November 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 7:00pm

Thursday, November 16, 2017 (Annual Meeting)

Porter Square Neighbors Association
North Cambridge Senior Center
2050 Massachusetts Avenue


* Annual Election of Officers
* Email List Update
* Future PSNA Activities

* Ears to the Ground



We elected the following new officers:

President:  Ruth Ryals (who conducted the rest of the meeting)

Vice President:  Vacant

Secretary and Treasurer:   Margaret Studio



On November 7th John Howard, Shaun Wortis, DC Denison and I met to confirm the migration of the email list to googlegroups (which happened very soon thereafter). John spoke to various knowledgeable members about that choice prior. We set it up as an invitation to join the group and we believe most of our old list has done so.

Shaun is majorly responsible for the new website and Ruth was added, so she could add content (have patience, I have had no prior experience).

DC Denison and Robert Winters, of the Cambridge Civic Journal, are available as emergency backup, and, of course, John Howard (at least for a while).



This part of the meeting was quite lively, discussing a wide range of issues, starting with community relationships with Joe Barr and the Traffic Department – the appearance of meters without consultation in neighborhoods near the T, the controversial new bike lanes, the proposed redesign of the Porter Square intersection, the potential for dedicated bus lanes inbound (7-9 am) and outbound (4-7 Pm) on Mass Ave, and CDD‘s overall lack of responsiveness to neighborhood concerns.


Marc McGovern, the Vice Mayor, was with us for the evening (particularly for the last item on the Agenda!) and he offered to set up a small meeting with Joe Barr and his office to talk about how we can work with them. Marc has since reached out to me, and it would be nice to have a few volunteers for such a meeting.


We spoke about Gravestar, and our relationship with them and the business owners/managers in the Porter Square Shopping Center. The general feeling was that we need to remind all of us of PSNA’s and their connectedness with the city.


We spoke about the war on cars and parking (pros and cons), the higher poverty rate in Cambridge vs the state (18% vs 16%), the loss of moderate income families of 2+ children (family of 4 needs $108k), and the scarcity of 3 bedroom units, particularly affordable ones. The city is now requiring 20% affordable in new construction, but only 20% of those are 3 bedrooms.


We spoke about pressing the city and the traffic department re public transport issues.  We talked about how we can throw up our hand with it being a state or MBTA issue, which we cannot influence (we can, just longer term, more strategically), and/or we can work to press for (some promised/never delivered) local solutions, like a para-transit system.


We spoke about the late Al Gowan, putting him on the Davenport Mural, the mural in general, and the need to reconstitute the mural committee. Susan Hunziker and Gretchen Friesinger volunteered to work on this committee.




We talked briefly about the open secret of a city-style Target coming to the Porter Square Galleria, the goods we would like them to carry and not.  They propose to take the first and second floors (the second will be modified to take out the atrium in favor of a full floor through).  They will not be pushing out the existing small stores like the Potbelly, etc. They have promised to come to a meeting soon (February, tentatively) to address their plans. We will also be pressing them to tame their signage.


I spoke of negotiating with Lesley for a meeting space in 2018, as the Senior Center will be closed soon for renovations. Our first meeting on January 18th will be in Amphitheatre (2nd floor) of University Hall (8-9 pm) immediately following the city’s Proposed Redesign of the Porter Square Intersection (6-8 pm), which was scheduled in conflict of our usual meeting time. After that, we will be meeting in 4-037.





Finally, we came to the big event of the evening--John Howard’s richly deserved Thank You and Retirement Party.


Marc McGovern was there to present John a city council recognition, the wording of which was similar to the award (penned mostly by Susan) we presented to John at the recent City Council Candidates Forum.


We toasted and thanked John all around, drank a toast or two (and maybe three), and cut the luscious strawberry and whipped cream cake which said simply “Thank You John!”  The evening ended with hugs all around.


The balance of the cake was gratefully accepted at First Church to feed to homeless youth. A good idea for food that might otherwise go to waste.


Phoebe Sinclair of ANC (The Agassiz Neighborhood Council has been an invaluable support for us this year) and James Cornie took photos of the evening. These and the award are posted elsewhere on the website.