On Wednesday, July 29, Frank Narr and Jeff Powell joined Bill Christopher for an hour-long discussion on the Sailwind’s Park as part of WHCP Radio’s ongoing ‘Community Conversations series.
Narr and Powell are both members of the Cambridge Waterfront Development (CWDI) board, the not for profit charged with facilitating public-private development of the 25-acre site known as Sailwinds to maximize the economic, recreational and community benefits. After they recapped the development’s history – including the Committee of 100 genesis, role attracting the Hyatt to Cambridge, past developer involvement and hospital relocation to Shore Regional Health’s Cambridge Campus – Bill posed his questions and those from online viewers. The following are abridged answers.
How are you gathering public input?
We looked at the plans that were developed with the community previously. In 2006, Cambridge conducted a RUDAT (Rural / Urban Design Assistance Team) with architects. In 2009, the city launched the “Waterfront 2020” planning process which affirmed the RUDAT vision for a mixed-used, public access waterfront that would result in significant economic development benefits. Public input was integrated into the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Since 2018, CWDI has made this plan the foundation for development. Any proposed use still needs to be reviewed and approved by planning and zoning. And the first priority of any discussion is to maintain public access to waterfront.
CWDI is currently working with the city to “green up, clean up and make the site shovel ready.” We are committed to continue the promenade from the wharf at Sailwinds up to and through the Visitors Center. As part of the development plan, at least 20% of the site will be devoted to public green space. Public access will be defined before any development occurs.
What is the status of current proposals? Whom are you speaking with?
Until we’re operating under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), we are going to be upfront and accessible with what we talk about. CWDI has three letters of intent (LOI); two of which are local. One is with RAR Brewing who are looking to expand production and open a second destination (location).
The second local proposal is from Yacht Maintenance who is looking to expand boat repair capabilities and add a new travel lift. Maritime employment activity helps Dorchester maintain a working waterfront
The third project is with an out of state developer, Peregrine Senior Housing, an assisted living and memory care facility. We entered a letter of intent for a 90-day study period. It’s not on the water but on Bryn Street where the current nursing quarters and doctors buildings are located with a road between it and the water. This is a type of facility that we don’t have in Dorchester. It will create 50 to 60 full-time jobs. CWDI will control design aesthetics.
The three opportunities have affirmed commitment to their respective projects in light of COVID-19.
What’s next for CWDI?
We were going to start a fundraising campaign to help activate the site but the timing wasn’t right with the pandemic. People are suffering.
We need to bring people to Sailwinds. Fundraising was going to help with that process. [For example], one of the big pieces to activate is the beach. Our goal was to make that a formal public beach. The YMCA of the Chesapeake agreed to partner with us for staffing, equipment and maintenance. That’s on hold now (because of the pandemic).
We want to activate the site until development occurs. We’ll make improvements to playground area this fall. Also to shoreline vegetation to maintain and restore wetlands. We want to program the space with events like the annual kite festival. Funds are also needed for ongoing maintenance.
Our efforts are to support those activities and designing a walkable, pedestrian friendly environment along the Boardwalk for running, walking and biking. Public access is non-negotiable that’s not going to change
What do you need from community to be successful?
The key is to be informed. There are a lot of rumors. If you hear something you don’t like, we’re accessible. Reach out to us. You know us. We’re local. Our board meetings are open to public. You can attend and participate.
Come to the site. Use it. Attend events. Walk along the boardwalk. Help us activate Sailwinds for the community.
CWDI Board meetings are held monthly at the Cambridge-Dorchester Regional Airport. Minutes and reports are available upon request from Sandra Tripp-Jones, Interim Director by email: sandra.trippjones@CWDIMD.org or phone: 805-453-4480. Meeting notices are posted at: http://www.choosecambridge.com/agendacenter