Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 19, 2011

A Quick One – Highlights of the Sept 19, 2011 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:49 am

A Quick One – Highlights of the Sept 19, 2011 City Council agenda

The Cambridge City Council meeting this week has the lightest of agendas and virtually nothing of any real interest. I’ll highlight only two items and make minimal comments on each.

City Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to a recommendation for the City Council to move to Executive Session to discuss Awaiting Report Item Number 11-117.

This relates to the resolution of the unfortunate Monteiro case and (I believe) what can and cannot be publicly discussed regarding the other two shakedowns by one former and one current City employee that have yet to be completely adjudicated. Brookford Street in North Cambridge is certain to have one less person for dinner during public comment while that 20-year-long vendetta continues.

Order #5     Sept 19, 2011
WHEREAS: The Department of Public Works reported a series of procedural changes it would be undertaking this upcoming winter to deal with snow; and
WHEREAS: In response, residents have expressed opinions and raised questions about additional options for handling large amounts of snowfall; now therefore be it
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on the feasibility of the Department of Public Works using machines such as Bobcats to do a single pass through neighborhoods and retail streets to clear snow from sidewalks after a large snowfall.

This is a great Order from Councillor Cheung – at least the part about retail streets. I’ve been saying for years that this should be done in commercial districts if for no other reason than the fact that commercial property owners pay the majority of taxes. Also, facilitating access to commercial areas, especially when driving is a less attractive option, is a great service for residents and would greatly support local retail. The suggestion of doing this through all neighborhoods is, in my opinion, unrealistic. There’s just too much mileage and everyone in Cambridge knows that our sidewalks are not exactly uniform surfaces. Residential property owners are more than capable of taking care of the sidewalks in front of their homes. – Robert Winters


  1. Believe the city would be better off investing in SNOW MELTING machinery (see
    Problem last year was WHERE to put the snow…we had so much snow that the snow banks were 6-7-8 ft high on some streets/intersections. When the city started to remove it (using bucket loaders and dump trucks) the problem became where to dump it. We can no longer dump snow in the Charles River or in our large parks/athletic fields due to sand/salt content and the possibility of flooding neighborhood basements when the snow melts. Last winter the city used the parking lot on Field Street and the old Bernie & Phil’s parking lot in Lechmere Square….a lot of work to transport and then maneuver snow into manageable drifts. Several “portable” snow-melters located at strategic points around the city (Harvard Square, Central Square, etc) would probably have done the trick.

    Comment by jim Cusack — September 19, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  2. I’d certainly like the city to respond with some facts about how it could be done (citywide, or in select places) and how much it would cost. This is a public service policy question that deserves consideration and evaluation.

    Comment by John W Gintell — September 19, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  3. This turned out to be, as predicted, a quick one. On the only agenda item of significance, the Executive Session that we would not have witnessed anyway, Councillor Seidel exercised his Charter Right to delay the item to the following meeting. [Note: This does not mean that it was “tabled”.] The reason given was that “we’re not all here.” This must have been a reference to the fact that Councillor Kelley was ABSENT from this meeting.

    Comment by Robert Winters — September 20, 2011 @ 9:48 am

  4. “…commercial property owners pay the majority of taxes…”

    The old antique business on Cambridge Street was developed into public housing. Across the street from it an old fabric store or some shop was transformed into the Just-A-Start non-profit service program headquarters funded by state and federal sources. Does the city receive taxes from these former commercial properties, or are they now completely tax free?

    Comment by JChase — September 23, 2011 @ 3:39 am

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