Council Disputes Urban Renewal

The City of Cambridge is going to try to decide how to restrictive the membership of its urban agency to represent fairly both minority groups and the City at large.

Last night, City Manager James L. Sullivan for the second time gave up an attempt to fill two vacancies on the agency, the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA). City Councillors had objected that neither set of nominees gave enough representation to those most affected by urban renewal-minority groups and residents of urban renewal areas.

In withdrawing the latest nominations, Sullivan said, "While I recognize the desire and the right of those affected by the urban renewal process to be involved in the decisions that affect them, I also believe that the entire community of Cambridge has a stake in the decisions to be made."

The City Manager said he would ask a citizens' committee to meet with interested groups in order to set up guidelines for membership on the CRA. It was an appropriate time to take the action. Sullivan said, since CRA chairman Paul R. Corcoran had last week resigned for personal reasons.

"It is my firm belief that the Redevelopment Authority is at the present time at a critical point in the determination of its future direction." Sullivan said, noting that the CRA was currently involved in four urban renewal projects with a potential investment of $500 million.


Probably the most critical decision the CRA currently faces is deciding what to do with the so-called "Thirteen GoldenAcres" -a tract of land in the Kendall Square Project. The original plans for the project-as approved by the City Council-called for using this land for commercial development complementary to the neighboring NASA center.

Current estimates say that the commercial development of the thirteen acres would provide the City with an additional $3 million annually in tax revenues, but some city councillors have expressed a desire to see the land used for public housing instead.