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Notes from the 6th meeting of the Envision Cambridge Alewife Working Group


   Hope to schedule next Working Group meeting for Feb 15th

   There will be a public workshop at the Tobin School, 6-8 pm, February 8th.


Jerry’s Pond

   Eric Grunenbaum (Contact info: Eric.Grunenbaum@gmail.com) proposes that this pit wants to be a pond

   It was one of main swimming holes for city

   Used to look like a natural setting

   What did it used to be? What could it be?

   Remember...one of the expressed desires of the Alewife Working Group is to leverage ecology for educational value

   Potential green space-- empty brick plaza

   Eric proposes signage that tells the story of this space

                     Blue on each post, represents projections for sea level rise

                     Each panel will have information: placemaking, environmental history, and piece of climate information


Considering the Environment

1  Resilience from sea level rise, storm surge, and precipitation (goal: reduced vulnerability)

2  Energy (goal is reduced GHG emissions and enhanced resilience)

3  Water (goal is water conservation, clean waterways, and reliable drinking supply…”looking at questions stormwater runoff, in terms of quality of water...and other items on the list” (speaker gave very brief listing of environmental concerns)

4  Also listed on the PowerPoint is Materials and Waste (goals are soil remediation, zero waste goals, circular economy)

                     Says he will highlight environment tonight


Vision for a unique neighborhood combines FLOOD MITIGATION with walkability

   Find a systemic solution to impacts of climate change by aligning with the preparedness planning process.

                     Build to an elevation of 4’ or under for the first habitable floor level, which reduces flood risk from 2070 SLR/SS

                     It is a difficult compromise- pedestrian friendly AND protected from flooding with sea level rise

A network of green infrastructure

   Propose a green link that envisions a land-efficient open space network that links the Alewife T to Fresh Pond.

                     The path could link to the pedestrian/bike bridge to Alewife T station

                     Deal with stormwater issues with bioswales

                                       Midblock stormwater gardens

                     FURTHER STUDY will explore the potential to tie this to a district-wide STORMWATER strategy


                     Bioswales mostly for storing water. Because of clay content of soils, not naturally permeable, so system would store water longer (in other words, water runoff wouldn’t infiltrate into groundwater)

                     QUESTION from committee member (man with beard) to be asked later-- how does water LEAVE the system…


Preparing for sea level rise

   We think first habitable floor should be at 4’ -considering projections to 2070. Less than 10% storms above that line.

                     Rather than isolated entry points into building, continuous raised platforms the public realm. Can walk on sidewalk OR at that level

                     All parking must be below 4’ elevation and covered by a building or landscaped deck

                     Continuous 12’ wide raised platform at 4’ elevation for all the A Streets


There are four scenarios

   First two do not mention anything about avoiding building in floodplain

   Third option, Mixed-use commercial, says ‘minimize residents in the floodplain’

   Fourth option, Mixed-use industrial, says ‘Avoid building residential in floodplain’



   Lacking in district-wide strategy for flood mitigation


Scenario 1: Optimized Baseline

   Stormwater gets out of the system through the mid-block open space network. This improved block structure allows for a systemic stormwater solution.

   Green spaces connect to edge of B Streets. 30’ side yard setback between parcels on B Streets

   B Street Front Lot Line Setback is 8’’ for a planting zone

   Environmental improvements: more open space in the middle of the block than what is in existence

   Closest to the baseline in terms of annual energy consumption, GHG, emissions, and waste

   Greatest generation potential from solar PVs relative to annual consumption

   This scenario introduces a bike-ped path with a stormwater function and associated open spaces along it


Scenario 2: Mixed-use Residential

   Green spaces more often within parcels, not side yards (so less effective at moving out stormwater??). Mid-block open space network is more narrow than in optimized baseline scenario.

   Again, green spaces connect to edge of B Streets. 30’ side yard setback between parcels on B Streets

   Again, B Street Front Lot Line Setback is 8’’ for a planting zone

   Again, this scenario introduces a bike-ped path with a stormwater function and associated open spaces along it

   Again, Improved block structure allows for a systemic stormwater solution, but LESS PERVIOUS SURFACE will require MORE AGGRESSIVE STRATEGIES on building roofs

   With this scenario, the higher density makes district energy possible

   This scenario has the HIGHEST WATER DEMAND due to higher proportion of residential land uses


Scenario 3: Mixed-use Commercial, Same urbanism, but commercial emphasis

   Again, a narrow mid-block open space network

   Again, green spaces connect to edge of B Streets. 30’ side yard setback between parcels on B Streets

   Again, B Street Front Lot Line Setback is 8’’ for a planting zone

   Again, this scenario introduces a bike-ped path with a stormwater function and associated open spaces along it

   “Business case” for district energy/heating is strongest, given the HIGH DENSITY of commercial and lab uses...could support a co-gen plant

   Have the HIGHEST energy consumption, waste generation, and GHG emissions


Scenario 4: Mixed-use Industrial

   Again, mid-block open space network, but looks VERY narrow

   Again, B Street Front Lot Line Setback is 8’ for a planting zone

   NOTE: here, green spaces DO NOT connect to edge of B Streets

   CANNOT do bike-per bath with a stormwater function and associated open spaces along it

   Land use and low density lead to LEAST energy demands

   Significant solar potential (when compared to consumption) given the large flat roofs


   Best PV potential given the consumption to production ratio


   Referring to the slide with the matrix on it (Scenarios on horizontal, considerations on vertical)...Why do we have suitability for flood mitigation in same row as suitability for district energy? These are two very different things…

                     RESPONSE: We have all data...but what do we do with it? We are still in this shower of data and trying to make sense of it all

                     COMMENT FROM QUESTION ASKER: Scenarios that work for district energy, would mean highest energy consumption. This is confusing. These environmental factors are being categorized as if they are all the same- should be sorted out better



   Older man: Intrigued by mixed-use commercial or industrial. Flood plain issues, keeping residents out of there. So I am tipping towards commercial/industrial.

   Karen: I just want to see the bike-pedestrian path in there. Make it more transit-oriented, ease the traffic congestion.



   Woman: in addition to soils being water reservoirs, any green space will take pressure off Fresh Pond, and the amount of dog traffic it gets. Concerned about that pollution.

   Another woman: this is one massive heat island. I think we need to give climate change its due weight. And I like the idea of an outside green space, a central green space. The green for stormwater is excellent. But need some larger green space.

   I want to make sure green space is for public use.

   Mike: likes industrial, if there is flooding, less residential in harm’s way, would suggest building in a natural resource center for this flood zone.



OTHER COMMENTS FROM COMMITTEE MEMBERS (not related to the environment)

   Man with beard likes a line between mixed-use commercial and mixed-use industrial. Wants building the bridge to be a goal, make sure we generate revenue through this plan. Likes the raised pathway. Also, need some community space, some center.

   Margaret: Mixed-use residential also gets us the bridge. I was really intrigued by mixed-use industrial. Keeping jobs in Cambridge.

   Doug: scenarios are great, but we need to get down to what this will actually be. Mixed-use commercial is much to intensive, very little room between the buildings. Mixed-use industrial intriguing because it provides home for existing businesses that people already like and use. Truth is it might not be an entire industrial zone, but preserving at least a small area of industrial activity. If you have a 200 foot overlay, that land value will skyrocket and it will put businesses out of business.

   Eric: I think we should start calling it industrial/fabrication space...I like the idea of that being an entree to the existing conditions to continue. A smaller space that might not appeal to bigger industrial.

   Catherine: I like concept of mixed-use industrial, but seems least plausible because requires most land aggregation. I think mixed-use residential looks the most likely to happen based on parcel distribution. We should have the end-point in mind in more detail...so we are OK if it happens quickly.

   Jennifer Gilbert: Mixed-use residential and industrial are what interest me. Commercial entails lots of trips and travel, and we have heard complaints about congestion. Can we push it further next time with industrial, and what this means? There is a known and recognized need for creative space for people who can’t pay Kendall Square space.


OTHER PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to the environment):

   I think I’m in favor of neighborhoods that have sprinkling of commercial, industrial, residential. Biggest concerns are resolving traffic issues.

   Ed: Seen industrial done with everything from experimental spaces for coffee, wind energy…

   Someone who lives nearby-- really carefully consider traffic. Streets are at a breaking point. Important to take a look at what these roadways can take.

It would be very helpful if could add population implications-- what would the public facility, traffic implications be?

---Respectfully submitted, FAR

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