April 1 Cambridge News
City Unveils Climate Change Opportunity Assessment
April 1 – After several years of research the City of Cambridge at long last has revealed its assessment of what may be in store in the decades to come – and it’s exciting!
DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riorden summarized the report as follows: "We started out with the idea of producing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in order to prepare for rising sea levels, extreme weather, and higher temperatures. Our highest priority was to determine what changes in infrastructure might be necessary to prevent catastrophe. Then at some point we simply realized we were looking at this all wrong. We began to see that one man’s catastrophe was another man’s opportunity."
City Manager Richard Rossi noted how a 10 foot rise in sea level plus the natural rise and fall of the tides could be used to provide clean energy at virtually no cost. "Here we were worrying ourselves silly about the ocean spilling over the Charles River Dam and the Amelia Earhart Dam. Then we realized the enormous hydroelectric potential of this new clean, renewable natural resource. Sure, we may have to sacrifice a neighborhood or two, but just think about how many electric cars we’ll now be able to power at virtually no cost. That’s the kind of traffic congestion we can all get excited about – really sustainable transportation."
Tremendous job growth is expected in such diverse fields as climate control, dam and levee construction, hydroelectric power, and a whole range of seafaring jobs from captain to bilge pumping.
Fresh Pond to host yacht club at site of Water Treatment Plant
FPRA’s visionary leaders plan for a bright future
With rising sea levels come all sorts of new possibilities and creative ideas. One especially exciting proposal in the City’s Capital Plan is the expansion of the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Plant to include new docks extending into Fresh Pond to support the newly formed Fresh Pond Yacht Club. Construction costs will be covered by recently enhanced Participatory Budget funds. With the over-topping of the Amelia Earhart Dam on the Mystic River, members of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance (FPRA) quickly realized the potential to transform the Alewife Brook into a new inland waterway. From the FPRA press release:
"We were getting so worked up about housing on New Street and the prospect of being inundated by hundreds of new residents that we failed to see the exciting possibilities that can come with true inundation. No longer will we have to travel to our second homes on the Cape. We will now be able to just bring our yachts to Cambridge via the new Mystic/Alewife Inland Waterway!"
Growing the Local Economy – Our Silver Maple Lumber Future
Lovers of great quality furniture were thrilled to learn of a new start-up at the western frontier of Cambridge. Recent logging operations in the Silver Maple Forest yielded a bonanza of high quality Silver Maple lumber that’s now being milled and used in the production of some truly great furniture.
From protester to entrepreneur – one woman’s road from anger to opportunity!
Leading this venture is Sue Woodson of Cambridge Highlands. "Last year I was out in the streets protesting the clear-cutting of the forest and cooling my heels in a detention facility," said Ms. Woodson. "Now I’m the CEO of a furniture manufacturing company. I could never have predicted this!"
Freshly milled Silver Maple lumber
Here are some samples from the new Cambridge Silver Maple Furniture Company catalog:
Buy Local! We even make silver maple guitars!
Lovin’ Local Campaign Misinterpreted – Love-Ins Break out all over Cambridge
It began as a well-intentioned effort by Cambridge Local First, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Division of the Community Development Department to give a boost to businesses hit hard by the recent tough winter. Game cards were issued for local consumers to fill in as they patronized a range of local businesses. An unfortunate misprint on the card, however, led to unintended consequences as participants thought this was the Love-In Local Campaign, and began participating with great gusto!
Said one aging hippie, "We haven’t seen this much Free Love in Cambridge in over 40 years! My old lady and I hope this becomes an annual tradition! It’s like the Sixties all over again!"
Millennials were also caught up in the campaign. Taking time out from their "Code for America" activities, they allowed themselves to be swept up in the excitement. "I even wrote an app for the event," texted one young hipster. His card sadly remained empty.
Some especially randy residents were so motivated to quickly fill in their Love-In Local game cards that they filled them up on the first day and came back for more game cards. City officials debated whether to print more cards or call off the campaign. Even Public Health officials were getting concerned.
"Sure, we’re lovin’ all the Love-Ins now taking place all over town," said Iram Farooq, Acting Asst. City Manager for Community Development , "but we have some concerns about the effect on the local economy. Many people are taking time off from work and even when they show up at work they’re getting just a little too cozy with their co-workers."
New "Creator Space" Comes to Central Square – open 6 days/week followed by Day of Rest
Creator Space© – now open in Central Square
Recent trends in the creation of "maker spaces" and similar components of "creative class’ economics reached a new zenith with the surprise arrival last week of the new Creator Space in Central Square. Previously located in Providence, plans for the new space can best be described as having almost biblical proportions. This is not a single purpose operation. Initial plans call for dedicating each Day of the week to very specific and distinct purposes.
On Mondays, for example, entrepreneurs specializing in heaven and earth-based manufacturing as well as all things relating to lighting will dominate the space.
Tuesdays will be for sorting and inventory control – primarily separating heavenly bodies ("firmament") from water-based products.
Wednesdays will be for land-based technologies, land reclamation, and biological engineering, e.g. grass, fruit trees, and the like.
Thursdays will be dedicated to solar products and various lunar and cosmological technologies.
In partnership with several seaport companies, it is expected that Fridays will be dedicated to the design and manufacture of various aquatic and airborne products or, as the company likes to joke, "fish and fowl".
Rather than take off for the whole weekend, Creator Space will dedicate every Saturday to a variety of animal and human-based technologies. It is expected that 3D printers will be utilized in creating duplicates in the image of The Creator.
On Sundays, Creator Space will be closed for a welcome Day of Rest.
Luxury Overlay District proposed
A group of residents living in and around Brattle Street have submitted a zoning petition to the City Council requesting that a "Luxury Overlay District" be created that encompasses Brattle Street between Mason Street and the Cambridge/Watertown city line. In a letter accompanying the petition, the residents note that their lawns would be considered spacious parks in some neighborhoods and the only parking problems that they have is the expense of plowing long driveways. "It is time to give back to our City," the letter continues, "While some neighborhoods reject gentrification, we will take on that burden, and welcome billionaires with open arms."
Robert Healy to move back to Cambridge – files organization papers to run for Cambridge City Council
After a successful career in city management, former Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy recently announced plans to move from Lowell back to North Cambridge in order to seek a City Council seat. This is where his roots are and he expects to have a strong neighborhood base on which to build his campaign. "I think I may have the Danehy vote all locked up," said Healy. "Various other candidates have courted that constituency with some success over the last twenty years, but these are really my people." Healy plans to open his campaign headquarters at Norris St. and Mass. Ave.
"Ever since I turned over the keys to the city to the current administration, I’ve been just itching to get back to show some of these newbies on the City Council a thing or two." Asked what special talents he may have to offer as a city councillor, Healy said "I think I’d be pretty good as Chair of the Finance Committee, but I do want to remind everyone that ‘I don’t do zoning‘." He added "and don’t forget to vote Healy #1 this November."
Cambridge Election Commission Endorses Mandatory Voting
In a surprise move last week, the Cambridge Election Commission took a hint from President Obama and proposed that all Cambridge residents who are eligible to vote will henceforth be required to exercise their franchise at every election. "We just got sick and tired of low voter turnout," said Commissioner Ethridge King. "If people want to live here, drive on our streets, play on our playgrounds, and send their kids to our schools, then the least they can do is show up to vote." Penalties for failing to go to the polls may include loss of parking sticker or being required to run for public office.
Anarchists and Libertarians were equally outraged at what they see as an infringement of their inalienable right to live freely outside of the political process. They are planning demonstrations at the polls on Election Day and are threatening to lie down in the doorways of polling precincts with their arms chained together inside traditional ballot boxes. "Apathy is our right," said former Occupy activist Wanda "Lightfoot" Macnair. "We choose to vote not with our fingers, but with our feet."
New Mayoral Election Method Debated
In response to the friction that happens ever two years as city councillors engage in horse trading over the question of who should be elected Mayor, the Government Operations Committee met last week and proposed a novel method sure to satisfy the concerns of even the most hardened opponents of the Plan E Charter. Councillor Toomey’s proposal calls for the arrangement of 8 chairs in the center of the Sullivan Chamber on Inauguration Day. Music will then be played at the direction of the City Clerk who will secretly signal that the music be stopped without warning. At that moment, councillors will seat themselves. Whoever fails to be seated will then be eliminated from mayoral contention. This will be followed by the removal of one more chair. The music will then play again as the remaining 8 councillors circle around the remaining 7 chairs. Once again, at the discretion of the City Clerk, the music will suddenly stop, councillors will make every effort to be seated and the one not seated will be removed from contention. This series of musical runoffs will continue until the last person seated is declared Mayor for the next two years.
Election reform advocates from around the country are very supportive of the proposed change in election method. "Especially in the case of a city using proportional representation to elect its City Council, this method is remarkably fair," said Rob Richie of Fairvote. Other cities will no doubt want to follow Cambridge’s lead.
MBTA Announces Meigs Elevated Railway Service to Central Square and Beyond
The City’s Transit Advisory Committee, working in concert with the MBTA and the Cambridge Historical Commission, have announced plans for new kinda-rapid transit service to Central Square with the option of extending service further west in the future. On the drawing board for more than a century, the Meigs Elevated Railway will add desperately needed capacity to supplement the Red Line. "Several cranky neighborhood activists have been complaining about "Crush Hour on the Red Line", but offered few suggestions for improvement. MBTA analysts decided that it was just too difficult to safely move that many people underground and concluded that the time-tested concept of elevated railway service is an old idea that’s about to become new again.
Cambridge stops are planned for Kendall Square, the new "Village in Lafayette Square", and the western end of Central Square where City Hall now stands.
On a related note, plans are being drafted to relocate City Hall to Hilliard Street in order to make way for the new Central Square station on the Meigs Elevated Railway.
Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan conceded, "The Rindge gifts have had their day in the sun. While we remain grateful for the remarkable gifts from Frederick Hastings Rindge to the City of Cambridge, including City Hall, it’s time to make way for grander visions." Sullivan added, "Sometimes history is simply overrated."
Regarding the relocation of City Hall, City Manager Richard Rossi added, "People from Hilliard Street have been trying to run the City government for years. We see this as a bold move toward more open government."
"It’s what we always wanted," said Gladys and Priscilla, two long-time residents of Hilliard Street. "Sure, we were able to pull strings behind the scenes for decades through various front organizations, but it will be so much simpler when it’s in our own front yard."
Cambridge City Council Flip-Flops on Olympics 2024
McGovern to compete in Greco-Roman Wrestling
When news broke a few months ago about plans to host the 2024 Olympics in Boston and neighboring cities, Cambridge city councillors were none too pleased about not being consulted or involved in any way in the Olympic bid. They even passed a resolution opposing the Boston bid. Concerns were raised about the financial risks associated with the Olympic Games, the impact on housing and transportation, and especially on the ability of Cambridge residents to access their second homes on the Cape and elsewhere.
Well, now the Council is whistling a different tune. The tide began to turn when Councillor Marc McGovern announced his intention to compete in the Greco-Roman wrestling event. "I’ll definitely have home field advantage," said McGovern.
It’s not yet clear if any other elected officials are planning to compete. Councillor Kelley did, however, state that, "If they finally get around to making chess an Olympic sport, then I’m all in."
Several members of the City administration also expressed interest in competing. Any potential Olympians currently employed by the City of Cambridge are asked to contact Recreation Director Paul Ryder for details on what steps are necessary to become qualified. Olympic officials have quietly let it be known that they’ll let pretty much any local official or City employee compete if it will help bring the Olympics to the Greater Boston area.