Happy Trails – Agenda Highlights for Monday, June 24 Cambridge City Council meeting
This will be the last Cambridge City Council meeting with Robert Healy as City Manager.
Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-63, regarding a report on the progress on the non-zoning recommendations submitted by the Central Square Advisory Committee.
There is much to be said about these generally excellent recommendations. More later. Your homework assignment is to read them. There will be a quiz.
Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-71, regarding a report on how the structure of boards and commissions can be adjusted.
The key statement: "I will state, as the City Council is aware, that it is my long held belief that there is significant overlap and duplication of effort and expense in the current structure." The real question is whether this group of 9 city councillors or their successors have either the vision or the capacity to correct the status quo. Now is the best opportunity to initiate some changes.
Manager’s Agenda #8. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the Foundry Building "Reuse Study" prepared by HFMH Architects.
The key recommendation: "The cost estimate of bringing this building ‘up to code,’ including an elevator for ADA accessibility, and meeting Silver LEEDS status is over $11,250,000. Funds for such a project are nowhere included in the Five Year Capital Investment Plan. It is my strong recommendation that the City Council authorize the sale of this building in accordance with all applicable laws and subject to all the existing zoning conditions. The requirement for 10,000 square feet of community use would be protected in the proposal."
Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to the current Awaiting Report list.
The Right Thing To Do: "I am hereby recommending that, as one means of allowing the City Manager, effective July 1, 2013, to commence his successful efforts, that all items on the current Awaiting Report list be ‘placed on file.’" A clean slate for incoming City Manager Richard Rossi is exactly the best course of action.
Applications & Petitions #5. A zoning petition has been received from Mike Connolly, et al., requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge to ensure that all new construction or changes in use requiring Project Review Special Permits are built to avoid emission of greenhouse gases in daily operation and thereby mitigate the risks of extremely dangerous climate changes. A clear and enforceable definition of "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions is proposed. [HTML version of petition]
This will be surely be controversial, and that may well be the intention of this petition timed to coincide with the calendar of the municipal election. Most will agree that "net zero" is a great goal, but I do not believe it is permissible under state law for a local zoning ordinance to prescribe what vendors a property owner, developer, or tenant must use to purchase goods or services. This includes the purchase of electricity or other forms of energy. The proposed zoning amendment includes not only provisions for extensive reporting of energy use, but also requires that the property owners and all of their tenants must purchase electricity from a restricted list of suppliers OR pay an additional fee indefinitely into the future for "energy credits". This goes well beyond what zoning is legally allowed to do. It would be like requiring that all tenants in a building must buy only environmentally friendly products. We may all wish that they do so, but we cannot use the zoning ordinance to mandate such things.
It should also be noted that this proposed zoning amendment is being filed before MIT has submitted designs for future buildings that will eventually be built under a recently passed zoning amendment relating to the Kendall Square area. An 11th hour attempt to insert a "net zero" requirement in that zoning (or perhaps in the accompanying memorandum of understanding) almost derailed the overall vote. The people who are proposing the current zoning amendment are precisely the same people who were adamantly opposed to the MIT/Kendall zoning. There is good reason to believe that the underlying motivation is to again try to derail the MIT/Kendall proposal.
Resolution #1. Congratulations to Teddy Darling on his retirement from the Middlesex Superior Court. Councillor Toomey
Best wishes in your retirement, Teddy.
Resolution #17. Congratulations to Owen O’Riordan on being named Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Works. Mayor Davis
Another excellent choice of leadership in one of the City’s most essential departments.
Resolution #18. Thanks to City Manager Robert W. Healy, Jr. for over three decades of dedicated service to the City of Cambridge and best wishes on his transition to the Kennedy School of Government. Mayor Davis
I’m happy that Bob Healy achieved many of the long-term goals he wanted to achieve, including several major replacements in our water infrastructure, the new Library, new Police Station, renovated City Hall Annex, and more. He’s also shepherded the many changes on the environmental front beginning with the establishment of the recycling program through the broad arrange of programs now in place.
I personally have tremendous respect for Bob Healy, and I like him personally even though he sometimes seems gruff and hard to approach. I don’t think there’s another person alive who has cared as much about this city. I also look forward to the next phase of history in Cambridge. With a new city manager there will likely come new initiatives. It’s the perfect time to modify the things that have not worked so well and to build on those things that have worked well, and Richard Rossi is the kind of person who likes to get things done. This bodes well for Cambridge.
Professor Healy – I’d like to make an appointment for office hours when you arrive at the Kennedy School.
Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to commission a portrait of Robert W. Healy, Jr. to be hung in the newly named Robert W. Healy, Jr. Executive Suite. Councillor Cheung
That’s a great gesture and appropriate for someone who has given so much of his life to the City of Cambridge. – Robert Winters