Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

May 13, 2012

Ducks in a Row – May 14, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,cycling — Tags: , , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:43 pm

Ducks in a Row – May 14, 2012 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights

This week’s meeting is in many ways the set-up meeting preceding next week’s meeting at which the FY2013 Budget will be approved. There are 5 loan authorization orders On the Table totaling $17,442,670 to cover various public works projects that will be voted this week to get all the ducks in a row. Beyond this, it’s all miscellany.

Order #3. That the Mayor is requested to confer with relevant City staff and City Councillors and report back to the City Council on the status of the process for filling the City Manager and City Clerk positions.   Councillor Kelley

Orders like this one make me laugh. Councillor Kelley is the house obstructionist who always votes in the most contrary way in all matters relating to the City Manager. This has earned him the privilege of playing no role whatsoever in the eventual selection of the next city manager (he may have company). If any other councillor offers a substitute order, it will likely eclipse Kelley’s order – even if the substitution is just a punctuation change. In matters of consequence, especially in matters such as this, I would expect the process to be begin with an Order from any of 6 councillors – a list that does not include Councillor Kelley.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Cambridge Conservation Commission to provide an explanation of how the waiting lists for community garden plots work.   Councillor Cheung

This reminds me of the thoroughly unenlightened mandate laid down several years ago by the Community Development Department regarding the assignment of plots in community gardens. Rather than maintaining an organic mix of new gardeners and long-time gardeners, they proposed evicting any gardener who had tilled their plot for more than three years. It was disappointing to have the Community Development Department ripping the community out of community gardening. In contrast, the Conservation Commission staff generally kept a more balanced approach and I hope this is still the case. The best community gardens in Cambridge are generally the ones in which the gardeners manage their own affairs with adequate City support and minimal intrusion. They have always encouraged sufficient turnover for new gardeners.

Order #11. That the City Manager is requested work with the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department and report back on a proposed plan of action to improve safety in area of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street.   Councillor Cheung

I pass by this intersection often and the white bicycle marking where Phyo Kyaw was killed in late December is a chilling reminder of how suddenly a life can end. There are rumors circulating about the circumstances of that death, but the matter is now with the District Attorney and details are hard to come by. The intersection is rated as one of the city’s most dangerous, but this is as much a function of the volume of traffic – motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian – as it is about any design flaw. Indeed, it’s just an ordinary intersection of two roads. It would be interesting to see a comparison between the frequency of accidents before and after the City "improved" Vassar Street with its absurd "cycle track" design and narrowing of the roadway. For those of us who bicycle in the road rather than on the sidewalk, that was no improvement. The City is planning to "improve" Western Avenue in a similar manner beginning later this year. – Robert Winters

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