As the City of Cambridge moves forward with the process of creating a citywide plan to better guide future development, Cambridge Day has recognized the "citizen power" and "council follow-through" that sparked the new planning process as among the "Best of Cambridge in 2014."
To read the full column, which includes other local highlights from the past twelve months, click here: http://www.cambridgeday.com/2015/01/01/the-best-of-cambridge-in-2014/
Since taking office last year, Councillor Dennis Carlone has been working with his colleagues, city staff, and neighborhood leaders to help initiate the new planning process. The first phase of the project, Cambridge Conversations, was intensive effort for open-ended discussions to hear concerns, thoughts, and ideas about the citywide plan. Working with an independent consultant, Kathryn Madden of Madden Planning Group, the substance of these discussions was used to help shape the Strategic Recommendations for a Citywide Plan.
In an email message to interested residents, Councillor Carlone thanked people for their engagement on this issue and put the initial steps of the new planning process in perspective:
I want to say thank you to everyone who signed on to the petition to kick-start the planning process last spring -- and thanks as well to all Cambridge residents who have been advocating for better planning for many years.
It's important to remember that it was only about twelve months ago that residents who were concerned about the city's piecemeal approach to development were basically told that we did indeed have a "plan" -- a sprawling collection of disparate documents dating back many years.
But this past spring, we challenged the city on the need for a comprehensive plan, and after a vigorous debate with my colleagues on the council, including a "dueling policy order" that implied that the problem was that neighborhood organizations couldn't understand the complexity of urban planning, we have successfully brought the concerns of residents to the forefront.
Today, thanks to the tireless efforts of many residents and neighborhood groups, it is now impossible to deny that the city has to do a better job with planning and development issues. Now, publications such as the Boston Globe are recognizing the fact that we have a compelling interest in establishing a better framework for future development. One that is truly sustainable, more contextual in nature, and socially just.
To be sure, the start of the Citywide Plan doesn't solve all of our problems -- this will be a multi-year process, and we are sure to have some big debates in the meantime. But nevertheless, the Citywide Plan is still very important right now, because it means that residents have finally won a commitment from city to address their biggest concerns in a comprehensive fashion.
Moving forward, it's up to all of us to work together to make sure the plan is the very best it can be and to continue building on the progress that was made in 2014.
We will continue to update this blog with news on next steps for the Citywide Plan. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office with any questions or concerns on this or any other matter.