More 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.
According to estimates presented by residents at the meeting, some 2,500 units of new housing have been built or proposed for the Alewife/North Cambridge area since 2010 — along with more than one million square feet of new commercial development that's also proposed or in construction.
While opinions differ over how much density is appropriate for the area, the big takeaway of last night's meeting was that local issues of affordability, traffic congestion, access to transportation, and climate vulnerability have yet to be fully addressed.
The meeting featured scores of residents from the Fresh Pond, Alewife, and North Cambridge areas, and representatives of other Cambridge neighborhoods were also present, including East Cambridge, Central Square, Area IV, Cambridgeport, Harvard Square, Agassiz, and West Cambridge. In addition, State Representative Dave Rogers and School Committee member Patty Nolan were both in attendance, along with former City Councillor Minka van Beuzekom.
Moving forward, Jan Devereux, one of the primary organizers of the Fresh Pond group, is encouraging residents to stay engaged by signing Dennis Carlone's Master Plan petition and showing up at the Planning Board on April 8th for the next public hearing on the development at 75 New Street.