April 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 7:00pm

Porter Square Neighbors Association Meeting Minutes

There was no March meeting.


  • CAHC purchase of #78-80 Porter Road
  • Lesley University update
  • Short Announcements

CAHC purchase of #78-80 Porter Road

Terry Dumas and Kyle Sullivan With funds from the Community Preservation Act, the Cambridge Affordable Housing Corporation has purchased the apartment building at 78-80 Porter Road, intending to convert it to affordable housing. The building is a four story building with no elevators and 26 apartments. Renovations will begin when funds are raised and are expected to take four or five years. A deed restriction will keep the building for affordable housing for 50 years. If some current residents are not income eligible to stay after the renovations, the city will find them a comparable apartment and will pay any increase in rent for 4 years. No change in the number of units is expected, and the number of adult occupants may even go down, decreasing the on-street parking demand. CHAC expects an increase of children in the building, as many on the waiting list are single mothers with children. In 2000 the city bought a 65 unit brick building on Lancaster Street. It took 6 years to complete renovations, after which all remaining residents were income eligible people are now renting units there. Only one quarter of these residents have cars. Cambridge has received substantial funds from the Community Preservation Act, and has used most of the money to create affordable housing. There are 2800 units of state and federal public housing in Cambridge, and 380 units created and managed by Just-a-Start and other nonprofit organizations in Cambridge.

Lesley University update

Bill Doncaster reported that the rezoning petition is before the Cambridge City Council. The Planning Board recommended adoption "with enthusiasm" to the City Council. At the first hearing with the ordinance committee there was considerable opposition from direct abutters and Arlington Street residents, particularly about moving the church, but there seems to be universal consensus in support of moving the Art Institute of Boston to Porter Square. The Ordinance Committeee forwarded the petition City Council without a recommendation for or against, so that they could continue considering it while the City Council can also proceed to vote before the ninty day deadline for consideration. The Cambridge Historical Commission has recommended giving the church landmark status. There is still disagreement over how restrictive the language in the recommendation should be, so the Historical Commission is revising it before sending it to the City Council for approval. This could affect the Lesley's proposal to lower and relocate the church on the lot as part of the AIB project. There was some discussion about the Japanese grocery store in University hall not having its lease renewed, and about the status of the current retail stores in University Hall.

Short announcements

Clean up day - We will participate in a cleanup around Porter Square on May 2nd at 10-1PM, with a rain date of May 3rd 1-4PM. Please let Susan Hunziker if you plan to participate so that the organizers can provide enough equipment (rakes, gloves, garbage bags, etc.)

Uno Chicago Grill - Amy Brown (617-275-6937) introduced herself and talked about their community activities, including hosting fundraising events (20% of the money spent at a fundraiser event will go to the organization), catering services (see www.unos.com), free appetizers for groups of five in their snack bar, and a family night 4:30-7:30 Wednesdays with a host and children's activities. Uno has been in Porter Square for twenty years. Uno has offered supply snacks for the cleanup day.

News racks - Astrid Dodds and John Howard met with the city's news rack enforcement officer concerning the proliferation of news racks in front of Dunkin Donuts. They counted 20 racks at the T plaza and 17 at Dunkin Donuts, of which 13 are duplicates. The city agreed to rearrange the ones at Dunkin Donuts to make more sidewalk width, and suggested that we monitor to make sure that the vendors don't move them back.

Striping in shopping center lot - The shopping center intends to re-stripe the parking lot as soon as the weather is suitable.

Former Pemberton Market - A mixed convenience and food store will soon open at the renovated building at the corner of Massachusetts and Rindge Avenues. It is also reported that the other space in the building has just leased as a mobile phone store.

Walking tour - There will be a walking tour honoring Jane Jacobs on May 2 10:30AM-noon, starting in Porter Squar. There's a little more information on www.janeswalk.org .

Good will zone - Susan proposed creating a zone of good will where we make a point to thank someone who has done a kind deed we noticed—such as picking up trash, or not riding their bike on the sidewalk.

The next meeting is May 21.