Minutes of July 2021 meeting
- Update on recent efforts by City of Cambridge to reach out to neighborhood groups
- Update on working group of businesses and bicycle groups to provide input on the City’s “plan” for bike lanes on Mass Ave.
Susan Hunziker and Ruth Ryals provided their perspective on a series of meetings and outreach sessions that the City has been conducting with neighborhood groups. This effort was prompted by the City Council’s policy order that these groups “ensure equitable access,” which was proposed in response to an unfortunate event at a meeting of the East Cambridge Planning Team.
Susan and Ruth noted the lack of trust in the City, which attendees expressed at each meeting, to the extent that this skepticism became the agenda of the meeting instead of feedback on the Powerpoint presentation that reported the City’s plans to improve matters that was the intended agenda. This issue morphed into the agenda of our own meeting. The following points were made also in the report from the Mass Ave working group.
- The city calls meetings to gather public input for proposed projects, but does not listen to what is said. Participants believe that the city has made its decisions and drawn up its plans long before the meeting is called.
- Long-time residents noted that they have never seen the city less responsive or dismissive in decades. Also, the behavior of city councilors reflects a return the practice of being responsive only to concerns of the narrow constituency that voted for individual councilors. That there has been no outreach or contact from any candidates or incumbents in the upcoming election by this point in the election cycle is unusual with cycles in recent decades.
- The working group finds that it is looking at the Mass Ave issue from a larger and more sophisticated perspective than the City is. The City has a direction it prefers, and despite what it says, its plan does not appear to be to make Mass Ave good for all who use it. The group is working to deliver better data and proposals to TPP this summer, before it locks in on the details of the plan it prefers.