Councillors: Healy Sifting Information
Members Say They Need to Know More to Handle Parking Crisis
New problems surrounding the development of a garage near Kendall Square led City Council members last night to ask whether the City Manager is telling them everything.
Prompted by news that the garage owners are counter-suing the neighborhood residents who oppose them, Councillor Alice K. Wolf asked City Manager Robert W. Healy to fill in the Council on the project's status at next week's Council meeting.
And Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55 charged that Healy had been feeding the Council "sanitized" information on the subject.
"There are people who feel that this City Council has not been responding--is not even being given the information it needs from the City Manager--to handle this matter in a responsible way," said Wolf.
Opponents of the garage charge that in granting The Athenaeum Group a permit for the development, the city violated a federal freeze on new parking spaces in Cambridge and have filed a suit against both city and developers. If successful, their suit could make illegal every parking facility built in the city since 1984.
In response to these charges, the City Council last month passed a non-binding resolution asking the city manager to suspend the garage's building permit until the issue was resolved.
But last week the Athenaeum Group filed a countersuit against the garage's opponents, asking to have their complaint dismissed.
In a letter sent to the City Council, the garage opponents called the countersuit "simultaneously antidemocratic and idiotic." It also accused the Council of failing to keep tabs on what the city government is doing.
"Above all, we're disturbed by the lack of municipal leadership in the face of difficult issues," the letter read. "Lack of leadership has allowed conflict about development to expand to unreasonable levels which are destructive to all the parties involved."
Although the Council has dealt with the Binney St. garage at two recent meetings, several Councillors said last night that Healy has not made certain information available to the Council. Wolf cited a communication from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality Engineering, which described the suspension of the building permit as a "premature" action.
At a hearing last month, Healy said he had received this message by telephone, and read the text of it to the Council. Wolf complained last night that he had never given the Council a written copy of the message.
When Healy asked Wolf if she doubted whether he had received such a message at all, Wolf replied that Healy should have followed standard procedure and submitted the communication in writing.
"[His information] cannot be with-held from the City Council under any circumstances," said Duehay. "It is too important."