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Committww presents its Simplex plan

By Ben Stanger

The Simplex Steering Committee (SSC) presented a scale model of its "vision of the Cambridgeport neighborhood" to the Cambridge City Council in a public hearing held on June 24.

The council adopted a motion for the City Manager to appoint and implement a blue-ribbon committee. It will consist of professional planners and consultants to devise zoning initiatives.

Forest City Enterprises Inc. has been MIT's developer for the Simplex site since late 1983.

SSC Chairman Bill Cavellini said the major difference between MIT's development plan and the SSC plan is that the latter takes 40 acres into account while the MIT plan only considers 23 acres north of Pacific Street.

Cavellini said MIT owns 20 of the 23 acres that Forest City Enterprises is considering and a similar percentage of the 17 acres south of Pacific Street.

Ronald P. Suduiko, special assistant to the chairman, said he believes Forest City is looking at 27 acres.

Suduiko said that MIT does not own the land south of Pacific Street. "We're phasing it in over 10 to 15 years. The first phase is to concentrate on the land we own."

The SSC model provides for 1.8 million square feet of Research and Development floor space and a 12-story hotel, the same amount as the MIT plan, according to Cavellini.

The model also provides for 650,000 square feet of light industrial space and 450 units of housing. The SSC hopes to sell the housing units for $65,000 to $70,000 with financing options.

The MIT plan only calls for 100 units of housing, Cavellini said.

According to Suduiko, the MIT staff concerned with the Simplex site has not seen the SSC model.

Cavellini said that the zoning for the Simplex site is "Industrial B." He added that MIT could build almost anything under this zoning.

MIT could face several problems in its development plans, Cavellini said. The biggest potential problem is an Environmental Impact Report which MIT must file with the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA). The report will address traffic concerns.

Philip A. Trussell, MIT director of real estate, said that MEPA recently gave Forest City a "scoping document" which included input from all groups concerned with the development.

The goals of the SSC are to promote a "diversity of jobs," not all of which will require advanced college degrees, and to build "at least 30 percent low to moderate income housing," according to Cavellini. "A lot of this [plan] comes head-on with rigid positions that MIT has held over the years."

Some of the councilors commended the citizens of Cambridgeport for their determination and efforts when the model was brought into the City Council Chambers.

Councilor David E. Sullivan '74 said, "This [proposal] will not come to pass unless the citizens of Cambridge and the City Council insist that it happens."

Councilor Alfred Vellucci said, "The name of the game is to win. ... Somewhere down the line, [the people of Cambridgeport] are going to win. ... What you have to do is go after MIT."

Cambridgeport residents have protested at the last 10 MIT commencement exercises. They have also rented an airplane towing a sign with anti-MIT sentiments.

"If that was the only thing we were doing, it would be irresponsible," Cavellini said of the commencement protests. "We hesitate to give up that tactic unless we knew it was worth nothing."

Over 1500 pamphlets were distributed at graduation this year. Cavellini said that despite some harsh words, their demonstration was received well. "It's an embarrassment to them," he added.