Alewife Study Group > government > Mar. 21 2001, letter to Cambridge Ordinance Committee Search 

Alewife Petition
Community Feedback to Ordinance Committee

March 21, 2001

Kathy Born and David Maher
Co-Chairs Ordinance Committee

Dear Councillor Born and Vice Mayor Maher:

As you know the Ordinance Committee of the Cambridge City Council has referred the Alewife Petition to the City Manager for redrafting under the eight new guidelines set forth in your memorandum of February 28, 2001. Members of the Coalition For Alewife, members of the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods and other individuals interested in the future of Alewife, have identified eight key pieces of information that we believe are crucial to an accurate redrafting of this petition:

1. What is the current build-out potential of the Alewife Petition area as a whole and broken down by the two major ownerships? What are the build-out potentials and allowable maximum heights, under the various scenarios proposed during the course of city hearings? (FARs have been proposed ranging from 2.0 to 0.75.) A breakdown by lot areas, current build-out and potential build-out, would be most helpful.

2. Housing has been proposed for some portions of the Alewife Petition area. What is the potential build-out in square feet and in number of housing units, including bonuses for affordable housing?

3. What is the individual and total build-out potential of the five portions of Alewife immediately surrounding the Alewife Reservation. Once again a breakdown by lot areas, current build-out and potential build out would be most helpful. The five areas are:

a. the CambridgePark Drive Triangle,
b. the Bulfinch site (formerly ADL site),
c. the Martignetti properties along Route 2,
d. the Grace site,
e. the Mugar site in Arlington,
f. the O'Neill site (aka the Belmont Uplands),

4. Project proposals have been put forward for several of these sites. What are these proposals? How much parking is proposed? What are the traffic estimates for these proposals?

5. What are the projected traffic impacts both individually and collectively of the proposed and/or potential build-outs on the sites surrounding the Alewife Reservation? How will this impact the Reservation? How will this impact the parking freeze? What traffic studies have been performed already and which new ones are needed?

6. All of these build-outs (apart from the Belmont Uplands site) would be on a federally designated 100-year floodplain. Is there any precedent statewide for this much construction on a 100-year floodplain; if so, where? What would be the effects of this construction on neighborhood flooding in Cambridge, Arlington and Belmont? What studies have been performed and which new ones are needed to make an accurate assessment?

7. What portion of the Alewife Petition area is unbuildable wetlands? Some cities and towns in Massachusetts remove unbuildable wetland areas from FAR calculation. What towns are these? If Cambridge adopted a similar policy how would this effect construction in the Alewife Petition area?

8. A 216,000 square foot building, 85 ft. high has recently been erected at the end of CambridgePark Drive immediately adjacent to the Alewife Reservation (Genetics Institute). What impacts will it have on the Reservation (including visual and wildlife habitat effects) and can other buildings be built there having similar impacts? (Answers to this question are particularly relevant for building heights in the Alewife Petition area.)

We hope that answers to these questions can be made available to the community and to the Planning Board at least one week before it holds its April 17 public hearing on the new Alewife Petition. The information you obtain will help the community and the planners draft the best possible petition taking into account density, height, traffic, proximity to and effects on the Reservation and on the surrounding communities of Cambridge, Arlington and Belmont.


Lew Weitzman
Carolyn Mieth
Peter Cignetti
Aram Hollman
Sheila Cook
Stewart Sanders
Stash Horowitz
Roger Frymire

cc: The Honorable, the City Councillors c/o Margaret Drury City Clerk, for the March 26 Meeting
Beth Rubenstein Asst City Manager for Community Development,
The Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods,
The Coalition for Alewife,
The North Cambridge Stabilization Committee
The Mystic River Watershed Association,
The Friends of Alewife
Board of Selectmen, Town of Belmont
Board of Selectmen, Town of Arlington
State Rep. Alice Wolf, Cambridge,
State Rep. Anne Paulsen, Belmont
Rob Green editor Cambridge Chronicle

Contact the Alewife Study Group, North Cambridge Massachusetts, by email at