Petition: DENY THE PERMITS (SP#288) for Proposed Redevelopment of Sullivan Courthouse

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To:Cambridge Mayor; City Council; City Manager; Planning Board; Head of Community Development; State Representatives Decker & Toomey; Commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection
From:Concerned Residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts
Date:23 February 2014

We, concerned residents of Cambridge, hereby make it known to our City representatives that:

We vigorously oppose the redevelopment proposed by Leggat McCall for the Sullivan Courthouse.

We would applaud development that is wisely planned, that conforms with existing zoning rules, and that has a character appropriate for this quiet, historic, residential neighborhood.

Any new development should conform to the zoned 80’ height limit adjoining a 35' residential area, and should not result in a significantly more damaging impact than what came before. Whatever is done here should respect the historic founding gift, which gave this property to the people of Middlesex County for public use forever. The donors demanded the highest standards of design and construction, and they realized that vision beautifully. That trust established a healthy balance of public and private space around which a vibrant and dedicated community could blossom.

However, as most in the City and Commonwealth would agree: the Sullivan Courthouse Building should never have been built. The process that created it was corrupt and illegitimate. At 22 stories nearly 300 feet in height and over 500,000 square feet, it is wildly inappropriate in size for the neighborhood, badly built, riddled with asbestos, had inadequate parking, created a wind tunnel, and eventually had to be abandoned because it was an environmental hazard, among other problems. It was a very big mistake.

Most people would also agree: when you make a mistake, you should clean it up. The Commonwealth has not cleaned up this one. Instead, it seeks profit from it. It auctioned the property to the highest bidder in disregard of any sensible neighborhood plan, and is exacting such a high price that any developer is forced to repurpose the full bulk of this building to pay for the State’s mistake. But this doesn’t fix the mistake. 
 It perpetuates it, and in many ways, makes it worse. It shovels the whole burden of that mistake onto developers, and ultimately, onto the community. And it privatizes a civic-minded founding gift that was clearly intended to be public forever. This is wrong.

The Sullivan Building is fully amortized, effectively abandoned and an environmental hazard. 
 It was a mistake. It needs to go. This small piece of property should be approached with the duty of care, visionary enthusiasm and public excellence that put East Cambridge on the map in the first place. 
 And thus, we ask our representatives:

Please deny the Application for Special Permits #288.
Please deny the request for waiver of project review under Mass. Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).
Please deny the request to lease the 425 public spaces from the municipal garage.
Please declare the nonconforming status of the failed building to be effectively terminated.
Please wisely enforce both the letter and the spirit of zoning laws and insist that any redevelopment of the former Courthouse site respects the finest standards of public planning, strengthens the historic integrity of the neighborhood, and conforms properly to local limits.

East Cambridge deserves better.

Janice Furtado

96 Spring Street
Mon 3 Mar 2014 12:46 pm

Add Me! This neighborhood is being swallowed up by Greed!

Paul Kroner

69 Thorndike Street
Mon 3 Mar 2014 8:10 am

It is time for this out-of-scale development to be brought into scale with our neighborhood. The proposed development does not do this and threatens to make our neighborhood with an onslaught of commuters who will jam our already congested streets.

lynne cayford

28 sixth st
Mon 3 Mar 2014 7:35 am

please deny this permit

Ivy A. Turner

169 Monsignor O'Brien Hwy #215
Sun 2 Mar 2014 10:02 pm

This massive building does not belong in this location & it never did. Please reject it, tear it down and build something that will enhance the neighborhood.

Mariah McGill

144 Spring St. #1 Cambrige, MA 0141
Sun 2 Mar 2014 3:54 pm

Please deny this petition, stop doing favors for corporate interests and start addressing the profound housing crisis instead!

John Paul

90 Spring St Cambridge
Sun 2 Mar 2014 2:07 pm

You know the grim, corrupt history of this building. You are aware of the many negative impacts it has on the neighborhood.

"I think it truly is best imploded" said City Manager Robert Healy to the City Council (May 25, 2010)

You know the state completely ignored the will, hard work and creative proposals of a public who was truly willing to work toward the best solution.

You know Kendall Square, North Point and East Cambridge represents the future prosperity of our city and that it is critical to proceed in the best way forward.

You KNOW that two wrongs do NOT make a right! East Cambridge citizens are willing partners in QUALITY change and development.

Please do NOT sell out to the lowest common denominator. Enforce construction which respects the scale of the neighborhood, respect the citizens of East Cambridge, and respect and guide a brighter future for the city of Cambridge.

michael healey

33 6th st
Sun 2 Mar 2014 12:27 pm

Add Me

A Davol

360 Harvard St
Sun 2 Mar 2014 12:19 pm

The City deserves better and the neighborhood certainly does.

William F.X. O'Neill

23 Fifth Street
Sun 2 Mar 2014 11:03 am

Tear it down!

Nina Quinlan

63 Sixth Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
Sun 2 Mar 2014 10:32 am

Please deny

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