Cambridge Uncovered, Ep. 6: "Central Square - Cultural Arts District"

Cambridge Uncovered, Ep. 6: "Central Square - Cultural Arts District"

A conversation about Central square and its special designation as a cultural district

In episode six of Cambridge Uncovered, NeighborMedia journalist Lori Jobe explores Central Square and its special designation as a cultural district. What is a cultural district? What elements make Central Square a Cultural District? And what is being done to promote Central Square as such? Jobe sits down with Jason Weeks of the Cambridge Arts Council, City Councilor Nadeem Mazen and Central Square Advisory Committee member Robert Winters, to discuss this topic and talk about the possibilities that await this unique area of Cambridge.


This is amazing! Lori and editors, you did a wonderful job. As usual Robert Winters is funny and right on!

Awesome work here...

1) We can't have food trucks, carts, or food of any kind in Carl Barron due to a provision in the municipal ordinance that blocks food carts/trucks from setting up shop within 300' of an existing restaurant. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

2) To date; only councilor Simmons has done anything in the way of promoting the cultural district by bringing an order that was answered some weeks ago by the manager to appoint an "action" committee to facilitate the adoption of those non-zoning issues.

3) The substantive zoning that came out of the process remains on CDD's shelf, flawed, and unfinished. No councilor will bring this up for a vote, and I would think the only hope of reviving any of the positives, and there were many, would have to come about through the master planning process now currently...and sluggishly underway.

4) The point about neighborhood retail is a poignant one, and Robert and Councilor Mazen are both correct in their assertions. However, the biggest obstacle to implementation is zoning. CDD hired a consultant back in December to look at the use table (why they needed a consultant to tell them what my 1.5 yearold son could tell them is another story). The outcome of this study will most likely not be anytime soon and will most likely yield a lateral-esque shift in movement. We have so many low hanging fruit in zoning, like use definitions, that its a wonder that 1) we need to hire a consultant to tell us what a "fast food restaurant" is or what the fundamental differences between a chemical warfare factory, a bar, a baseball card shop are. I would also remind Robert that the banks are in fact leaving Central Square. ; )

5) The cultural district designation is not being taken seriously and that is a shame. People like Robin Lapidus, Jason Weeks, Joseph and Nabil Sater, Fleischmann, and Catherine Carr Kelly have all done a great job trying to keep that ship sailing, but they need support, money, and a real effort by this city council to maintain that designation.

6) Keep up the good work!

Correction on that food truck bit. It's actually not in the muni code, it's just a made up rule imposed by the licensing commission. My guess is this is a courtesy to already struggling restaurants in central.