March 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 7:00pm

March 20, 2014

North Cambridge Senior Center 2050 Massachusetts Avenue


  • Bob Slate Curb Cut
  • AIB Construction
  • Gourmet Express Curb Cut
  • Hathaway Bakery
  • Porter Square Curb Cut
  • Ears to the Ground

Bob Slate Curb Cut

George Katis and the folks from Urban Spaces answered questions about their application to move the current curb cut along Allen Street 30 feet closer to Mass Ave. The new curb cut would abut the loading zone that starts at the corner, and the change would create room for two more parking spaces. Four letters have been sent to the city about this proposal, two in favor and two against. We chose to support it and to request the creation of two residential parking places, if possible.

AIB Construction

John Sullivan from Lesley reports that the construction is on schedule, and the AIB will open in January 2015. We commended them on their communication during construction.

Gourmet Express Curb Cut

The long-time concerns about the difficulty of getting through the intersection of Upland Road and Mass Ave have been raised again by curb cut on Upland Road to service the project Peter Wasserman is building on the White Hen/Gourmet Express lot. The conversation that has been running on the PSNA list carried over to the meeting, and the feasibility of the various solutions was discussed. City Councilor Carlone pointed out that the residential use would generate less vehicle traffic than the current retail use, and that the 15 cars that park in the Lesley spaces on that lot are using the current curb cut anyway. Attention turned to the chronic choke point: the left turn onto Mass Ave when traffic is heavy. Suggestions about what might be done on Upland Road to ease congestion included moving the stripe where cars must stop before the right turn farther back, as is done on Walden St., and putting a stop sign at the intersection of Richdale and Upland to create a bit of space for cars to move away from Mass Ave after they turn onto Upland. We agreed to ask the traffic department to study how to alleviate the traffic issues on Upland Rd. at that intersection.

Hathaway Bakery

The work of the neighbors, the developer, and the historical commission has produced a new plan for this project that preserves much more of the industrial building and reduces the number of housing units. The hearing on downzoning petition that the project prompted has been continued by the Planning Board. The Ordinance Committee of the City Council will hold a hearing on this petition on Wednesday, March 26 at 5:30, and the Planning Board will hold its Special Permit hearing for the project itself on Tuesday, April 1 at 7:20.

Porter Square Cleanup Day

PSNA and the Ward 10 Democratic Committee are sponsoring a spring clean-up of Porter Square on Saturday, April 12 from 9 to 12; rain date is Sunday, April 13 from 1 to 4 Details on the event will be posted to the PSNA list soon. We will also be contacting Rep. Decker to see whether she can cajole the MBTA into cleaning up the station around then. Alice Wolf will prod the city to get some action on the sidewalk, which has not been restored to a pedestrian-friendly state since the completion of the construction.

Ears to the Ground

  • At the end of the discussion of the various development projects in the area, Alice Wolf suggested (as has Councilor Kelley) that a good project would be to look at how much more could be built along Mass Avenue from Porter Square to Rindge with a view to amending the zoning. The monstrosity built atop the former Long’s Funeral Home remains a lesson in worst possible outcomes.
  • The failure of Potbelly (the sandwich shop in the Galleria) to thrive and the imminent arrival of a 200-seat sushi place brought attention to the value of a liquor license. Potbelly caters to a lunch crowd, but might do better in the evening if you could get a beer. The sushi place won’t serve liquor, either. Pizzeria Uno did pretty well at that site (until that last year anyway) because you could get a drink.
  • Walgreen’s doesn’t seem to be doing any better than Potbelly, though a liquor license won’t help them. The only shop in that complex that’s doing well is Anna’s Taqueria. Too bad the other spots can’t figure out how to have what Anna’s is having.
  • How to remove the empty phone booth on Commonwealth Lock came up. The company responsible for it is no longer Ma Bell, so the incentive to do anything is pretty low. A DIY approach might the only practical solution, but installing emergency phones in them after removing the nonfunctioning phones there now is a possibility.
  • Costanza Eggers, an abutter of the Kaya construction site, reports that the earth-tamping machine which was cracking the plaster in her house will be replaced soon with one that produces less vibrations. She also reported that the oak tree at the intersection of a Porter Place lot, the Kaya lot, and the Masonic Temple had been cut down. [After the meeting, Susan Hunziker contacted Catherine Brady and Nancy Cole, who had been quite emphatic in their desire to preserve that tree. They were involved in the decision to cut it, feeling that the conditions revealed as the excavation got underway made cutting it the better option.]