Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 9, 2012

Well-Appointed – April 9, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Well-Appointed – April 9, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Tonight’s meeting features several notable appointments by the City Manager. The first is this:

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Nancy Tauber as the Executive Director of the Cambridge Kids’ Council effective Apr 24, 2012.

I cannot imagine a better choice to head this agency. I have often wondered what exactly the Kids’ Council does – primarily because most of what I think it should do is already managed in the Dept. of Human Services Programs, the School Department, and elsewhere. If the theory is that all this child-centered programming should be coordinated within the Kids’ Council, then there’s been a big gap between theory and reality. The addition of Nancy Tauber as Executive Director is a great step forward to realizing what this agency is supposed to be about.

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, requesting City Council confirmation of members of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board in accordance with Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Though any complaints about the delay in making these appointments are entirely valid, the quality of the four appointments to the CRA certainly make up for this. Joining state appointee Barry Zevin will be (pending City Council approval) Margaret Drury, Kathleen Born, Chris Bator, and Conrad Crawford. Recently retired City Clerk Margaret Drury and former City Councillor and current architect Kathleen Born are stunningly good choices. Based on the credentials of the other two gentlemen, they also seem to be excellent choices.

April 9, 2012
To the Honorable, the City Council:

In accordance with Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws, I am submitting the following names for City Council confirmation as members of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board.

D. Margaret Drury, 1-year term to expire April 12, 2013:
Margaret is the recently retired City Clerk, former Executive Director of the Cambridge Rent Control Board and an Attorney.

Chris Bator, 3-year term to expire April 12, 2015:
Chris is an Assistant United States Attorney serving in that role since 1990. Prior to that, he served as the Assistant to the Commissioner of Health and Hospitals in Boston and as Executive Assistant to Mayor Kevin White.

Conrad Crawford, 4-year term to expire April 12, 2016:
Conrad is presently the Director of Partnerships for the Department of Conservation and Recreation and has experience in energy efficient transportation products. He is a resident of East Cambridge.

Kathleen Born, 5-year term to expire April 12, 2017:
Kathy is an Architect and former Cambridge City Councillor. She co-chaired the Ordinance Committee, and is thus very familiar with the zoning process. The State appointment term expiration would occur in 2014.

Since this recommendation results in a reconstruction of the Board, my recommendation results in staggered terms with one member’s term expiring in each of the five years. Subsequent appointments would be for 5-year terms.

Very truly yours, Robert W. Healy, City Manager

Though the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is most known for the redevelopment of the Kendall Square MXD district, the CRA in the past played a major role in housing development in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood and elsewhere. It is certainly possible that the CRA could again take on that role elsewhere in the city.

Applications & Petitions #2. An application was received from Cambridge Housing Authority requesting permission for a curb cut at the premises numbered 7 Temple Street; said petition has received approval from Inspectional Services, Traffic, Parking and Transportation, Historical Commission and Public Works. No response has been received from the neighborhood association.

This is the first sign in a long time that the proposed Cambridge Housing Authority residential project on the site of the long-abandoned YWCA pool on Temple Street may at last be moving forward.

Order #2. Urge greater cooperation from the Cambridge Housing Authority to better serve the people of Cambridge.   Vice Mayor Simmons and Councillor Cheung

This is a very long-winded Order that on the one hand could be interpreted as a statement of exasperation by city councillors at the nonresponsiveness of personnel at the CHA. On the other hand, the age-old practice of elected officials delivering CHA housing to constituents could be the basis of this Order. Should elected officials be actively placing individuals in public housing? Considering the political implications of providing such an economic benefit to potential voters, one might argue that all housing placements should be done objectively without any political influence. It’s very hard to read between the lines of this Order to discern its real intent.

Order #3. That the petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance to add to the Special Dimensional Regulations a Special Regulation for Municipal Elementary and Middle (K-8) Schools be referred to the Planning Board and Ordinance Committee for a hearing and report.   Councillor Maher

This matter was introduced at the end of the last Council term as a necessary step in the planning for future school reconstruction. The delay in choosing a mayor and in appointing the Council subcommittees pushed this matter back, but it will now move forward with Ordinance Committee and Planning Board hearings.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant departments in order to present to the City Council a map of Cambridge that shows, by location and by date, all of the areas where construction is and will be taking place over the coming decade.   Vice Mayor Simmons

An initial read of this Order suggests some kind of mystical powers within CDD to peer into the future. Some projects are definitely in the planning stage, but it’s doubtful whether CDD could accurately state where and what will be built more than a couple of years into the future. Even the dense-pack proposals now being crafted by Goody Clancy as part of the Kendall Square/Central Square (K2C2) Study may not be realized anytime soon, if ever.

Order #8. That a one-time suspension of Council Rule 23B be allowed, for the broadcast of the Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 4:00pm Cambridge City Council Roundtable Meeting (a meeting to receive an update from Goody Clancy and the Community Development Department on the Kendall Central Study.)   Councillor vanBeuzekom

None of the recent Kendall Square and Central Square studies and its related committee meetings, with and without the red ribbons, have involved much in the way of community participation. Indeed, the Red Ribbon report from last year seemed disconnected from much of the discussion that took place at the various minimally publicized meetings leading up to the report. It’s doubtful that broadcasting the April 25 Roundtable meeting (no public comment allowed) will do much for either public awareness or involvement.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the City Solicitor’s Office, the City Auditor and the Community Development Department to explore the City of Cambridge’s relationship with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and any of its current and future development projects.   Councillor vanBeuzekom and Vice Mayor Simmons

The time is certainly right for evaluating the past, present, and possible future role of the CRA. This should not, however, delay the City Council from approving the four persons appointed by the City Manager. After the newly reconstituted CRA Board meets and gets organized, it might be a good time to have a City Council Roundtable meeting with the CRA Board and its Executive Director. – Robert Winters

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