Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Central Square Needs

The City asked, and people responded: What does Central Square need to fulfill its potential as the lively, transit-oriented center of a diverse community?

Results came in two forms. One was through the "Envisioning Central Square" forum hosted by Councilors Denise Simmons and Sam Seidel in December. The comments, as reported in the Chronicle, were predictable, "the most prominent of which showed that many Central Square patrons want more shopping options, more upkeep and cleanliness and less public drinking, loitering and homeless people on the streets." In fact, homelessness dominated the conversation as any Central Square conversation must. The Chronicle's writeup includes some interesting contributions from Len Thomas of the Cambridge Multi-Service Center and Superintendent Steven Williams on CPD's Homeless Outreach Program.

The other results came (in more detail, but less frankness) in the CDD-produced summary report for the Central Square Intercept Survey, which nonetheless contains some interesting data about the public's desired retail options (hint: people want The Gap back...)

Thanks to neighbor Carolyn Shipley for the links!

Photo by Flickr user zudark. Used with Creative Commons license.


Brien said...

I don't think "retail options" are the options. Rather, they are the problem. The chain corporations rob Central Square of a unique identity, or culture. Chain stores just want to suck up local consumers money, and move it elsewhere, leaving the square dry. Unlike an independently owned business, chain stores don't return the money they make to the local scene.

What central square needs is more independently owned business that are actually invested in the region's wellbeing.

lonsum said...

Exactly. (Also, there's no need for a Gap there with the one in Harvard.) More independent stores (like the ones that have just left or are in the process of leaving [Rodney's]) and more culture.

Is Cheapo's still there? (I moved away two years ago and haven't been back to Cambridge in just over a year).