Friday, June 09, 2017

Charles River: Con Game fights for Destruction.

RE: Charles River:   Con Game fights for Destruction.

1. Prequil.
2. Introduction.
3. Letter to Massachusetts Secretary / CEO of Transportation.

1. Prequil.

I have not been personally posting very much in recent weeks.  The bad guys in Cambridge have been keeping me busy.

The action right now is the Cambridge City Council.  They have not had a business meeting in at least three weeks and things are accumulating.  I have three communications pending in front of them:

(1) A response with copy to them of my letter to the Massachusetts Secretary of the Department of Transportation concerning “protection” with disguised attack (the purpose of this post);

(2) The Cambridge City Council’s seeking of money from the City Manager toward the destruction of 54 trees at Magazine Beach along with continuation of multiple outrages there.  That item is 51 pages long and will be broken into a series of reports after this one to minimize the material in each.  I will be pleased to provide a direct copy to interested folks with lots more than a 100 graphics, copy in PDF and divided into 5 files, email, request to; and

(3) an email I made part of the formal City Council record which  seems like ages ago.  I will remember its topic when I see it.

2. Introduction.

The key document in this report is my response to a letter to the Massachusetts Secretary / CEO of Transportation from former (and highly destructive) Cambridge City Councilor Henrietta Davis.  The Davis letter presumably backs my concern about the destruction of the connection to Cambridge from the Charles’ southern boulevard (Soldiers Field Road / Storrow Drive) by the River Street Bridge.  In reality, it fights for destruction in the last home of the Charles River White Geese, plus the construction of a super highway across Cambridge similar to one which was defeated by real activists fifty years ago, plus a new commuter rail line across Cambridge which was rejected by MassDOT two years or so ago.

And all of this in a document which is skillfully worded to give the impression that she is concerned about that highway connection, a matter of Cambridge concern on which she was on the wrong side in committee vote.

Her document was endorsed by the Cambridge City Council in spite of, or perhaps because of, her duplicity.  Her letter also went through the Cambridge City Manager.  Her letter is organized with a whole bunch of bullets with destructive detail to the bullets.  Naturally, both the Cambridge City Manager letter and the Cambridge City Council motion repeat the bullets without the details.

The impression is given to me that the lovely bullets are supported and the real meaning was not noted.  The irresponsible mess is hidden because her meaningless nonsense about the highway access from Soldiers Field Road / Storrow Drive dominated the package with a whole bunch of attachments.

The whole thing stinks of drafting by the Cambridge Development Department.

My letter of objection to the Secretary / CEO of Transportation included a copy of a letter welcoming the new Cambridge City Manager six months ago which I have not previously released in public.  It went into the terrible record of the Cambridge Development Department and the fake Neighborhood Association.

This report is too long with just the secretary / CEO letter.  I will defer the attachment to later.  I would be pleased to provide a PDF of it as well to concerned people in the meantime.  Please contact me at if you would like the PDF.

Copies to Cambridge City Council / Cambridge City Manager.  With the six month old letter to the incoming Cambridge City Manager as attachment.

3. Letter to Massachusetts Secretary / CEO of Transportation.

May 30, 2017

Stephanie Pollack, Secretary and CEO
Massachusetts Department of Transporation
10 Park Plaza, Room 4160
Boston, MA   02116

RE: Communication from Cambridge City Council concerning I90 Allston Work

Madam Secretary:

I am in possession of a strikingly deceptive document which I understand that has been passed on to you by vote of the Cambridge City Council on May 22, 2017, City Council Order Number 1.  It concerns the ongoing planning of the I90 (Mass. Pike) rebuild in Allston..

This document purports to be an independent vote of the Cambridge City Council passing on a recommendation of the City Manager which in turn passes on a letter in the name of former Cambridge City Councillor Henrietta Davis who, in turn, is a late appointed member of the I90 Allston Task Force.

The City Council and City Manager documents are essentially identical and omit key subordinate items in the Davis document.  The Davis document is dominated by attachments which are difficult to describe as other than a smoke screen.

I am writing individually and as chair of Friends of the White Geese, a non profit recognized by the Attorney General since 2001.  I personally have been active on Cambridge environmental and transportation matters since 1974 with major victories.

I have followed I90 Allston planning as I can, including Task Force meetings I have been aware of.   I have worked on Urban Ring and Red Line extension planning before that.  The Urban Ring Kenmore Crossing of the Charles River alternative was initially proposed by me in 1986, before it was independently adopted by the MBTA in 1991.  A good taste of the lack of credibility of perhaps the key factor in the current situation, the Cambridge Development Department is its incredible dishonesty on the Kenmore Crossing.  Commencing with the adoption of the Kenmore Crossing as a formal alternative in 1991 and extending, at minimum, to 2012, the Cambridge Development Department consistently denied the existence of the Kenmore Crossing.  My analysis of the situation to the Cambridge City Council is attached.

Cambridge has a new City Manager who may or may not be independent of his three predecessors.  The predecessors seemed to be interchangeable with the situation in the Cambridge Development Department.  The communication you have received could be the last gasp of a dishonest situation.

A brief example of my successes against this machine can be demonstrated by the fact that I have had a hand in the rewriting (for environmental purposes) of the zoning of about 85% of Massachusetts Avenue and abutting streets between Harvard and Central Squares, usually defeating, in front of the Cambridge City Council, the Cambridge Development Department and its never identified as, but very truly existing, machine in the community.  One very major example of my successes is the former Inn at Harvard building at Mass. Ave. and Harvard Street in east Harvard Square, which Harvard, the Development Department and the machine wanted to be significantly more intrusive and less environmentally responsible than it is.

The package in front of you is visibly dominated by the very large package of attachments to the supposed Davis letter expressing concern about the loss of the exit ramp from Soldiers Field Road westbound to the River Street Bridge and then to many parts of Cambridge.  Most Cambridge destinations are not close to the Charles River.

The purported interest, and very major package of documents, of Davis in this off ramp is belied by an exchange I had with Nathaniel Cabral-Curtis (Nate) who is the key organizer and the most visible part of the I90 Allston project.

The exchange came as part of my public testimony in December 2016 at MassDOT’s public presentation in Union Square Allston.

I opposed killing this off ramp and pointed out that it had never before been presented in public.  Nate very strongly replied that Henrietta Davis supported the change.

And you have a package dominated by Davis presenting all those documents giving an impression that Davis has concerns which are strikingly different from her position in the advisory committee.

And you have two IDENTICALLY WORDED documents from the Cambridge City Council and Cambridge City Manager supporting the MAIN PARTS of the Davis document without really indicating any meaningful understanding of the fine print.

The reality is that the fine print, in part, conflicts with public positions taken by the Cambridge City Council and, in part, with findings of MassDOT.  MassDOT, after extended review of the use of the Grand Junction for commuter rail purposes, rejected passenger rail on the Grand Junction.  MassDOT reviewed commuter rail in great detail with much public participation, and found no value in Grand Junction commuter rail except to Kendall Square.

The letter’s communications if carefully read directly contradict the detailed MassDOT study WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC INPUT, COMMUNICATION OR EXPLANATION.  This incredible situation (1) comes in a document dominated by River Street Bridge purported concern which contradicts Davis’ position in the privacy of the review committee, and (2) contradicts Cambridge City Council claims of environmental sainthood most recently propounded on the steps of Cambridge City Hall the Monday before May Day.

This sort of behavior exactly fits the pattern of lies by the Cambridge Development Department as analyzed in the attachment.  It is entirely possible that the recently appointed City Manager will clean up this mess and end the opaqueness of the carefully crafted machine through which these bureaucrats dominated a lot of Cambridge politics for 42 years.

To give you a few specific bullets:

1. Commuter Rail would severely mess up major intersections in the heavily traveled City of Cambridge, a factor of major consideration in PUBLIC PROCESS which resulted in MassDOT opposition to Commuter Rail on the Grand Junction.  Here is a MassDOT map with the impacted intersections marked by me.

2. A very major factor in the fine print is the determination of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, with Cambridge Development Department support to kill or drive out all resident animals on this part of the Charles River.  This is a basic goal of the supposed Charles River Master Plan.

The supposed Master Plan has been blatantly violated, for the purposes of heartless animal abuse, at the Magazine Beach playing fields where the playing fields have been walled off from the Charles River by a starvation wall preventing access between the playing fields and the Charles River for the Charles River White Geese, 36 year residents of this part of the Charles River.  They lived and fed there.  The Master Plan publicly promised a “lawn to the river.”  The promise was changed AFTER the creation of the starvation wall.

The DCR is working on plans which the legislature attempted to destroy when the legislature destroyed the Metropolitan District Commission.  The planners were transferred to the DCR and went forward and are going forward with their decade old plans with NO MEANINGFUL PUBLIC INPUT ALLOWED.  They destroyed hundreds of trees east of the BU Bridge.  They created very real obstacles to access from the Charles River to food at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The next step, destruction of the ghetto to which the Charles River White Geese have been confined and destruction of the Wild Area on the Charles River east of the Grand Junction, is casually mentioned in the fine print as access from the BU Bridge to the Grand Junction, etc., and by details of the alternate Mass. Pike relocations proposals.

Here are photos of the starvation wall, of the carefully placed stone obstacles at the Hyatt, of obstacles to even deny the Charles River White Geese food under Memorial Drive, and of the ghetto to which they have been confined and abused through dirty tricks, NEVER PUBLICLY DISCLOSED.  These actions attacked  this EXCELLENT TOURIST ATTRACTION AND HIGHLY APPROPRIATE SUBJECT FOR INTELLECTUAL STUDY.  36 years of FREE existence surrounded by heavy population would certainly be of academic interest.

3. Creation of a Mass. Pike exit providing MIT direct access to the Mass. Pike, in violation of Cambridge’s successful fight which prevented an Interstate in pretty much the same exact location.  The success came before the Development Department’s organizing.

There are a whole bunch of lovely euphemisms.  The reality is the 2003 / 2004 study of the MBTA proving an exit ramp possible over the Grand Junction railroad bridge, IF THE GRAND JUNCTION BRIDGE IS WIDENED.  The bridge is proposed to be widened “for” all those lovely purposes.

AND, LIKE THE COMMUTER RAIL, after very visible and very successful opposition, this extremely hot button issue is being pursued in fine print.  Never mentioned, but very truly there.

Here is a file photo of the Grand Junction railroad bridge, the target of these maneuverings.  The green sign, at an angle toward the top in the middle, is above I90 (the Mass. Pike).

And I am confident that the Secretary will see a whole bunch of letters of “support” by people who have not been told what they are supporting, including letters from people who oppose what is really being proposed.

* * * *

I PROPOSE THAT THE SECRETARY disregard the Cambridge City Council communication of May 22, 2017, in the hopes that the Cambridge Development Department will be cleaned up and end these outrages which were so dominant (and which I frequently defeated) under the three prior Cambridge City Managers.

In any case, the Secretary, at absolute minimum, should force honesty and lack of opacity on the Cambridge Development Department in place of the current whatever dirty trick works situation.

Hopefully, the latest Cambridge City Manager, who appears independent of his three predecessors, will clean up the mess.

Robert J. La Trémouille, Individually and as
Chair, Friends of the White Geese

Attachment: Letter to Cambridge City Manager DePasquale, November 16, 2016.
            Pages 2 through 4 document the Urban Ring lies from the Cambridge Development Department [Ed:  To be provided later, this report is big enough now.].

cc: Cambridge City Manager DePasquale, by hand to office
I have never previously disclosed the attachment.  I do not wish inconvenience or embarrassment to you.  The letter is now six months old, and I hope no longer needs to be confidential.  I am using it because it is a very good summary to give to a transportation knowledgeable outsider to communicate the situation with the Development Department which, it would appear, had major input on the City Council order.

cc: Cambridge City Council, by hand to City Clerk for next council meeting
Nathaniel Cabral-Curtis for the I90 Allston Task Force