February 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 7:00pm

Porter Square Neighbors Association Meeting Minutes


  • Businesses south of Porter Square
  • Snow
  • Ears to the Ground

Businesses south of Porter Square

Emily Anderson (owner of Abodeon at 1731 Massachusetts Avenue) and Ruth Ryals reported on an informal group of businesses between Harvard and Porter Square, now forming in response to the "Massachusetts Avenue Master Plan" being worked on for that area. The goal of this plan is to develop a master design concept to make the area more attractive, more functional (for example by adding crosswalks and making pedestrian crossings safer), and greener (planting and preserving trees, using porous sidewalks), and more encouraging to shoppers, diners, neighbors and visitors. Specifics also include adding historical context to street signs, and developing an identity for the area such as an "Avenue of the Arts". Several PSNA members have been active in this, and we have previously gotten reports on it from Ron Axelrod and Dennis Corleone. The intent of the meeting of 20-25 business owners on February 16 was to learn about the plan and solicit their input. Lack of parking was their biggest issue; others included safer, more frequent crosswalks, better trees and plantings, and the lack of a business owners association. John Klensin suggested another possible problem: that the Cambridge License Commission has a reputation of being arbitrary, discouraging new establishments. The city is organizing a Master Plan Public Meeting at 7PM on March 10, at the Baldwin School.


The major specific discussed was the heap of snow impeding the Beech Street crosswalk on the south side of Elm Street. This crosswalk is a perennial problem because it, along with the sidewalk on the south side of Elm Street, belongs to Somerville. Cambridge doesn't want to deal with it and Somerville doesn't have the money. We thank Astrid Dodds for her continual attention to this, and hope that someday her efforts will convince somebody to give more than lip service to fixing it. Thanks also to Alice Wolf, for getting DCR to clear the sidewalk along North Mass Ave as you approach Alewife Brook Parkway. Karen mentioned Saul Tannenbaum's online map showing un-shoveled sidewalk tickets. We also discussed problems created by the city's failure to plow to the sidewalk on major roads, causing cars to park in the driving lane and preventing anyone but the youngest and fittest from reaching a parking meter.

Ears to the Ground

Mark Ostow (owner of Zing Pizza and Cafe Zing in Porter Square Books) showed up to introduce himself and to express concern over possible competition from Panera Bread, which is coming to the space previously occupied by Qdoba (and McDonald's before that) in the shopping center. Without taking a position on business competition, we thanked Mark for Zing's high quality and local ownership, and wished him continued success. We also discussed the recent announcement from the Slate Family about closing all three Bob Slates' locations after failing to find a satisfactory buyer for over a year. A new gourmet Asian food store, Miso Market, is coming to 1963 Massachusetts Avenue. This the retail space at the corner of Allen Street, next to Stellabella in the Slate building. We felt that this would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, especially considering the loss of the Japanese market in University Hall.