Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 21, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 21, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 5:34 pm

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 21, 2015)

City of Cambridge 2015 Outstanding City Employee Award Winners Announced

April 17, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Outstanding City Employee Award.

City of CambridgeJanice Alger, Assistant Director of Administration, Human Services Department

Kara Armstrong, Administrative Assistant, License Commission

Sidney Botelho, Communications Supervisor, Emergency Communications Department

Karen Brown, Deputy Director, Library

Maryellen Carvello, Office Manager, Executive Office

Tyrell Dortch, Youth Center Program Director, Human Services Department

Juan Galindo, Working Foreman/Laborer, Department of Public Works

Brian Gover, Deputy Chief, Fire Department

Priscilla Lopes, Career Counselor, Human Services Department

Paul Ryder, Division Head/Recreation Director, Human Services Department

Anthony Tuccinardi, Housing Inspector, Inspectional Services Department

The City Manager will also be presenting a special award in memory and honor of Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of others.

Recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015, at 9:30am, in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall, for their superior performance, positive attitude, hard work and dedication to public service. All are welcome to attend.


Cambridge Joins 73 Cities & Counties to Take Legal Action in Support of Immigration Reforms

Statue of LibertyApril 7, 2015 – As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi announced that Cambridge has joined 73 cities and counties to file a new friend-of-the-court brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit, urging immediate implementation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The brief demonstrates robust support from the country’s largest cities – as well as its suburbs and rural areas – for the President’s reforms, which will provide temporary relief from deportation to immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. who pass a background check and meet other criteria.

The cities and counties – representing 43 million people across the country – argue that the district court judge who temporarily blocked implementation of the programs failed to consider the significant harms to America’s local governments caused by this delay. The brief more than doubles the number of local governments that had previously voiced opposition to the lawsuit brought by states seeking to block President Obama’s immigration reform efforts.

“Cambridge is home to immigrants from across the world and these residents help make our city the vibrant and diverse community that we are so proud of,” said Mayor Maher. “I am pleased to join other Mayors and city leaders to urge swift action on immigration reform which will strengthen families, grow our economy and reward the hard work and determination of those seeking the American dream both in Cambridge and across the country.”

As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led the effort to organize more than 70 cities and counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in arguing that the national public interest is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration relief by executive action without delay. The brief also argues that the District Court judge’s decision to block executive action with a preliminary injunction is bad for the economy, hurts families, threatens law enforcement priorities, and will stall desperately needed changes to the federal government’s immigration policies.


Save the Date for Cambridge Arts Open Studios, May 9 & 10

Open Studios7th Annual Cambridge Arts Open Studios
Saturday, May 9th & Sunday, May 10th
12 noon – 6:00pm

Explore the work of over 100 visual and performing artists over one vibrant weekend! Celebrate the special women in your life with a memorable mother’s day weekend celebration of the visual and performing arts in Cambridge. Discover exceptional works of art and find unique presents to wrap up for mom.

New this year, performing artists are paired with visual artists for engaging and intimate performances in studios and common venues throughout the city.

Visit cambridgeartscouncil.org/openstudios to plan your visit!


Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects Announced

April 7, 2015 – During a Vote Results Party April 7 at the Citywide Senior Center, City officials, along with Budget and Finance staff, announced the winning projects of the Cambridge’s first ever Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Launched in the fall, PB enabled residents to directly decide how to spend $500,000 of the FY16 Capital Budget. Over 380 ideas for projects to improve Cambridge were submitted. From January to March, 40 volunteer Budget Delegates prioritized and developed those ideas into 20 concrete project proposals to be placed on a ballot for the community to vote on.

Over 2,700 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted online and at events around town to decide which projects the City should fund.

The following six projects won PB funding for FY16:

  • 100 new trees and tree wells in low-canopy neighborhoods ($119,400)
  • 20 new laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  • Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  • Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  • 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  • Free public Wi-Fi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)

The above projects totaling $527,400 will be implemented as part of the City of Cambridge FY16 Capital Budget.

Many thanks to the PB Cambridge Steering Committee, the Budget Delegates, the Participatory Budgeting Project, City staff, the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make this pilot initiative a great success!

Want to get involved? We’re launching the second round of Participatory Budgeting this summer. Find out more at www.cambridgema.gov/yourbudget.

Participatory Budgeting


City of Cambridge Soliciting Memberships for Transit Advisory Committee

MBTA mapApril 13, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking members for the Transit Advisory Committee, which works to advance an agenda for a robust public transportation system for those who live and work in Cambridge. The committee is composed of a cross section of stakeholders that advise on city positions and policies regarding long term sustainable funding for transit by the Commonwealth, transit expansion, service planning, and service improvements. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month, from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.

Applications are sought by dedicated individuals who live or work in Cambridge. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings as well as review materials and potentially engage in projects outside of regular meetings. To apply, please prepare a cover letter indicating your interest and any relevant knowledge and experience you may have in this area, and specific issues you would like to contribute time to working on. Please be sure to include your mailing address, phone number, and email. The application deadline is Friday, May 1. Please forward letters of interest via mail or email to:

Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
c/o Diane Bongiorno
Cambridge Community Development Department
344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139
Email: dbongiorno@cambridgema.gov

Appointments are made by the City Manager and are for two years of service. For more information, call Tegin Bennett at 617-349-4615 or email tbennett@cambridgema.gov. Visit the committee’s webpage at: cambridgema.gov/CDD/Transportation/forthepublic/transitadvisorycommittee


Main Street Construction Update: Road and Sidewalk Work Starts April 21

On Tuesday, April 21, the city’s contractor, Newport Construction, will begin roadway and sidewalk reconstruction on Main St between Ames St and Wadsworth. The road work is expected to take about 1 month to complete, while the sidewalk work will be ongoing throughout the spring and summer. During the road work phase, Main St will function as a one way. While crews reconstruct the eastbound lanes, only westbound traffic on Main St will be permitted. When crews switch to the westbound side, only eastbound traffic will be permitted. MBTA, trolley and EZ Ride stops may be adjusted during the road work. Please check signs for temporary stop locations.

Seek Alternate RoutesPROJECT SCHEDULE

  • Starting Tuesday, April 21, crews will mobilize on Main St to begin roadway reconstruction. Work will begin on the eastbound side first (2 weeks), and then switch to the westbound side (2 weeks).
  • Additionally, starting on April 21, crews will begin sidewalk reconstruction on the north (Marriott) side of Main St (2 months), followed by the south side (2 months). We will continue to provide updates as the construction progresses.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION

  • During the road work phase, Main St will function as a one way. While crews reconstruct the eastbound lanes, only westbound traffic on Main St will be permitted. When crews switch to the westbound side, only eastbound traffic will be permitted.
  • MBTA Bus, shuttle and trolley stops on Main St may be adjusted during roadway reconstruction. Please check signs for temporary stops.
  • “No Parking” signs will be posted; please be sure to check dates/times.
  • Emergency vehicles will have access at all times.

Additional information and project plans are available online at: www.cambridgema.gov/theworks/cityprojects.aspx, under Main Street Reconstruction Project.


Connect Kendall Square Competition Winner Selected

Connect KendallApril 9 – Connect Kendall Square Open Space Competition The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce the selection of Somerville based Richard Burck Associates as the winner of the Connect Kendall Square Open Space Planning Competition. Richard Burck Associates was chosen by a six member jury after the culmination of a three stage process spanning eight months.

Four teams of finalists were charged with developing an open space plan framework guided by a vision and planning and design goals identified through a robust public process spearheaded by the City and the Eastern Cambridge and Kendall Square Open Space (ECKOS) Study Committee. The goals included promoting complementary uniqueness, establishing activations strategies, building an identity, and elevating the user experience. The teams presented their framework plans to the competition jury and the general public on March 25-26, 2015.

The competition, sponsored by the City’s Community Development Department, was a unique opportunity to develop a plan to implement the vision for the entire open space network in Kendall Square and eastern Cambridge and vicinity. Launched July 2014, Connect Kendall Square was a departure from more traditional planning processes, and even unique among competition formats. The competition generated creative ideas and thinking on strategies to use open space and the public realm to better connect Kendall Square to surrounding neighborhoods, and also create a sense of place and identity. The winning framework plan will serve as a means of informing park designs, the character and role of both public and private open spaces in the area, and even decisions regarding infrastructure, city policy and future development.

Connect Kendall Square - Richard Burck Associates

The framework plan presented by Richard Burck Associates is structured on better connecting the Charles River to Kendall Square, and then better connecting Kendall Square to its surrounding parks, neighborhoods and MIT. This layered effort encompasses organizing new urban form to feature open space connectedness, connecting a series of sustainable storm water strategies, and developing strong pedestrian connections throughout the project area. This "dendritic" pattern overlaid on Kendall Square describes circulation moving in an increasing concentrated way to the Charles River. It’s a pattern with historic roots rich with interpretive possibilities in connecting Kendall Square today.

The competition jury consisted of Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA, professor of landscape architecture at University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Candace Damon, Vice Chairman of HR&A Advisors, Inc.; Robin Moore, professor of landscape architecture and Director, Natural Learning Initiative, NC State University; Inga Saffron, architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer; Michael Singer, artist and designer; and alternate juror J. Roger Boothe, former Director of Urban Design for the City of Cambridge. More information about the Jury’s selection and evaluation is available in the Jury Report.

For more information, visit the project page or competition website, or contact Taha Jennings at tjennings@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4302.


Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Overflow Control Progress Update

April 9 – This notice is required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as an annual update on the progress of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) control measures that are underway to improve the water quality of Alewife Brook.

Cambridge-MWRA-Somerville

JOINT PUBLIC NOTICE – APRIL 2015
Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Overflow Control Progress Update

Residents with property that lies in the extended 100-year floodplain of Alewife Brook as established and currently in effect by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will receive a direct notice in the mail in mid-April. For more information, please refer to the notice or contact Catherine Daly Woodbury at Public Works at 617-349-4818 or cwoodbury@cambridgema.gov.


Rain Barrel Program

April 8 – April Showers Bring Limited Time Offer on Rain Barrels
Rain BarrelCapture the rainwater from your roof and store it in a rain barrel for later use in your garden. Purchase a 60-gallon rainwater collection system for $79.00. This offer is valid until May 14th. To provide the lowest cost, the company is arranging for a general delivery of the rain barrels on Thursday, May 21st , from 4-7pm, at Cambridge DPW yard, 147 Hampshire Street.

If rainwater is not captured and allowed to soak back into the ground, rivers and streams do not have the chance to sustain or "recharge" themselves. By capturing rainwater, you are reducing stormwater runoff, conserving water and recharging the groundwater. A local non-profit agency, Green Cambridge (www.greencambridge.org), is offering to install rain barrels for Cambridge residents free of charge. If you prefer to install them yourself, the rain barrel arrives with simple instructions for fast and easy installation.

For more information, to order online and to check out the new design and variety of color options log onto The Great American Rain Barrel Company website: www.greatamericanrainbarrel.com, click on “Shop Local Programs” and select “Cambridge”. You can also order by phone (800-251-2352) toll free when specifying the City of Cambridge promotion.

April 20, 2015

Campaign Finance – 2015 Cambridge City Council Candidates

Filed under: 2015 Election,Cambridge,campaign finance,elections — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 7:25 pm

This year (2015) is a municipal election year and new candidates are already emerging. Just to get the ball rolling, here is where the campaign accounts stand for incumbents and known challengers for Cambridge City Council. This information will be updated as the year progresses.

It will be interesting to see how the new individual contribution limit of $1000/year (up from $500/year) affects campaign receipts and expenditures.

City Council Campaign Finance - 2015 (updated Apr 21)

CandidatesStartEndOpenReceiptsExpendBalanceNotes
Benzan, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$8207.45$5450.00$3608.17$10049.29
Carlone, Dennis1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$4272.67$6252.84$300.00$10225.51
Cheung, Leland1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$6002.06$5642.71$7254.30$4390.47
Courtney, Kim1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$0.00$1276.87$1139.43$137.44
Devereux, Jan1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$0.00$14630.00$6317.24$8312.76
Kelley, Craig1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$2601.58$0.00$0.00$2601.58
Maher, David1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$28741.21$1150.00$2653.99$27237.22
Mazen, Nadeem1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$12273.54$2448.47$3598.25$11123.76
McGovern, Marc1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$6098.45$10903.53$3197.39$13804.59$500 receipt/returned subtracted
Simmons, Denise1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$7447.29$11990.73$2330.51$17107.51
Toomey, Tim1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$18782.29$1302.14$5028.11$15056.32
vanBeuzekom, Minka 1-Jan-1515-Apr-15$7380.40$0.00$170.00$7210.40

The table can be sorted by category in ascending or descending order by clicking on the category name in the top row.

You can also look up these periodic reports yourself at the OCPF website.

April 13, 2015

Taking a Look at the April 13, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Taking a Look at the April 13, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Founding FathersHere are a few items that might prove interesting:

Reconsideration #1. Councillor Toomey notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration of the vote taken on Mar 30, 2015 to refer to the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee City Manager Agenda #18 and Calendar #8 as amended regarding the Pearl Street Reconstruction Project.

It’s anyone’s guess where this will end up, but it did seem odd that this Order would be referred at the last meeting to a committee whose Chair will likely be hostile to it. There really is a need to review some of the boneheaded projects that have been trotted out under the "Complete Streets" banner, but it’s doubtful that committee action will lead to anything other than politicizing this. A better term would be "Dysfunctional Streets" to describe road designs that provide no actual additional bicycle safety while rendering streets dysfunctional, e.g. Vassar Street where trucks have no other option than to park on sidewalks, a stopped vehicle brings all traffic to a standstill, and where the safety of any cyclist choosing to ride in the road is greatly compromised. While driving on the newly-choked Western Avenue the other day I got to witness first hand how even the simple act of parking a car can turn Western Ave. into a one-lane, highly congested road.

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a recommend on the reappointment of Christopher Bator to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority for a 3-year term, effective Apr 13, 2015.

This is not controversial – just an opportunity to once again marvel at how the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority has pivoted over the last few years from being nearly irrelevant to becoming the vehicle of choice for some really important initiatives.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine what types of traffic, parking, and other citations the city has legal jurisdiction over and to confer with the appropriate city departments to institute a day-fine policy in Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen

This is a ridiculous proposal. A day-fine is "a fine tied to an individual’s daily income". This proposal suggests that people whose reported income is low should pay less for parking violations or speeding tickets. The Order notes that "License suspensions and legal fees resulting from unpaid citations have been shown to have a disproportionately negative effect on low income individuals and households." There’s an even simpler solution – don’t park illegally or drive at excessive speeds that endanger others.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council at the next regular meeting with an update on the Citywide planning process (Master Plan) including next steps and a timeline.   Councillor McGovern

My sense is that when this Magical Master Plan is eventually decided (and I really am interested in the requested timeline), there’s a good chance that it won’t fulfill the hopes and dreams of those who have come to believe that all clocks must be stopped until it’s in place.

Order #9. That Article Six of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance entitled "Off Street Parking and Loading Requirements and Nighttime Curfew on Large Commercial Through Trucks" be amended in Section 6.20 entitled "Off Street Parking Regulations" to include information in "Carsharing Provisions." [attachment]   Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Simmons

Order #12. That the City Council refer to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board, for hearing and report, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinances in Section 20.300 "Central Square Overlay District" regarding the granting of Special Permits in the Central Square Overlay District.   Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen

Order #14. That Article 13 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinances entitled "Planned Unit Development Districts" be amended in section 13.53.2 of 13.50 entitled "PUD-4, PUD-4A, PUD-4B and PUD-4C Districts: Development Controls" by striking out the first sentence and substituting in place thereof the following new sentence: The minimum size of the Development Parcel within PUD-4B shall be two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) square feet.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Cheung and Councillor McGovern

This is a rare thing indeed – three City Council zoning petitions introduced in a single meeting. Almost all zoning petitions tend to originate with either property owners/developers who want to build something or with activists trying to block something from being built. It has become rare for the City Council to initiate the process, and here we hit the trifecta! I’ll wait to hear more explanation of the motivation behind Order #9 and Order #14. As for Order #12, I was at first intrigued at what seemed to be an acknowledgement that providing incentives for new housing in Central Square might be a good direction consistent with some of the C2 recommendations from a couple of years ago. Then I read what Councillor Carlone wrote on his blog. Apparently the primary purpose of the zoning proposal in Order #12 is to remove the argument occasionally heard in regard to the ongoing Normandy/Twining petition that if housing cannot economically be built at Mass & Main (Lafayette Square) then an office or lab building would be the default option.

This chess move by Councillors Carlone and Mazen and their sponsors would affect the entire Central Square Overlay District in regard to any Special Permit application for Additional Height. There may be some merit in this proposal but it’s also quite possible that it will have some unintended consequences. Either way, it’s being introduced at this time apparently as an attempt to derail the Normandy/Twining proposal. Having a broader conversation about delivering new housing in the Central Square area is consistent with the C2 recommendations, but one really has to raise an eyebrow when those now suggesting this are the same people who have squelched that conversation in the past. Besides, as we have heard the naysayers chant time and time again, how can we do anything without first having The Master Plan? [sarcasm intended] – Robert Winters


Update: Order #12 Failed on a 1-7-1 vote (Mazen YES via speakerphone; Carlone ABSENT). I don’t recall it having ever happened that a proposed zoning amendment was defeated when introduced without even being formally referred to the Ordinance Committee and Planning Board. This was a stunning rebuke of Councillors Carlone and Mazen (and their supporters). – RW

April 1, 2015

April 1 Cambridge News

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:00 am

April 1 Cambridge News

City Unveils Climate Change Opportunity Assessment

Mystic-AlewifeApril 1 – After several years of research the City of Cambridge at long last has revealed its assessment of what may be in store in the decades to come – and it’s exciting!

DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riorden summarized the report as follows: "We started out with the idea of producing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in order to prepare for rising sea levels, extreme weather, and higher temperatures. Our highest priority was to determine what changes in infrastructure might be necessary to prevent catastrophe. Then at some point we simply realized we were looking at this all wrong. We began to see that one man’s catastrophe was another man’s opportunity."

City Manager Richard Rossi noted how a 10 foot rise in sea level plus the natural rise and fall of the tides could be used to provide clean energy at virtually no cost. "Here we were worrying ourselves silly about the ocean spilling over the Charles River Dam and the Amelia Earhart Dam. Then we realized the enormous hydroelectric potential of this new clean, renewable natural resource. Sure, we may have to sacrifice a neighborhood or two, but just think about how many electric cars we’ll now be able to power at virtually no cost. That’s the kind of traffic congestion we can all get excited about – really sustainable transportation."

Tremendous job growth is expected in such diverse fields as climate control, dam and levee construction, hydroelectric power, and a whole range of seafaring jobs from captain to bilge pumping.


Fresh Pond to host yacht club at site of Water Treatment Plant

Thurston Howell III and Lovey
FPRA’s visionary leaders plan for a bright future

With rising sea levels come all sorts of new possibilities and creative ideas. One especially exciting proposal in the City’s Capital Plan is the expansion of the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Plant to include new docks extending into Fresh Pond to support the newly formed Fresh Pond Yacht Club. Construction costs will be covered by recently enhanced Participatory Budget funds. With the over-topping of the Amelia Earhart Dam on the Mystic River, members of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance (FPRA) quickly realized the potential to transform the Alewife Brook into a new inland waterway. From the FPRA press release:

"We were getting so worked up about housing on New Street and the prospect of being inundated by hundreds of new residents that we failed to see the exciting possibilities that can come with true inundation. No longer will we have to travel to our second homes on the Cape. We will now be able to just bring our yachts to Cambridge via the new Mystic/Alewife Inland Waterway!"


Growing the Local Economy – Our Silver Maple Lumber Future

Lovers of great quality furniture were thrilled to learn of a new start-up at the western frontier of Cambridge. Recent logging operations in the Silver Maple Forest yielded a bonanza of high quality Silver Maple lumber that’s now being milled and used in the production of some truly great furniture.

Cut Maple
From protester to entrepreneur – one woman’s road from anger to opportunity!

Leading this venture is Sue Woodson of Cambridge Highlands. "Last year I was out in the streets protesting the clear-cutting of the forest and cooling my heels in a detention facility," said Ms. Woodson. "Now I’m the CEO of a furniture manufacturing company. I could never have predicted this!"

Lumber
Freshly milled Silver Maple lumber

Here are some samples from the new Cambridge Silver Maple Furniture Company catalog:

Furniture! Furniture!
Furniture! Guitar!

Buy Local! We even make silver maple guitars!


Lovin’ Local Campaign Misinterpreted – Love-Ins Break out all over Cambridge

Thurston Howell III and Lovey
Love-In Local

It began as a well-intentioned effort by Cambridge Local First, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Division of the Community Development Department to give a boost to businesses hit hard by the recent tough winter. Game cards were issued for local consumers to fill in as they patronized a range of local businesses. An unfortunate misprint on the card, however, led to unintended consequences as participants thought this was the Love-In Local Campaign, and began participating with great gusto!

Said one aging hippie, "We haven’t seen this much Free Love in Cambridge in over 40 years! My old lady and I hope this becomes an annual tradition! It’s like the Sixties all over again!"

Millennials were also caught up in the campaign. Taking time out from their "Code for America" activities, they allowed themselves to be swept up in the excitement. "I even wrote an app for the event," texted one young hipster. His card sadly remained empty.

Love In LocalSome especially randy residents were so motivated to quickly fill in their Love-In Local game cards that they filled them up on the first day and came back for more game cards. City officials debated whether to print more cards or call off the campaign. Even Public Health officials were getting concerned.

"Sure, we’re lovin’ all the Love-Ins now taking place all over town," said Iram Farooq, Acting Asst. City Manager for Community Development , "but we have some concerns about the effect on the local economy. Many people are taking time off from work and even when they show up at work they’re getting just a little too cozy with their co-workers."


New "Creator Space" Comes to Central Square – open 6 days/week followed by Day of Rest

Thurston Howell III and Lovey
Creator Space© – now open in Central Square

Recent trends in the creation of "maker spaces" and similar components of "creative class’ economics reached a new zenith with the surprise arrival last week of the new Creator Space in Central Square. Previously located in Providence, plans for the new space can best be described as having almost biblical proportions. This is not a single purpose operation. Initial plans call for dedicating each Day of the week to very specific and distinct purposes.

On Mondays, for example, entrepreneurs specializing in heaven and earth-based manufacturing as well as all things relating to lighting will dominate the space.

Tuesdays will be for sorting and inventory control – primarily separating heavenly bodies ("firmament") from water-based products.

Wednesdays will be for land-based technologies, land reclamation, and biological engineering, e.g. grass, fruit trees, and the like.

Thursdays will be dedicated to solar products and various lunar and cosmological technologies.

In partnership with several seaport companies, it is expected that Fridays will be dedicated to the design and manufacture of various aquatic and airborne products or, as the company likes to joke, "fish and fowl".

Rather than take off for the whole weekend, Creator Space will dedicate every Saturday to a variety of animal and human-based technologies. It is expected that 3D printers will be utilized in creating duplicates in the image of The Creator.

On Sundays, Creator Space will be closed for a welcome Day of Rest.


Luxury Overlay District proposed

Luxury Overlay DistrictA group of residents living in and around Brattle Street have submitted a zoning petition to the City Council requesting that a "Luxury Overlay District" be created that encompasses Brattle Street between Mason Street and the Cambridge/Watertown city line. In a letter accompanying the petition, the residents note that their lawns would be considered spacious parks in some neighborhoods and the only parking problems that they have is the expense of plowing long driveways. "It is time to give back to our City," the letter continues, "While some neighborhoods reject gentrification, we will take on that burden, and welcome billionaires with open arms."


Robert Healy to move back to Cambridge – files organization papers to run for Cambridge City Council

Robert Healy #1After a successful career in city management, former Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy recently announced plans to move from Lowell back to North Cambridge in order to seek a City Council seat. This is where his roots are and he expects to have a strong neighborhood base on which to build his campaign. "I think I may have the Danehy vote all locked up," said Healy. "Various other candidates have courted that constituency with some success over the last twenty years, but these are really my people." Healy plans to open his campaign headquarters at Norris St. and Mass. Ave.

"Ever since I turned over the keys to the city to the current administration, I’ve been just itching to get back to show some of these newbies on the City Council a thing or two." Asked what special talents he may have to offer as a city councillor, Healy said "I think I’d be pretty good as Chair of the Finance Committee, but I do want to remind everyone that ‘I don’t do zoning‘." He added "and don’t forget to vote Healy #1 this November."


Cambridge Election Commission Endorses Mandatory Voting

Vote!In a surprise move last week, the Cambridge Election Commission took a hint from President Obama and proposed that all Cambridge residents who are eligible to vote will henceforth be required to exercise their franchise at every election. "We just got sick and tired of low voter turnout," said Commissioner Ethridge King. "If people want to live here, drive on our streets, play on our playgrounds, and send their kids to our schools, then the least they can do is show up to vote." Penalties for failing to go to the polls may include loss of parking sticker or being required to run for public office.

Anarchists and Libertarians were equally outraged at what they see as an infringement of their inalienable right to live freely outside of the political process. They are planning demonstrations at the polls on Election Day and are threatening to lie down in the doorways of polling precincts with their arms chained together inside traditional ballot boxes. "Apathy is our right," said former Occupy activist Wanda "Lightfoot" Macnair. "We choose to vote not with our fingers, but with our feet."


New Mayoral Election Method Debated

Musical ChairsIn response to the friction that happens ever two years as city councillors engage in horse trading over the question of who should be elected Mayor, the Government Operations Committee met last week and proposed a novel method sure to satisfy the concerns of even the most hardened opponents of the Plan E Charter. Councillor Toomey’s proposal calls for the arrangement of 8 chairs in the center of the Sullivan Chamber on Inauguration Day. Music will then be played at the direction of the City Clerk who will secretly signal that the music be stopped without warning. At that moment, councillors will seat themselves. Whoever fails to be seated will then be eliminated from mayoral contention. This will be followed by the removal of one more chair. The music will then play again as the remaining 8 councillors circle around the remaining 7 chairs. Once again, at the discretion of the City Clerk, the music will suddenly stop, councillors will make every effort to be seated and the one not seated will be removed from contention. This series of musical runoffs will continue until the last person seated is declared Mayor for the next two years.

Election reform advocates from around the country are very supportive of the proposed change in election method. "Especially in the case of a city using proportional representation to elect its City Council, this method is remarkably fair," said Rob Richie of Fairvote. Other cities will no doubt want to follow Cambridge’s lead.


MBTA Announces Meigs Elevated Railway Service to Central Square and Beyond

Meigs Elevated Railway

The City’s Transit Advisory Committee, working in concert with the MBTA and the Cambridge Historical Commission, have announced plans for new kinda-rapid transit service to Central Square with the option of extending service further west in the future. On the drawing board for more than a century, the Meigs Elevated Railway will add desperately needed capacity to supplement the Red Line. "Several cranky neighborhood activists have been complaining about "Crush Hour on the Red Line", but offered few suggestions for improvement. MBTA analysts decided that it was just too difficult to safely move that many people underground and concluded that the time-tested concept of elevated railway service is an old idea that’s about to become new again.

Meigs Elevated Railway PlaqueCambridge stops are planned for Kendall Square, the new "Village in Lafayette Square", and the western end of Central Square where City Hall now stands.

On a related note, plans are being drafted to relocate City Hall to Hilliard Street in order to make way for the new Central Square station on the Meigs Elevated Railway.

Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan conceded, "The Rindge gifts have had their day in the sun. While we remain grateful for the remarkable gifts from Frederick Hastings Rindge to the City of Cambridge, including City Hall, it’s time to make way for grander visions." Sullivan added, "Sometimes history is simply overrated."

Regarding the relocation of City Hall, City Manager Richard Rossi added, "People from Hilliard Street have been trying to run the City government for years. We see this as a bold move toward more open government."

"It’s what we always wanted," said Gladys and Priscilla, two long-time residents of Hilliard Street. "Sure, we were able to pull strings behind the scenes for decades through various front organizations, but it will be so much simpler when it’s in our own front yard."


Cambridge City Council Flip-Flops on Olympics 2024
McGovern to compete in Greco-Roman Wrestling

Marc McGovernWhen news broke a few months ago about plans to host the 2024 Olympics in Boston and neighboring cities, Cambridge city councillors were none too pleased about not being consulted or involved in any way in the Olympic bid. They even passed a resolution opposing the Boston bid. Concerns were raised about the financial risks associated with the Olympic Games, the impact on housing and transportation, and especially on the ability of Cambridge residents to access their second homes on the Cape and elsewhere.

Well, now the Council is whistling a different tune. The tide began to turn when Councillor Marc McGovern announced his intention to compete in the Greco-Roman wrestling event. "I’ll definitely have home field advantage," said McGovern.

It’s not yet clear if any other elected officials are planning to compete. Councillor Kelley did, however, state that, "If they finally get around to making chess an Olympic sport, then I’m all in."

Several members of the City administration also expressed interest in competing. Any potential Olympians currently employed by the City of Cambridge are asked to contact Recreation Director Paul Ryder for details on what steps are necessary to become qualified. Olympic officials have quietly let it be known that they’ll let pretty much any local official or City employee compete if it will help bring the Olympics to the Greater Boston area.

March 31, 2015

Web page includes two videos of Cambridge bicycle infrastructure

Filed under: Cambridge — jsallen @ 11:00 pm

Please check out this Web page,with two of four videos illustrating exciting new developments in Cambridge bicycle infrastructure. Can you identify the locations?

Exceiting new technology demonstrated at a Cambridge bicycle facility.

Exciting new technology demonstrated at a Cambridge bicycle facility.

March 29, 2015

Out Like a Lamb – What’s Happenin’ at the March 30, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Out Like a Lamb – What’s Happenin’ at the March 30, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Out Like a LambAs this brutal winter stumbles to a welcome end, the City Council meets on Monday to do its thing. Here are a few noteworthy items (at least to this Council watcher).:

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a rescission of the remaining amount of the loan order ($1,600,000) authorized by the City Council on Feb 13, 2012 for the renovations to the original police station at Five Western Avenue.

How can you not like it when a project comes in $1.6 million under budget?

Manager’s Agenda #12. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-07, regarding a report on variance requests and application results since January, 2010. [really big attachment]

I’m reminded of the time several summers ago when a City Council request for information from the Police Department yielded a stack of paper several feet high resting on Councillor Kelley’s desk. This is just a PDF file and not nearly as voluminous, but it always reminds me that you shouldn’t ask for information that requires some effort to generate unless you have some notion of what you’d like to do with that information once you get it. This request came from an Order by Councillor Kelley that was adopted on Feb 20, 2015. If the goal is to identify shortcomings in the Zoning Ordinance that routinely lead to many requests for variances, that would be a useful exercise that might warrant some tweaks to the Zoning Ordinance. It’s just as likely that the intention might be to crack down on variances without examining why people seek them in the first place.


Manager’s Agenda #17. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of members of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committees for two year terms, effective Apr 1, 2015.

Manager’s Agenda #18. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the status of the Pearl Street reconstruction project.

I occasionally wonder what would happen if someone like me who questions some of the bicycling infrastructure decisions made internally by the City were to apply to be on the Bicycle Committee. My sense is that diversity of opinion is not welcome on that particular committee and that applicants are screened accordingly. Regarding the Pearl Street project, I fear that the plan is to wait out the opposition and proceed with the elimination of curbside parking when the best opportunity arises – regardless of need or the preferences of abutters.


Manager’s Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the recommendation from the Planning Board to approve 1) the disposition of the leasehold interest in the Foundry Building; and 2) a diminution of the disposition process as it relates to the provision of a traffic study and provision of real estate appraisals of the Foundry Building.

Unfinished Business #12. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the Foundry Building process, including the City’s plans to collaborate with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (the "CRA") to redevelop the Foundry building in a way that meets the vision and objectives expressed by the City Council and the community…

It’s good to see some progress on the Foundry matter. I really don’t know what balance will ultimately be struck among the competing interests and financial constraints associated with this building, but at least things are moving forward. It’s great to see how the revitalized Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is playing an active role in this and other initiatives.


Unfinished Business #11. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee for a public hearing held on Dec 19, 2013 to conduct a public hearing on an amendment to the Municipal Code in Chapter 8.67 entitled relating to Plastic Bag Reduction. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Feb 24, 2014.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 12, 2015 to discuss amendments and other related documents associated with the plastic bags ordinance.

It’s likely that this proposed ordinance will be voted at this meeting. The essential elements are that (1) plastic checkout bags would be banned in Cambridge (which won’t affect those of us who shop almost exclusively in Somerville and Everett), (2) a mandatory fee of at least 10¢ will be charged for every paper bag used at checkout (not sure what this means regarding single- vs. double-bagging), and (3) a minimum thickness (3 mils) will be established for what constitutes an approved reusable bag. There are only limited provisions for exemptions.

Personally I use only reusable bags and have done so for years. I imagine most municipal election candidates this year will be distributing reusable bags emblazoned with their names and the usual #1 Vote request. Perhaps I’ll vote for candidates based on who provides the most durable shopping bags. Councillor Toomey was way ahead of everyone last time in this regard.


Unfinished Business #13. That any committee report that has not been signed by the Chair of the committee within seven days after submission of the committee report by the City Clerk be placed on the City Council Agenda unsigned. Order Number Eight of Mar 2, 2015 Referred to Unfinished Business.

It’s interesting how many committee reports have been submitted since this proposal was submitted by Councillor Toomey. Anything that moves things along is welcome. Now if only we can come up with a Rules Change that would prevent significant matters from being endlessly kicked down the road – and I’m definitely thinking of Central Square here which is only now getting some renewed attention years after a broad range of recommendations were presented as part of the K2C2 process. There will be an Ordinance Committee hearing on those recommendations on Wed, April 15 (at 5:30pm in the Sullivan Chamber), but only for the purpose of discussion with no actionable items before the committee.

The Normandy/Twining zoning proposal for the Mass. & Main area of Central Square is also now before the Ordinance Committee. The petitioners recently increased the percentages of permanently and privately subsidized units in their project to 20 percent should the proposed zoning be approved. Their original petition called for 17 percent affordable and middle-income units. They have now doubled the percentage of affordable units (50 to 80% of area median income) from 8.5 percent in the original petition to 17 percent and will maintain 3 percent middle income units (80 to 120% of area median income). The proposal would deliver 40 affordable and 7 middle income housing units for a total of 47 permanently and privately subsidized units out of a total of about 230 units. Enhanced ground floor retail opportunities and neighborhood connectivity are also included in their proposal.

Unfinished Business #14. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Mar 3, 2015 to continue discussions on the zoning petition filed by Whitehead Institute to amend the Zoning Ordinance, Sections 14.32.1 and 14.32.2 to provide for an increment of 60,000 square feet of GFA to be allowed by special permit in a portion of the MXD District, in Section 14.70 by retitling "Special Provisions Applicable Within the Ames Street District: and by adding a new Section 14.72 "Special Provisions Applicable Outside the Ames Street District. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Mar 30, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Dec 16, 2014. Petition expires Apr 8, 2015.

This zoning petition will likely be ordained at this meeting.

Applications & Petitions #3. A zoning petition has been received from Chestnut Hill Realty, requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Basement Housing Overlay District Section 20.600.

I won’t pretend to understand what the intent of these technical amendments are. As was the case when the original zoning was introduced and passed, I’ll just say that it would be a shame if any basement space in buildings that is actually necessary for bicycle storage and other needs of residents is lost just to pack in a few more income-producing units. On either side of my house on Broadway there are buildings that maximized the rentable space by eliminating options for on-premises bike parking and seriously compromising the options for storing and managing waste and recycling.

Resolution #24. Reminder to Cambridge residents that street cleaning will begin the first week of April.   Councillor Toomey

Run for your lives! The sweepers are coming! Don’t get towed!

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with all relative City departments to increase the number of electric charging stations available in the City, to determine the feasibility of making these stations free and to recommend other incentives that may include, but not be limited to, free resident parking stickers and allowing electric cars to park at parking meters free of charge as ways to encourage the purchase and use of electric cars.   Councillor McGovern

Let me see if I got this straight. This proposes to provide free parking and free electric charging to anyone with an electric vehicle. Why stop there? The City should also pay the rent and mortgage costs for these superior beings. But seriously, I would think that driving an energy-efficient vehicle that costs less to operate should be more than enough incentive. I also expect that any lost revenue or added energy costs borne by the City will ultimately lead to increased parking fees for those of us less enlightened beings who still have more conventional engines in our vehicles.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate city departments to update the City Council as to whether there are any proposed increases to Common Victualer (CV) and Liquor License renewal fees, to determine if there is a liquor license cap in the Central Square area and to the suitability of raising the liquor license cap in and around the Central Square area.   Vice Mayor Benzan

I’m not sure what’s behind this, but my understanding is that there is a cap on the number of liquor licenses that may be sold, but the License Commission has been issuing nontransferable "no value" pouring licenses to restaurants In Central Square and elsewhere in order to help those businesses.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the local business associations, neighborhood groups and city departments to conduct a series of cleanups of our neighborhoods and City Squares, primarily Kendall, Harvard, Central, Alewife, Inman, Huron Village and Porter.   Vice Mayor Benzan

These kinds of events are always best organized by the local business and neighborhood associations and by individuals with whatever assistance the City is able to affordably provide. The City should simply let the organizers know what help they might be able to provide, but let the residents and business owners take the lead.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with an update on the analysis that has been done to understand the finances of new development in Central Square, including the report by economic consultant Sarah Woodworth.   Councillor Carlone, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Mazen

I am curious about the underlying purpose of this Order. While it’s certainly a good idea to have a firm grasp on the economic realities surrounding development proposals like the one contemplated for Mass. & Main (Normandy/Twining), my suspicion is that this could be an effort to cook up grounds to justify blocking the proposal. We’ll all benefit from an honest discussion of the economics, but hopefully not just as a smokescreen for a separate agenda.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council on the status and next steps for the Beekeeping ordinance.   Councillor Carlone

I wasn’t aware that there was an actual proposed ordinance to allow and perhaps promote beekeeping, but it’s a good idea worth pursuing. On the other hand, it seems a bit ridiculous that this should be over-regulated or banned in the first place.

Order #12. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate City personnel to determine and provide an update to the City Council on parking needs and availability in the Central Square area and to confer with the appropriate City personnel to determine, as part of the broader question above, the cost and feasibility of adding additional parking levels to the Green Street Garage, to determine how many additional feet the garage could be expanded to as of right and how many extra parking spaces that would yield, and what changes, if any, would be needed to existing zoning laws in order to build the garage to its maximum capacity.   Councillor Simmons, Vice Mayor Benzan and Councillor Carlone

Though I think it would be a good idea to ensure a sufficient supply of parking in and around Central Square, I can’t help but note that if a proposal to add commercial parking was made a decade or two ago it would have been aggressively opposed by some activists. Those were the days when the Parking Freeze was giving way to the current Vehicle Trip Reduction Ordinance. Times have changed, vehicles run much cleaner, and there are now other competing priorities. Perhaps additional parking capacity at the Green Street Garage would replace what might be lost by building on surface parking lots elsewhere in Central Square. Perhaps the idea is to calm the fears of those who see the building of new housing as an existential threat to the well-being of their on-street parking. In any case, it’s a discussion worth having. – Robert Winters

March 26, 2015

Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Clinic for Dogs Only: April 11

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:05 pm

Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Clinic for Dogs Only: April 11

PoochThe Cambridge Animal Commission is sponsoring a Rabies Vaccination Clinic for Dogs only Saturday April 11, from 9-11am, in the Public Works lot, 147 Hampshire St., Cambridge. The cost is $15 per dog. Rabies vaccinations are required by Massachusetts General Laws. A Microchip Clinic, sponsored by All Dog Rescue, will also be available at this clinic at a cost of $20 per dog.

For your pet’s safety, dogs must be leashed at all times. Please note that also per state law, every dog over the age of 6 months is required to have a current dog license. Dog licenses for the license period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 will be available at this clinic. Pet owners are also welcome to stop by to pick up a license if their dog is up to date on its rabies vaccination. Cost of the license is $8 for spayed/neutered dogs or $25 for non-spayed/neutered dogs.

Controlling your dog at all times is also an excellent way to keep them protected. When you are outside with your dog, please make sure to obey the leash law. Also, to keep our community, parks and open space clean, owners are required by law to carry means to pick up and dispose of their dog’s waste. The city does supply dog waste bags but the responsibility to have means of disposal and to pick up is entirely on the owner or keeper of the dog.

When walking your dog in shared use areas, always have your dog under control and within your sight (particularly at Fresh Pond). Please note that there are fundamental elements of these regulations that are posted at the shared use areas and also at the designated dog parks in the city. Cat owners should keep their cats indoors; it’s a safe and controlled environment.

As always the Cambridge Animal Commission would like to remind dog owners of the three L’s of dog ownership – License, Leash and Love your pet.

If your cat needs to be vaccinated, there are clinics in the area that administer low cost programs for rabies vaccinations. For more information, please call the Cambridge Animal Commission at 617-349-4376.

March 23, 2015

Current City of Cambridge Board and Commission Vacancies (Mar 23, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 10:05 am

Members Sought for Cambridge Peace Commission

City SealCity Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking individuals interested in serving on the Cambridge Peace Commission. Composed of up to 20 members who serve three-year terms and represent the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic diversity of the city, the Peace Commission meets on the third Wednesday of most months at 6:00pm, at 51 Inman St., 2nd Floor Conference Room, Cambridge. Prospective members must reside in Cambridge.

Commission members are volunteers appointed by the City Manager who work with the staff in fulfilling the mission of the Cambridge Peace Commission and in accomplishing its goals. Members are expected to attend regular meetings, participate in organizing the Commission’s events and activities, and do some work outside of Commission meetings. Members are encouraged to learn about the day-to-day work and projects of the staff, and offer advice and viewpoints that reflect the Commission’s mission and role within City government.

As a department of the City of Cambridge, the Peace Commission works with other municipal agencies, communities of faith, nonprofit organizations, and the community as a whole to build connections and strengthen relationships, and to promote positive dialogue and foster understanding. The Commission fosters a community where differences and diversity are understood and celebrated, so that all residents can contribute to making Cambridge an equitable and peaceful community. It pays special attention to traumatic events and violence affecting Cambridge and its residents, and coordinates and supports compassionate community responses to support recovery and healing.

The Commission supports Cambridge’s Sister City relationships, including those with: Les Cayes, Haiti; San José Las Flores, El Salvador; and Yerevan, Armenia. It also celebrates Cambridge residents and local efforts with recognition programs and events, and raises awareness about local and global peace and social justice issues through educational forums, discussions, and presentations. For more information about the Commission, see its web page at www.cambridgema.gov/peace.

A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by April 27, 2015 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300; Fax 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

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