Alewife Study Group > W. R. Grace site > community feedback > Sept. 17 1996, buffer zone Search 

Buffer zone restricting development needed around W. R. Grace site

Editorial To Cambridge Chronicle, September 17, 1996 - Buffer Zone Needed for Grace Development

"A Message to Our Community," the series of weekly "advertisements" that W. R. Grace Co. is publishing in The Cambridge TAB, is the public portion of W. R. Grace’s attempt to make Cambridge’s City Council and Planning Board do Grace’s bidding, despite concerned neighbors, such as myself, who are opposed to their current development plans at the Alewife site in North Cambridge.

Here are some facts (laced with a few opinions) that you won’t find in Grace’s messages:
W. R. Grace dumped a witch’s brew of toxic chemicals at their Alewife site in North Cambridge. These include, but are not limited to: oil, naphthalene, acetone, benzene, 1-1-1-trichloroethane, arsenic, lead, mercury, and various sulfur compounds. They did this in violation of state and federal laws, not by accident, but in pursuit of lowered costs and increased shareholder value.

Simple morality requires that when you make a mess you clean it up. That is what I and my neighbors want. Grace wants to leave it there. Grace wants to build 1 million square feet of office space in six buildings, 45-85 feet tall, all within 500 feet of the rotary at Route 2 and Alewife Brook Parkway. In addition, Grace wants to build a four-story, 250-room hotel at the corner of Rindge Avenue and Alewife. A total of more than 2,000 parking spaces would be required.

For comparison, the Porter Square Mall contains 126,000 square feet of retail space. Much of the parking would be underground. Its construction would inevitably disturb the toxic waste.

The existing 2,000 spaces at Alewife, plus another 1,000 spaces that the MBTA wants to add at Alewife, plus another 2,000 spaces proposed by Grace could mean a total of 5,000 parking spaces, all within 500 feet of the 2 rotary.

The surrounding residential neighborhood is already burdened by a lack of parking, noise and pollution from slow or stopped cars, and speeding cars that cut through residential streets in an attempt to avoid the congestion of Alewife. The proposed development would worsen all these problems. There will be a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald School on Rindge Avenue, at which the city will solicit public input regarding the scope of these studies.

Concerned residents in my neighborhood have filed a zoning amendment to create a 400-foot buffer zone between residential areas and Grace’s proposed development. It would restrict, but not prohibit, Grace’s proposed development. The Cambridge Planning Board will hold a hearing on the proposed amendment on Oct. 1.

Submitted by: Aram Hollman, North Cambridge

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