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Cambridge Planning Board cites satisfaction with Kendall proposal

Members laud three-year effort to address issues and aspirations.

MIT officials continued their dialogue with the Cambridge Planning Board on Feb. 19 at the second public hearing on the Institute’s new zoning petition, which was submitted to the City in December.

In its 10th Planning Board appearance on its Kendall Square Initiative since spring 2010, MIT addressed concerns and ideas that were discussed by Board members and the public at a Jan. 18 Planning Board hearing. Topics included housing, dimensional features, open space, way-finding, community benefits, innovation space, retail, sustainability, abutter concerns and parking.

Steve Marsh, managing director of real estate, led the presentation and was accompanied by Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, and Martin Schmidt, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and associate provost. The principal focus of the discussion related to the alignment between MIT’s petition and the City’s 18-month community-planning process regarding Kendall Square, known as K2.

At the end of the discussion, Planning Board Chair Hugh Russell inquired of his colleagues: “Has any member of the board asked a question at the previous presentation that hasn't been answered?” When the members responded that their issues had all been addressed, Russell noted that some matters will be resolved later for timing reasons, including MIT’s study of graduate housing needs and the anticipated conceptual design process related to the gateway area of the East Campus. Russell displayed a list of issues he had been keeping related to the petition, noting that nearly every one had been addressed.

MIT Provost Chris Kaiser announced on Feb. 5 that former chancellor Phillip Clay, the Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, has agreed to chair the Graduate Student Housing Working Group, which will comprise representative faculty members and graduate students, with support from selected staff. The Working Group will examine the housing needs of graduate students, and Clay hopes that it can provide a report in June.

Today’s MIT Faculty Meeting agenda includes a “Discussion of MIT 2030 and Kendall Square Planning.” This dialogue continues an ongoing process of engagement within the MIT community about Kendall Square and the Institute’s zoning petition.

The City Council Ordinance Committee will follow up on its Jan. 24 public hearing by talking with MIT at two upcoming hearings, each to be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall at 795 Mass. Ave., on Tuesday, Feb. 26, and Thursday, Mar. 7.

The Planning Board will meet one last time to formally recommend the zoning petition to the City Council in March, but that date has not yet been set.

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