Location: 2050 Mass. Ave. Senior Center
Time: 7:00 pm
Added August 26:
We hope you can come to the NCSC meeting this Wednesday (8/28) to talk about
what's going to happen at Trolley Square. The City is pushing 35-55 units
of affordably priced housing, with minimal open space and no community
space. The City has also denied our request for another large-scale public
We'll be meeting at Cameron and Mass Ave at 6:00 pm to look at the site and
tour Mass Ave to get a better feel for how the discussion about this site
The next City Committee meets at the Senior Center (2050 Mass Ave) thursday
night at 6:30, if you want to go to that one too.
BACKGROUND: Cambridge has acquired a 37,645-square-foot chunk of the Trolley Square bus yard from the MBTA. Since February, the Trolley Square Committee-a group of local residents and business owners picked by the City Manager-has been meeting monthly under the direction of the Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD) to plan for what might be constructed on the vacant parcel, which must be used for "a public benefit purpose."
Last month, CDD unveiled a set of draft recommendations to the City Manager. The only three design concepts proposed by the department all envision a large housing project: between 35 and 55 affordably priced units, on-site parking for an equal number of cars, less than one-fifth of the site devoted to public green space, and perhaps a small amount of retail or community space.
In late June, CDD had conducted a community meeting to solicit public input and reaction to the committee's work thus far. The most common opinion voiced by the public was that even at the low end of 35 units, a housing project of such magnitude would overwhelm the site and crush neighborhood on-street parking opportunities. Attendees asked CDD to explore other possible options for use of the property and called for a wider range of design scenarios. In a straw poll, attendees expressed a strong preference for "open space" uses at the site.
More recently, CDD rebuffed a request from the North Cambridge Stabilization Committee (NCSC) for a follow-up community meeting, to review the city planners' response to the expressed neighborhood concerns and consider alternative plans. The department also rejected a suggestion that any new facility at the site include indoor space for community use.
To encourage continued communication and wider public involvement, the Stabilization Committee is sponsoring a community meeting next Wednesday evening to discuss matters relating to the redevelopment of this high-impact site.
ISSUES: City officials have not adequately addressed public concerns such as these-
How will local residents, nearby businesses, and shoppers adjust to the loss of up to 30 or 40 on-street parking spots likely to occur should a major housing project be built at Trolley Square? Why hasn't CDD conducted traffic and parking studies or surveyed the neighborhood to gauge public sentiment and define potential impacts?
Why is the City resisting public opinion, which has expressly supported neighborhood community space, park uses, and housing on an appropriate scale?
Why are massive public housing complexes concentrated in Cambridge neighborhoods like ours but virtually absent from others? Why does the City focus on building dense housing projects rather than providing affordable housing in smaller batches and in existing buildings throughout the City, thus avoiding economic segregation and overcrowding?
Why-after claiming for a decade that pollution concerns prevented redevelopment of the trolley yard-has the City targeted the site for residential use before thoroughly testing it for contaminants that might constrain such a use?
DETAILS: For maps, meeting notes, and info about the Trolley Square Committee, see: http://www.ci.cambridge.ma.us/~CDD/commplan/neighplan/trolley/index.html
(The committee's next official public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 PM, Thursday, August 29, at 2050 Mass. Ave.)
To join a free news and opinion forum that focuses on the project, send an e-mail message to: TrolleySquarefirstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, contact NCSC Chair Craig Kelley at 617-354-8353 or via e-mail at Votecraig@att.net.
The North Cambridge Stabilization Committee will hold its next meeting on
Wednesday, 28 August at the 2050 Mass Ave Senior Center at 7:00 PM.
This meeting will focus on the City's plans for developing a portion of the
Trolley Square car lot.
Currently, City Staff has provided "draft" recommendations to the citizens
committee reviewing options at this site, focusing primarily on using the
site to provide somewhere between thirty and fifty affordable housing units
and some amount of open space.
The City has held one large scale public meeting for this project, during
which many local residents expressed concern about having so many new
housing units in an area already (like everywhere else) cramped for parking.
The NCSC has asked the City to hold another similar meeting to continue the
public dialogue but the City has refused.
It is not clear what the final development of this property will be. Two
things are clear, however:
1. The City has no detailed affordable housing policy except "as much as
possible." There is no concept that affordable housing should be balanced
throughout the city or that more smaller scatterings of units might work
better in Cambridge's already dense neighborhoods. What 30, or 50, units
means to Cameron Ave area residents as far as parking, traffic, density, etc
does not seem to be CDD's concern.
2. City attempts to plan for North Cambridge all too frequently ignore
neighborhood concerns. A few examples include:
the North Mass Ave redesign (planning to put in bike lanes like the ones in
which a cyclist was killed in Central Square a few weeks ago);
planning to turn the VFW hall into affordable housing despite having been
told long ago by area residents that the building was too derelict to make
AH work (two years after having been turned over to the affordable housing
trust fund, this building is in worse shape than ever due to leaks,
construction damage from next door, etc and the City has decided they can't
do the project after all);
putting in safe railroad crossings (City funding for the proposed Yerxa Road
underpass upgrade falls two million dollars short of what is needed, plus
City Council-endorsed pedestrian path along the tracks and the crossings to
Danahy Park and Fresh Pond Mall seem completely forgotten)
We would like to work with the Trolley Square citizens committee to help the
City explore other options in greater detail, rather than simply moving
forward with the "draft" recommendations the City unfortunately provided
prior to the Committee's agreeing on recommendations of its own.
6 St. Gerard Terrace
Cambride, MA 02140
(Event sponsored - and information provided - by North Cambridge Stabilization Committee,
which is not affiliated with the Alewife Study Group)