Thursday, June 20, 2024

Margaret Drury, center, at a Cambridge Redevelopment Authority meeting in October 2012. She is flanked by Kathy Born and Barry Zevin. (Photo: Marc Levy)

A farewell to Margaret Drury was announced Wednesday by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, where she has been a board member since 2012.

Drury’s latest five-year term expires in April, and she has opted against a possible renewal by the city manager. “We thank her and will miss her insights and guidance,” the agency said in an email.

The North Cambridge resident was city clerk from 1992 to 2012, when she retired from her role serving the City Council and accepted one at the authority – then in a state of rebuilding from scandal.

The CRA, which was formed in 1956 to craft the development of Kendall Square and transformed acres of industrial wasteland into an economic engine for Cambridge and Massachusetts, is intended to have a five-member board served by an executive director and other staff. In 2012, as the authority backed a Boston Properties construction project for Google, it was revealed that Joseph F. Tulimieri, executive director of the authority for three decades, had been running things alone for the past 32 months.

As board members drifted away, the city manager at the time had failed to appoint four replacements; the board member appointed by the state, Barry Zevin, had simply never been called to a meeting by Tulimieri.

The Google project went through with little serious further review: The City Council said the CRA had approved it – ignoring that there had been no board to consider it – and the CRA noted that the council had approved it.

Drury and her fellow board members, including chair Kathy Born, otherwise set a standard for transparency and well-run meetings that included respectful mid-meeting dialogue with residents. The board also expanded its portfolio from Kendall Square to projects elsewhere in Cambridge, arguing that the entire city is affected by the growth of the square.

The new board was appointed in April 2012, with its first task being the Google project. In May 2012, the board took some of its first actions and Drury, the longtime city clerk working patiently and mostly silently with the City Council, took a procedural action on a legal notice: “I move the question,” Drury said. “I’ve waited for 20 years to say that.” The line got laughs.

As vice chair and then assistant secretary of the board, Drury “has been instrumental to the re-creation of the CRA as a community-minded, responsive agency,” the Wednesday email said. “Her dedication and strong advocacy for affordable housing and underrepresented populations in Cambridge has emboldened the CRA as it works to achieve these goals.”

Drury has a degree from Suffolk Law School and was executive director of the Cambridge Rent Control Board before becoming city clerk.

“Drury’s knowledge of parliamentary procedures, relevant municipal ordinances and state law has been invaluable in guiding policy, as well as partnering with the city on interagency projects,” the CRA email said.

While saying goodbye, the authority took the opportunity to advertise its upcoming vacancy. The application deadline is April 3.


This post was updated to correct a typo in the photo caption; the photo was taken in 2012.