Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 1, 2015

Budget Approval is the Big Item on the June 1, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:18 pm

Budget Approval is the Big Item on the June 1, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Budget Approval Night!Tonight’s the night for approval of the FY2016 Budget and related matters. Here are the items that seemed noteworthy:

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to appointment of the following persons as members of the Community Preservation Act Committee for 5-year terms effective June 1, 2015: Chandra Harrington, Thacher Tiffany

The CPA Committee is a 9-person board appoint by the City Manager. These two appointments are for the Historical Commission representative (Chandra Harrington) and the Planning Board representative (Thacher Tiffany). The CPA Committee’s next meeting is June 16 at 6:00pm in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. The meeting agenda will include providing the public an opportunity to suggest and recommend projects for CPA funding for Housing, Open Space and Historic Preservation in FY16.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $2,300,000 from Free Cash to the Public Works Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditures Account for the third phase of the LED street light conversion project.

This should be the final phase of the conversion project. It is estimated that the City will achieve over 40% of energy savings once the project is complete. Phase 3 of the project includes the retrofitting of decorative and park fixtures across the city.

Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a zoning petition to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinance. The intent of these proposed changes is to implement the zoning recommendations of the Kendall Square ("K2") Planning Study in order to facilitate future redevelopment of the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, which occupies the majority of the PUD-KS District, in accordance with the study.

As the communication states: "The intent of these proposed changes is to implement the zoning recommendations of the Kendall Square (“K2”) Planning Study in order to facilitate future redevelopment of the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, which occupies the majority of the PUD-KS District, in accordance with that study." One potentially controversial part of the proposal is that in addition to a general height cap of 250 feet in the district, there is an allowance for the Planning Board to potentially approve a single signature landmark building of up to 500 feet if it meets "a high standard for architectural excellence."

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearings held on May 7, 2015, May 14, 2015 and May 13, 2015 relative to the General Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the General Fund Budget in the amount of $510,570,005.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 14, 2015 relative to the Water Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the Water fund Budget in the amount of $13,964,115.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 14, 2015 relative to the Public Investment Fund for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the Public Investment Budget in the amount of $18,076,290.

Unfinished Business #15-20. Communications from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to orders requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $67,200,000 consisting of:

  • $37,750,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects;
  • $5,000,000 to provide funds for a Comprehensive Facilities Improvement Plan;
  • $4,600,000 to provide funds for surface improvements to the Harvard Square area;
  • $150,000 to provide funds for the purchase and installation of mechanical components to ensure the operational integrity of the elevator at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility;
  • $15,700,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects; and
  • $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks.

These are the traditional Finance Committee reports and loan authorizations relating to the approval of the FY2016 Budget.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and the School Committee, who is requested to refer this matter to the Superintendent of Schools, regarding CPS enrollment information for multi-units, car ownership and excise tax payments and parking permit applications and trip generation data.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung and Councillor McGovern

This seems like a relevant request for information as we head toward the upcoming Citywide Planning Process, i.e. "the Master Plan".

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee for a public hearing held on May 21, 2015 to discuss development of a process for the evaluation of the City Manager and recap the procedure for the setting of City Council Goals for the upcoming Legislative Term and to consider a different format.

I’ll simply expand on what I said at this meeting. I participated in the circus-like public evaluation of the City Manager back in 1993 and I would never want to see anything like that repeated again. Any member of the public may comment on the performance of the City Manager whenever they please, and they often do, but this is fundamentally the responsibility of the elected City Council to evaluate and hire a city manager. If people have issues with city management, they should speak to their councillors. It’s also important to keep distinct the periodic goal-setting process and any evaluation, contract extension, or hiring of the City Manager.

Committee Report #6. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 15, 2015 to discuss the C2 portion of the K2C2 Study.

Hopefully the stars are now aligned for more serious discussion and action at the City Council on the future of Central Square. – Robert Winters

Comments?

May 23, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (May 23, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge,Fresh Pond — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 12:19 pm

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (May 23, 2015)

Memorial Day Parade and Observance May 25

Memorial Day ParadeThe Cambridge Veterans’ Organization (CVO) and Cambridge Veterans’ Services will hold their annual Memorial Day Parade and Observance on Monday, May 25, 2015. The Parade will begin with a cannon salute by the MA Bicentennial Battery at 9:30am, on the Cambridge Common and proceed through Harvard Square, up Mount Auburn Street to Coolidge Avenue, and conclude at the Cambridge Cemetery on Coolidge Avenue. Cambridge Mayor David Maher and CVO President Philip Anderson will serve as parade commentators.

Parade participants will include: veterans’ groups, elected officials, police and fire personnel, color guards, bands, drill teams and youth organizations.

Following the parade, a Memorial Day Observance will be held at the Cambridge Cemetery. (Approximate start time: 11:00am) CVO President Philip Anderson will serve as Master of Ceremonies. CVO Chaplain Paul Kim will give the Invocation and Benediction and City of Cambridge Police Sargent and Massachusetts Army National Guard Veteran Maj. Thomas Glynn will deliver the keynote address.

Mayor David Maher will give the greetings of the city and City Councillor Marc McGovern will read the City Council’s Memorial Day Resolution. Amigos School 4th graders will lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and a CRLS Drama student will read the Governor’s Memorial Day Proclamation.

In addition, a CRLS student vocalist will sing the National Anthem, America the Beautiful and God Bless America. Bagpiper, Edward O’Callaghan will Play “Amazing Grace.” The CVO Rifle team along with the Massachusetts Bicentennial Battery will render a rifle salute, and Bugler, Robinson Pyle will blow “TAPS.”

Following the memorial observance, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Veterans’ of Foreign Wars accompanied by local elected officials will hold a brief memorial ceremony at the Weeks Bridge in honor of the Cambridge servicemen and women who were lost at sea.

The public is cordially invited to attend all of the Memorial Day events and activities.

Immediately following the day’s events, a collation, hosted by the Cambridge Veterans’ Organization will be held at the VFW Mt. Auburn Post, #8818, located at 688 Huron Avenue.

THERE IS VERY LIMITED PARKING AVAILABLE AT THE VFW. COLLATION ATTENDEES ARE ENCOURAGED TO RIDE THE VETERANS TROLLEYS THAT WILL BE LOCATED AT THE CEMETERY. THE TROLLEYS WILL RETURN YOU TO THE CAMBRIDGE COMMON OR THE CEMETERY AFTER THE COLLATION.

For further information, please call Cambridge Veterans Services at (617) 349-4761.


Exhibit: Magazine Beach – A Place Apart – On View at City Hall
Where & When: at City Hall, May 11-June 4

Magazine BeachSee how Cambridge’s second largest park came to be, from an island surrounded by marshes to a gunpowder depot and, later, a favorite Charles River swimming beach. As a public space, the site has inspired many plans and schemes. Consider the courses taken and passed by as we plan for the park’s future – this year.

Magazine Beach – Its History and Your Stories!
When & Where: Cambridge Sr. Center, 806 Massachusetts Ave. on Thursday, May 28 at 1:00pm

Magazine Beach Park, at the bottom of Magazine Street, is Cambridge’s second largest park, and it has long been a favorite swimming and picnicking site. Hear about its long history, about Captain’s Island and its powder magazine, and its becoming a popular beach for Charles River bathers. We’re eager to hear your stories, too!

Library Program: Renaissance on the Cambridge side of the Charles
Where & When: Main Branch, Cambridge Public Library on Thursday, June 11 at 6:30pm

While the Esplanade has long been the jewel on the Charles, the Cambridge river parklands, at long last, are beginning to receive their due. Hear the latest about North Point Park’s skate park and Magazine Beach and Greenough Boulevard improvements. Presenters from the Charles River Conservancy, Solomon Foundation, Cambridgeport Neighbors Association’s Magazine Beach Committee, Mass. Dept. of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), and the City of Cambridge will share current projects.

Magazine Beach


Cambridge Fire Department Receives American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award

Cambridge FireCambridge Fire Department, along with PRO EMS of Cambridge, have jointly received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience a STEMI, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a type of heart attack caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

Unfortunately, a significant number don’t receive this prompt treatment. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

Emergency Medical System providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies provide access to 12-lead ECG machines (devices that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat and can help medical personnel determine if a heart attack has occurred), and follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify the STEMI, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for the entire year, and treat at least eight STEMI patients for the year.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals. We applaud Cambridge Fire Department and PRO EMS for achieving this award that shows they meet evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”

“Cambridge Fire Department and PRO EMS are dedicated to making our units among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving STEMI systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all STEMI patients,” said Cambridge Fire Chief Gerry Reardon. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for STEMI patients.” For more information, contact Assistant Chief Gerard Mahoney, Phone: 617-349-4970. For more information about the program, visit: heart.org/missionlifeline.


Cambridge Public Library Awarded Six Prizes by Massachusetts Library Association

Children's Room, Cambridge Main LibraryMay 21 – The Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) presented the 22nd biennial public relations awards to the winning applicants at the Association’s Annual Conference at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. Winners were chosen by a panel of independent judges from the public relations, advertising, press, and graphic design fields. Evaluation criteria included messaging, originality, and presentation. Entries were submitted for 20 categories, including brochures, community reading programs, social media, and Websites.

The Cambridge Public Library received five awards in the logo, booklist, community reading program, summer reading program, and newsletter categories. The Library also received first prize in the merchandise category for its tote bags promoting library confidentiality.

Library graphic designer, Luke Kirkland was presented with the awards by the MLA Public Relations Committee at the 2nd Annual Awards Gala and Dinner.

"The Cambridge Public Library is proud of Mr. Kirkland’s work which is visually engaging and representative of the highly professional programs and services offered to our community," said Susan Flannery, Director of Libraries.

Last year, the Cambridge Public Library checked out 1.4 million items and offered 3,000 programs to more than 87,000 individuals.

The Massachusetts Library Association advocates for libraries, librarians, and library staff, defends intellectual freedom, and provides a forum for leadership, communication, professional development, and networking to keep libraries vital. MLA has been working libraries for over 100 years, representing members from all library types in the Commonwealth. For more information visit www.masslib.org.


Mayor David Maher Announces 25th Anniversary of Cambridge Pride Brunch

May 21 – Today, Mayor David P. Maher announced that 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the City of Cambridge’s Pride Brunch, a tradition that honors the service of individuals working toward equal access and social justice for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

This year, Mayor Maher, along with the City Administration and the Cambridge GLBT Commission will hold the event in the Sullivan Chamber in Cambridge City Hall on Saturday, June 13 at 9:00am, at 795 Mass. Ave.

Refreshments will be provided and the annual program celebrating the progress for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people in Cambridge will begin at 9:30am. The program will include a ceremony presenting the annual Bayard Rustin Award to a person of color with an outstanding history of service to the Cambridge GLBT Community. Community recognition awards as well as the Rose Lipkin award to a Cambridge Rindge and Latin School student will also be presented.

Bus transportation will be provided to the Boston Pride Parade after the Brunch, departing Cambridge City Hall at 11:15am.

RSVPs to this event are appreciated (but not required) and can be made to Mayor Maher’s Office at (617) 349-4321 or mayor@cambridgema.gov.


StoryWalk Cambridge – Can You Find all the Pages?
Friday, May 29, 5:30-7:30pm, Donnelly Field

(Behind King Open School, between Willow and Berkshire streets).
Rain Location: King Open School Cafeteria

The Agenda for Children, the Center for Families and the Cambridge Health Alliance invites families to come and join us for a reading adventure at Donnelly Field.

Pages from the children’s books Forest Bright, Forest Night and One Hot Summer Day will be posted along the field. Parents and kids can enjoy free pizza, books, arts and crafts, along with a special performance by Silly Sally.

For more information about StoryWalk, contact Priscila de Calvache at 617-665-3825 or pcardoso@challiance.org.


Community Preservation Act Committee Public Meeting on Project Recommendations June 16

The Community Preservation Act Committee will hold a public meeting Tuesday, June 16, at 6:00pm, at Cambridge City Hall, Sullivan Chamber, 795 Mass. Ave. The meeting agenda will include providing the public an opportunity to suggest and recommend projects for CPA funding for Housing, Open Space and Historic Preservation in FY16. For more information, contact Karen Preval at 617-349-4221 or kpreval@cambridgema.gov.


Cambridge Announces Formation of Foundry Advisory Committee
City Manager seeking volunteers to serve on committee

City of CambridgeThe Cambridge City Manager is seeking volunteers to serve on a new Foundry Advisory Committee that he is establishing. This group will advise and provide regular updates to the City Manager as well as providing regular updates to the Executive Director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) on proposed uses within the Foundry building, which will be redeveloped and operated consistent with the vision and objectives that grew out of an extensive community planning process.

In evaluating potential uses, programs, and use of shared spaces for creativity and innovation at the Foundry, the Committee will take into account the interior configuration, ongoing operations, changing demand and market forces, updates in technology and innovation, and other outside impacts. The Committee will also review any proposals for significant capital changes to the building as they affect the Foundry’s objectives.

Meetings are anticipated to occur quarterly, although more frequent meetings may be required in the initial stages of the redevelopment process. The Committee will provide annual updates to the CRA Board at regular Board meetings, which will provide the public with information regarding its activities and provide a forum for input. Members of the Committee will be initially appointed by the City Manager to staggered terms of 1-3 years.

The City Manager seeks individuals with demonstrated ability to work effectively on a team with diverse opinions to craft consensus recommendations. The City Manager’s intention is to create a committee that includes experience and expertise in related topic areas, as well as representation from various neighborhoods within the city, and local non-profit and community organizations.

Additional information regarding the Foundry building is available on the project webpage: www.cambridgema.gov/foundry

To apply, please send a letter by June 12, 2015 describing your interest in the Foundry Advisory Committee as well as any relevant experience and qualifications to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Email: citymanager@cambridgema.gov
Fax: 617-349-4307


City of Cambridge Announces Safer Truck Partnership with Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

DPW TruckMay 18, 2015 – Today, Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi announced a partnership with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to install truck side guards on city-owned trucks in order to enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling in Cambridge. The city intends to install these side guards on heavy-duty vehicles in an effort to lead by example in Massachusetts and to encourage private entities to do the same.

These efforts dovetail with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets, which was launched on Jan 22, 2015, by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

“Cambridge has always led the way with progressive multimodal transportation options for our residents. Now we are stepping up once again to lead the charge to make our streets safer and to mitigate the deadly consequences of common traffic collisions,” said Mayor Maher.

“The Mayors’ Challenge was designed to help small and large cities increase the safety of all bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Secretary Foxx. “These truck guards are another safety feature that can help save lives in Cambridge and other communities around the country.”

“Cambridge has decided to quickly and definitively make changes to its fleet to establish a new standard for safety in our community and the private sector,” said City Manager Rossi. “I’m immensely proud of how the city and federal government have come together to work to protect our residents.”

Side guards, which are installed on large trucks to protect bicyclists and pedestrians from falling underneath the vehicle, helped reduce bicyclist fatalities by 61 percent and pedestrian fatalities by 20 percent in side-impact crashes with trucks in the United Kingdom after side guards became required, starting in 1986. Side guards are devices intended to sweep aside a pedestrian or bicyclist in a side-impact crash, rather than being swept underneath the vehicle.

Volpe and the City of Cambridge are jointly working on a vehicle redesign strategy that will establish recommendations for implementing truck side guards, blind spot mirrors, and other vehicle-based technologies on the city-owned truck fleet. In addition to reviewing international best practices and safety data for developing the recommended technical specifications, operational and human factors issues will also be considered, such as:

  • Installing additional blind spot mirrors, lenses, or cameras intended to increase a driver’s field of view and situational awareness of bicyclists and pedestrians in the vicinity of a truck;
  • Posting educational messaging inside and/or outside of large trucks intended to increase awareness of all road users about avoiding blind spots and other specific hazards; and
  • Integrating the recommended safety countermeasures into the vehicle bodies and operations of the city’s truck fleet, on up to 50 identified vehicles starting in the fall of 2015, to lead by example and to encourage the private sector truck fleets to follow.

DPW Truck“I see Volpe’s first partnership with the City of Cambridge as an exciting opportunity to bring together the complementary strengths of our two government agencies,” said Dr. Alex Epstein, the Volpe team lead. “Even more importantly, this partnership is likely to save lives if the side guards and other truck-based safety initiatives succeed as expected, advancing transportation innovation for the public good.”

This initiative was brought to the attention of the City of Cambridge from social media. By coincidence, a member of Mayor Maher’s staff was walking by the scene of a crash sometime after a bicyclist had collided with a garbage truck. Thanks to the quick response of emergency personnel, the young father who had been on his bicycle was already being treated at a local hospital. Crews had started to remove the twisted frame of the bicycle from underneath the truck when Alanna Mallon, from the Mayor’s Office, walked by. She posted a picture of the bicycle frame on social media, which happened to reach Alex Epstein at the Volpe Center.

Within an hour of the picture being posted, Dr. Epstein was on the phone with the Mayor’s Office to arrange a meeting about the potential to work with Volpe on installing truck side guards. Not only was a meeting arranged with the City Manager, Deputy City Manager, Commissioner of Public Works, and Police Commissioner about this effort, but Dr. Epstein also testified at a Cambridge City Council meeting shortly after speaking with the Mayor’s Office to expand the dialogue about implementing truck side-guard solutions.

“Accidents between trucks and cyclists are unfortunately not out of the ordinary for urban communities in Massachusetts,” said Mayor Maher. “What is unique, however, is the speed with which Cambridge was able to engage with the talented folks at Volpe and to help institute a solution for our city in record time.”

DPW Truck


City Council Committee Hearing on the Net Zero Action Plan
Tuesday, June 9th 4:00pm to 6:30pm
City Hall, Sullivan Chamber, 795 Mass. Ave.

The City Council’s Health and Environment Committee, chaired by Councilor Leland Cheung, will be holding a public hearing on Tuesday, June 9th from 4:00pm to 6:30pm in Sullivan Chamber, City Hall. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss a proposed framework for the goal of setting Cambridge on the trajectory to becoming a “net zero community.” All are invited to attend this hearing. [more information on the Net Zero Action Plan]


Celebrate Cambridge Water, Sustainability and Community at Fresh Pond Day May 30

Join the Cambridge Water Department at its 8th annual Fresh Pond Day on Saturday, May 30, from 11am-3pm to celebrate Fresh Pond Reservation, Cambridge’s in-city drinking water reservoir and urban wild. This event is free and open to all; all dogs must be leashed.

The festivities are held around the Water Treatment Facility at 250 Fresh Pond Parkway. Use of public transit and bicycles to get to the event is strongly encouraged, especially for those wanting to participate in the bike parade! Visitors arriving by car are asked to park at the Tobin School on 197 Vassal Lane.

Fresh Pond DayFresh Pond Day is an occasion for all ages to jubilate in honor of Fresh Pond Reservation, which protects the City’s drinking water supply, is critical wildlife habitat, and provides Cantabrigians with a green, recreational oasis.

The day’s schedule of events includes:

  • Stories with Doria – 11:30am
  • Wildflower Walkabouts – 11:30am and 1pm
  • Wildlife Parade – 12:30pm (feel free to bring a costume – sign and mask making will be offered all morning!)
  • Live Wildlife Demonstrations – 1pm to 3pm
  • Treatment Facility Tour – 1pm (Open House all day)
  • Bee Hive Talk & Tour – 1pm
  • Bicycle Parade – 1:30pm (decorate at the flair station!)
  • Kingsley Park Restoration Tour – 2pm
  • Nature Drawing – 2pm

All-day highlights include: live music by Lux, Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band, and the Wicked Pickers; kids’ activities, StoryWalk and book giveaway; face painting; truck climb-aboards; bike tune-up and flair stations; dog training clinics; pedi-cab rides; a chance to meet and greet with City staff and community groups; and more!

Feel free to bring a picnic. Rain does cancel the event. For schedule and weather updates, and to get involved, visit www.cambridgema.gov/freshpondday, or contact Kirsten Lindquist at 617-349-6489, klindquist@cambridgema.gov.

May 18, 2015

Coming up at the May 18, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council,planning — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 2:26 am

Coming up at the May 18, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting

Mass+MainThere are plenty of items from which to choose on this week’s agenda, but there’s really little doubt that the one to watch is the vote to ordain the Normandy/Twining petition that would allow a significant number of new apartments to be built at the eastern end of Central Square, a.k.a. Lafayette Square.

Manager’s Agenda #19. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation on the Normandy/Twining (Mass and Main) Zoning Petition. The Planning Board recommends adoption with suggested modifications.

Unfinished Business #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 1, 2015 to continue discussions on the Normandy/Twining petition. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after May 11, 2015. Planning Board Hearing held Feb 24, 2015 and continued on Apr 28, 2015. Petition expires May 27, 2015.

Communications – 30 letters in support of Normandy/Twining Petition and 21 letters opposing Normandy/Twining Petition.

The necessary votes appear to be there to ordain this petition, but the real story is the political dynamics surrounding it. The Cambridge Residents Alliance (CResA), an unregistered political action committee disguised as a non-profit civic association, was born a few years back in response to the very things this petition would bring, i.e. additional height and residential density in Central Square. Back then it was the prospect of apartment buildings popping up on Prospect Street and Bishop Allen Drive and a residential tower behind the firehouse in Lafayette Square. Those ideas were either withdrawn or put on permanent hold. Other ideas were floated during the C2 process that helped to shape their recommendations, but the prospect of something actually being built only began to materialize at the end of the C2 process when the Quest properties in and around Lafayette Square were sold. There was little doubt that something would be done with these properties.

Objectively speaking, there’s a lot to be said for bringing significant new housing to this location, especially with a sizable number of units set aside for people with low/moderate income. There’s also some great possibilities in terms of ground floor retail and what people these days like to call "placemaking". It’s also very significant that a residential building is being proposed rather than an office or lab building.

On the other hand, this is also an opportunity for politics and we’ve seen a lot of that lately. There was an organized effort to turn an Ordinance Committee meeting on this petition into a tribunal directed at any city councillor who ever took a dollar from a property owner or developer. Poorly researched investigations into other Normandy-owned properties led to slanderous accusations propagated on various listservs. CResA activists and their scribes promoted conspiracy theories about City departments trying to work around the Zoning Ordinance and evade planning. A well-considered (and courageous) letter sent out by Councillor Kelley over the weekend has sparked some angry responses from the perpetually closed-minded. Through it all we’ve seen incumbent city councillors slandered while new candidates bulk up their campaign accounts and try to recruit feeder candidates for the November election – all of this over the building of new homes (near transit) where people can live.

It’s worth noting that a significant amount of public testimony on this matter has been in support of the Normandy/Twining petition, and many people who are not taking sides on the issue at least generally acknowledge that if there is to be residential density in Cambridge this is a pretty sensible place for it to be located.

Manager’s Agenda #20. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation on the Chestnut Hill Realty Zoning Petition. The Planning Board recommends adoption.

This appears to be just a technical improvement of a zoning change enacted a couple of years ago.

Order #4. Support of House Bill 340 that calls on the Department of Education to not approve PARCC for Massachusetts public schools; calls on the state to not require high-stakes standardized tests be used as a requirement for high school graduation for at least the next three years; and that the state establish an Educational Review Task Force to examine the effectiveness and impact of these high-stakes standardized tests.   Councillor McGovern and Councillor Kelley

This is a matter that has lots of people pretty charged up. I teach mathematics primarily to university students, but I also have quite a few high school students in my Harvard Extension School classes. You’ll never hear me arguing against the need for better standards in mathematics education – especially when it comes to challenging students to aim higher. Part of that means having some standardized testing and I don’t especially care what form that testing takes as long as it’s fair. I also have never been of the "every kid gets a trophy" mindset, but I do think it’s important that every kid have a path to graduation even if it means adjusting the path. Not all kids are destined to win Nobel Prizes, but everyone deserves a chance to one day have a chance at economic opportunity – especially in a city like Cambridge. Minimal standards won’t help to achieve that goal. Is PARCC better than MCAS? I don’t know, but I sure wish people would just make a good decision and go with it.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to review the attached seven recommendations submitted as part of the Apr 30, 2015 Housing Committee hearing minutes and instruct the City Solicitor and the Acting Assistant City Manager of the Community Development Department to prepare appropriate zoning language to achieve these recommendations.   Councillor Simmons

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Apr 30, 2015 to continue the Apr 22, 2015 discussion on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department.

While the political people have been obsessing over Normandy/Twining, housing in the Alewife area, and the ultimate legal resolution of the Sullivan Courthouse, there has been an ongoing review and update to some of the financial mechanisms that help to fund various affordable housing initiatives via fees derived from new non-residential development. The recommendations contained in this Order are mostly timely and appropriate, but I’m skeptical about any effort to tie linkage fees to job training programs or the City’s living wage ordinance for reasons similar to why unionized labor requirements should not be written into the Zoning Ordinance. Not all good standards and practices should be bound into law. Some things, like lease covenants requiring tenants to not seek residential parking permits, are best left as agreements and understandings rather than governmental requirements.

Order #16. That the Cambridge City Council officially go on record supporting the efforts and progress of the Cambridge Community Development Department related to the C2 study and we look forward to considering the zoning and non-zoning recommendations when presented to the Council.   Mayor Maher and Vice Mayor Benzan

Ideally, once the Normandy/Twining zoning petition is settled, there should be renewed interest and greater seriousness about the C2 study and its recommendations. Sometimes it takes a serious development proposal to motivate people to actually get serious. This isn’t the only example of that principle in action.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee for a public hearing held on Mar 25, 2015 to receive updates and to discuss next steps for the shared-use, rails-with-trail path along the City’s Grand Junction Corridor.

As I testified at the hearing, the most interesting parts of this proposal are how it will connect to places outside of Cambridge. It has the potential to create much better links between destinations at/near MIT to housing in Somerville and across the Charles River. At the Somerville end there are better and worse ways to align this route to the planned Somerville routes and the right-of-way being planned for the Green Line Extension. The primary bicycle facilities will always be the existing road network, but it’s great to make better use of abandoned and underutilized rail assets to create more and better connections. – Robert Winters

May 5, 2015

Cambridge Police Department Announces Series of Bike Safety Month & Bike Week Initiatives

Filed under: Cambridge,cycling,transportation — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:23 pm

Cambridge Police Department Announces Series of Bike Safety Month & Bike Week Initiatives

With National Bike Safety Month and Bay State Bike Week taking place in May, the Cambridge Police have a number of events, initiatives and materials planned to increase the safety of all people who walk, cycle or drive.

Events
Officers and City employees will be stationed at highly trafficked areas in the city and will provide giveaways, fliers with bike safety tips and address any questions or concerns at the following areas.

Date Time Location
Monday, May 11 7-9am Central Square*
Tuesday, May 12 7-9am Alewife T Station*
Wednesday, May 13    7-9am    Harvard Square*
Thursday, May 14 7-9am Kendall Square*

*Free breakfast, as available, generously provided by Charles River TMA

On-Bike Training & Bike Rides
Bike MonthThere are a number of bike rides and training-related activities taking place in May that the Cambridge Police will be involved with, all of which residents are highly encouraged to participate in:

  • The MA Walk & Bike to School Day is taking place Wednesday, May 6 at 7:00am at the Vassal Lane Upper School.
  • There will be bike tune-ups and games on Wednesday, May 12 at the Cambridge Public Library, which is located at 449 Broadway, from 12-2pm.
  • CPD, Community Development Department (CDD) and the City of Cambridge will be taking part in Bike Tours of Cambridge on Saturday, May 16 at 10am. Ride details are available here.
  • A free on-bike training course, which is geared for new bike riders and covers the basics of riding a bike, will take place at Danehy Park on Saturday, May 16 from 2-6pm. The training is sponsored by CDD and jointly instructed by the Cambridge Police and Mass Bike. Interested participants must RSVP with jlawrence@cambridgema.gov.
  • A Healthy Aging Dinner & Focus Group on Wednesday, May 20 from 6-8pm that will focus on the conversation about barriers to bicycling for people ages 50+. Interested participants must RSVP with jlawrence@cambridgema.gov.
  • CPD, CDD and many in the City of Cambridge will be participating in the Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge Outreach Event on Friday, May 29 from 7:30-10am.

Be sure to view a complete list of events coordinated by the Community Development Department on their website.

Bicycle Patrol
With the warmer weather, the Cambridge Police Department once again has a full staff of bicycle patrol officers riding the city streets. These officers not only help provide residents with a greater sense of safety around the city, but they will also be promoting safe driving, riding and walking, as well as enforcing traffic laws in the Commonwealth. One area of emphasis will be keeping bicycle lanes clear from illegally parked vehicles. Cambridge Police will also aggressively seek and look to mitigate bicycle theft.

Increased Enforcement
Thanks to a Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program Grant funded by Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Cambridge Police are collaborating with a number of community and regional partners to reduce overall crashes and injuries in the City through enhanced enforcement efforts now through September 2015.

Electronic Sign Boards
The Cambridge Police are soliciting bicycle safety-related tips and messages on Twitter and Facebook for the City’s electronic sign boards, which will be stationed in Inman Square, Central Square and other areas throughout May. CPD encourages residents to submit their suggestions in the comment field on Facebook. Each board can feature up to 18 characters at a time (36 with two rotations).

Additional Education
In addition to the initiatives previously mentioned, the Cambridge Police will be leveraging their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels to educate bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians about the rules of the road, as well as offer theft prevention tips. The Department is also currently working on a series of Public Service Announcements in conjunction with the City’s Bicycle Committee (CBC) to provide a deeper understanding of riding, driving and walking in Cambridge from a bicyclist’s perspective.

content taken from Cambridge Police Dept. press release


Editorial comment
I can’t let Bike Month go by without mentioning a thing or two about some of the realities of the emerging bicycling infrastructure that is (unfortunately) favored by some individuals working for the City of Cambridge.

Perhaps the most common problem I see are bike lanes painted on streets in such a way that right-turning motor vehicles are encouraged to turn across the bike lane at intersections. This is common along Massachusetts Avenue westbound from MIT heading toward Central Square, and I see near-misses daily. In those locations it would be much safer without the bike lane or with the lane reconfigured so that right-turning vehicles would be directed to move as far right as possible prior to turning – as required by state law. Cyclists being "right hooked" by turning vehicles is probably the most common cause of crashes.

Another reality that I witness every day is the dysfunction of the Vassar Street "cycle track". This sidewalk-based bike facility was constructed in such a way that delivery vehicles, taxis, and other vehicles have no other option than to drive up onto the sidewalk (and the cycle track) in order to do what they need to do. I don’t fault the drivers in any way since there really is no other practical option. I’m entertained when I see official City photos of this facility showing nothing but right-way cyclists riding along an unobstructed path. The everyday reality is that cyclists routinely ride wrong-way on this track and pedestrians generally make no distinction between the track and the rest of the sidewalk. It’s like an obstacle course of pedestrians, parked vehicles, and turning vehicles and an accident waiting to happen. The better option is to ride in the roadway, but the right-of-way has been narrowed to the point where you generally have to "take the lane" to ensure your safety. Crossing Vassar is easily the riskiest part of my daily commute.

If I could have one wish granted it would be that City officials seriously reevaluate some of their decisions regarding bicycling infrastructure. – Robert Winters

Dysfunctional streets

May 4, 2015

Quatro de Mayo at the Cambridge City Council – May 4, 2015 Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge Redevelopment Authority,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:47 am

Quatro de Mayo at the Cambridge City Council – May 4, 2015 Agenda Highlights

News!Here’s a quick look at what’s on deck for Monday. The most significant items are Manager’s Agenda #1-6, the appropriation and loan authorization orders for capital budget items totaling $67,200,000. There’s also an appropriation order of $6,000,000 in Manager’s Agenda #10 "to facilitate necessary initial capital improvements to the Foundry building." After the Public Comment period (and hopefully starting at the scheduled time) there will be a 7:00pm public hearing on a proposal by the City of Cambridge to dispose of a long-term leasehold interest in the Foundry Property at 101 Rogers Street to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) and on a request for diminution of the full disposition process.

Here are the big ticket items:

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $37,750,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects, including construction of sewer separation, storm water management and combined sewer overflow reduction elimination improvements within the City’s Agassiz Neighborhood, Alewife Watershed, Area IV Neighborhood, and Harvard Square areas as well as the Sewer Capital Repairs Program.

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $5,000,000 to provide funds for a Comprehensive Facilities Improvement Plan.

Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $4,600,000 to provide funds for surface improvements to the Harvard Square area including Eliot Street, Eliot Plaza, Brattle Street, and Brattle Plaza.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $150,000 to provide funds for the purchase and installation of mechanical components to ensure the operational integrity of the elevator at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $15,700,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects including the design and construction for the King Open/Cambridge Street School and Community Complex, roof replacement at the Kennedy Longfellow School, and a new boiler at the Fletcher Maynard Academy.

Manager’s Agenda #6. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an order requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks.

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $6,000,000 from Free Cash to the Public Investment Fund Public Works Extraordinary Expenditures account to facilitate necessary initial capital improvements to the Foundry building consistent with City Council Policy Order O-16 adopted on Mar 17, 2014, and to support the reuse of the building according to the vision and objectives identified through a robust community process.

Presumably the following item of Unfinished Business will also be discussed during the 7:00pm hearing on disposition of the Foundry building.

Unfinished Business #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to an update on the Foundry Building process, including the City’s plans to collaborate with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (the "CRA") to redevelop the Foundry building in a way that meets the vision and objectives expressed by the City Council and the community.


Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a proposed framework for your consideration concerning the goal of setting Cambridge on the trajectory to becoming a "net zero community", with focus on carbon emissions from building operations.

There’s a lot that can be said about this topic, but your homework assignment is to read the report first. It’s available as a Word document, but if you prefer PDFs, try these:

Net Zero Framework (the main report) Appendix E (Greenhouse Gas Reduction)
Appendix A (Best Practices) Appendix F (Solar Potential)
Appendix B (Building Energy) Appendix G (Summary)
Appendix C (Energy Supply) Appendix H (Netzero Task Force members)
Appendix D (Actions) Appendix I (Net Zero Action Plan)

Resolution #6. Congratulations to Patrick W. Barrett III on passing the Massachusetts Bar Exam.   Councillor Toomey

There’s a crowd of us out here in the bleacher seats cheering.


Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Apr 22, 2015 to continue discussion on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department.

The recent Nexus Study recommends an increase in the contribution rate "from the current $4.58 to $10-$12 per square foot of new commercial development, expansion of the uses that would be subject to the ordinance, removal of the special permit trigger which currently limits the applicability of the incentive requirements to projects needing certain special permits, elimination of the 2,500 square foot exemption, continuation of the 30,000 square feet building size threshold, maintenance of a uniform housing rate for all uses and continuation of adjustments to the contribution rate by the Consumer Price Index." [You should read the committee report for more detail on what this all means.] Some activists/candidates would like to raise it to $24 per square foot (or even higher), but it’s likely that cooler heads will prevail.

That’s all for now folks. – Robert Winters

April 26, 2015

What’s on Tap for the Monday, April 27, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting?

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:50 pm

What’s on Tap for the Monday, April 27, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting?

Budget Time!The Big Item is the arrival of the FY2016 Budget. In addition to that, here are a few of my favorite things….

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the reappointment of the following members of the Community Preservation Act Committee for 5-year terms: Ellen Shachter, Gerard Clark, Albe Simenas, Susan Schlesinger

All of these people reappointed by the City Manager are wonderful, community-oriented people well-suited to the CPA Committee. I only wish that all the great people serving on the City’s Boards and Commissions got half the attention that the elected officials receive for all that they do for an annual stipend of $0.00.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-139, regarding a report on a feasibility study and subsequent action plan on instituting suffrage for immigrants in Cambridge.

At the risk of infuriating some people, let me reiterate my point of view on this: Citizenship = The Right to Vote. If an immigrant living in Cambridge wants to vote in any elections – federal, state, or local – the proper route is to become a U.S. citizen.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-130, regarding a report on whether preference points can legally be allotted to all city employees for affordable housing units.

Though we can all appreciate the desire that City employees should be able to afford housing in Cambridge, that same sentiment applies to everyone else who works here. Seriously, why should a City employee get preferential treatment when there are so many other deserving people seeking affordable housing in and around Cambridge?

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-39, regarding a report on the Citywide Planning Process (Master Plan) including next steps and timeline. [Word][PDF]

I suppose this is progress. However, the more I think about this continuing quest for a Mystical Master Plan the more it seems as though we’re just spending money on outside consultants to replicate the planning the City has already been doing for the last two decades. I’m sure a few good ideas will grow out of the process and I do hope that constructive people will participate, but I strongly suspect that when all is said in done those people who are perpetually dissatisfied will continue to be dissatisfied.

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the FY2016 submitted budget and appropriation orders. [attachment]

This is the best time of year to become a student of how the City really functions. Here’s some comparative information of the adopted budgets by department and function in past years and in the newly submitted FY2016 Budget:

GENERAL GOVERNMENT FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Mayor $430,035 $558,785 $589,680 $586,635 -0.5 5.0 36.4
Executive $1,353,140 $2,008,150 $2,298,685 $2,356,150 2.5 17.3 74.1
City Council $975,570 $1,683,125 $1,711,115 $1,789,700 4.6 6.3 83.5
City Clerk $720,925 $1,119,765 $1,240,705 $1,123,935 -9.4 0.4 55.9
Law $1,780,975 $2,163,240 $2,176,975 $2,174,415 -0.1 0.5 22.1
Finance $8,837,560 $13,292,350 $14,540,220 $16,024,605 10.2 20.6 81.3
Employee Benefits $20,499,920 $32,787,200 $32,882,665 $33,025,885 0.4 0.7 61.1
General Services $984,345 $732,695 $704,725 $683,040 -3.1 -6.8 -30.6
Election Commission $756,540 $1,013,565 $1,072,390 $1,149,425 7.2 13.4 51.9
Public Celebrations $671,505 $891,945 $874,335 $905,900 3.6 1.6 34.9
Reserve $37,500 $37,500 $37,500 $37,500 0.0 0.0 0.0
TOTAL $37,048,015 $56,288,320 $58,128,995 $59,857,190 3.0 6.3 61.6
PUBLIC SAFETY FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Animal Commission $228,870 $309,700 $323,535 $331,365 2.4 7.0 44.8
Fire $28,891,840 $43,350,275 $44,661,535 $44,990,895 0.7 3.8 55.7
Police $31,515,220 $47,186,015 $49,260,625 $50,646,165 2.8 7.3 60.7
Traffic, Parking & Transportation $8,175,095 $10,935,015 $11,088,415 $11,483,870 3.6 5.0 40.5
Police Review & Advisory Board $77,210 $73,440 $75,235 $77,435 2.9 5.4 0.3
Inspectional Services $2,261,215 $3,180,045 $3,270,335 $3,414,450 4.4 7.4 51.0
License Commission $726,735 $1,030,970 $1,063,745 $1,183,145 11.2 14.8 62.8
Weights & Measures $98,910 $138,540 $142,935 $145,875 2.1 5.3 47.5
Electrical $2,239,640 $2,840,910 $2,767,880 $2,594,885 -6.3 -8.7 15.9
Emergency Management $137,820
Emergency Communications $3,097,485 $4,434,425 $4,631,960 $5,077,255 9.6 14.5 63.9
TOTAL $77,450,040 $113,479,335 $117,286,200 $119,945,340 2.3 5.7 54.9
COMMUNITY MAINT/DEV. FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Public Works $23,648,125 $32,859,690 $33,634,490 $35,090,060 4.3 6.8 48.4
Community Development $4,472,620 $5,676,340 $6,335,440 $7,359,590 16.2 29.7 64.5
Historical Commission $457,580 $632,940 $687,860 $654,580 -4.8 3.4 43.1
Conservation Commission $89,760 $123,470 $127,770 $130,585 2.2 5.8 45.5
Peace Commission $76,215 $143,940 $148,445 $151,510 2.1 5.3 98.8
Cable T.V. $999,500 $1,474,795 $1,452,495 $1,536,585 5.8 4.2 53.7
Debt Service $23,917,070 $49,716,250 $50,446,035 $54,664,525 8.4 10.0 128.6
TOTAL $53,660,870 $90,627,425 $92,832,535 $99,587,435 7.3 9.9 85.6
HUMAN RESOURCE/DEV. FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Library $5,461,430 $8,946,395 $9,249,325 $9,723,990 5.1 8.7 78.0
Human Services $14,581,590 $23,155,080 $24,225,290 $25,354,795 4.7 9.5 73.9
Women’s Commission $155,860 $233,115 $241,295 $246,425 2.1 5.7 58.1
Human Rights Commission $158,730 $249,380 $266,890 $275,140 3.1 10.3 73.3
Veterans $510,885 $1,005,375 $1,092,655 $1,123,070 2.8 11.7 119.8
TOTAL $20,868,495 $33,589,345 $35,075,455 $36,723,420 4.7 9.3 76.0
CITY TOTAL $189,027,420 $293,984,425 $303,323,185 $316,113,385 4.2 7.5 67.2
EDUCATION FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Schools Operating (TOTAL) $122,053,195 $150,989,445 $156,669,635 $163,940,420 4.6 8.6 34.3
INTERGOVERNMENTAL FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
MWRA $16,177,455 $21,346,815 $22,189,730 $23,516,200 6.0 10.2 45.4
Cherry Sheet Assessments $11,569,960 $20,126,950 $21,504,975 $21,336,755 -0.8 6.0 84.4
Cambridge Health Alliance $6,500,000 $6,500,000 $6,750,000 $7,000,000 3.7 7.7 7.7
TOTAL $34,247,415 $47,973,765 $50,444,705 $51,852,955 2.8 8.1 51.4
GRAND TOTALS $345,328,030 $492,947,635 $510,437,525 $531,906,760 4.2 7.9 54.0
FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
WATER $17,098,120 $14,238,700 $13,964,275 $13,964,115 0.0 -1.9 -18.3
PUBLIC INVESTMENT $8,834,255 $34,407,930 $31,954,025 $18,076,290 (*) -43.4 -47.5 104.6

(*) Does not include additional Public Investment Appropriation Orders for FY16 that require authorization to borrow funds.


Resolution #14. Recognition of the dedication of the Officer Sean Collier Memorial and gratitude to Officer Collier for his service and sacrifice. Councillor Toomey

Many of us who work at MIT and who had the pleasure of knowing Sean Collier will be at the dedication this Wed, Apr 29 at noon.

Resolution #17. Recognition to Sara Mae Berman for her accomplishments and for leading the way in women’s sports and congratulations on her induction into the Distance Running Hall of Fame.   Councillor McGovern

Congratulations to my neighbor and friend Sara Mae Berman. I would also give her an award for her rhubarb pies.

Resolution #32. Congratulations to the 2015 City of Cambridge Outstanding City Employee Awards.   Mayor Maher

This year’s recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015, at 9:30am, in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. The City Manager will also be presenting a special award in memory and honor of Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of others. I can think of many City employees who would be deserving of this award.

Order #6. Amendment by adding new Rule 31C regarding City Manager appointments to the Cambridge Housing Authority.   Councillor Kelley

The City Council has the responsibility of approving appointments to only two Boards – the Cambridge Housing Authority and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. The intention of this Order is to establish a formal process for approving these appointments via review by standing City Council committees prior to being voted by the full City Council.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff to: determine the existing capacity of the City to address excessive noise complaints; analyze past complaints to determine if there have been any trends in type, location, time or any other aspect of formal noise complaints and response actions in Cambridge; create a noise map focusing on existing noise from industrial, lab and office buildings and the impact of that noise on residential structures; review opportunities to provide noise measurement and enforcement capabilities and responsibilities within the Police Department, Inspectional Services, DPW and the Department of Public Health to provide comprehensive, 24/7 noise response capacity with Cambridge.   Councillor Kelley and Councillor McGovern

This is a good initiative that I hope will eventually lead to some clarification in the Zoning Ordinance regarding compatible uses in districts with a mix of housing and potentially noisy other permitted uses, especially laboratories and manufacturing facilities. This is a topic that should probably be rolled into the upcoming Citywide Planning Process, a.k.a. Master Plan. Ideally there would be some acknowledgement of the fact that even if labs and residences can coexist in a mixed-use district, that might not extend to 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The same goes for clubs, taverns, and any other use that extend into the night-time hours. Perhaps we need to create zoning based not just on location but also on time of day.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and report back to the City Council with suggested language for either a Home Rule petition or a change to general state law that requires all individuals involved in a collision, to include dooring, to give everyone else involved written contact information, not just to offer it.   Councillor Kelley

Another good idea from the city councillor who has the most experience navigating Cambridge by bicycle. It’s always best to exchange information even for a minor collision because it’s often the case that you only discover damage or injury hours or even days after the altercation.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Mar 19, 2015 to provide an update and continue discussion on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department.

The current recommendation is to increase the housing contribution from $4.58 to $10 to $12 per square foot and to make regular CPI adjustments in the future. Some activists would prefer that it be multiplied ten-fold, but it’s always easy to say that when you’re spending other people’s money.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 1, 2015 to continue discussions on the Normandy/Twining petition.

There’s a good chance that this petition will be passed to a 2nd Reading at this meeting and be placed in the queue for ordination in a few weeks. The Planning Board will also be continuing their hearing on the petition the following day. I’m sure there will be a lot of public comment on this item, though I seriously doubt if there will be any new revelations. People are just digging in at this point and crafting their rhetoric as if this were a military matter. It’s not. It’s just about building a place where people can live. – Robert Winters

April 21, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 21, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 5:34 pm

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 21, 2015)

City of Cambridge 2015 Outstanding City Employee Award Winners Announced

April 17, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Outstanding City Employee Award.

City of CambridgeJanice Alger, Assistant Director of Administration, Human Services Department

Kara Armstrong, Administrative Assistant, License Commission

Sidney Botelho, Communications Supervisor, Emergency Communications Department

Karen Brown, Deputy Director, Library

Maryellen Carvello, Office Manager, Executive Office

Tyrell Dortch, Youth Center Program Director, Human Services Department

Juan Galindo, Working Foreman/Laborer, Department of Public Works

Brian Gover, Deputy Chief, Fire Department

Priscilla Lopes, Career Counselor, Human Services Department

Paul Ryder, Division Head/Recreation Director, Human Services Department

Anthony Tuccinardi, Housing Inspector, Inspectional Services Department

The City Manager will also be presenting a special award in memory and honor of Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of others.

Recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015, at 9:30am, in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall, for their superior performance, positive attitude, hard work and dedication to public service. All are welcome to attend.


Cambridge Joins 73 Cities & Counties to Take Legal Action in Support of Immigration Reforms

Statue of LibertyApril 7, 2015 – As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi announced that Cambridge has joined 73 cities and counties to file a new friend-of-the-court brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit, urging immediate implementation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The brief demonstrates robust support from the country’s largest cities – as well as its suburbs and rural areas – for the President’s reforms, which will provide temporary relief from deportation to immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. who pass a background check and meet other criteria.

The cities and counties – representing 43 million people across the country – argue that the district court judge who temporarily blocked implementation of the programs failed to consider the significant harms to America’s local governments caused by this delay. The brief more than doubles the number of local governments that had previously voiced opposition to the lawsuit brought by states seeking to block President Obama’s immigration reform efforts.

“Cambridge is home to immigrants from across the world and these residents help make our city the vibrant and diverse community that we are so proud of,” said Mayor Maher. “I am pleased to join other Mayors and city leaders to urge swift action on immigration reform which will strengthen families, grow our economy and reward the hard work and determination of those seeking the American dream both in Cambridge and across the country.”

As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led the effort to organize more than 70 cities and counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in arguing that the national public interest is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration relief by executive action without delay. The brief also argues that the District Court judge’s decision to block executive action with a preliminary injunction is bad for the economy, hurts families, threatens law enforcement priorities, and will stall desperately needed changes to the federal government’s immigration policies.


Save the Date for Cambridge Arts Open Studios, May 9 & 10

Open Studios7th Annual Cambridge Arts Open Studios
Saturday, May 9th & Sunday, May 10th
12 noon – 6:00pm

Explore the work of over 100 visual and performing artists over one vibrant weekend! Celebrate the special women in your life with a memorable mother’s day weekend celebration of the visual and performing arts in Cambridge. Discover exceptional works of art and find unique presents to wrap up for mom.

New this year, performing artists are paired with visual artists for engaging and intimate performances in studios and common venues throughout the city.

Visit cambridgeartscouncil.org/openstudios to plan your visit!


Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects Announced

April 7, 2015 – During a Vote Results Party April 7 at the Citywide Senior Center, City officials, along with Budget and Finance staff, announced the winning projects of the Cambridge’s first ever Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Launched in the fall, PB enabled residents to directly decide how to spend $500,000 of the FY16 Capital Budget. Over 380 ideas for projects to improve Cambridge were submitted. From January to March, 40 volunteer Budget Delegates prioritized and developed those ideas into 20 concrete project proposals to be placed on a ballot for the community to vote on.

Over 2,700 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted online and at events around town to decide which projects the City should fund.

The following six projects won PB funding for FY16:

  • 100 new trees and tree wells in low-canopy neighborhoods ($119,400)
  • 20 new laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  • Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  • Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  • 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  • Free public Wi-Fi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)

The above projects totaling $527,400 will be implemented as part of the City of Cambridge FY16 Capital Budget.

Many thanks to the PB Cambridge Steering Committee, the Budget Delegates, the Participatory Budgeting Project, City staff, the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make this pilot initiative a great success!

Want to get involved? We’re launching the second round of Participatory Budgeting this summer. Find out more at www.cambridgema.gov/yourbudget.

Participatory Budgeting


City of Cambridge Soliciting Memberships for Transit Advisory Committee

MBTA mapApril 13, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking members for the Transit Advisory Committee, which works to advance an agenda for a robust public transportation system for those who live and work in Cambridge. The committee is composed of a cross section of stakeholders that advise on city positions and policies regarding long term sustainable funding for transit by the Commonwealth, transit expansion, service planning, and service improvements. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month, from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.

Applications are sought by dedicated individuals who live or work in Cambridge. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings as well as review materials and potentially engage in projects outside of regular meetings. To apply, please prepare a cover letter indicating your interest and any relevant knowledge and experience you may have in this area, and specific issues you would like to contribute time to working on. Please be sure to include your mailing address, phone number, and email. The application deadline is Friday, May 1. Please forward letters of interest via mail or email to:

Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
c/o Diane Bongiorno
Cambridge Community Development Department
344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139
Email: dbongiorno@cambridgema.gov

Appointments are made by the City Manager and are for two years of service. For more information, call Tegin Bennett at 617-349-4615 or email tbennett@cambridgema.gov. Visit the committee’s webpage at: cambridgema.gov/CDD/Transportation/forthepublic/transitadvisorycommittee


Main Street Construction Update: Road and Sidewalk Work Starts April 21

On Tuesday, April 21, the city’s contractor, Newport Construction, will begin roadway and sidewalk reconstruction on Main St between Ames St and Wadsworth. The road work is expected to take about 1 month to complete, while the sidewalk work will be ongoing throughout the spring and summer. During the road work phase, Main St will function as a one way. While crews reconstruct the eastbound lanes, only westbound traffic on Main St will be permitted. When crews switch to the westbound side, only eastbound traffic will be permitted. MBTA, trolley and EZ Ride stops may be adjusted during the road work. Please check signs for temporary stop locations.

Seek Alternate RoutesPROJECT SCHEDULE

  • Starting Tuesday, April 21, crews will mobilize on Main St to begin roadway reconstruction. Work will begin on the eastbound side first (2 weeks), and then switch to the westbound side (2 weeks).
  • Additionally, starting on April 21, crews will begin sidewalk reconstruction on the north (Marriott) side of Main St (2 months), followed by the south side (2 months). We will continue to provide updates as the construction progresses.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION

  • During the road work phase, Main St will function as a one way. While crews reconstruct the eastbound lanes, only westbound traffic on Main St will be permitted. When crews switch to the westbound side, only eastbound traffic will be permitted.
  • MBTA Bus, shuttle and trolley stops on Main St may be adjusted during roadway reconstruction. Please check signs for temporary stops.
  • “No Parking” signs will be posted; please be sure to check dates/times.
  • Emergency vehicles will have access at all times.

Additional information and project plans are available online at: www.cambridgema.gov/theworks/cityprojects.aspx, under Main Street Reconstruction Project.


Connect Kendall Square Competition Winner Selected

Connect KendallApril 9 – Connect Kendall Square Open Space Competition The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce the selection of Somerville based Richard Burck Associates as the winner of the Connect Kendall Square Open Space Planning Competition. Richard Burck Associates was chosen by a six member jury after the culmination of a three stage process spanning eight months.

Four teams of finalists were charged with developing an open space plan framework guided by a vision and planning and design goals identified through a robust public process spearheaded by the City and the Eastern Cambridge and Kendall Square Open Space (ECKOS) Study Committee. The goals included promoting complementary uniqueness, establishing activations strategies, building an identity, and elevating the user experience. The teams presented their framework plans to the competition jury and the general public on March 25-26, 2015.

The competition, sponsored by the City’s Community Development Department, was a unique opportunity to develop a plan to implement the vision for the entire open space network in Kendall Square and eastern Cambridge and vicinity. Launched July 2014, Connect Kendall Square was a departure from more traditional planning processes, and even unique among competition formats. The competition generated creative ideas and thinking on strategies to use open space and the public realm to better connect Kendall Square to surrounding neighborhoods, and also create a sense of place and identity. The winning framework plan will serve as a means of informing park designs, the character and role of both public and private open spaces in the area, and even decisions regarding infrastructure, city policy and future development.

Connect Kendall Square - Richard Burck Associates

The framework plan presented by Richard Burck Associates is structured on better connecting the Charles River to Kendall Square, and then better connecting Kendall Square to its surrounding parks, neighborhoods and MIT. This layered effort encompasses organizing new urban form to feature open space connectedness, connecting a series of sustainable storm water strategies, and developing strong pedestrian connections throughout the project area. This "dendritic" pattern overlaid on Kendall Square describes circulation moving in an increasing concentrated way to the Charles River. It’s a pattern with historic roots rich with interpretive possibilities in connecting Kendall Square today.

The competition jury consisted of Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA, professor of landscape architecture at University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Candace Damon, Vice Chairman of HR&A Advisors, Inc.; Robin Moore, professor of landscape architecture and Director, Natural Learning Initiative, NC State University; Inga Saffron, architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer; Michael Singer, artist and designer; and alternate juror J. Roger Boothe, former Director of Urban Design for the City of Cambridge. More information about the Jury’s selection and evaluation is available in the Jury Report.

For more information, visit the project page or competition website, or contact Taha Jennings at tjennings@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4302.


Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Overflow Control Progress Update

April 9 – This notice is required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as an annual update on the progress of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) control measures that are underway to improve the water quality of Alewife Brook.

Cambridge-MWRA-Somerville

JOINT PUBLIC NOTICE – APRIL 2015
Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Overflow Control Progress Update

Residents with property that lies in the extended 100-year floodplain of Alewife Brook as established and currently in effect by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will receive a direct notice in the mail in mid-April. For more information, please refer to the notice or contact Catherine Daly Woodbury at Public Works at 617-349-4818 or cwoodbury@cambridgema.gov.


Rain Barrel Program

April 8 – April Showers Bring Limited Time Offer on Rain Barrels
Rain BarrelCapture the rainwater from your roof and store it in a rain barrel for later use in your garden. Purchase a 60-gallon rainwater collection system for $79.00. This offer is valid until May 14th. To provide the lowest cost, the company is arranging for a general delivery of the rain barrels on Thursday, May 21st , from 4-7pm, at Cambridge DPW yard, 147 Hampshire Street.

If rainwater is not captured and allowed to soak back into the ground, rivers and streams do not have the chance to sustain or "recharge" themselves. By capturing rainwater, you are reducing stormwater runoff, conserving water and recharging the groundwater. A local non-profit agency, Green Cambridge (www.greencambridge.org), is offering to install rain barrels for Cambridge residents free of charge. If you prefer to install them yourself, the rain barrel arrives with simple instructions for fast and easy installation.

For more information, to order online and to check out the new design and variety of color options log onto The Great American Rain Barrel Company website: www.greatamericanrainbarrel.com, click on “Shop Local Programs” and select “Cambridge”. You can also order by phone (800-251-2352) toll free when specifying the City of Cambridge promotion.

April 13, 2015

Taking a Look at the April 13, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Taking a Look at the April 13, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Founding FathersHere are a few items that might prove interesting:

Reconsideration #1. Councillor Toomey notified the City Clerk of his intention to file reconsideration of the vote taken on Mar 30, 2015 to refer to the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee City Manager Agenda #18 and Calendar #8 as amended regarding the Pearl Street Reconstruction Project.

It’s anyone’s guess where this will end up, but it did seem odd that this Order would be referred at the last meeting to a committee whose Chair will likely be hostile to it. There really is a need to review some of the boneheaded projects that have been trotted out under the "Complete Streets" banner, but it’s doubtful that committee action will lead to anything other than politicizing this. A better term would be "Dysfunctional Streets" to describe road designs that provide no actual additional bicycle safety while rendering streets dysfunctional, e.g. Vassar Street where trucks have no other option than to park on sidewalks, a stopped vehicle brings all traffic to a standstill, and where the safety of any cyclist choosing to ride in the road is greatly compromised. While driving on the newly-choked Western Avenue the other day I got to witness first hand how even the simple act of parking a car can turn Western Ave. into a one-lane, highly congested road.

Manager’s Agenda #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a recommend on the reappointment of Christopher Bator to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority for a 3-year term, effective Apr 13, 2015.

This is not controversial – just an opportunity to once again marvel at how the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority has pivoted over the last few years from being nearly irrelevant to becoming the vehicle of choice for some really important initiatives.

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the appropriate departments to determine what types of traffic, parking, and other citations the city has legal jurisdiction over and to confer with the appropriate city departments to institute a day-fine policy in Cambridge.   Councillor Mazen

This is a ridiculous proposal. A day-fine is "a fine tied to an individual’s daily income". This proposal suggests that people whose reported income is low should pay less for parking violations or speeding tickets. The Order notes that "License suspensions and legal fees resulting from unpaid citations have been shown to have a disproportionately negative effect on low income individuals and households." There’s an even simpler solution – don’t park illegally or drive at excessive speeds that endanger others.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council at the next regular meeting with an update on the Citywide planning process (Master Plan) including next steps and a timeline.   Councillor McGovern

My sense is that when this Magical Master Plan is eventually decided (and I really am interested in the requested timeline), there’s a good chance that it won’t fulfill the hopes and dreams of those who have come to believe that all clocks must be stopped until it’s in place.

Order #9. That Article Six of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance entitled "Off Street Parking and Loading Requirements and Nighttime Curfew on Large Commercial Through Trucks" be amended in Section 6.20 entitled "Off Street Parking Regulations" to include information in "Carsharing Provisions." [attachment]   Councillor Cheung, Vice Mayor Benzan, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Simmons

Order #12. That the City Council refer to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board, for hearing and report, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinances in Section 20.300 "Central Square Overlay District" regarding the granting of Special Permits in the Central Square Overlay District.   Councillor Carlone and Councillor Mazen

Order #14. That Article 13 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinances entitled "Planned Unit Development Districts" be amended in section 13.53.2 of 13.50 entitled "PUD-4, PUD-4A, PUD-4B and PUD-4C Districts: Development Controls" by striking out the first sentence and substituting in place thereof the following new sentence: The minimum size of the Development Parcel within PUD-4B shall be two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) square feet.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor Cheung and Councillor McGovern

This is a rare thing indeed – three City Council zoning petitions introduced in a single meeting. Almost all zoning petitions tend to originate with either property owners/developers who want to build something or with activists trying to block something from being built. It has become rare for the City Council to initiate the process, and here we hit the trifecta! I’ll wait to hear more explanation of the motivation behind Order #9 and Order #14. As for Order #12, I was at first intrigued at what seemed to be an acknowledgement that providing incentives for new housing in Central Square might be a good direction consistent with some of the C2 recommendations from a couple of years ago. Then I read what Councillor Carlone wrote on his blog. Apparently the primary purpose of the zoning proposal in Order #12 is to remove the argument occasionally heard in regard to the ongoing Normandy/Twining petition that if housing cannot economically be built at Mass & Main (Lafayette Square) then an office or lab building would be the default option.

This chess move by Councillors Carlone and Mazen and their sponsors would affect the entire Central Square Overlay District in regard to any Special Permit application for Additional Height. There may be some merit in this proposal but it’s also quite possible that it will have some unintended consequences. Either way, it’s being introduced at this time apparently as an attempt to derail the Normandy/Twining proposal. Having a broader conversation about delivering new housing in the Central Square area is consistent with the C2 recommendations, but one really has to raise an eyebrow when those now suggesting this are the same people who have squelched that conversation in the past. Besides, as we have heard the naysayers chant time and time again, how can we do anything without first having The Master Plan? [sarcasm intended] – Robert Winters


Update: Order #12 Failed on a 1-7-1 vote (Mazen YES via speakerphone; Carlone ABSENT). I don’t recall it having ever happened that a proposed zoning amendment was defeated when introduced without even being formally referred to the Ordinance Committee and Planning Board. This was a stunning rebuke of Councillors Carlone and Mazen (and their supporters). – RW

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: