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.

Our order, co-sponsored by E. Denise Simmons and Nadeem Mazen, asks the city council to directly address the question of a Master Plan — while also identifying planning and urban design priorities. This later part is key, because it calls on the council to proactively tackle the urgent issues while the broader planning discussions are getting underway.

The Mayor's order takes for granted that we do have a master plan, and it asks the Community Development Department to hold a series of meetings to gather resident feedback and generate recommendations for future planning work. A discussion of both orders can be found in today's Cambridge Day story, "Council calms fears of halted construction, decides Master Plan orders will be merged."

Both orders — hopefully a single, reconciled order — will be on the agenda at the next regular city council meeting, now scheduled for Monday, April 28th, at 5:30 pm.

This week's meeting proved that there's momentum for a new Master Plan, and people are starting to agree that we are due for a big conversation about development priorities and the future of our city.

So thank you once again to everyone who has worked to help us reach this point — and please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your ideas as we work through the reconciliation process in the coming days.

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