Wednesday, March 3
Uno Chicago Grill - 1230 Comm Ave
Announcements, New Board Members, New Businesses
Free refreshments by Uno Chicago Grill.
Long term, New Balance presented a lot of big ideas including:
- New office space for New Balance
- A 125-room hotel
- A 2 acre park
- A commuter rail stop
- New on and off ramps connecting to the Mass Pike
- An athletic facility for sports like indoor soccer and lacrosse
- An ice skating facility with two separate skating surfaces (there was some discussion about how the Skating Club of Boston would like to move from their current site on Western Ave (so they could sell it to Harvard??) but want a new facility with 3 ice surfaces)
- 600 construction and 3,000 permanent jobs
Obviously the timing and funding of many of these pieces is highly uncertain. The only piece that New Balance seems to be somewhat able to do in the near future are the new office building and park.
As the devil is in the details, I was most concerned with their ideas for access to the Pike. Some kind of ramp connecting Lincoln Street and the Pike seems highly questionable, and I am inclined to agree with other neighbors who commented last night that adding new ramps and overpasses could exacerbate the "scar" that the Pike already creates across our neighborhood. As someone who lives North of the Pike, I wonder about a plan that seems to create positive new development south of the Pike and supports it by building more highway-related roads on the north side of the Pike.
Tim McHale noted at the meeting last night our community's desire for a more residential stability and more homeownership, and the retail/office/residential mix of the future phases is an important question, but maybe one that doesn't need to be fully answered now because these future phases are not exactly right around the corner.
If New Balance does build a new office building, I hope that its will be more public and urban. The current New Balance complex is 535,000 sq ft of office space with 30,000 sq ft of retail below the parking garage (the Bally gym and New Balance outlet). But on the north side of Guest Street, the large office buildings are pushed back from the sidewalk and the first floor offers no public use. The large cafeteria is upstairs on the 2nd floor, and the building and Guest Street would, in my opinion, would have been better served by public restaurants and other retail on the ground floor instead of the office-park type building that was built.
I also learned last night that it was New Balance who renovated the charming old factory building at 38 Everett Street that is now the Warrior & Brine Outlet Store for lacrosse, soccer and hockey equipment.
Considering all the unknowns, I'd summarize my thoughts that more New Balance in our community is a good thing. If NB has office buildings at either end of Guest Street they will be pretty motivated to improve the area around and between their buildings.
On February 2 PEAR ran a webinar titled "Universities in Partnership: Strategies for Education, Youth Development, and Community Renewal" and you can watch a replay of it here.
Presenters included Ira Harkavy from University of Pennsylvania and a some of the key concepts discussed were:
- The deep, extensive, and substantive level of engagement that universities and communities can have
- The difficulty of growing up in urban environment caused by factors including crime, violence, poverty, and high dropout rates
- The challenge to marshal all of the potential resources to make a difference
- A decade ago it was radical to think of a university/community/school partnership, now they are much more common
- The concept of a "democratic partnership" with a democratic and civic emphasis that works with a egalitarian, transparent, and and collegial process
Google / Mountain View, CA
Harvard / Allston
Three huge corporations with immense power to control the destiny of their surrounding communities. This story in today's Times raises questions relevant in Allston and Mountain View about corporations turning inward & outward, community engagement, and creating a community feeling beyond the office and campus walls.
Google and Mountain View Recast Company-Town Model - NYTimes.com
“The main reason Ford put money into the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is to make it plausible to recruit executives to Detroit,” Professor Davis said. “It was a human-resources move as much as it was philanthropic.”
But the technology companies that grew amid the striking scenery and balmy weather of the Bay Area have not felt the same imperative. As they grew, they turned inward, putting their resources into employee perks like stock options and free lunches.
“Generally speaking, the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley are not as engaged in contributing to their local communities,” said Larry Stone, the Santa Clara County tax assessor.
The most controversial Google plan so far is its possible expansion into the North Bayshore area, including residential towers of up to five stories. These would increase population density, and possibly traffic, in an area that has little of either. The proposal’s viability, in turn, rests in part on the long-term planning decisions now before the City Council.
Sean Safford, a professor who studies organizations and markets at the University of Chicago, noted that Google was replicating traditional company-town practices by placing housing for its employees near its headquarters.
“It will be so interesting to see how much of their human resources strategy is about creating a community feeling that goes beyond the offices,” Mr. Safford said. “Sometimes when you’re competing for workers and prominence, there’s a need to stick your chest out and say, ‘We’re the big dogs in town.’ ”
Boston needs to figure out how to create a sufficient and dependable revenue stream to fund our libraries and keep them open and accessible to all residents of Boston.
In crisis, Boston libraries need better board, more private funds - The Boston Globe
We need a State Senator who will get involved in issues like this, and I will contact DOT to find out which candidates submitted comments on this project.
WHEREAS: It has come to the attention of this City Council that there is a
construction project on the bridges at both Western Avenue and River Street that
will affect the residents in both Cambridge and Boston; and
WHEREAS: There are various local and state agencies involved in the project
and the residents of the surrounding areas are entitled to meet with any and all
of those agencies to discuss the project and stay informed; now therefore be
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report all steps
the city is taking to ensure resident and city input is heard at the outset of
this project and throughout; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report what
additional steps are being made to comprehensively address, in addition to the
bridge renovations, what is being done to the pedestrian and bicycle access ways
and to the parklands surrounding the river; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report a schedule
of any and all of the opportunities for meetings with the various state agencies
involved in this project; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to
the City Council on this matter.
Lowe’s to try again for Hub store, but New Balance also has plans for Brighton site - The Boston Globe
The proponent of a large Billboard on Camb/Lincoln St will return to show a scaled drawing of the board in relationship to the building on Camb. St.
Quint Ave. A proposal to create parking next to the church.
Parking Discussion: Allston/Brighton has been targeted by cab companies and commercial vehicle owners as a place to store their vehicles overnight. Many leave their personal vehicles in the same spot during the day so our streets are being used 24 hours a day to accommodate the parking needs of businesses that are located outside of our town, and outside of our city. A discussion about where this is happening and what can be done about it will be held.
Please join us for this fun and casual opportunity to meet new friends and see familiar faces in a social setting.
As a general guideline, plan to bring food according to your last name:
N-S: Main Dish
Or bring anything you'd like - all contributions are welcome. If you know you're coming and/or bringing something, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Ave River St Bridge Comments - Harry Mattison
Like everything else in Boston, this meeting is not happening because of the impending snow.
New date is 2/24 @ 6:30.
Update: 2/9/10, 10:00pm
Boston Public Schools has announced a school closing for Wednesday, February 10. The City of Boston has declared a snow emergency, effective 8:00am Wednesday. A parking ban will be in effect.
According to the Charles River Master Plan, these bridges were the subject of a 1923 design competition to create bridges that would be "worthy expressions of the best that a cultured community can create." While I appreciate the graceful arches of the bridges when they are viewed from a distance, it is hard to find anything beautiful about the bridges when one is on the bridge.
With this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild and reconsider these bridges, it seems appropriate to rethink both how the bridges look and function. The bridges won't be rebuilt entirely as part of this project, but there will be extensive reconstruction and some portions of the bridges will be completely rebuilt.
One possibility is to add a barrier between the roadway and the sidewalk. This would protect pedestrians by preventing cars in an accident from ending up on the sidewalk. It would also make it possible to use a railing instead of a wall between the sidewalk and the water, as is done on the Mass Ave Bridge a couple miles away. Children who are not tall enough to see over the existing wall would particularly enjoy the view through the railing, especially when watching rowers and other boats below.
In any case, after 87 years I think it is again time to consider what might be "the best that a cultured community can create."
Companies vie for Brighton site - BostonHerald.com
From what I know about this proposal, I think it could be great. Obviously some major transportation improvements would be needed, and this project could help move forward the construction of a commuter rail stop. The Mass Pike improvements could be good in their own right, and also take some load off the River Street / Doubletree traffic nightmare.
The Guest St / Braintree St area could be a lot more than it is today and hopefully this will be a step in the right direction.