City Takes $700,000 in Land For Alewife Area Development

The Cambridge City Council last night passed without opposition an order taking by eminent domain $700,000 in private property for use in a redevelopment project in the Fresh Pond area of the city.

City officials said that all of the owners had promised to donate the property to Cambridge, but that the eminent domain order was needed to make the procedure transferring the property easier to accomplish.

David Vickery, assistant city manager for community development, said quick action by the council was important because the entire Alewife Quadrangle project rests on a $2.7 million federal grant which could conceivably be cut by the Raagan administration.


The Economic Development Administration approved the funds a year ago, Vickery said, adding that there is no immediate danger of the funds being withdrawn.

"We have enough of a commitment to proceed with the project now, but within a year or two we could be feeling the effects" of Reagan's tighter fiscal policies, Vickery said.


Vickery added that in the future the Reagan administration "may hurt community development far more than even Proposition 2 1/2," controversial property tax-cutting Ineasure which Bay State voters approved by a 2-1 margin last fall.

The Alewife Development Project will include the transformation of half a dozen private ways into public streets with new pavement, shrubbery, and public utilities in order to attract manufacturing and research and development firms to the area.

Vickery said the owners of the property agreed to surrender it because the project will increase the value of their remaining holdings and because they will use the donation as a tax write-off.

In other action last night, the Council commissioned a study on a proposal to impose a $100 annual user fee on all commercial television sets in hotels, motels, and inns within Cambridge.

Under the plan, revenue from the television fee would be used to fund "vital municipal services," which are currently threatened due to the effects of Proposition 2 1/2.

"If people are willing to pay $100 a day to sleep in Cambridge, they'll pay an extra 35 to 40 cents a day" for television, Councilor Alfred E. Velluci, who introduced the motion, said.

Velluci noted that hotel owners will protest this plan," but "television is a business attraction" so there is no reason not to tax it.

In recent weeks, Velluci and other city council members have sought ways to compensate for the $14 million in revenue that Cambridge will lose during the next fiscal year due to Proposition 2 1/2.