Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 26, 2012

Ins and Outs – Monday, Mar 26 City Council meeting and other news

Filed under: 2012 election,City Council,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:05 am

Ins and Outs – Monday, Mar 26 City Council meeting and other news

Though there is a City Council meeting this week, all the really interesting stuff happened at last week’s meeting and in the days that followed. The Biggest Item by far was last week’s Order relating to the extension of the City Manager’s contract through June 2013 coupled with Bob Healy’s statement that he would retire at the end of the contract. As if one major retirement wasn’t enough, State Representative Alice Wolf announced on Thursday that she would not seek reelection this Fall. As expected, City Councillor Marjorie Decker then announced her candidacy for the seat now occupied by State Rep. Wolf. Others may yet toss their hats into the ring for the Democratic Primary in September and there’s a decent chance that there may even be a challenger in the November General Election.

Meanwhile at this week’s City Council meeting, there are a few interesting agenda items:

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Larry Ward as an Election Commissioner for term of four years, effective Apr 1, 2012, in accordance with Chapter 239 of the Acts of 1921 as amended.

The Manager had a tough choice between nominees Tom Stohlman and Larry Ward. I suppose it didn’t hurt that Councillors Reeves and Simmons were actively supporting Larry Ward (who will be a fabulous election commissioner). If there’s an opening on the Planning Board anytime soon, I hope Tom Stohlman is interested. Even better, let’s hope Tom runs for City Council again and wins.

Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to instruct the Board of Zoning Appeal to restart the process of the Dunkin Donuts cafe/coffee shop at 1678 Massachusetts Avenue. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on Order Number Seventeen of Mar 19, 2012.]

The discussion on this at the end of the March 19 City Council meeting illuminated the kind of elitism of which Cantabigians are often accused. If this was yet another yuppie café there would be no objections. (The site is next door to the Evergood Market.) Think of the bright side, folks. With a donut shop, you’ll have plenty of police protection. (I know I’ll get grief for that….)

Applications & Petitions #6. A zoning petition has been received from Zevart M. Hollisian, Trustee of Garabed B. Hollisian Trust and L-Z Realty Trust and Seth D. Alexander, President, MIT Investment Management Company, requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance by extending the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District from Green Street out to Massachusetts Avenue in the area adjacent to Blanche Street; said parcel to be developed by Forest City.

The Forest City/University Park zoning petition returns. This would alter the zoning in the area bounded on three sides by Green Street, Blanche Street, and Mass. Ave. easterly to the former Cambridgeport Saloon (even more formerly Fathers Four) to extend the Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District (CRDD) to include this block. The 7-page petition is here:

Resolution #1. Congratulations to Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan and Marion Sullivan as they prepare to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary on July 22, 2012.   Vice Mayor Simmons, Councillor Toomey

Yes, indeed – wonderful people with a marvelous extended family.

Resolution #3. Urge residents to be cognizant of the beginning of street cleaning which commences the first week of April.   Councillor Toomey

No parking on the odd side of the street or your car will be tagged and towed. Street Cleaning. No parking on the odd side of the street or your car will be tagged and towed. Street Cleaning. No parking on the odd side of the street or your car will be tagged and towed. Street Cleaning…..

Resolution #7. Thanks to State Representative Alice Wolf for her years of service to the citizens of Cambridge.   Mayor Davis, Councillor Toomey, Councillor vanBeuzekom

Absolutely, yet I couldn’t help but notice that Marjorie Decker wasn’t listed as a cosponsor. Perhaps she was busy…..

It never ceases to amaze me how much the Democratic Party in Massachusetts abhors contested elections within its own party. This was the case when Marjorie Decker challenged Paul Demakis in 2002 and all the party regulars recoiled in horror. It makes you wonder what will happen if another Democratic hat comes flying into the ring for Wolf’s seat. Meanwhile, in the other House and Senate Cambridge districts, all we hear are crickets. – Robert Winters


  1. City Manager #8
    Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $25,000 in mitigation funds received from Novartis to the General Fund Community Development Travel and Training account which will be used to cover a portion of the cost of participating in the BIO2012 Conference beingheld at the Boston Convention Center June 18th through June 21th.

    BIO2012 is a great opportunity for the City to showcase its position in Biotechnology and look to further enhance its reputation as the place to be for biotechnology companies. It is a conference in which the City should fully participate.

    The funding for the City’s participation in BIO2012, however, should not come from mitigation funds received from Novartis or any other development. The mitigation funds are received to lessen the impact of a development on a neighborhood, group of neighborhoods or the entire City. Mitigation funds are not received to pay for the City’s participation in BIO2012 or any other conference.

    Over the last year, there has been much discussion and debate about the role of mitigation in the process of developers requesting changes in zoning to suport their projects. One aspect of these discussions has been requests to determine if the City could come up with a dollar value per square foot of additional development rights. There was concern that the payment of cash to the City could result in mitigation funds being used for purposes other than mitigation.

    The optics of this appropriation request do nothing to lessen these concerns and may serve only to further heighten them. I would have preferred the request for the $25,000 come from some other source as I do not want the City’s participation in BIO2012 tied up in a debate over the proper use of mitigation funds, nor do I want a precedent set for the use of mitigation funds for purposes other than mitigation.

    Ideally, the Manager would amend this request and it would be passed unanimously this evening.

    Comment by Charlie Marquardt — March 26, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  2. Thanks for the addition, Charlie. I also completely forgot to mention that the Forest City/University Park/Cambridgeport Revitalization Development District petition has been reintroduced. I just added it into the post.

    Comment by Robert Winters — March 26, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

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