Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 18, 2017

Catching Up on the Cambridge News – Dec 18, 2017

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 12:05 pm

Catching Up on the Cambridge News

Vail Court Property – Litigation and demolition update

Vail Court - 2013Dec 18, 2017 – On Dec 5, 2017, the Court issued an order vacating the temporary restraining order that prohibited the City’s proposed abatement and demolition of the buildings at the Vail Court property. Accordingly, the City may now proceed with the planned abatement demolition of the buildings.

Due to the delay caused by the litigation, the City will need to re-bid the contract to hire a new contractor for work at the property. We expect abatement and demolition to move forward in spring 2018 as the method of demolition (using water) that will likely be used cannot be done without a consistent outdoor temperature above 32 degrees. The City will be maintaining rodent control on site in the interim. Those with questions about abatement/demolition and conditions on site should contact Dan Riviello at / 617-349-4825.

While the Court has vacated the temporary restraining order issued earlier this year, the litigation brought by the former owner against the City in this matter is still pending. We cannot predict how long this challenge will be pending, however can say that litigation like this can often take considerable time to resolve. The City will continue to vigorously defend against this challenge to the City’s ownership of the property. However, as the litigation is still active, we believe the best course of action at this time is to continue to delay the process to plan for the redevelopment of the property as affordable housing.The City and the Affordable Housing Trust will monitor the status of the litigation, and, when advisable, reengage with the community. As was discussed at the last community meeting, both the City and the Trust remain committed to holding a second public meeting to gather more community input to be considered in the redevelopment of the property as affordable housing, and will do so at the appropriate time. The City remains committed to moving forward with building new affordable housing at the property as swiftly as possible, however must move forward in a manner that acknowledges the active legal challenge to this effort.

We will provide more information when it becomes available and encourage residents to visit the project page at to subscribe to email updates. [City of Cambridge]

Residents Sought for Board Vacancies on Cambridge Conservation and Human Rights Commissions

City SealDec 6, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking residents to fill vacancies on the Cambridge Conservation Commission and the Cambridge Human Rights Commission.

The Conservation Commission is responsible for the administration of the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (WPA), a state law governing activities in and immediately adjacent to local wetlands, waterways and floodplains. The Commission holds two regularly scheduled public meetings each month to review permit applications under the WPA, issue permits, and conduct other business related to the management of Cambridge’s natural resource areas.

The Conservation Commission consists of seven members appointed by the City Manager to serve three-year terms. Cambridge residents with expertise in landscape architecture, civil/environmental engineering, hydrology, ecology, or law are encouraged to apply. For more information, contact Jennifer Letourneau, Cambridge Conservation Commission, or 617-349-4680.

The Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC) seeks Cambridge residents representing the diversity of Cambridge. Commissioners are expected to attend monthly meetings, participate in subcommittees on outreach and public education, and work with Commission staff on the investigation, mediation and resolution of complaints filed with the Commission which allege discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment or education based upon race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, family status, military status or source of income.

The Human Rights Commission is made up of 11 members who serve three-year terms. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month at 6pm. For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, Cambridge Human Rights Commission, at 617-349-4396 or

The deadline for submitting applications for both commission vacancies is Friday, January 12, 2018. Applications to serve on these committees can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at A cover letter and resume or applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.

Cambridge/Community Legal Services and Counseling Center

City SealThe City’s Commission on Immigrant Rights & Citizenship is pleased to announce the formation of a free, monthly Screening Clinic for Immigrants seeking legal advice and possible referral for additional legal services. [flyer]

The first City of Cambridge/Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC) Immigration Legal Screening Clinic was held on Wed, Dec 13, from 5:15-7:15pm at the offices of Community Legal Services and Counseling Center (CLSACC), 47 Thorndike St. (lower level), in East Cambridge. Program participants are asked not to arrive at CLSACC more than 15 minutes prior to the start time; please note that early arrivals will not be given any preference. Starting in 2018, the Screening Clinic will be held on the 3rd Wednesdays of the month, at same time/location.

For more information, contact Nancy Schlacter, or 617-349-4396.

Information about City Services this Holiday Season
Schedules for street cleaning, curbside collections, & more for December-January

During the week of December 18th, trash and recycling collection will be performed on a regular schedule. During the week of December 25th, there will be no trash or recycling collection on Monday, December 25th and collections will be delayed one day for the remainder of the week. During the week of January 1st, there will be no trash or recycling collection on Monday, January 1st and collections will be delayed one day for the remainder of the week.

The Recycling Drop-off Center will be open on Saturday, December 23rd and Saturday, December 30th. There will be no change to the Recycling Center’s hours this holiday season.

Curbside collection of bare holiday trees (weather permitting), will take place January 2nd, 2018 – January 12th, 2018 on your regular trash/recycling day. Decorations and stands must be removed and trees should not be in a plastic bag. Residents can also bring bare trees to the Recycling Center during open hours (Tues/Thurs 4pm-7:30pm and Sat 9am-4pm) from December 26th – January 31st.

Street cleaning operations will not take place on Monday, December 25th and, weather permitting, those streets will be swept on Friday, December 29th, the last day for street cleaning operations in 2017. Street cleaning services will resume in April 2018.

The Cambridge Cemetery gates will be open from 7am until 5pm throughout the holiday season. Cemetery and Public Works Administrative Offices will be closed on Friday, December 22nd, Monday, December 25th, and Monday, January 1st.

Payments are not required at City of Cambridge parking meters and parking meter pay stations on Monday, December 24th and Monday, January 1st.

If your yard waste, holiday tree, trash, or recycling are missed, please let us know immediately by submitting a service request via the Commonwealth Connect app for iPhone and Android or at www.CambridgeMA.Gov/CommonwealthConnect.

Cambridge Announces Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects

Residents voted on how to spend $800,000 to improve Cambridge

City SealDec 13, 2017 – The results are in for the fourth Participatory Budget (PB) Process. Over 6,778 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted to decide how to spend $800,000 on capital projects to improve the community – a 43% increase from last year.

The following 7 projects won $867,000 in FY19 Capital Funding:

  1. 100 Trees for a Cleaner, Greener Cambridge ($141,000)
  2. Critical Resource Kits for the Homeless ($50,000)
  3. Flashing Crosswalks for Safer Streets ($176,000)
  4. Drinking Water Across More Parks ($100,000)
  5. New Musical Instruments for CRLS ($200,000)
  6. Jade Chain: Living Moss Walls to Combat Pollution ($100,000)
  7. Upgrade the Gately Youth Center ($100,000)

"Participatory Budgeting has been an incredible community engagement tool in the city and I am pleased we were able to invest $67,000 more in funds to allow a 7th winning project to be selected," said Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager. "Over the past 4 years we have been able to engage thousands of people in this innovative process, and I am particularly proud that all Cambridge residents at least 12 years old, including non-US citizens and university students, were able to vote."

Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The goal of PB is to directly involve residents in the budgeting and City-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the City’s Capital Plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents.

Community members brainstormed and submitted project ideas this summer to improve Cambridge. Afterward, volunteer Budget Delegates researched and developed those ideas into formal project proposals that were reviewed by City staff and approved by the City Manager appeared on a PB ballot in December for a public vote. The following winning projects will be included in the FY19 Capital Budget for adoption.

Many thanks to the PB Outreach Committee, Budget Delegates and Facilitators, City staff, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make the City’s third PB cycle a success.

To learn more about PB and the winning projects, please visit

City of Cambridge Seeks Members for Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force

City SealDec 12, 2017 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking applicants to serve on a new task force that will advise and provide guidance and feedback to a project team charged with developing a comprehensive Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP).

The UFMP will guide the development of the urban forest into the future and includes a strategic plan to evaluate, maintain and expand the urban forest canopy while being more resilient to climate change, reducing the urban heat island effect, mitigating stormwater runoff, reducing nutrient runoff, and contributing to community well-being. The UFMP will coordinate with the efforts of the citywide comprehensive plan (Envision Cambridge) and the Climate Change Preparedness & Resilience Plan.

The Task Force Committee will meet monthly over the next 12 months. Subcommittees may be set up to investigate specific topics to report back to the full committee. All Task Force meetings are open to the public.

Applicants are sought from various stakeholder groups, including residents, neighborhood groups, city boards/committees, universities, property owners, local businesses and experts from surrounding universities and government agencies.

The deadline for submitting an application to serve on the Task Force is Fri, Jan 19, 2018. Applications can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at A cover letter describing your interest, resume, or applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.


Cambridge Secures Grant to Test Bus Rapid Transit Features
Barr Foundation Funding Allows for Mount Auburn Street Bus Pilot in Collaboration with Watertown

City SealDec 7, 2017 – The City of Cambridge announced earlier this week that the Barr Foundation, as part of its BostonBRT initiative, has awarded the community a grant to conduct a pilot project testing bus rapid transit (BRT) features in collaboration with Watertown and the MBTA. The pilot, affecting routes 71 and 73, will include inbound bus “queue jump” lanes to give buses priority in lane segments on Belmont Street at Mt. Auburn and Mt. Auburn St. at Fresh Pond Parkway and transit signal priority where feasible.

The pilot will seek to create a faster and more reliable commute for over 12,000 daily bus riders, representing about 50% of rush hour travelers in the corridor. The bus priority lanes could save bus riders an average of 3 minutes per trip. The pilot will be carried out in conjunction with the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s improvements to the Fresh Pond Parkway / Mt. Auburn Intersection planned for late spring/early summer 2018.

The pilot is a temporary demonstration. Following a robust public engagement strategy, Cambridge, Watertown, and the MBTA will work with community members to evaluate the pilot and determine if any of the elements should be permanently implemented or explored further.

“Encouraging and improving public transit options improves mobility for everyone. The Bus Rapid Transit pilot aligns with Cambridge’s Vision Zero efforts to make our streets safer for people of all ages and abilities to travel between work, school, shops, and other destinations, whether they choose to walk, bicycle, drive, or take transit,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We are grateful to the Barr Foundation for their support in helping us implement the pilot, and we look forward to collaborating with our neighbors in Watertown to make it a success.”

The grant in Cambridge was one of three awarded as part of a competitive request for proposals from BostonBRT, which invited municipalities to partner with the MBTA to demonstrate the potential of BRT in high-ridership, high-traffic areas, with the goal of improving the transit experience for the most people. The Cambridge-Watertown project was selected along with projects in Arlington and Everett. Cambridge will work closely with Arlington to support their transit signal priority implementation for bus route 77 along North Mass Ave.

“We are thrilled to receive funding from the Barr Foundation to pilot Bus Rapid Transit infrastructure,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “The grant will contribute to our citywide goal of creating a comprehensive, sustainable transportation network. We look forward to collaborating across departments and city lines to make bus transit safer and more reliable for all riders.”

“These pilot projects will show BRT’s potential to transform how people in Greater Boston get to where they need to go, and how BRT can fit within the region’s transportation system,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director for climate at the Barr Foundation. “For BRT to be successful, local and state governments, communities, and transit experts need to work together. These winning proposals demonstrated their readiness to do so. And we hope their commitment to collaboration during this pilot testing periods is just the beginning. Massachusetts residents deserve flexible, environmentally-sustainable transportation options they can count on, like BRT.”

All pilot grants were selected by a committee comprised of Massachusetts transportation leaders convened by the Barr Foundation and BostonBRT technical consultants that reviewed criteria such as the number of BRT elements included within proposals, proof of concept, potential impact (including density of population and employment), municipal and community support, and willingness to partner with state agencies to create a successful pilot.

Cambridge Residents and Businesses Can Save Money and Receive 100% Renewable Electricity
Cambridge Community Electricity Program’s 100% Green Option Offers Savings

City SealOver 500 Cambridge residents and businesses now receive 100% renewable electricity through the Cambridge Community Electricity program’s 100% Green option. By opting into 100% Green, these households and businesses are powered by carbon-free renewable energy, including solar and wind, generated locally in New England.

Following the November release of Eversource’s Basic Service rates, residents and businesses enrolled in the 100% Green Option will save money and receive 100% renewable electricity. Eversource’s Basic Service, in effect through June 2018, costs 13.157 cents/kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) compared to the 100% Green Option’s 12.180 c/kWh.

Currently, over 32,800 residential electricity customers and more than 4,800 commercial electricity customers are participating in the Cambridge Community Electricity program. Those enrolled in the Standard Green option, which provides more solar energy from local resources than required by the state of Massachusetts, are also saving money, with rates at 10.486 cents/kWh. Participants can switch from Standard Green to 100% Green or opt-out of the program at any time with no penalties.

“We are proud to offer a program that has allowed people to support the city’s climate goals without negative impacts on their personal finances,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “Standard Green participants have seen savings since July 2017, and now residents and businesses have the opportunity to upgrade to receive 100% renewable energy and still save money through next June.”

The electricity supplied through the 100% Green option is generated by renewable energy projects in New England. Through 100% Green, Cambridge residents and business owners support New England-based jobs in addition to reducing the environmental impact of their electricity use. Cambridge residents and business owners can opt-in to the 100% Green Option through January 2019 by calling the Cambridge Community Electricity program supplier, Agera Energy, at 1-888-589-7790.

“The 100% Green option offers a unique opportunity for Cambridge residents and business owners to use renewable energy and support the local economy,” said Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq. “The Cambridge Community Electricity program is a crucial step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century and ensuring a Net Zero Energy future for Cambridge.”

The Cambridge Community Electricity program launched in July 2017. As a municipal electricity aggregation approved by the state, it uses the bulk purchasing power of the entire community to negotiate a price and increase the amount of renewable energy in the City’s electricity supply. The program provides an alternative to Eversource Basic Service and other electricity supply offers in the marketplace. The City has signed a contract with Agera Energy that runs until January 2019.

Updated energy mix information is now available for the Cambridge Community Electricity program. This document shows how the electricity was generated and provides detail on how much of that energy comes from renewable vs non-renewable sources.

Additional information about the program and its enrollment options are available at Residents and business owners can also contact the City’s program consultants at 1-844-379-9934 or

Cambridge Recognized for Advancing Solar Energy Growth
City Awarded Bronze-Level Community Designation from SolSmart

Solar RooftopsNov 30, 2017 – Last month, the City of Cambridge was awarded a Bronze-level Community designation from SolSmart, a national program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy that provides recognition and technical assistance to help local governments reduce barriers to solar energy growth.

The award recognizes Cambridge’s efforts to provide resources and support to make the process of converting to solar energy faster, easier, and more affordable for Cambridge homeowners, property managers, and businesses.

Cambridge also received special recognition in the “Community Engagement” category for its exemplary public outreach efforts, its climate advisory board, the Climate Protection Action Committee, and its Sunny Cambridge campaign to help residents go solar for the best price.

“We are proud to be nationally recognized for our efforts to promote solar energy in Cambridge,” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “The Cambridge Energy Alliance conducts extensive outreach to inform the community about solar resources and options, and programs like Sunny Cambridge and the Multi-Family Energy Pilot are designed to make converting to solar energy an easy process for property owners. We look forward to continuing to promote solar energy through outreach and innovative programs.”

SolSmart uses objective criteria to award points to communities based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. These actions range from implementing zoning and construction codes to promote solar energy, collaborating with utility companies for widespread solar implementation, engaging the community in solar development, and encouraging solar market growth and financial innovation.

Cambridge was awarded Bronze for its efforts, which include:

  1. An online permitting application system and solar checklist
  2. Easy access to detailed solar information online, including guidelines for residential installation, consumer advice about solar options, and general information about the solar process
  3. Efforts to grow the local solar market by installing arrays on public buildings, conducting feasibility studies, and providing a public map that residents can use to check their solar potential

“The City’s SolSmart designation reflects the significant steps that Cambridge has taken to make it easier for residents to convert to solar energy,” said Susanne Rasmussen, Director of Environmental & Transportation Planning. “Renewable energy is crucial to the City’s efforts to combat climate change.”

Cambridge pursued its SolSmart designation in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and received no-cost technical assistance from a team of national experts. City staff are continuing to work with SolSmart to achieve a Gold designation.

SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. More than 140 cities, counties, and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016. For more information about the Solsmart designation, visit

Holiday Reminders from Cambridge Recycling

Yard Waste Ends Next Week
Yard waste collection of leaves, grass and small twigs & branches ended the week of December 11. Yard waste begins again April 2, 2018 (same day that curbside compost begins citywide!).

Holiday Tree CollectionHoliday Season & Your Waste
Dec 25 & Jan 1 are holidays. All waste collection will be delayed one day both weeks.

Reduce waste, give the gift of experiences:
* Tickets to a film, concert, play, or sporting event.
* Gift certificates for a restaurant, spa, or museum.
* Donate to a non-profit organization in their honor.

Get Rid of It Right:
* Recycle all paper gift wrap and bags. But, trash tissue paper, bows and ribbons.
* Recycle all cardboard. But, trash styrofoam. Bubble wrap and air pillows can only be recycled at the DPW Recycling Center.

Donate Old Clothes with Give Back Box
This holiday season, give back to charity (and recycle!) with Give Back Box.

Reuse the cardboard box in which you’ve received a shipment, collect clothes and shoes you no longer want. Visit Give Back Box to print a free shipping label. Then, UPS or USPS will ship your donation to charity.

• Missed curbside collection? Report it by 9am the day after collection.
• Need toters, flyers, recycling labels, yard waste stickers or posters? Email or fill out this form.

City of Cambridge Wins "Deal of the Year" Finalist Honors for 2017 Minibonds
Award in the non-traditional category recognizes Cambridge’s innovative approach to using Minibonds to meet needs of City residents

City SealNov 20, 2017 – The City of Cambridge has been awarded the 2017 “Deal of the Year” by The Bond Buyer in the non-traditional financing category. The annual Deal of the Year Awards recognize innovation in municipal finance and attract submissions from government and municipal bond issuers across the country. This award recognizes Cambridge’s new Minibond program, which offers City of Cambridge bonds directly to Cambridge residents. The bonds funded city-wide capital projects including school building renovations, municipal facility upgrades, and implementation of Cambridge’s “Complete Streets” plan. The City offered $2 million of Minibonds with a $1000 minimum size, much lower than the standard $5000 minimum denominations of most municipal bond offerings.

“I am absolutely thrilled to receive national recognition for the City and our staff members who worked so hard to get this program established.” said City Manager Louis DePasquale. “For many years, the City of Cambridge received calls from City residents asking how they could buy the City’s Bonds. Our Minibonds are a great way to provide Cambridge residents a way to invest directly in City projects that will benefit our entire community. There was a lot of demand from our citizens and we sold out early last year, so we plan to expand our Minibonds offerings to Cambridge residents this year, too.”

Cambridge’s financial team worked with Boston representatives from legal firm Locke Lord and municipal advisory firm Hilltop Securities who provided advice to the City for the 2017 Minibonds, and with Neighborly Securities, a San-Francisco based underwriting and broker-dealer working to expand individuals’ access to the public finance market by leveraging technology and innovative marketing techniques. The Minibonds received the highest possible Aaa and AAA ratings from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.

Cambridge is in prestigious company with the other finalists for the 2017 Deal of the Year.  Other regional winners which will be honored along with Cambridge:

  • Northeast Region: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s $370 million issuance of sustainability bonds financing projects that benefit the environment and society
  • Southeast Region: The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority’s $472 million deal to is the first new use of commercial bond insurance and first use of a surety in place of a Debt Service Reserve Fund in a non-profit healthcare finance since the credit crisis a decade ago.
  • Southwest Region: The Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s inaugural $325 million financing for a new commuter rail line to Dallas-Fort Worth airport
  • Midwest Region: The Great Lakes Water Authority’s $1.3 billion first-ever bond issue, financing water system capital projects and achieving significant future savings
  • Far West Region: The Bay Area Toll Authority’s 41.9 billion sale to support its Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program
  • Small Issuer Financing: The City of Missoula, Montana issued $138 million in bond anticipation notes to purchase its water system from a private company
  • Healthcare Financing: Kaiser Permanente’s $4.2 billion bond issue which set records for the largest healthcare institution financing

Cambridge will receive the Deal of the Year finalist award along with the six other Deal of the Year 2017 qualifiers at The Bond Buyer’s 16th Annual Deal of the Year Awards event this December in New York City.

Learn more about Cambridge’s Minibond program at

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