Sunday, February 28, 2010

Western & River Bridges Meeting March 9th

Following a meeting in Allston-Brighton last month, MassDOT comes to the Cambridgeport side of the Charles for a second meeting on the River/Western Bridges rehabilitation. If you have questions about the bridges project or the state's Accelerated Bridge Program, please come; this C-port meeting only came about because Rep. Marty Walz and others stuck up for our neighborhood.

Here's the announcement:

MassDOT will sponsor a Public Information Meeting for the River Street/Western Avenue Bridges Rehabilitation Project on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, from 6:30 – 8:30 PM, at the Morse Elementary School Auditorium, Cambridge, MA. The purpose of this meeting is to provide an overview of the proposed rehabilitation of the historic River Street and Western Avenue Bridges, introduce MassDOT’s design team, answer questions, and gather comments. If you have any questions on the meeting, please contact
Toni Whitmore Assistant Director of Community Affairs, MassDOT (617.973.8454).For news and updates, check MassDOT's website or Transportation Blog. For the tweaters among us:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Forest City Selling Stake in University Park

From the Globe, a report that Ohio-based Forest City Enterprises is selling a stake in University Park in Cambridgeport. Because of the UP project, Forest City has been a major developer and owner in our community for almost 20 years. Their bringing in another investor (Health Care REIT, Inc) means little in the day-to-day effect on the neighborhood, but could be interesting for other neighborhoods in Boston. According to the article, Boston has been and will remain a core market for Forest City. Some other details from the article:

As part of the deal disclosed yesterday, Forest City will retain 51 percent ownership of seven buildings involved in yesterday's transaction. University Park is a 2.3 million square foot development near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Central Square. The complex includes 10 buildings for biotechnology research, 674 residences, a 210-room hotel, and several stores.
(h/t to; image of University Park courtesy Forest City)

CNA Board Election Results

Congrats to incumbants Elizabeth Torrey, Drew Phelps, and Leslie Greis on their re-election and to Cathie Zusy, a new Board member (but who served previously in 2005).

Thanks to the neighbors who turned out for the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association annual meeting, and to the Board Members who put in extra time on behalf of all of us! (Special thanks to Bill August for the efforts he put into preparation for last night's meeting.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Maher is Mayor

Though I've enjoyed a month or two of ribbing, the City Council finally got around to selecting a Mayor from their ranks in David Maher. Henrietta Davis was selected as Vice-Chair.

Congrats to the new Mayor.

Image from the invaluable Cambridge Civic Journal.

Time to Vote for CNA Board of Directors!

From Bill August, below are the self-submitted bios for the five candidates who have been nominated for the four open slots on the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association Board of Directors. Meeting info and the agenda are in the posts below.

Bios are in alphabetical order of last name.

Jeffrey Beam
Born in Kentucky, but with Somerville and Wimington roots, Jeff Beam has been a Cambridgeport resident for two and a half years. During that time he has been a renter, an owner, a graduate student, and now a Boston commuter. He works as an affordable housing developer in Boston and is a licensed Architect. Most neighbors know him by the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Blog (, which he created in 2009 to help facilitate greater communication and understanding in C-port. Others know him by his dog, Gilbert, with whom he regularly patrols the neighborhood. He is looking forward to life's next big step: he and his wife Sara are expecting their first child in the late summer.

Leslie E. Greis
I live on Pleasant Street between Putnam and Allston and I’m running for reelection to the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association board -- and I’m writing for your vote. During my tenure as a director, I have helped the neighborhood and the Association in variety of ways, big and small. I have served as the unofficial liaison between the Association and the Police Department trying to forge better communication and to reduce crime in the neighborhood. Among other things, I organized a crime walk, printed and posted crime alerts and arranged several meetings with the police, including an early meeting with the Police Commissioner soon after he arrived in Cambridge. As time went on, my involvement shifted to housing and other issues. When the new Radisson owners had plans to erect a tall condo project attached to the hotel, our Association, with extra help from Bill August, pushed through zoning changes to constrain building along the river. As a director, I spoke at the city hearing against the development plan. I also help the Association in smaller ways by reserving meeting space, printing flyers for our meetings (before the city cracked down on flyers) and cleaning up after parties. Over time, I have talked with various city officials about a variety of issues and have attended park, tree, crime, zoning and other meetings.

My interest in serving on the board of the Association comes from a strong desire to see our neighborhood thrive. I would like to see an Association that is able to “get a seat at the table” when city issues affecting our neighborhood are decided. As a person who enjoys living here, I want the Association to pursue initiatives that provide needed services to our area and encourage cooperative attention from city representatives.

For those of you who don’t know me or haven’t bumped into me at the Y or around the neighborhood, I’ve lived in Cambridge 18 years of my life. Professionally, much of my last ten years has been spent as an investment consultant/advisor to non-profits of all kinds, first with a medium-sized firm and now with my own firm. I have also volunteered considerable time to various organizations having served on over 20 non-profit committees or boards. Also, driven by my interest in improving science education in the schools, I serve as a Trustee at the Museum of Science.

Thanks for letting me serve the past few years. I ask for your vote and for the privilege of serving as an officer of the Association for another term. I bring a commitment to the neighborhood, a sense of responsibility, experience in community issues and practical skills to the role.

Drew Phelps

Drew Phelps is the Command Center Director, overseeing all aspects of NWN’s 24x7 network operations center located in Waltham, MA. Mr. Phelps also serves as the Practice Manager for nCare, which includes all remote monitoring and IT support delivered by NWN in New England, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Texas. Mr. Phelps has served on the NWN Corporation Board of Directors since 2001. He also serves on the Cambridge Montessori School Board of Trustees and the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association Board of Directors.

Mr. Phelps has over 10 years experience in information technology, operations, and customer support. He joined NWN in 2003 from, an Intellectual Property (IP) broker and consultant, where he was the Director of Operations. At, Mr. Phelps and his team increased the company’s annual introduction rate of IP buyers to sellers by over 5,000%. Prior to, Mr. Phelps published business research at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). He was also the Manager of Information Systems for Logal Software, an Israeli-based educational software company. Mr. Phelps has a Bachelors degree in International Relations and French Literature from Tufts University where he captained the Soccer and Squash teams.

Elizabeth Torrey
Elizabeth Torrey has lived in Cambridgeport since 1985 and currently lives on Pearl Street with her family. Her daughters attended public school in Cambridge and Elizabeth was active in school issues during that time. She would like to be on the board of the CNA for a second term to continue working on the issues that were beginning to be addressed over the past two years such as preservation of open space along the river and working to improve conditions at the Magazine Beach pool. She is also interested in making sure that MIT listens to the concerns of the neighborhood as it continues to expand. In addition, Elizabeth would like the CNA to expand its outreach to all of the neighbors in Cambridgeport to bring a greater diversity into discussions of what is important to those who live here. Professionally, Elizabeth is a speech and language pathologist working with children age 3-6 at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

Cathie Zusy
Cathie Zusy, who’s lived in C-port about 14 years, would like to be back on the board of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association. She was on the board for CNA in 2002 and 2003 and co-founded, with Cynthia Kamishlian, the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Group (the group that preceded it) in 1999. The CNG organized neighborhood crime walks, clean ups, meetings with members of the Cambridge Police Department and parties at Dana Park. For several years Cathie was on the Cambridge Police Department Leadership Task Force. For her contributions to the community she received an award from the Cambridge Police Department in 2000. More recently, Cathie has organized a number of street parties on Hamilton Street, a spaghetti dinner for local Scout Troop 56, and, just this past October, “If This House Could Talk…,” a history-awareness-raising-event for the neighborhood. A museum curator and educator by training, Cathie is eager to work with neighbors to 1) think about what it is about our neighborhood (e.g., buildings and open space) that make it special and then work to preserve these things; 2) study Magazine Street churches, to better understand the health of these buildings and communities; 3) create a stronger sense of community.

Zusy lives on Hamilton Street with her husband Sam and son Ben.

(Yes, full disclosure, that first one is me...) See everyone at the meeting Wednesday night!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seriously. Come to the Annual Meeting.

From Bill August [links added]:

Agenda for February 24, 2010
Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting

> Election of directors for four expiring seats on Board of Directors

Other Agenda subjects/speakers include:
  1. Western Avenue Reconstruction (potentially very important to whole area), Jeff Rosenblum, Community Development Dept. discussing community interests and community input in planning process;
  2. Cambridge Community Television community media services, Nilagia McCoy, CCTV 3. Elaine Thorne, Aging in Cambridge (discussion of various senior issues City is working on)
  3. Charles River Long Term Vision and Plan/City representatives seek community input regarding important city planning study.
  4. Open Agenda for discussion of any new or old business.

We now have formal confirmation that the location of the Wednesday, February 24, 7 p.m. Annual Meeting has been confirmed, and will be at the community room at Woodrow Wilson Court, entrance on Fairmont Street, between Magazine & Pleasant St.

To the many who have worked with the neighborhood association on so many issues that have made a difference to Cambridgeport, we thank you but urge you the Neighborhood Association needs a good turnout for Annual Meetings, and to continue to accomplish so much for the neighborhood. Only through your participation has the the neighborhood association been on the City's radar screen, enabling the neighborhood association to accomplish some good things:

  • a long list of significant repairs at MDC pool;
  • the petition that brought about the Dana Park upgrade;
  • increased police presence on several occasions;
  • close contact with police on behalf of community requests;
  • successfully amending the zoning ordinance to preserve certain open spaces along the Charles River within Cport;
  • incubating other community projects (earliest organizational support for GreenPort);
  • providing large and audible forums when development issues come up, like Blessed Sacrament, Urban Ring and many more;
  • and much more

Anyhoo, we have an Annual Meeting with elections coming up (and a great agenda), but I fear we need more attendance and participation to keep the neighborhood association vibrant and effective, so this is a longwinded reminder we once again welcome and need all your attendance at this upcoming Feb. 24, 7 p.m. and/or other community meetings.

And it's a fun way to learn a lot about so many on-going Cambridge (city of international significance) issues.

-Bill August

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Be there.


Board Elections & great agenda with speakers about Charles River and Western Ave improvements, CCTV community media services, senior services/aging in Cambridge & more

******WE NEED YOU******
FEBRUARY 24, 2010
Wednesday,7 PM
(regular and handicap entrance on Fairmont Street, between Magazine & Pleasant Streets, and meeting is in community room )
For more info email
Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association c/o

Thursday, February 18, 2010

BU Bridge Closed Next Week

Passing along this announcement from MassDOT (h/t to Councilor Henrietta Davis):

Evening/Overnight Bridge Closure: Boston University Bridge

On Sunday, February 21, 2010 through Thursday, March 4, 2010 the Boston University Bridge, which carries traffic over the Charles River between Cambridge and Boston, will be closed to traffic from 9 PM to 5 AM each week (Sunday to Thursday.) The upstream sidewalk will remain open during the bridge closure for bicycle and pedestrian access. Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead and seek alternative routes during the closures. MassDOT crews will be completing demolition work as part of the first phase of construction on the Boston University Bridge Rehabilitation Project. All Cambridge-to-Boston traffic and Boston-to-Cambridge traffic will be detoured to the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. Buses and emergency vehicles will be permitted to cross the bridge.

For transportation news and updates visit the MassDOT website at, the MassDOT blog at or
follow MassDOT on twitter at

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BZA Cries Fowl

The Chronicle reports on the reaction to the Board of Zoning Appeals ruling last week denying the C-port residents' appeal of a fine for keeping chickens at their Putnam Street home.

[O]n Thursday the board voted 4-1 against the appeal filed in response to a citation issued by the Inspectional Services Department against a Putnam Avenue residence in October, claiming that growing livestock/fowl is not permitted in Cambridge and is not considered an "accessory use" under the city's zoning ordinance.

“Cambridge has evolved,” said zoning board chairman Constantine Alexander. “It’s now an urban environment. I can’t be convinced that this is customarily incidental to the principal use of the land.”
Reactions, support and criticism throughout the neighborhood is mentioned in the story.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

DOT's Western & River Bridge Proposal

As mentioned here before, there's a significant amount of reconstruction in planning for Cambridgeport infrastructure. The city (with citizen help) is scheming to reconstruct Western Avenue. At the same time, Mass DOT is planning the reconstruction of the River Street and Western Avenue bridges. Thanks to Rep. Marty Walz, we'll soon have a public meeting in Cambridgeport to hear about the DOT plans and ask questions. (The meeting details will be posted here, but interested readers can also keep an eye out for an announcement on the Mass DOT calendar.)

In the meantime, I wanted to pass along two documents to help get the neighborhood thinking about what's involved in the reconstruction. First, Livable Streets (a great org based on Sidney Street) put together a flyer with a list of topics that will be useful for the neighborhood to consider in the upcoming discussion. Second, I've inserted the presentation DOT gave on the Allston-Brighton side of the bridge earlier this month. The original can be accessed via the link below.

RiverSt WesternAve Pres 020310

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowed In

Here's an idea: let's make good use of today's snow emergency and get all the City Councilors in a room for its duration. They can use the downtime to, you know, pick a Mayor, now that they "have a plan"?

But seriously, move your car off of any snow emergency route before the City's noon deadline today.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Bridge to Nowhere

Some feel that Mass DOT is overlooking Cambridgeport's interests and opinions in the rehabilitation of the Western and River bridges.

While the City of Cambridge is doing some significant outreach on the future reconstruction of Western Ave, Mass DOT is holding public meetings of their own regarding the parallel effort to complete significant infrastructure work on the Western Ave and River Street bridges. Many in Cambridgeport, however, feel the discussion on the bridges is one-sided. As in, there's not enough outreach on the Cambridge side of the bridges.

One of these observers is State Representative Marty Walz, who sent an email on the day of the scheduled meeting:
I am writing to let you know that I have been in touch with the state Department of Transportation about holding a meeting in Cambridge about the River Street Bridge and Western Avenue Bridge projects. DOT is of the view that a meeting in Allston Brighton is sufficient outreach to Cambridge residents. I have made it clear that this is unacceptable and that meetings must be held at times and places that are convenient to Cambridge residents. Representative Alice Wolf has made the same point on behalf of her constituents. I will continue to work with DOT to ensure that you and your neighbors are properly included in the community outreach process.

Here's hoping the rehabilitation of the bridges can tie pretty seemlessly into the larger Western Ave reconstruction. If and when a meeting is scheduled on the bridges for our side of the Charles, I'll pass along that info. Thanks to Rep. Walz for keeping the neighborhood in the loop.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Central Square: Phoenix Rising, Pearl Shutting

Not really news to those who frequent Mass Ave shops, but notes two changes to longtime establishments:

First, Cambridge’s Pearl Art & Craft Supplies to close, and the place has been a zoo for a few weeks as art students clear the shelves with severe discounts. Pearl has been there 20 years, but is one of 10 "underperforming" stores owned by the Florida arts supply company. Artist & Craftsman and Utrect are still available for those in dire need of a new tube of yellow ochre.

Second, more positively, Phoenix Landing has finished their renovations and posted some photos (including the one above). This is part of an ongoing effort to spruce up the place, long known as a haven for English football (soccer) fans and, at night, dancing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good Grief.

Via the Chronicle: After fifth try, councilors fail to select Cambridge mayor

City Councilors agreed Monday night that voting for the next mayor of Cambridge can be "messy." And after completing the fourth and fifth round of voting, no one has been chosen to fill the seat just yet.

Councilor David Maher still leads the pack with four votes — one from himself and three more from Councilors Leland Cheung, Sam Seidel and Tim Toomey. Councilor Henrietta Davis inched closer to the top with three votes - one from herself, and two more Denise Simmons and Craig Kelley, who switched his vote from Ken Reeves. Reeves, whose seniority on the Council allows him to serve as interim mayor for the time being, earned a total of two votes.

Councilors will have a chance to vote again during their next meeting on Feb. 8.

For round-by-round recaps, go here, here and here. For another viewpoint, you can read former Council candidate Minka vanBeuzekom's advice to blow up the mayoral selection process in her open letter to the Chronicle.

Nominate Someone for the CNA Board!

The deadline for nominations to the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association Board of Directors is on Wednesday, February 10th, two weeks prior to the CNA annual meeting on the 24th. Please consider tossing your hat in the ring, or nominating a motivated neighbor!

Some of the initial, potential nominees include Leslie Greis, Cathie Zusy, Elizabeth Torrey, Drew Phelps and myself (Jeff Beam). Here are the rest of the details:
The CNA annual meeting and election for four expiring Board of Directors seats will be Feb. 24, 7 pm at usual meeting place at community room of Woodrow Wilson Court, on Fairmont St., off of Magazine St. Anyone interested in being on the Board must be nominated and seconded by Feb. 10 (14 days prior to Feb. 24). Nominations and seconds of nominations can be sent to

Also on the agenda for the annual meeting:
Lastly, an appeal in the name of fun from Bill August: "Any ideas for fun Annual Meeting stuff, we could use it (music, food, awards--annual meetings are supposed to be fun)!"