Monday, May 20, 2024

Dear Gov. Patrick,

Many of us in East Cambridge read with interest your recent comments that your “hands are tied” when asked about reconsidering the sale process of the Sullivan Courthouse in our neighborhood. From where we have been watching it looks as if your hands have been tied by your own DCAM, while they themselves have been blindfolded – quite an impressive feat.

The East Cambridge Planning Team, city staff and elected officials in Cambridge and prospective bidders have been repeatedly assured by your officials at DCAMM that the hulking, ugly mass of the courthouse, looming over our neighborhood of small houses, “grandfathers in” a variety of future uses. Even a cursory consultation with any of those groups would have told you that is not the case. The Achilles heel of those assumptions, which we believe are willfully myopic at best, is that any redevelopment will have a complex approvals process to go through with the City of Cambridge, with intense neighborhood involvement, and a rezoning of this site and adjacent parcels has been contemplated by the city since the Eastern Cambridge Planning Study of 2001.

We urge you to reconsider the sale process. There is considerable and growing alarm in Cambridge that you just want to walk away from what is our most ugly building and biggest urban design mistake, forced on us by the state all those years ago. Instead of rubbing salt into this wound and beginning a protracted fight where the neighbors hold many good cards, please reconsider. We invite you to come and sit down with us to discuss a better outcome. We do want to see this site redeveloped, perhaps along with the neighboring city parking garage, as a high density, mixed‐use part of the city near to transit with commercial, housing, ground floor retail and great streets with lively sidewalks, all things we know you support. We ask you to untie your own hands, take the blinders off DCAM, work with us, and let’s get something done that works for the state, the city and the neighborhood, something we can all be proud of.

Yours Sincerely,

Members of the Board of the East Cambridge Planning Team