As the Co-Chair of the Government Rules and Operations Committee for the Cambridge City Council, I will be holding a hearing on Monday August 29th at 5:30pm in the Ackerman Room of City hall to discuss the appropriate way the City should determine mitigation derived from large building projects in the City of Cambridge.
Historically, mitigation from large building projects has been designed to directly benefit the neighborhoods that were being impacted by the project itself. Over the last few decades, Kendall Square has developed at a rapid pace, often at the expense of open space opportunities to East Cambridge. Mitigation balances the negative impacts of the projects with improvements to the neighborhood. This practice has made possible the East Cambridge Scholarship Fund, Open Space Fund, and Outdoor Skating Rink. Recently, 2.5 acres of land were set aside for a new neighborhood park within East Cambridge.
I feel that it has become important to create guidelines that will maintain mitigation as something that benefits residents on the neighborhood level. While some have expressed a desire to see mitigation spread equally around the city for each project, I am firm in my belief that these funds should remain in the neighborhoods that have to deal with construction impacts, noise increases, and traffic impacts of development. When large projects are built in Cambridge, the city residents already benefit as a whole. Development contributes to our tax base and keeps residential tax rates the lowest in the state, it helps us maintain city services, and helps to fund city programs that most municipalities cannot even imagine offering.
The issue of neighborhood mitigation is a matter of fairness. While we as a city benefit as a whole, those impacted by projects, those whose quality of life has been disrupted, and those who cannot get their views of the river back should be compensated to the best of the city’s ability, and the only way to do that is to be sure mitigation funds find their way back into the abutting neighborhoods.
Please come to the meeting on Monday to share your views with the City Council. If you cannot make it please submit your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to the record.