75 New Street, Fresh Pond… Another miss in planning...

75 New Street, Fresh Pond… Another miss in planning...

The distinction between vehicular and pedestrian zones is often blurred, and a hierarchy of public and private spaces is missing due to a la

Today I'm posting for a Cantabridgians in the Fresh Pond Area, Jan Devereux. Jan is forming a new group called the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance. She extremely concerned about the 75 New St Redevelopment and I told her I would post here letter to Planning Board. So here it is…
Also check Pictures
All of you residents of Fresh Pond take note and attend the Planning Board Meeting on Tuesday March 4th, 7PM at 344 Broadway, Cambridge, 2nd floor, make your voice heard, make it count! Ask the Planning Board to deny PB#286

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I write to voice my concerns about the proposed redevelopment of 75 New Street (currently J&C Adams Windows) into 93 residential units by AbodeZ Development. I strongly object to more than doubling the amount of housing on New Street without immediate improvements to the auto, pedestrian, and biking infrastructure.

Providing the future residents of 75 New Street with free MBTA Bike Charlie Cards and hoping they will choose a largely car-free lifestyle is a ticket straight to the emergency room without long overdue improvements to the sidewalks on New Street and the addition of a defined street and a separate pedestrian/bike route through the back of the shopping center parking lot. (See map at the end of this letter from page 35 of the study showing the recommended additional infrastructure.)

My concerns are those of a two-decade resident of “Huron Village” alarmed at the increased traffic congestion and eroding quality of life in my neighborhood caused by spillover from the rapid, high-density development in the Concord-Alewife area. I know I am not alone in wondering about the future livability of my once-quiet neighborhood after the Concord Alewife area is fully developed into the city’s next Kendall Square.
Some of my concerns were addressed by the design goals set forth in the city’s 2005 Concord-Alewife Planning Study, but in the absence of a comprehensive master plan developed and debated in a public forum, I fear that the study’s lofty recommendations are unenforceable and too easily ignored by opportunistic developers. To note, 75 New Street falls just outside the Concord Alewife study’s area. New Street lies on the other side of the disused Watertown railroad tracks that define the eastern boundary of the “Shopping Center District,” as do two of the same developer’s recently completed residential buildings, one next door at 87 New Street (54 rental units) and the other one

street to the east at 42 Bay State Road (10 condo units). A third AbodeZ project at Concord Avenue and Wheeler Street (61 condo units) is currently under construction at the western border of the Shopping Center District. In just five years time, a single developer will have constructed a total of 218 new residential units whose cumulative impact is not reflected in traffic and parking projections done piecemeal for each individual project, while the city’s promised improvements to the surrounding roads, sidewalks and bike paths languish on the drawing board. With the Red Line already congested and running at capacity and bus service captive to the MBTA’s budget deficit, those free Charlie Cards won’t be much of an incentive when these new residents can’t squeeze onto a train or bus at rush hour.

Along with the pressure on transit, 93 more residential units on New Street (along with hundreds of other new residential units and large commercial projects already in the pipeline nearer Alewife) will put additional strain on the existing retail services at the Fresh Pond shopping center, where the two grocery stores are already jammed with shoppers during peak hours. The newest retail addition on Fresh Pond Parkway, at the site of the former seafood market and video store, brings us none of the pedestrian friendly retail services cited in the planning study as desirable and magnets to the local community. Instead the new building will house a “Sleep Number” (the Fresh Pond area’s third chain mattress store!), a Vitamin Shoppe (the chain has an existing store in Harvard Square), and the Bank of America branch that was displaced by AdobeZ’s Concord/Wheeler project – along with a large surface parking lot with driveways spilling more cars out onto both the parkway and Concord Avenue at the Sozio rotary bottleneck. A few hundred yards down the parkway at the Vassal Lane crosswalk to Fresh Pond, on the site of the former Tokyo restaurant, 20 new condominiums soon will throw still more residents with cars, bikes, and retail needs to the fray. The parking plans developed for all of these projects (1 space per unit) assume that these new residents will seldom have houseguests or household service providers who must travel by car and find on-street parking. New Street is not wide enough for two lanes of traffic when cars are parked along the side of the road bordering Danehy Park, as they now often are.

Is anyone in authority considering the cumulative impact of all this development around Alewife, or do we just have to trust that market forces will take care to preserve some quality of life for current residents and property owners of established (and beloved) adjacent neighborhoods like Huron Village? In the absence of Council vision and broad public participation in the creation of a long-term master plan for the city’s future, I’m afraid I already know the answer.
Sincerely,

Jan Devereux
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Also check Pictures
All of you residents of Fresh Pond take note and attend the Planning Board Meeting on Tuesday March 4th, 7PM at 344 Broadway, Cambridge, 2nd floor, make your voice heard, make it count! Ask the Planning Board to deny PB#286