Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fighting yet another upzoning

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Introduction.
2. Record of your editor.
3. Latest City Manager Initiative - General.
4. What the Cambridge City Manager is trying to destroy.
5. Excellent example of the good guys in action - the Inn at Harvard in East Harvard Square.
6. Further protections of the environment and neighbors achieved and under attack.
7. The Cambridge City Manager on the attack.
8. Destruction details, Cambridge Street in East Cambridge, Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge, general destruction of protections.
9. Goals of the good guys.

1. Introduction.

I have more than 30 years experience defending the environment in Cambridge. Most of it has been in the field of zoning, a field in which individuals who know what they are doing can have major successes and I have those successes.

The danger, as usual, is with the Uncle Tom organizations, the company unions. They have done a lot of damage.

In the last few days, I submitted a proposal for an oped piece to the Cambridge Chronicle. I will convert it with little change into a letter of objection to the Cambridge City Council.

The following is my email to the Cambridge Chronicle without edit except to add section headings. As I recall, the prior editor was quite pleased when I put my imputs onto this blog. I anticipate and hope that the current editor feels the same way. I am very encouraged by the behavior of the current editor.


2. Record of your editor.

Cambridge Chronicle

The following is offered as an oped piece with the following information offered about the author. Clearly, the description is much longer than you might wish, but this gives you an opportunity to pick and choose should you wish the material.

Robert J. La Trémouille is an attorney with a law office located between Harvard and Central Square on Mass. Ave. near Cambridge City Hall. Over the past 30 years, he has been active in environmental protection matters in the City of Cambridge with major successes. He has opposed many initiatives of the City Manager and his staff. He has defeated quite a few of them and has major victories of his own.

La Trémouille has written zoning changes that have passed that have downzoned more than 80% of Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard and Central Squares. These changes mandated the provision of meaningful open space around new buildings and protected existing trees and vegetation there in many other parts of the city. His zoning required housing in most of that part of Mass. Ave. The changes restricted building size and height.

He has written zoning which saved the Three Aces building north of Harvard Law. His zoning forced the return to open space of a large parking lot near Alewife Station. His zoning forced Harvard to build the Inn at Harvard in East Harvard Square as it stands rather than 72% larger built out to the sidewalk. He has increased protections on Cambridge Street, Prospect Street, Western Avenue, River Street and in various other neighborhood districts in the city.

In the recent past, he has repeatedly stood up against environmental destruction on the Charles River, at Fresh Pond and in nearly every open space project managed by the city manager in recent years. He has defended the last habitats of free animals in Cambridge. He has opposed trees, wetlands and animal habitat needlessly being destroyed.


3. Latest City Manager Initiative - General.

The City Manager and his friends are off “improving” Cambridge again in a zoning petition expanding his already very destructive “special permit” powers.

Trouble is that, behind the lovely words, the City Manager’s tastes are commonly exactly the opposite of those of the people of the City of Cambridge. The manager just does not tell people. The manager uses very deceptive tactics to keep people from knowing that what he is doing is exactly the opposite of what Cambridge residents wish.

4. What the Cambridge City Manager is trying to destroy.

The latest citywide upzoning in front of the City Council fits the mold very well. The city manager says he’s protecting space required around buildings called “yards.” The city manager even provides two paragraphs “protecting” yards. Once again, “special permit” powers would be given to his appointees which greatly expand destructiveness possible in the city’s zoning and which take back the supposed yard protections.

The normal situation is that the very destructive appointees of the Cambridge Manager use the “special permit” powers to destroy “yard” requirements. That makes “yard requirements” just so much more nonsense when they are attached to the city manager’s “special permits.”

5. Excellent example of the good guys in action - the Inn at Harvard in East Harvard Square.

An excellent example what the City Manager’s people hold in contempt and are trying to destroy is the zoning which created the Inn at Harvard located in East Harvard Square at Mass. Ave. and Harvard Street.

This building is easily the most popular relatively new building in Harvard Square among normal human beings. This is because it has grass, because it has trees between it and the sidewalk, and because, as a result of the grass and the trees, the Inn at Harvard is environmentally responsible.

The City Manager opposed the key provisions which forced those yards and that grass on Harvard, exactly the attributes of the Inn at Harvard normal people cherish. The city manager’s friends refer to areas created by meaningful yard requirements as “underutilized” with a delicate shudder.

I, along with 7 members the City Council (an 8th vote was in the hospital) and a strong neighborhood group, forced the Inn at Harvard on the City Manager and on Harvard University over both their objections. That was the Natalie Ward Zoning Petition.

6. Further protections of the environment and neighbors achieved and under attack.

Construction of the Inn at Harvard destroyed valuable trees. 9 years after my victory in Harvard Square, with the support of 8 members of the City Council and with a different, strong neighborhood group, we cleaned up those problems. We required meaningful open space around buildings and provided special, meaningful protections for neighbors. We wiped out provisions rewarding tree destruction by requiring new buildings not only to have open space around them but by also prohibiting construction underground in the areas where open space is required. This was the Anderson Zoning Petition.

The petitioners filed the Anderson petition in response to destructive zoning initiatives by the City Manager. We defeated his initiatives. The city council asked us for our proposal. We gave our proposal. The city council passed it. Support was so strong that the city council ever rejected an attempt at compromise we offered. By rejecting our attempt at compromise, the City Council gave us more than we finally asked for.

We accomplished our objectives with a bang. The most obvious part of the petition protected Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Central Squares. It was quite deliberate, however, that we protected Cambridge Street in East Cambridge, and Inman Square. It was quite deliberate that we protected parts of Prospect Street, Bishop Allen Drive, Western Avenue, River Street, Memorial Drive, Blanchard Road, Concord Avenue, Broadway, Fresh Pond Parkway, and Huron Avenue.

7. The Cambridge City Manager on the attack.

It is no surprise whatsoever that the City Manager is attacking these very real yard protections which we established and trying to destroy our very real protection for neighbors with yet more “special permits.” “Special permits” destroy protections and do harm to neighborhood quality.

The people of the City of Cambridge did not elect our City Council to destroy protection after protection after protection.

The most important thing in the mind of the City Manager’s lobby is taxes, taxes, taxes. It does not matter that projects can be done responsibly, with open space benefits on all sides of buildings for the benefit of all. The city manager’s initiatives have no use for open space except where the developer lobby can make bucks off it.

8. Destruction details, Cambridge Street in East Cambridge, Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge, general destruction of protections.

Cambridge Street in East Cambridge should not be a wall of buildings right out to the sidewalk. Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge should not be a wall of buildings right out to the sidewalk. Our neighborhoods should not be threatened with buildings overwhelming our neighborhoods at the whim of people appointed by the City Manager.

Cambridge should have meaningful zoning, not special permits which routinely wipe out protections we are told are guaranteed to us.

The open space provided by the Inn at Harvard zoning and by other zoning requirements can and should be provided. Requirements for meaningful open space around buildings should not be destroyed in undisclosed fine print in zoning proposals which claim to be doing the opposite of what they really are doing.

9. Goals of the good guys.

If the city council wants to vote in the yard protections in the latest city manager package, great.

If the city council wants to extend the flexibility to destroy even more zoning protections that is in the main part of the City Manager’s latest package, shame on them.

Report from Magazine Beach

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. The White Geese continue their boycot.
2. Plans of the sick pols at Magazine Beach.
3. The chief bragger, Charles River Conservancy.
4. Impact on the White Ducks, danger of Freeze.
5. Initiative of the Cambridge City Council - Yet more fake environmental groups.
6. Summary.

1. The White Geese continue their boycot.

Yesterday, December 30, I saw the Charles River White Geese and I was at Magazine Beach.

I saw them from the Boston side of the river. They had left the Destroyed Nesting Area and were going East, in a flotilla, exploring.

They seem to be very, very, very spooked by their sense of the truly sick thing coming at Magazine Beach. Since they stopped coming to Magazine Beach, I have not seen them in the Charles next to it at all, and definitely not on Magazine Beach.

The sick plans of the Cambridge City Council and of the state bureaucrats would be appear to be sensed by them so strongly, and be so offensive to them.

2. Plans of the sick pols at Magazine Beach.

These reprehensible people, solely as make work for their contractor friends, are getting ready to dig up all the dirt in the Magazine Beach playing fields, except the bizarre project at the edge of the Charles which exactly conflicts with their stated goals for the Charles River.

Once they are done carting away the dirt, they will cart dirt back, plus poisons, plus sprinklers.

The poisons will be inserted to drive away insects which have been no problem in the 50 years the fields have been in existence. The sprinklers will be inserted to replace the wetlands they so irresponsibly destroyed.

The bizarre wall of designer bushes for which they heartless starved free animals for two years and counting walls off the Charles from animals and from SWIMMING, also these reprehensible people started off this outrate in 2004 with a swim bragging about (and lying about) their plans for Magazine Beach.

3. The chief bragger, Charles River Conservancy.

The chief bragger in 2004 joined in the swim, the head of the sickos at the Charles River Conservancy. These are the people who have poisoned every goose egg they could get away with in the first ten miles of the Charles River every year since 2003. We raised sufficient hell that they stopped their sick attacks against the eggs of the Charles River White Geese in 2005. Besides they were proudly starving them by them.

This sick entity, on behalf of the state bureaucrats,runs arounds destroyed the native vegetation protecting free animals on the Charles AND BRAGS ABOUT IT.

At one point Senator Kennedy's office stepped in to help their egg poisoning.

4. Impact on the White Ducks, danger of Freeze.

The Charles River White Ducks could be the big loser in the current round of reprehensible behavior.

The CRC Sickos have destroyed protective vegetation right up to the core habitat of the Charles River White Ducks on the Boston side.

They need to get out of the Charles River. Yesterday morning, the Bumpy Memorial Goose Pond at Magazine Beach had a thin sheet of ice. The Charles will freeze one of these days, and the White Ducks need to be out of the water by the freeze.

Trouble is that, when the White Ducks arrived on Saturday, July 22 of this year, they were beautiful innocents.

The Charles River Urban Wilds Initiative taught them to swim in the Charles on the following Wednesday and they have gleefully been living on the Charles ever since.

I would anticipate that, like the Charles River White Ducks, they have their winter coats to protect them, but, like the fact that they did not know the Charles River was for swimming, they do not know that the Charles River freezes.

Bill Naumann of CRUWI has done and continues to do an excellent job keeping an eye on them, and I am confident he will continue to do so. I am confident that he is concerned and I share his concern.

5. Initiative of the Cambridge City Council - Yet more fake environmental groups.

One of the favorite techniques of the developer owned city government in Cambridge is Uncle Tom organizations, company unions.

These give the false impression that public input is normal in Cambridge, but are designed to prevent public input insofar as is possible. These organizations can be used for meaningful input, and I have used them for meaningful input. The key is to make such a strong case that the good guys will not swallow the nonsense being put out by the bad guys.

But it should not be that way.

The key type of organization to worry about nowadays loudly and FALSELY claims to be green.

They loudly proclaim their concern for fancy light bulbs, but cannot understand the problem with government destruction of hundreds or thousands or trees and cannot understand the problem with poisoning land owned by the city or state.

In shortly, they blatantly lie with their choice of names, but they go ahead anyway.

6. Summary.

I am hoping, but we are dealing with a truly reprehensible situation which does a lot of lying.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remembrance of good people - Byrle Breny, Isabella Halsted

Bob La Trémouille reports:

I do not routinely read obituaries, but I was just, belatedly, finishing up last week’s (12/21/06) Cambridge Chronicle. I skimmed over the page containing the obituaries without realizing what it was.

My eye caught the very visibly placed “Byrle Breny” and then caught “Isabella Halsted” in a less visible location but with a lot more type.

Good friends. I have seen Byrle perhaps once in five years and Isabella less than that, but good friends. Byrle was 78 but had been living in Somerville for the last 10 years. She lived in Cambridge for 53. Isabella died in her home in Cambridge at 99 on Memorial Drive extension, half a block off Memorial Drive. At her age, I did not seriously consider bothering her in the recent past.

Byrle was the sort of good government person who lived in and kept Cambridge going during the rent control years. Her long time friend and roommate passed away at about the time that rent control died. They lived in the sort of little cottage which little people lived in in Cambridge for most of Cambridge’s existence. As the crow flies, they lived about three blocks north of Massachusetts Avenue. That was one of many working class neighborhoods in Cambridge when they moved in.

Isabella conducted and won a one person fight to close about half of Memorial Drive in Cambridge on Sundays for about seven months a year, the good seven months. Isabella also lived in what may have been a fairly humble place when she moved in. She owned half of a house adjacent to the Half Crown Historic District between Mt. Auburn Street and Memorial Drive, a few blocks from Harvard Square. This was a humble neighborhood very close to a very rich neighborhood. It was an extension of what were humble properties close to Harvard Square when that part of Harvard Square was still small scale residential.

The two of them lived in the sort of tiny areas which were hidden in Cambridge and missed by the casual visitor, but they did a lot of good from those areas.

Byrle lost her home as of the results of her friend dying. One income was not enough to keep it. That home was on a block long workers’street which is now amalgamated from a formerly humble street, into a now expensive part of the Mid-Cambridge neighborhood.

Isabella lived on a park which was split from the Charles by Memorial Drive. Her neighborhood was confusing to the casual observer with its remnants of working people. It has not been at all confusing for many years.

Byrle was a volunteer for the League of Women Voters, a good government person who aggressively fought for rent control while living in a privately owned house. She was helpful in a lot of my zoning fights in the middle part of Cambridge, on Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Central Squares, three blocks from her home.

Isabella is almost solely known for her successful fight to protect about half of Memorial Drive.

For the last seven years, I and a lot of good people have been protecting the less developed parts of Memorial Drive.

There has been a very major change from when Byrle and Isabella were active in that the Cambridge City Council has become very destructive of the world around us while piously proclaiming their environmental virtue based on fancy light bulbs.

Byrle and Isabella were both good friends. I miss them now and I have missed them for the past ten years.

May they rest in peace.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another Good Guy - Wikipedia

Bob La Trémouille reports:

I want to thank the folks at Wikipedia for modifying their report on the Charles River to include the deliberate starvation of the Charles River White Geese.

If you understand the situation, there are inaccuracies in the report, but I try not to nag people who are being good guys.

Thank you to Wikipedia because of their inclusion of the Charles River White Geese in their report on the Charles River in Cambridge, MA.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Report from Magazine Beach; Another Good Guy - Trader Joe's

1. Report from Magazine Beach.
a. The River.
b. Destruction moves forward.
2. Another Good Guy.

Bob La Trémouille reports

1. Report from Magazine Beach.

a. The River.

I visited Magazine Beach and its neighbors today.

The weather was a steady drizzle, a significant improvement over the drenching the area took last night.

Once again, the Charles River White Geese were missing.

I think they sense the outrageous further destruction coming. They have been subjected to nearly two years of total denial of their food, followed by a period in which part of their food has been allowed back to them.

Now they sense the further massive destruction and it is too much.

I started walking up the shore on the fancy walk which is steadily washing into the Charles.

I suddenly saw what looked to me like two geese about three quarters of the way up the shore to the rise which signals the rest of the Magazine Beach area.

I got a better look at their faces and realized that one was wagging his tail.

It was Andrake and Daffney, the Charles River White Ducks.

The sickos from the Charles River Conservancy have destroyed a major part of their habitat because the Sickos have contempt for rivers. They want the Charles River to look like part of a college campus, not like a river, and to H---- with the animals, and to H---- with our back yard.

Andrake and Daffney saw me and swam further out from the shore line. Their four mallard duck friends have left. They are exploring by themselves and looking for cover and for food.

b. Destruction moves forward.

Further work has been done on the staging area at the top of the hill to the west. Boards have been brought in and have been strapped around THOSE TREES on top of the hill.

Still no protections in the construction zone where the luscious grass of Magazine Beach is about to be destroyed. The silly pink flags still adorn the CREATED area which memorializes the wetlands destroyed by the Cambridge, MA City Council and the state bureaucrats.

2. Another Good Guy.

I stopped by the Trader Joe's across the way from Magazine Beach.

I realized that the mural behind the cashier's area included a painting of the Charles River White Geese in the goose meadow. I commended the cashier and bagger. The bagger commented that he frequently feeds them and wondered why they stopped visiting Magazine Beach. I explained to him, including the truly sick nature of the Cambridge City Council and the local state bureacrats.

I understand that Trader Joe's is another company providing greens to the Charles River Urban Wilds Institute for feeding and defending against the sickness of the Cambridge City Council and the state bureacrats.

They are to be commended for both.

It is always amazing how much fresher the air is when you get away from Cambridge, MA City Hall.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Signs of destruction real and to come accumulate at Magazine Beach and across from Magazine Beach.

Report by Bob La Trémouille.

Today, although the outdoors temperature is not low, there is a bitter wind at Magazine Beach.

The Sickos from the “Charles River Conservancy” brag of the environmental destruction they have achieved on the Charles River in their latest newsletter.

Coming west on Storrow Drive / Soldiers Field Road, the destruction is quite visible. Vegetation on the Charles has been destroyed right up to the pontoons that are the favorite resting spot of Andrake and Daffney, the Charles River White Ducks. These agents of the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation brag of destroying as much protective vegetation as they can get away with and the DCR is fully aware of and supportive of their destruction.

It has sunk in why the Charles River White Geese are keeping away from Magazine Beach: they can sense the destruction coming at Magazine Beach.

The only white figures visible on the Charles River are Mandrake and Daffney on the Boston side in their attacked habitat and perhaps 50 gulls swimming in the middle of the Charles.

Bizarre pink flags now surround the created “wetlands” at Magazine Beach. This artificially created “wetlands” is not wetlands as any normal person would call wetlands. The real wetlands was the wetlands the people destroyed who were sent by the City of Cambridge’s nine city councilors and by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. This protected “wetlands” is something constructed. Only destroyers would call this bizarre manufactured stuff “wetlands.” This bizarre created stuff is a memorial to a waste of money and a waste of the environment.

Cambridge and the Department of Conservation and Recreation are protecting their bizarre created “wetlands” from the destruction to come.

More construction vehicles can be seen on the hill to the west.

NONE of the trees which are here, at the playing fields and the parking lot from years past have been protected. These are trees which have to be fifty to sixty years old. They are so small for that age, but still so big. Trees like this and much larger are casually destroyed by an environmentally sick city council so that they can brag about saplings they put in to replace trees which should not have been destroyed. There are some smaller trees near the sewerage plant. I think five of them were destroyed in the first stage of destruction at Magazine Beach, as part of the creation of the ornamental "wetlands."

Thousand of trees are being destroyed by this irresponsible city government at Fresh Pond. More than 449 to 550 trees are scheduled to be destroyed between Magazine Beach and the Longfellow Bridge by the DCR and by other friends of the City of Cambridge. Hundreds of trees being destroyed are much larger than the older trees at Magazine Beach's playing fields and parking lot.

Nine environmentally destructive Cambridge City Councilors have the nerve to call themselves pro-environment.

The DCR can be relied on to simply toss out a few more outright lies as might be convenient. The key destroyer has publicly denied "harming" the Charles River White Geese. He spent years promising he would do no harm to them. When asked about the two years of total inflicted starvation and much more to come, he publicly said that starving them is not harming them.

A third party has informed me that the newly elected “pro-environment” Cambridge city councilor thinks I am being unfair to him.

I am looking at this sickness. I am thinking of this sickness. I have heard his dead silence.

One of the very many things unfair in the City of Cambridge is the nerve of such a person to make such a claim.

Interestingly, the third party who reported the councilor's comments is in the process of moving to Medford. He is being forced to leave his not-Rent Controlled home which would have been rent controlled in years past.

As I write this, the gulls have moved from the Charles River to the soon to be destroyed grass in the outfield.

That grass is soon to be destroyed so that nine environmentally destructive “environmentalists” can starve beautiful animals and so that they can put in new grass, poisons and sprinklers to replace the real wetlands they destroyed in 2004.

The last time the DCR did this sort of "creation" was at Ebersol Fields between the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Charles River Dam. The first dose of poisons was not enough to keep them happy, so they applied a second dose of poisons. The second dose was in containers with clear prohibition against use near water. The day after application, the Charles River was dead from the Massachusetts Avenue bridge to the harbor, loaded with algae.

And the DCR and its friends cry “poverty” while demanding money from the state, as they waste millions and waste massive amounts of environment on the Charles River. Their own survey told them most people thought the Charles River does not need improvement.

Normal people say the same thing when normal people are told that Magazine Beach is a construction zone.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

T meetings - Urban Ring Rail Bridge and other things that "could not have been said"

1. Report on Meetings.
2. Marilyn Wellons on Presenters.
3. Arthur Comments.
4. Prior Report.
5. The City Councilor did separate himself from the stuff being put out this time.
6. Bad Guy Responds to point 2.
7. Response to Bad Guy.

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Report on Meetings.

In a period of four days, I attended three pretty major meetings.

Saturday, I attended the Cambridge road show on the Urban Ring presented by the MBTA / Department of Transportation. Monday, I attended the Boston version. Tuesday morning, I attended Governor Patrick's roadshow to MOVEMassachusetts in which his people got the ideas of a bunch of transportation activists.

The thing that really stood out to me after the MOVEMass meeting was a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on the Urban Ring strongly insisting that the Saturday and Monday meetings did not happen the way I said they happened because the MBTA simply would not put out such false information on the Urban Ring.

My wish list presented to the governor on transportation matters was (1) that we get the Urban Ring transit proposal (phase 3) with the Kenmore crossing because that alternative's connections to the green line's three branches and to commuter rail are excellent; (2) that all the spaghetti being proposed for phase 2 between the Harvard Medical Area and Cambridge be killed because the spaghetti would give the state no option but to implement the far inferior BU Bridge crossing on Phase 3; (3) that, inasmuch as our bicyclists belligerently have contempt for the laws of the commonwealth, the pedestrians are not much better and the drivers are terrible, the governor should bring Boston to civilization.

The CAC member was highly indignant about any mention of the spaghetti which was shown in the Cambridge and Boston meetings because that spaghetti is not part of the phase 2 proposal, so it could not possibly have been presented. The CAC member was highly indignant that I could mention any suggestion of use of the Grand Junction bridge as part of Phase 2 because it is not part of the package and "will not happen." "Nobody wants that but Harvard."

Former Representative John Businger has treated me rather consistently badly since we first met when I was an intern in Governor Sargent's office. Businger was at MOVEMass pushing the north-south rail link.

Businger came over to my table after I spoke and addressed me for the first time in my memory. He was effusive in his praise of my comments: "Exactly right on all points."


Clearly, our Cambridge presentation on Saturday went into great detail on what was described as options being considered.

The detail on such things as the busway over the Grand Junction bridge with connection to Commonwealth Avenue by Buick Street certainly sounded like they were pushing essentially a sure thing.

Their comments on the connection over the Grand Junction Bridge to Harvard's Mass. Pike campus clearly stated that this was not part of the CURRENT proposal. They clearly stated, as I recall, that when they came back, this would be part of the official proposal.

Our Cambridge meeting lasted the full three hours with very astute questions and comments taking up the full time. The Boston meeting was scheduled for two hours. It ended in one and a half hour and the only official comment was mine.

In both meetings, I stated the positions (except for bikes, etc.) that I did at the Governor's Meeting, plus I pushed for a green line connection to Harvard-Mass. Pike, connecting at Commonwealth Avenue and the BU Bridge at a new switch on the Green Line B branch. This would be a new Green Line A Branch following the Mass Pike along its southern boundary, essentially straightening out the busway proposal. Instead of turning and going over the railroad bridge under the BU Bridge coming from Harvard Mass. Pike, it would go straight to the B Line with a very modest turn onto the B Line.

The connection to Harvard Mass. Pike would go from a nonsensical dead end with buses to a sensible street car line which could be extended to Harvard Square. Harvard Station, of course, still has tunnels from the Station to the JFK School which could be used as that station for a Green Line A Branch with, for all practical purposes, no interference with Harvard Station operations when doing the connecting.

But the CAC member said that my report of the MBTA / DOT presentation did not happen because the MBTA / Department of Transportation would not publicly present options which were not part of the official proposal.

2. Marilyn Wellons on Presenters.

Footnote to your excellent report:

The MBTA isn't doing the Urban Ring presentations at
this point. The EOT [ed: Executive Office of Transportation] took the UR away from the MBTA
because, they said, the T didn't have funds to go
forward with it.

Consultants hired for the redo of the UR Phase 2
DEIR/S [ed: Draft Environmental Impact Review? Not certain about the "S"] (CAC [Ed: Citizen's Advisory Committee. I said "citizens" above, might be "consumer"] and other public process now underway) is
the same as in the original version under the T's
auspices, EarthTech. Hence your friend Jay Doyle is
still giving the presentations.

T would take over and run the thing once built.
Transportation planners now with EOT Urban Ring group
now were previously with the T and may have moved over
with the project, except for Calcaterra. Steve
Woelfel for example is with EOT but was with the T.

At the RTAC [Ed: Regional Transportation Advisory Committee?] meeting I attended on Wednesday, Dec. 13,
he commented on the Urban Ring CAC meeting after I
gave a brief report about the Storrow tunnel (Nov. 29)
and Urban Ring meetings (Nov. 28 CAC, Dec. 9 Cambridge

3. Arthur Comments.

This is one of the best postings on cportneighbors. You have really hit the nail on the head this time.

I found the following particularly humorous, but to the point.

"My wish list was (1) that we get the Urban Ring transit proposal (phase 3) with the Kenmore crossing because that alternative' s connections to the green line's three branches and to commuter rail are excellent; (2) that all the spaghetti being proposed for phase 2 be killed because they would give the state no option but to implement the far inferior BU Bridge crossing on Phase 3; (3) that, inasmuch as our bicycles belligerently have contempt for the laws of the commonwealth, the pedestrians are not much better and the drivers are terrible, the governor should bring Boston to civilization."

Give 'em hell!!!! No peace or concessions to the empty stuffed shirt bureaucrats!!!

Arthur DaPrato

4. Prior Report.

I sent the following to the Cambridgeport list just after the meeting:


It was encouraging to see a fair number of us at the MBTA meeting this morning.
The proposals are distressing, but at least there is a lot more honesty on these issues than we get from the City of Cambridge.

Those who were there will recall all the various discussions about the possible use of the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge.

The presenters made it very clear that USE OF THE GRAND JUNCTION RAILROAD BRIDGE is not part of the Urban Ring package, but ONE ALTERNATIVE they are considering.

You will recall that last summer a current member of the City Council attempted to present Grand Junction Rail Bridge use to this group as part of the Urban Ring, and that I was chastized because I had the nerve to go through a lot of bother to prove the statement false.

The City Councilor WOULD NOT withdraw this false statement.

I now have in my possession a collection of slides from this same City Councilor stating exactly the same false thing this councilor said last year: that use of the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge is part of the formal proposal. Apparently, this city councilor passed out this FALSE information during the meeting.

I find the repeated nature of this FALSE statement highly distressing.
It is inexcuseable to have to repeatedly respond to the same falsehoods.

5. The City Councilor did separate himself from the stuff being put out this time.

6. Bad Guy Responds to point 2:

Why don't you name the City Councilor?

7. Response to Bad Guy.

Point 1 was my response to Bad Guy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Urban Ring Thoughts

Bob La Trémouille reports:

1. Marilyn Wellons to the Riverside Neighborhood Association, December 4, 2005, resubmitted December 5, 2006.
2. Your Editor to the Riverside Nighborhood Association, December 4, 2005.
3. Kathy Podgers.
4. Laura Blacklow.

The MBTA is having public meetings in Chelsea, Boston and Cambridge about its Urban Ring Bus system through an area just outside the Boston city core.

This is one of the many projects threatening animal habitat on the Charles River.

There have been some good thoughts put out concerning the Urban Ring. Here are a few sent out before the meeting:

1. Marilyn Wellons to the Riverside Neighborhood Association, December 4, 2005, resubmitted December 5, 2006.

Don't underestimate the urgency behind planning for this project or
its effect, if built, on Cambridge. It was clear from the Citizens
Advisory Committee meeting November 28 that revision of the DEIR/S is
still fast-tracked. 5 years is short-term for projects like this, and
Phase 2 is well within that. Large portions of bureaucracy, including
Cambridge's, have been paid for years to make it real. For example
the Longwood Medical Area tunnel study is a high priority project that
got $562,000 in FY06 and the Cambridgeport Roads project connecting to
it is already built.

Factors driving the urgency include Harvard's two fast-tracked 500,000 SF science buildings in Allston, and the anticipated effects of the Harvard-funded Executive Office of Transportation study of "Transportation Alternatives in Allston" (executive summary coming out this month), and the need to save Phase 2's place in line for federal funds. Washington likes rubber-wheeled public transportation and the Massachusetts congressional delegation is eager to bring home the bacon.

Our neighbor Laura Blacklow has reminded us that Phase 2 is in fact a highway between the Mass Pike and I-93, through Cambridge and Somerville-- the Inner Belt. Eighteen months after Harvard announced its secret land purchases in Allston, State Transportation Commissioner Kevin J. Sullivan told planners that canceling the Inner Belt had been a mistake and emphasized "the need for peristence in achieving long-term politically difficult projects" (January, 1999). If people want rail rather than a highway project they should say so at meetings like the one on December 9.

Phase 2 buses use compressed natural gas, CNG. CNG is billed as clean fuel but its exhaust particles are smaller than those measured by the feds, hence don't show up in their studies. Smaller, these particles go deeper into the lungs. Since CNG pollution is relatively new, there are fewer data on its long-term effects than for gasoline or diesel exhaust. The feds recently rejected a proposal to include CNG particulates in air quality measures.

Particulate pollution from Phase 2's CNG buses would directly affect people living or working within several hundred feet of the right-of-way. In Cambridge that goes along the Grand Junction rail line, Albany, Waverly, and Brookline Streets, and through East Cambridge. It would do so whether the buses stop in Cambridgeport or not.

Plans have always showed a stop in Cambridgeport near Hamilton Street. Within the larger goal of completing the I-90--I-93 highway connection, Harvard and MIT want to connect the planned Allston campus to MIT and Kendall Square, so want the stop or stops in Cambridge.

However, the benefits of a Cambridgeport stop seem minor compared to the costs of children's asthma and medium- to long-term damage to adults' hearts and lungs from CNG pollution all along the right-of-way. There will also be effects from regular traffic to and from the stops in Cambridgeport around the Urban Ring nexus.

Phase 2 planners are looking at individual rail cars, Diesel multiple units (DMUs--see Wikipedia, /wiki/Diesel_ multiple_ unit) for Phase 2 along the Grand Junction rail tracks from the Beacon yards (Harvard Allston campus) to Somerville's commuter rail line. DMUs however would mean transfers, hence increased travel times within the system, and there are other problems with them. The planners spoke of the "challenges" of DMUs that I gather may be insurmountable.

From other transportation meetings I understand DMUs would also entail public health costs from diesel exhaust. In Somerville along the I-93 corridor these costs are in the billions of dollars.

At the Urban Ring meeting our neighbor Kathy Podgers cited the No. 47 bus. It already describes the North-South route of the Urban Ring. Wait times for it are long, which discourages people from using it to get to LMA. (Night and weekend wait times discourage people from the T generally.) It's not widely used except, as someone mentioned afterwards, during rush hour. If it were more frequent and advertised as a way of connecting to LMA from the north, Kathy said, we would see what actual demand for the service could be. Demand is always cited to show need for Phase 2--yet the No. 47 is pretty empty.

A member of the audience familiar with the Silver Line supported this suggestion. One neighborhood along a proposed Silver Line route pushed for better service with existing buses, she said, and got it rather than the Silver Line. If improved service on existing routes does the job, big capital expenditures like Phase 2 aren't necessary.

This underlines the unspoken function of public works projects like Phase 2 as pork for designers and contractors. Analysis should turn to the opportunity costs associated with Phase 2--what could the money spent on it actually do if appropriated for worthwhile public transportation projects? What if the public didn't pay for Harvard's MIT connection and the Inner Belt highway?

I would add that if demand for from poorer towns to the north with Longwood Medical Area, recently billed as the growth engine for the region, is so great, it deserves Phase 3 rail.

Marilyn Wellons

2. Your Editor to the Riverside Neighborhood Association, December 4, 2005.

Marilyn I passed her comments to the Riverside group with the following introduction:


Watch the constant use by Cambridge bureacrats and the nine incuments of improperly named highway projects.

The "bikeway" proposed for the Grand Junction, for the Goose Meadow and for the Charles River falls exactly into the category of a highway by another name.

Fortunately, this outrage was defeated last time because of its lack of merit. Cambridge tried to call it part of the Somerville to North Station bikeway and that was recognized as nonsense.

When the T was pushing the off ramp on the Grand Junction railroad bridge from the Mass. Pike, the T responsibly refused to include in its budget estimates widening of the underpass under Memorial Drive to include this destructive highway project.

If we had an environmentally responsible city government serious about bikers, the bikeway proposal would be cutting from the Grand Junction to Memorial Drive by way of Vassar Street at the Vassar bend, but we do not. We have a city council running one way and doing another.

The proposal would destroy the Charles River White Geese' core habitat and destroy major trees plus build in the Charles River. Very reprehensible, business as usual from the City of Cambridge.

Then again, the fancy lightbulb groups which could care less about the destruction of the Green, but call themselves "Green" are part of the package of fooling the constituents.

They call themselves Green. They could give a damn less about destruction of the Green by nine members of the City Council. How dare anybody else stand up to nine members of the city council!

Keep an eye on the Urban Ring but remember, the renewed Inner Belt has many, many dirty tricks being used.

3. Kathy Podgers.
4. Laura Blacklow.

I will add these comments as I find them.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Good job, Chronicle, good job

Bob La Trémouille reports:

The following is my electronic copy of a letter printed in the December 7, 2006, Cambridge Chronicle, page 13. Placement was excellent.

To the best of my knowledge, the only edit changed "Charles Rive White Geese" to "Charles River white geese."

The letter was printed as "Good job, Chronicle, good job." He printed two other responses to the Reeves article. Roy Bercaw was kind enough to suggest, in the spirit of Reeves comments, a public expansion of the brothel business in Cambridge.


Cambridge Chronicle

I strongly appreciated the juxtaposition of your two lead articles in the November 30, 2006, Cambridge Chronicle:

“YWCA fire leaves 110 homeless” and “Reeves: Let’’s get the party started.” [Ed: Reeves is the Mayor / City Council Chair in Cambridge.]

Elsewhere in the paper is a report on the DCR [Ed: Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Department of Conservation and Recreation, the owners of large amounts of open space in Cambridge, MA including the Charles River] prettying up but not correcting very real problems with portions of Alewife.

Not mentioned in the paper was a report just issued in which the City of Cambridge once again proposes to destroy the core of the habitat of the Charles River White Geese in the last remaining relatively undeveloped part of the Charles River .

You have, deliberately or otherwise, placed the key problem of the City of Cambridge right where it belongs: the City Council.

The truly offensive reality in the City of Cambridge is that we have a inhumane government working with an inhumane state bureaucracy to further goals which are strikingly different from what the real goals of the city should be.

Not long ago, a group of friends of the Department of Conservation and Recreation wandered about Alewife reservation picking up “trash.” They then tut-tutted in the Chronicle about all the belongs of the homeless they had confiscated. Your predecessor printed my response.

On the Charles River , the DCR took a poll. The poll said that most people do not think the Charles River needs improvement.

So the City of Cambridge and nine city councilors are finding more and more ways to indulge in cruelty to the Charles River White Geese.

So the DCR and the City of Cambridge are spending millions destroying trees, wetlands and animal habitat both on the Charles and at Fresh Pond.

So the DCR and Cambridge are doing "improvements" on the Charles River which will install poisons into a relatively clean environment.

So the DCR and the City of Cambridge are spouting pieties about swimming in the Charles River while destroying wetlands and starving animals to wall off the Charles from Magazine Beach with designer bushes that have no business on the Charles River .

And Reeves is quoted as saying “Let’s get this party started.”

I thought your predecessor as editor did a good job.

I find your juxtaposition on the front page very appropros.

Don't look at the tragedies, don't look at our destructiveness, look at out parties!!!!

Keep up the good work.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bad guys on move

Bob La Trémouille reports:

There is now a crane in the area which has fencing just west of the playing fields.

The nine Cambridge City Council hypocrites are moving closer to attack against the Charles River and Magazine Beach.

Major starvation moves against the Charles River White Geese, addition of poisons to the environment, etc., all for a project that makes no sense except as make work for a politically active lobby of contractors.

Thanks to the Good Guys - Harvest Coop

Bob La Trémouille reports:

Because of federal tax requirements, we have two main, separate organizations concerning the Charles River White Geese and other environmental matters.

Separate from the political arm are the great people who have been feeding the Charles River White Geese to save them from the destructiveness of the state bureacrats and the nine hypocrits on the Cambridge City Council.

The organization which puts things together is the Charles River Urban Wilds Initiative.

I had been aware that on of the stores providing contributions to feed the Charles River White Geese is the Harvest Cooperative in Central Square, Cambridge.

Nevertheless, yesterday, it came as a very pleasant surprise to see a lovely color color announcement of the providing of greens to the Charles River White Geese on a very visible bulletin board in the store of the Harvest.

I have sent an email to the head of CRUWI to ask for more names so that I can thank them on this blog.

The Harvest is known and is appreciated.

Thanks to the good guys.