current term)

School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)

School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)

June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).

I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:

These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.

One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.

With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.

Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.

It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters

This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.

Selected City of Cambridge References:

Plan E Charter (Cambridge's city charter) Acts of 1921, Chapter 239 as amended (establishment of Cambridge Election Commission)

Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)

Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923

This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.

It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.

Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW

Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
written by Glenn Koocher, November 2004 -- edited by Robert Winters, July 2006
[An alternate edit of this essay will appear, along with many other valuable essays, in a
centennial volume to be published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2007.

Which People's Republic
written by Bill Cunningham, 1999

Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail for more details.

Oliver Wendell Holmes – Morning Exercises of December 28, 1880
As recorded in the book 250th Anniversary of the Settlement of Cambridge (1881)

Robert Winters
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
Philosophy of the CCJ Editor
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]

Thoughts for these times:
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz

Subscribe to the Cambridge Civic Journal.
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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (

Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”

Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”

Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”

Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”

Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”

Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"

the known universe

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