Legislative Affairs Update by Terrence F. Smith
City Manager Addresses GAC
Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy spoke at the February GAC meeting and luncheon and discussed the recent Citizen Survey and City bond ratings. Mayor David Maher and School Superintendent Jeff Young joined the Manager and dis- cussed changes to the Cambridge School system.
Mr. Healy reported that according to the City’s annual citizen survey, the majority of Cambridge residents are satisfied with the services pro- vided by the City. 90% rate Cambridge as an excellent or good place to live, 92% an excellent or good quality of life, 76% an excellent or good place to raise a child and 67% rate the overall performance of City government as excellent or good. Information on the Citizen Survey is available online.
The Manager reported that Cambridge again received Triple A Bond Ratings from the three major bond rating organizations and is one of only 30 cities in the country so rated. The rating organizations specifically cited Cambridge educational institutions and the business community as being significant fac- tors in the ratings. Mr. Healy thanked the representatives from the various businesses and institutions who were in attendance.
In introducing Mayor Maher and Superintendent Young, Mr. Healy discussed plans for improving the Cambridge Public Schools and voiced his strong support for this ef-fort. The Mayor and Superintendent discussed the plans which are docu- mented in a publication called The Innovation Agenda: A Design for Excellence in the Cambridge Public Schools. The plans focuses on im- proving education in grades six through eight including establishing Upper Schools and the intent is to provide a challenging and excellent education to all students. The School Committee approved this plan, with some modifications, on March 15. Information on the changes is avail- able on the Cambridge Public School homepage at http://www2.cpsd.us/.
Meeting on Development Proposals
In March, the GAC heard presenta- tions on MIT’s plans for the area around the Kendall Square MBTA Station, Forest City’s plans for 300 Massachusetts Avenue and Novartis’s plans for a campus across from its Massachusetts Avenue head- quarters facility.
Steve Marsh, Managing Director of MIT’s Investment Management Company’s real estate group, pre- sented MIT’s ideas for enlivening Kendall Square. He said that the transit-oriented building concepts would require new zoning on a 25- acre parcel on the MIT campus and described how the proposed struc- tures of varying sizes will bring a new vitality to the square. Buildings would house retail, restaurants and amenities, and housing, office and lab space. An intimate street experi- ence with vibrant public gathering space is the driving objective of the proposal. Marsh said that Kendall Square is unparalleled in the world for its innovation and density of leading-edge science and technology companies.
Peter Calkins, Executive Vice President of Forest City’s Cambridge- based development team, presented plans for a 240,000 square foot building to be located at 300 Mass. Ave. that will house office and re- search space on upper floors and 15,000 square feet of first-floor retail space along Mass Ave. Forest City views this building as an opportunity to give University Park a greater presence along Massachusetts Avenue and create better connec- tions and enhance the retail and pedestrian experience along Mass. Ave. between Central Square and the MIT campus.
Jeff Lockwood from Novartis described the company’s plans to de- velop a campus across from the headquarters facility on Massachusetts Avenue. The new campus, which is being developed on land owned by MIT, will consist of two new buildings and the reno- vation of MIT building N-42, which is a former laundry facility and current home to MIT IT.
Novartis and Forest City have submitted zoning petitions to the City and are now before the Planning Board and the City Council. MIT plans on filing a petition in the spring.
In response to these proposals and to a larger interest in identifying ways to better plan for the Kendall Square, Central Square and what is called the transition zone connecting these two squares, the Council asked the City Manager to hire a consultant to assist the City. On April 4, the Council approved $350,000 to fund the work of the selected consultant, Goody-Clancy. Boston Properties and MIT provided the City with funding for this work.
No Water & Sewer Rate Increases
On March 21, the City Manager asked the council to approve a zero percent increase in block rates for water and sewer use. The Manager reports that no change is necessary in rates due to a slight increase in consumptions, a small increase in as- sessments from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA), and debt retirement. Since 2007, the water rates have risen 2% on aver- age, sewer rates 5.7% and the com- bined rate by 4.5%. The City did not increase rates in 2008. The Council approved the rates, which went into effect on April 1.
Thank you to Genzyme Corporation for sponsoring the 2011 Government Affairs Committee programming. For more information on GAC activities, contact Director of Government Affairs Terrence Smith at email@example.com or (617) 876-4213.