I’ve frequently tried to explain this and it never seems to sink in. But here goes anyway:
1) The idea of a waterfront development is not a new concept. Nor is it the first time the public is being asked about it. This process has been going on for almost 30 years. During that time there have been public hearings, surveys, studies, committees, and literally hundreds of opportunities for the community to get involved in what they would like to see along the waterfront.
Throughout that time, the vast majority of the community has stated that they want to preserve public access and open space, have some form of commercial development (restaurants and shopping) that doesn’t detract from downtown, event/concert space, and some residential while at the same time preserving the maritime heritage and feel of Cambridge.
2) The hospital was never a part of the initial plans or even the discussion. It was assumed that the hospital would remain and any development would build around that. However, over the past 20 years, if you haven’t been paying attention, the entire medical delivery system has completely changed. DGH was swallowed by Shore Health which was taken over by UMMS. Services consolidated or were diminished and the bulk of that hospital building was barely in use.
Rather than leaving Cambridge entirely, which almost happened, the hospital started exploring the option of relocating to a new facility, which is what we have now. Some services were enhanced, others were diminished, but to say the potential of a waterfront development caused this to happen is just plain wrong. Further, it is going to cost the state literally millions of dollars simply to tear down the building.
3) What is CWDI? Well, for many years, with each change in the city or county government, the process of potentially developing the waterfront stalled. Government is not in the business of marketing or selling real estate and in order to protect the community’s desires for the property, a real estate development corporation (Cambridge Waterfront Development) was formed. This is made up by a local board of unpaid volunteers appointed by the City, the County, and the State to keep the process moving forward.
4) This is the farthest along the waterfront development process has ever been. There will be many, many more opportunities for the community to be involved in the process and voice their opinions at public hearings and other meetings.
But to suggest that “the fix is in” or “follow the money” or all these other conspiracy theories is almost laughable if this wasn’t such a serious and important project.
If CWDI didn’t exist, the hospital or other surrounding properties could have very well simply sold to the highest bidder and we’d just have high rise condos on top of the water with no public access.
Stay involved, but most importantly, stay positive!
Cambridge City Council member, Ward 5