Grand Junction Path - The Way Forward


Cambridge City Councillor Dennis Carlone has decided to dedicate his first meeting as Chairperson of the council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee to exploring the way forward for a shared-use, rails-with-trail path along the city's Grand Junction corridor.

The public meeting will be held at 3 pm on Wednesday, June 11, in the Sullivan Chamber at Cambridge City Hall. Members of the public are welcome to testify in support of the path and may RSVP for the meeting by clicking on the following link:

Thank you to all of the community members and to the Friends of the Grand Junction Path who have been tirelessly advocating for the advancement of this great concept.

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Support for Joe Donovan

On Monday, May 19, the Cambridge City Council will consider a policy order resolution in support of East Cambridge native and CRLS-grad Joseph Donovan, who is currently serving a natural life sentence for his role in the 1992 death of Norwegian MIT student Yngve Raustein.

The resolution -- which is co-sponsored by Councillors Dennis Carlone, Marc McGovern, and Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan -- acknowledges "the gravity of the crimes perpetrated against Yngve Raustein" and calls on the council to "go on record in expressing support for Joseph Donovan's application for parole, which will be reviewed on May 29, 2014."

Donovan's case has received attention in recent years from The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, and Cambridge Day, in part because of the disparity between the life-without-parole sentence he received and the more lenient sentences given to others involved in the crime, including the actual killer, who served just ten years in prison. Donovan initiated the altercation by throwing a single punch; he was 17-years-old at the time.

Meanwhile, both the United States Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court have recently struck down laws that impose sentences of life-without-parole for juvenile offenders. With these recent high court rulings, Mr. Donovan may get the opportunity to rebuild his life.

Members of the public wishing to testify on this matter are invited to participate in public comment this Monday at 5:30 pm. To sign up, call the city council office at (617) 349-4280 between 9 am and 3 pm on Monday, or just show up at City Hall and add your name to the list in the Sullivan Chamber prior to 6 pm. Be sure to note that you wish to speak on item O-9. Each speaker will be given up to three minutes to testify. Alternatively, you may email the council via

The full text of the policy order is available online and is also posted below...

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Update on Affordable Housing Linkage

On Monday evening, the city council adopted an amended version of my recent proposal to update the Incentive Zoning Housing Contribution rate.

Commonly known as "linkage fees," the Housing Contribution rate applies to large, commercial developers who are seeking certain kinds of special permits and is intended to offset the impact of commercial development on the local housing market.

Since 2002, the Incentive Zoning program has generated approximately $3.5M for affordable housing in our city. If that figure seems low, it's because the council has failed to update the linkage fees for well over a decade.

Section 11.203.1 of the City's Zoning Ordinance states that the Housing Contribution shall be subject to review and recalculation every three years by the Cambridge City Council. But the ordinance has been largely ignored, and as a result, our city has missed out on millions of dollars for affordable housing, even as we enjoy remarkable growth in our commercial sector.

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Cambridge Biking News!


As someone who cares about biking in our city, I want to pass along news about the city's ongoing work to create a comprehensive bike plan; the project is called Toward a Bikeable Future. You can check it out by clicking on the following link:

Also, I want to let people know that I recently met with Joe Poirier and John Sanzone of the Friends of the Grand Junction Path, and they gave a compelling presentation on the potential for shared uses along the Grand Junction corridor. As a result, I am now working to schedule a Transportation Committee meeting where we will look at the way forward for this very important project.

Finally, I have even more good reading for you...

At last week's council meeting, I introduced a policy order calling on the city to endorse the National Association of City Transportation Officials' Urban Streets Design Guide. This blueprint for a modern streetscape demonstrates how streets of every size can be reimagined as safe, sustainable public spaces for people walking, driving, biking, and taking transit. You can review the guide online by clicking here:

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Updated Rates for Affordable Housing in Cambridge

800px-City_Hall_-_Cambridge__MA_-_IMG_3958.JPGCambridge City Councillor Dennis Carlone has introduced an important new policy order, calling on the city to move forward with an update to the Incentive Zoning Housing Contribution rate.

This one change has the potential to help the city obtain millions of extra dollars for its affordable housing programs. The policy order will appear as Order #2 (O-2) on Monday's agenda, and it is being co-sponsored by Councillor Mazen.

Click here to read the full text of the Housing Contribution order:

In 1988, the city council adopted the Incentive Zoning program to mitigate the impact of large-scale commercial development on the city's housing market. The way it works is fairly straightforward. A "nexus study" establishes the dollar amount for a one-time fee to be paid by large, commercial developers who are seeking certain special permits, and by law, the city council is supposed to review and update that amount every three years based on changing conditions in the economy and the housing market.

However, the city council has not updated the figure in many years. The last nexus study was completed in the year 2002, and it called for the Housing Contribution rate to be set at $7.83 per square foot of applicable commercial development — but the council didn't implement that recommendation, and currently, the rate is set at $4.58 per square foot. Adjusted for inflation, the 2002 recommendation is approximately $10.00 in 2014 dollars.

Over the years, the Incentive Zoning program has provided millions of dollars for affordable housing in our city, but given the extent of the challenges now facing our lower- and middle-income residents and families, we cannot afford to leave any of this money on the table in the future.

Since taking office back in January, Councillor Carlone has been working with the City Administration to ensure that we commission a new nexus study — but that process will take many months, at the very least — so in the meantime, he and Councillor Mazen are hoping that the council will implement the 2002 recommendations, creating the potential for added funding for our affordable housing programs.


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Council adopts Master Plan order!

After an intensive debate, and weeks of speculation, the Cambridge City Council has unanimously approved our combined Master Plan policy order!

Check out the following article in today's Cambridge Chronicle --

Cambridge City Council calls upon residents to be masters of Master Plan

I cannot think of a more fitting headline myself.

To be sure, this is only the first step toward a Master Plan, and more work will need to be done in the coming weeks and months. But it's important step, and I know it would not have been possible without the advocacy of many Cambridge residents.

To everyone who called, emailed, or testified in support of this initiative, please let me say: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The next step will be a series of meetings in different locations across the city, where independent planning and urban design professionals will engage the public on areas of interest and concern. I will be sure to keep everyone posted about those meetings as dates and times are announced.

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Moving forward on the Master Plan

I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement with the Mayor to reconcile the differences between our respective Master Plan policy orders from earlier this month, and we are now hoping to bring a combined proposal to a vote at the next regular city council meeting, on Monday, April 28, at 5:30 pm.

This synthesized order represents an important step forward for our city, as it calls on the city council, "to address the issue of a Master Plan and to help establish the city's urban planning and community development priorities," following a series of public meetings with resident input. Click here to read the Mayor's letter and the full text of our revised order.

One of the key differences between our original orders had to do with who would be responsible for running the public meetings. I proposed that the City Council utilize its committees, but the Mayor proposed that meetings be led by our city's Community Development Department.

As a compromise, we have agreed that these initial public meetings will be run by independent planning and urban design professionals, who will report back to the Ordinance Committee with a summary of findings by July 31, 2014.

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Update on the Master Plan debate

Dennis_Carlone_headshot.pngThank you to everyone who attended, watched, or spoke at Monday night's city council meeting, where we finally had the opportunity to address the call for a comprehensive Master Plan!

Alas, our policy order didn't come to a vote — instead, we agreed to place it "on the table" to give the Mayor an opportunity to work with us to reconcile some of the differences between his proposal and our proposal.

This should come as no surprise: because of the open meeting law, it's impossible for more than four councilors to work on any one order prior to a meeting. So while we were busily organizing, petitioning, and exchanging ideas with the City Manager, City Staff, and our council co-sponsors, the Mayor actually prepared a similar order.

Personally, I think this is absolutely terrific. The more dialog, the better. The more collaboration, the better. At the end of the day, thanks to great neighborhood organizing, we have lots of officials talking about the desire for a new, citywide Master Plan.

Nevertheless, there are differences between our two orders, and it will be important to remain engaged in coming days.

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Master Plan Policy Order

Dennis_Carlone_headshot.pngAs a planner, architect, and urban design consultant with nearly forty years of experience working in the City of Cambridge, I entered last year’s race for the City Council with a clear objective: to advance the goal of a new, citywide Master Plan to better guide future development and reinforce the qualities that make Cambridge special.

Now, as we enter the fourth month of the new term, I am taking action to make good on the “Planning for People” message that has generated so much enthusiasm across the city.

This afternoon, with the support of my colleagues Denise Simmons and Nadeem Mazen, I have submitted a policy order that calls on the City Council to address the question of a Master Plan – and to consider new urban planning and community development priorities with a framework for reporting on these topics by July 31, 2014.

To support our Master Plan initiative – and to provide your comments and suggestions – I invite you to visit my constituent homepage and add your name to our petition. Please visit and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same!

With your participation, we intend to start a big conversation about the future of our city.

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Fresh Pond Residents Get Organized

Fresh_Pond_Residents_mtg_3-24-14.JPGMore than 100 residents gathered in the cafeteria of the Tobin School last night to talk about their concerns with the unbridled development of the Fresh Pond/Alewife area — and to imagine possibilities for a new, citywide Master Plan to better manage growth and the crippling traffic along Alewife Brook Parkway.

The meeting was organized by members of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance and included updates on a number of key development proposals, including 75 New Street, the Tokyo Restaurant site, Concord Avenue by Wheeler Street, and more.

In a letter distributed to attendees at the meeting, Cambridge City Councillor Dennis Carlone congratulated Fresh Pond residents for their efforts so far and invited all Cantabrigians to join him in calling for "an open process that will begin to provide a cohesive vision for how our city will grow and mature in the years to come."

"I believe that our Master Plan should be organized and presented in a manner that can be readily understood and supported by independent planning professionals and the general public," Carlone wrote. "Furthermore, I want to strengthen the design review process and take action to ensure that zoning guidelines are applied in a way that reinforces all that we love about our neighborhoods," he added.

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