The City Council’s Neighborhood & Long Term Planning Committee will discuss the C2 Committee’s non-zoning recommendations and potential options to make the neighborhood safer and more family-friendly at 5 PM on Tuesday, July 30 at City Hall. If you can’t make this meeting, you can still email the City Clerk your thoughts at DLopez@Cambridgema.gov.
This particular discussion is about non-zoning aspects of Central Square and, based on the wide variety of comments I got in response to my email about benches, figuring out how to manage benches is going to be as important and difficult a part of planning for such a large, varied and important public space as anything else. This meeting will be about more than just benches, but I increasingly think that ‘solving’ our bench challenges is going to be a very important part of what a future Central Square might look like. I just finished a bike trip to Erie, PA and then (mostly) up to Lake George, NY and I saw all sorts of beautiful benches in parks along the Erie Canal, in downtown Buffalo and in rural hamlets all along the way. They looked wonderful but, other than me resting my weary legs, I never saw anyone actually on any of them and that is, for Central Square at least, where the issues seem to appear (along with their use as ad hoc bike racks). Some folks are looking for places to stop as they walk through the square, others don’t want to wait for a bus standing up all the time and still others worry that a number of benches seem to attract behavior they, or their children, find to range from the uncomfortable to the physically threatening. Some people want more benches, others want specific benches removed completely. I don’t have the perfect answer, but I am sure we’ll wind up doing something and your sharing your thoughts, about benches, trees, bike parking, outdoor dining, noise, lighting and anything else ‘non-zoning’ during this planning process can only help the final product be better.
And below is some info from the City on the actual Central Square non-zoning planning process itself.
For reference, a council order response that consolidates the C2 non-zoning recommendations is available at http://www2.cambridgema.gov/CityOfCambridge_Content/documents/C2ProgressNonZoning.doc