Alewife Study Group > W. R. Grace site > community feedback > Aug. 1995, recommendations Search 

Proposed development of W. R. Grace Site
- recommendations of Alewife Study Group

based on community comments from August 1995 Meeting
of approximately 150 concerned neighbors

1. Joint Determination of Best Use
All appropriate steps should be taken by the City of Cambridge and its development agencies to determine the best use for the site in a cooperative manner. This endeavor should include the community, the City Administration, the property owner, and the developer.

2. Traffic and Parking Concerns
a. A comprehensive traffic impact study of the proposed retail development is necessary. The study area must be defined by the affected community and should include not only Route 2 / Route 16 (Alewife Brook Parkway), but also the inclusive area from Massachusetts Avenue to Concord Avenue. Analysis must be undertaken to determine the traffic bypass routes that would result from the proposed retail development and the impact of those routes on area streets including without limitation Massachusetts Avenue, Concord Avenue, Rindge Avenue, New Street, Walden Street, Sherman Street, Sargent Street, Fayerweather Street, Huron Avenue, Whittemore Avenue, Columbus Avenue, Seagrave Road, Madison Avenue, Magoun Street, Harrison Avenue, Harvey Street, Clifton Street, Jackson Street, Clay Street, Reed Street, Montgomery Street, Dudley Street, Cedar Street, and any streets requested by the Cambridge Highlands and Area 9 Neighborhood Associations.

b. Complete and timely disclosure should be made of all raw traffic counts and analysis undertaken in connection with traffic studies of the proposed retail development.

c. The current automotive access scheme for the proposed retail site is inadequate and should be revised. Any development of the site must present a viable traffic management plan. The plan, including the definitive vehicular entry and exit scheme for both customer and commercial traffic, must not be narrowly focused. It must address in a satisfactory manner the proposal's several impacts and, in particular, it must protect the residential nature of the immediate neighborhood in its proposed commercial traffic access method.

d. The number of vehicle trips the proposed retail development will generate and their impact must be taken into account in any City of Cambridge traffic study.

e. The impact of increased traffic volume (passenger vehicle and truck) upon the several affected roadways in East Arlington should also be included in the study.

f. The City of Cambridge Traffic/Transportation study should provide for standing community participation and input.

g. In addition to a comprehensive study of automotive traffic, a separate study of non-automotive transportation uses at the Grace site should also be undertaken.

h. Access by commercial vehicles to or from the site via Whittemore Avenue should be strictly prohibited. Any future legal claim to this Avenue as a truck route should be prohibited prior to the negotiation of any and all leases at this site. It should be understood that any and all truck exclusions which may be imposed in the future on Route 16 shall not affect the prohibition proposed for Whittemore Avenue nor shall such potential exclusions affect any vehicular prohibition currently in effect at this site (e.g. Harvey Street).

i. The Community Development Department should clarify and document the City's position with regard to all current and potential parking capacity ' at the site, with relevant confirmation from the Traffic and Parking Department as well as the Interim Parking Control Commission.

3. Zoning
Consider more restrictive alternatives.

4. Department of Environmental Protection
The Cambridge City Council should direct the city manager to formally request the Department of Environmental Protection to become directly involved in the public process concerning any and all response actions involving cleanup at this site.

5. Health Commissioner
Any development at this site should receive prior approval in writing from the Commissioner or Acting Commissioner of Public Health after detailed review of all documentation provided by environmental and other relevant agencies.

6. Hydrology Study
A hydrology study should be undertaken in order to evaluate the impact of any proposed development at this site on the flood plain and the watershed system.

7. Conservation Commission
The Cambridge Conservation Commission should test for wetlands and should apply the new soil standard in so doing.

8. Environmental Program
Any development at this site should receive prior approval in writing from the director of the City's Environmental Program. This approval should be accompanied by a comprehensive analysis of all environmental impacts that will ensue from the site's development.

9. Master Plan
The proposed retail development site should be re-included in the Master Plan for Alewife. This Master Plan should also review and make recommendations concerning the potential for development of adjacent sites owned by Arthur D. Little, Martignetti, and W. R. Grace. The Community Development Department should consider all feasible and appropriate alternatives to retail development of the site, and should earnestly encourage the MDC to acquire as much of the site as possible (including in particular the areas now under consideration for MDC acquisition.)

10. Types of Stores
a. No Super-sized Supermarket
No super-sized supermarket should be built at the proposed development site under any circumstances.

b. Other Supermarket Plans
Subject to resolving other issues affecting the site, a "standard" or smaller sized supermarket may be a more appropriate option. A particular effort should be made to recruit an independent operation that ;would offer more competitive pricing.

c. Hours of Operation
Stores should be open no later than 10 PM and should not accept deliveries during pre-dawn hours.

d. Integration with Current Neighborhood Establishments
Any retail development should complement current neighborhood stores. Retail operations that would jeopardize the vitality of existing neighborhood-based, mom-and-pop operations should be discouraged. Additionally, businesses generating excessive amounts of destination (non-Cambridge based) traffic should be discouraged.

11. Sitting
Stores should be situated as far from the neighborhood and as close to the "T" as possible.

12. Pedestrian/Bicycle
Any development of the site should make clear provisions to accommodate the significant volume of pedestrian and bicycle traffic within and around it. Development should also take into account pedestrian safety and the nature of the site as the hub of a number of overlapping practical and recreational uses.

13. Appearance
The study group encourages a single floor height for all buildings within the . contemplated development. All singe associated with the development should comport accurately and fully with the ordinances of the City of Cambridge.

14. Community Integration
a. Any development plan should include an affirmative plan for community hiring.
b. Any development plan should include an affirmative plan for ongoing retail tenant/community activities.
c. Any development plan should be integrated with the current use of Russell I Field and the community recreational areas adjacent to the site (for example', overflow parking during football games and other athletic activities should be provided).
d. Any development plan should be integrated with a plan for clean-up and restoration of Jerry's Pond, and sensitive landscaping should link the ponds and wetlands to other green space existing or created within the site.

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