Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ongoing Zoning Proposals and Environmental Destruction in the Fresh Pond Area of Cambridge, MA, USA

Bob La Tremouille reports that he has submitted the following letter to the Cambridge Chronicle.

The downzoning supported by the Cambridge Chronicle is on the north side of Concord Avenue in Cambridge, about a block east of the Fresh Pond reservation.


Cambridge Chronicle

Thank you for the editorial supporting the downzoning of the Cambridge Self Storage site across from the Armory on Concord Avenue. The reality is that the zoning proposal, while it would decrease allowed construction by 40%, still allows construction 50% larger than the residential neighborhood. The existing zoning is an example of bad regulation of development by the City of Cambridge. Our city already is by far the most densely developed city in the Commonwealth and clearly one of the densest in the country.*

I hope the Chronicle will join me in opposing really destructive initiatives in the SAME neighborhood. The big problem is the usual problem with regard to overdevelopment and environmental destruction: bad behavior by the Cambridge City Manager and his representatives.

One block away from the zoning change area, on the other side of New Street, the City Manager has filed for a third time a strikingly irresponsible upzoning.

The Self Storage site currently allows construction 2½ times the density of the neighborhood. The city manager is proposing 12 times neighborhood density at the whim of his appointees in the area north of Concord Avenue and west of New Street, running most of the way to the Burger King.

The City Manager wants his people to be allowed to permit construction 50% denser than HARVARD SQUARE north of Concord Avenue where the two shopping areas now sit. The upzoning would allow the same incredible density in the parking lots north of the railroad tracks in the Alewife Station area.

The City Manager has already started massive destruction of trees on the south side of Concord Avenue half a block west of New Street and continuing beyond the Burger King.

Visible to the public is the massive destruction of trees near Neville Manor. Less publicly visible is strikingly irresponsible destruction of healthy trees in Fresh Pond Reservation and much more irresponsible plans to come.

The City Manager wants to plant a thousand saplings between Concord Avenue and Fresh Pond. Thousands of healthy trees are in his way. So the City Manager is destroying thousands of healthy trees to make room for 1000 saplings.

This is part of a package in many parts of the city where the city manager has commonly destroyed mature trees to put in saplings or to put to replace perfectly good parks with “new” parks with much less numbers of trees.

The city manager is responding to the open space money in the community preservation tax which we voted for. We voted for a new tax for new open space. The city manager is destroying existing open space with that money to put in saplings and barren plazas.

The heartless, deliberate starvation of beautiful animals on the Charles River is part of this sick mentality, as is the destruction of Charles River wetlands to put in designer plants.

So thanks for supporting that one zoning proposal. Can I get the Chronicle to support meaningful opposition to our strikingly irresponsible City of Cambridge elsewhere in the same neighborhood?

* Explanation to the editor: you will hear numbers about residential density. We are among the three densest residentially in the state and near the top in that category in the country as well.

Those RESIDENTIAL DENSITY numbers are misleading because of our massive commercial development. Somerville, also in that top three residentially, has half per capita our commercial density. Chelsea is also nowhere near us in commercial development.