Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

December 21, 2016

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – December 2016

Filed under: Cambridge,recycling — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 5:30 pm

Hello Recycling & Composting Neighbors! – December 2016

recycling symbolYard Waste Pickup Ends December 16
Holiday Changes for Trash/Recycling & Recycling Center
Reducing Waste During the Holidays
Recycle in the Curbside Toter
Common Curbside Recycling Mistakes
Holiday Drives: Donation and Reuse Opportunities
Holiday Tree Collection and Composting
Join Our Team!


Yard Waste Pickup Ends December 16

  • Collection of leaves, grass and small twigs & branches ends the week of December 12-16, 2016.
  • If your yard waste was missed, please notify us immediately (within 24hrs) by going online (Choose "Missed Yard Waste Pickup") or call us at 617-349-4800.

Holiday Changes for Trash/Recycling & Recycling Center

Due to the Holidays, there will be no trash/recycling collection on:

  • Monday, December 26, 2016
  • Monday, January 2, 2017

All curbside collection will be delayed by one day both weeks. The Recycling Center will be closed on Saturday, December 24, 2016.


Reducing Waste During the Holidays

  • Chose to ReuseCooking and Dining: Use reusable tableware (plates, cups, utensils, etc) and dishware (pans, pie dishes, etc).
  • Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB): Don’t forget to bring your own reusable bag for shopping these holidays. Avoid the mandatory checkout bag charge and help reduce waste. Need a bag? Email us.
  • Gift Wrapping: Reuse bows, boxes, bags and gift wrap. Save these items to reuse.
  • Gift Giving: Consider giving experiences rather than physical gifts. For example, you could give concert, movie, or play tickets, or experiential classes for cooking, exercise (yoga, rock climbing, or spin classes), or painting.
  • Food Waste: After you’ve finished eating and having leftovers, be sure to compost any excess food waste. Visit CambridgeMA.Gov/Compost.

Recycle in the Curbside Toter

  • Aluminum Foil: It’s always recyclable after you have removed food waste.
  • Cardboard: If your cardboard won’t fit in the toter, stack cardboard/nest boxes outside the toter.
  • Paper Gift Wrap, Boxes, and Bags: Recycle after reusing. Sorry, bows and tissue paper are trash.
  • Items Accepted in the Curbside Recycling Program.

Common Curbside Recycling Mistakes

  • NO Styrofoam: Bring Styrofoam peanuts to a UPS Store for reuse or to the Recycling Center. That bulky Styrofoam can’t be recycled. Put it in the trash.
  • NO Plastic Bags, Bubble Wrap or Air Pillows: Bring empty, clean and dry bags to designated bins at store entrances or the Recycling Center.
  • NO Electronics: Some items such as dead string lights, cords, electronics, and non-alkaline batteries can be recycled at the Recycling Center. See here for more info.
  • NO Pots, Pans, Hangers or Other Scrap Metal: Bring metal items to the Recycling Center. Many dry cleaners accept metal hangers for reuse.
  • NO Clothing or Textiles: Donate all dry and clean textiles. More info here.

Thanks for Getting Rid of It Right!


Holiday Drives: Donation and Reuse Opportunities

Mass. Ave. Diner, 906 Massachusetts Ave: Hosts a food drive through Dec. 22. See here for details.

The City Manager’s Office and the Employees’ Committee on Diversity: Collaborating on a Winter Coat and Accessories Drive to benefit CASPAR and help the homeless stay warm this winter. See here for more info.

"Secret Santa for Seniors" Gift Drive: Seekling gifts for Seniors. See here for more info.


Holiday Tree Collection and Composting

DPW will offer curbside collection of holiday trees from Dec 27, 2016- Jan 13, 2017, weather permitting. Remove all decorations and the stand. Place bare trees (no plastic bags) at the curb with your trash and recycling.

Missed curbside pickup? Residents can bring bare trees to the Recycling Center during open hours (Tues/Thurs 4pm-7:30pm and Sat 9am-4pm): Dec 27, 2016 – Jan 31, 2017.


Join Our Team!

Cambridge DPW is hiring for two paid part-time positions. We are looking for a Waste Reduction Outreach Assistant and a Recycling Center Monitor.


  • recycling symbolMissed recycling or trash? Please use Commonwealth Connect and report it online or via mobile app (iPhone / Android) or call DPW at 617-349-4800 by 12 noon the day after collection to make a request.
  • Need toters, brochures, labels, or posters? Email recycle@cambridgema.gov or fill out this form.
  • Following a weekday holiday, curbside trash, recycling, compost and yard waste collection is delayed one day. Check the 2016 collection schedule.

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 191-192: December 20, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 191 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on December 20, 2016 at 5:30pm. Topics included the Dec 19 City Council meeting and the Dec 13 meeting of the Economic Development & University Relations Committee on the topic of Harvard Square development and preservation. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.
[On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 192 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on December 20, 2016 at 6:00pm. Topics included the Participatory Budgeting winners, a 1987 poem about Central Square, Little Free Libraries for Central Square, and the upcoming Zero Waste Plan. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

December 19, 2016

Closing Down an Unusual Year – Dec 19, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda Notes

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:13 am

Closing Down an Unusual Year – Dec 19, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda Notes

This will be the last City Council meeting of the year. Here are a few agenda items worthy of some comment:Darwin's sidewalk sign

On the Table #1 and #2. Sidewalk sandwich board applications (CareWell Urgent Care, Esmeralda) languishing On the Table since being tabled by Councillor Devereux on Apr 25, 2016.

Applications & Petitions #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Applications and reapplications for sidewalk sandwich boards for Esmeralda, Honeycomb Creamery, Darwin’s Ltd., Marimekko, and Mundo/Lux.

Normally I wouldn’t even bother noting such minor goings-on, but when did the lowly sidewalk sandwich board become such a big deal? This year has been the Year of the Mountainous Molehill with the Cambridge City Council focusing excessively on advertising and identification signs on buildings, and on darkening as many lights as possible. We’ll soon be a city of totally anonymous buildings that will only be identifiable via iPhone apps. Apparently the only signage that’s completely OK is graffiti.

Bunches of Communications supporting the building of 100% affordable housing on the City-owned parking lots on Bishop Allen Drive.

Needless to say, all housing is affordable to someone. So the real question is what mix of household incomes should be represented in any new housing that may be constructed on these sites? Is segregating people by income the best strategy in the long term? The beauty of Inclusionary Zoning is that it integrates people of different income levels within the same buildings. I hope that any housing that may be created on these parking lots at leasts tries to achieve some sort of economic integration. Most of the communications posted in the agenda make no reference to economic integration. In fact, they bear all the signs of an organized effort – nearly identical phrases transcribed in response to an appeal from a single source.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Police Department and other relevant city departments to allow Officer Peter Neal to purchase Rumba upon his retirement.   Councillor Cheung

This is a very nice gesture, but my understanding is that these police dogs (and I’ve met them all) were trained as bomb-sniffers at some expense and may not yet be eligible for retirement. If Rumba is nearing retirement age, I hope she gets a generous pension of dog bones and biscuits and gets to live happily ever after with Officer Neal.

Order #2. City Council support of asking the Cambridge Historical Commission to initiate a landmark designation study process on the Abbott Building in Harvard Square.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Mazen, Vice Mayor McGovern

We all want to see the bones of Harvard Square kept somewhat intact even as new owners and new businesses replace others, and this building is certainly deserving of landmark status. That said, some alteration could still make for a better project. There is, however, something backwards about landmarking only after plans have been submitted. Wouldn’t it make more sense to identify and landmark buildings (or entire areas) before they are purchased for redevelopment?

During a recent hearing on Harvard Square that was inspired by this development proposal, one public commenter offered an interesting proposal to create a mid-block alley through this property that would extend Palmer Street and serve as an interesting entryway to any businesses in this building. That would certainly disrupt the "historic facade" of the building, but it was an interesting idea that would be consistent with the many other alleyways and connections that are abundant in Harvard Square. Personally, I just hope that any displaced businesses can be accommodated somewhere in the greater Harvard Square area, though we would certainly welcome them in Central Square or another Cambridge location.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 1, 2016 to discuss the zoning petition submitted by Nabil Sater, et al to amend the Zoning Ordinances in the Central Square Overlay District, Section 20.300.

This petition – the Central Square Restoration Petition – received unanimous approval by the Planning Board at its initial hearing. It usually takes at least two meetings, so that’s at least one measure of the quality of this petition. Central Square, however, has always been a political football, so I expect that some councillors will try to modify the petition in some ways, hopefully positive ways, in order to get their fingerprints on the football. It’s worth noting that the Planning Board characterized this petition as a good interim measure and made it quite clear that other changes to the zoning in Central Square might be forthcoming as the Envision Cambridge process navigates its way through the next couple of years.

December 17, 2016

Central Square is a Grandma

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:09 pm

Central Square is a Grandma
Snaggle-toothed and silent
Dozing by a drafty window
In a faded cotton dress.
Her stories need no telling
Even the blind can read her features
In the roughness of her knuckles
Or the rattle of her sigh.
She danced ballet and scrubbed the floor
Raised children and taught them in school
And was a Patroness of the Arts
With big green rhinestone earrings.
She’s been in clubs and fights and station wagons
Behind a desk and in the hospital
And life keeps moving into her
Like it does with old people.
When there’s Greek music playing
Her feet will stamp and shuffle
And she’ll always ask for seconds
When the catfish is fried just right
She may mumble Haitian stories
Or hum a Vietnamese lullaby
While she rolls her endless tortillas
And sips papaya punch.
She’s old, as old as we will be
And who wants to be old?
Only old people like old people
We can try to make her young
We can fix her hair up pretty
But the hairpins pinch and scratch her
We can buy her a chrome-plated wheelchair
And push her out of the way.
She’ll sleep when she takes her medicine
And she weighs almost nothing
But now her heart must go
There’s money to be made.

Hilda Marshall
April 1987

 
Central Square is a Grandma

 

 

Poem "Central Square is a Grandma"
written by Hilda Marshall in April 1987

contributed by Judy Nathans
from her archives

December 14, 2016

Participatory Budgeting Results Announced: December 14, 2016!

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 9:50 pm

Participatory BudgetingParticipatory Budgeting Results Announced: December 14, 2016!

Please join us tonight from 6-7 p.m. in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall when we announce this year’s winning Participatory Budgeting (PB) projects!

Over 4,700 residents voted last week in the City’s third PB process. Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It’s residents making real decisions about real money. Find out how the $700,000 will be spent on projects to improve Cambridge! http://pb.cambridgema.gov/

Past winning PB projects include 100 new street trees, a public toilet in Central Square, water bottle fill stations, painted bike lanes, bilingual books for kids, bicycle repair stations, and many others. What projects will win this time? You decide!

For more information, please visit pb.cambridgema.gov or contact Budget Office staff at pb@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4270. See you at the PB polls!

The Winners!

Solar Power Shines! ($260,000)

Safer Crosswalks for Busy Roads ($104,000)

Solar-Powered Real-Time Bus Tracker Displays ($150,000)

Kinetic Energy Tiles ($50,000)

Hydration Stations in Four Locations! ($37,000)

Upgrade the Moore Youth Center ($80,000)

Cambridge Street Art Trail ($25,000)

The total budget for these 7 winners is $706,000

PB Winners 2016

December 10, 2016

After the Fire – the Dec 12, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting (postponed from Dec 5)

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:32 pm

After the Fire – the Dec 12, 2016 Cambridge City Council meeting (postponed from Dec 5)

Dec 3 fireLast week’s meeting was postponed due to the relief efforts associated with the Berkshire Street fire. Any business then before the City Council paled in comparison to the devastation caused by the 10-alarm fire on Sat, Dec 3 in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood. In the midst of it all it was great to see Cantabrigians pulling together to help residents directly impacted by the conflagration. This is a neighborhood where people identify buildings by the names of the families who inhabit them – some for generations.

On the expanded meeting agenda for this week, here are some items of interest:

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council with suggested changes to Cambridge’s policy regarding advertising revenue that could help support the continuation and expansion of Hubway in the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Toomey

The economic sustainability of Hubway may require additional advertising revenue or increased user fees (currently $20/month or $85/year). Or you could just buy a bike and a good lock.

Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to make the appropriate staff available to assist the Mayor’s Office in facilitating a community conversation about the roles and intersection of race, class, gender, and culture in Cambridge within the first quarter of 2017.   Mayor Simmons

Mayor Simmons has organized such events in the past and does a pretty good job at it.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council regarding the potential of building affordable housing on City-owned parking lots along Bishop Allen Drive.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

At some point, city councillors and City staff will have to start distinguishing between "building affordable housing" and "making housing affordable". As an interim measure, creating housing accessible to low and moderate income people who access it by applying to a government agency or quasi-governmental entity makes sense. However, this contributes to the division of housing into high-cost housing for the well-to-do and subsidized housing for the not-so-well-to-do. It doesn’t do much for those who are simply looking for an affordable place to live and who are not inclined to seek government-owned or government-controlled housing. Affordable options for most people should be available without having to apply to a governmental agency.

Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Law Department with the intention of ensuring that zoning and building code restrictions will not prohibit the rebuilding of the damaged structures and to report back to the City Council with necessary language or steps needed to ensure a straightforward process for families and current property owners to rebuild.   Councillor Toomey

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Inspectional Services Department, the Community Development Department, the Legal Department and any other appropriate city departments to determine what measures can be taken to fast-track the rebuilding of homes impacted by the fire that may be non-conforming with the current zoning code and report back to the Council in a timely manner on what actions can be considered.   Councillor Devereux

These are both very timely, and if there’s any need to insert an emergency amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to facilitate this, the City Council should fast-track it. Hopefully there’s insurance money to cover most or all of the costs of rebuilding.

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to ensure that all money raised during this campaign is distributed to the Wellington Harrington residents impacted by this incident and to report back to the City Council when all funds are distributed.   Councillor Toomey

So far it seems that City efforts and the efforts of the Mayor’s Office have been well-coordinated with the Red Cross and other agencies. Cambridge should be very proud of all these efforts and those of individuals who have stepped forward to assist with money, materials, and housing.

Order #10. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Director of Communications, the Community Development Department, the Human Services Department, and Public Safety Departments to develop an outreach and communications plan for renters in Cambridge about the importance and availability of renters insurance and consult with these departments to assist low- and moderate-income tenants in acquiring affordable renters insurance policies, and to report back on both orders.   Councillor Devereux

Though clearly motivated by the Berkshire Street fire, the reality is that most Cambridge residents and certainly most residents in this affected neighborhood are renters. Buildings can be rebuilt, but the loss of personal property can be equally devastating. People often don’t think about rental insurance, so this is, as they say, "a teachable moment".

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to confer with DCR to request that the speed limit be reduced to 25 mph on Fresh Pond Parkway from the BB&N Upper School campus to the Route 2/16 split west of the Alewife MBTA station.   Councillor Devereux, Councillor Carlone

Though it may not make sense to lower the speed limit to 25 mph on a limited-access highway or an arterial road with relatively few street crossings, Fresh Pond Parkway and Alewife Brook Parkway both have many intersections where vehicles and pedestrians and abundantly present. Since Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville are all reducing the speed limit on City-owned streets, the DCR should do the same on all of their roads that operate like major city streets. Having uniform traffic standards regardless of ownership makes a lot of sense.

Order #12. That the City Council’s Government Operations Committee seek to identify a suitable site to honor Representative Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. for his long and distinguished commitment to the City of Cambridge.   Councillor Maher, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Cheung

This is a great idea. I certainly hope that City Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. will continue in his role on the City Council for years to come – maybe even as Mayor.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Chair of the Transportation and Public Utilities Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 16, 2016 to discuss gradually increasing the parking permit fee and to consider other improvements to the program to help fund the City’s budget towards reducing vehicle miles traveled and to promote alternative forms of transportation.

This was the meeting where some city councillors (Mazen, Devereux) argued in favor of dramatic increases in the Resident Permit Parking fee. Basically, they would like to jack it up as high as they can politically get away with. Councillor Devereux wants to jack the fees up as a way of disincentivising automobile ownership – at least for those with lower incomes. She also noted that Uber does not have enough curb space to pull over and that this could be relieved by driving out resident parking from major streets. In a Twitter post recently she also expressed her desire to double Cambridge parking meter rates like Boston is planning to do in the Seaport District. Gee, thanks.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 27, 2016 to discuss a zoning petition by the City Council to amend four sections in Article 19.000 of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Councillor Leland Cheung, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Oct 27, 2016 to discuss a proposed amendment to the Municipal Code in Title 15 entitled “Buildings and Construction” by adding a new Chapter 15.22 entitled “Outdoor Lighting.”

Rather than get into the details of all this, I will simply note that it is so classically Cambridge that a proposal that was originally intended to limit light trespass into bedroom windows has now morphed into a showdown on the aesthetics of building signage and architectural lighting. It almost makes me yearn for the days of "spectacular lighting" such as the one adorning the Shell gas station on Memorial Drive or, even more spectacularly, the much-beloved Citgo sign overseeing the good fortunes of the Red Sox. – Robert Winters

December 6, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 189-190: December 6, 2016

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 189 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 6, 2016 at 5:30pm. The main topic was the Berkshire Street fire. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.
[On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 190 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast on Dec 6, 2016 at 6:00pm. Speed limit reduction to 25mph, Participatory Budgeting, Central Square Restoration Petition. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

December 4, 2016

City of Cambridge to Host Fire Recovery Resource Center; Buildings Sustain Serious Damage

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:37 pm

Residents Displaced by December 3 Fire Encouraged to Register with Red Cross of Massachusetts

Berkshire St. fire, Dec 3, 2016Dec 4, 2016 – Three buildings are being torn down in Cambridge and at least one other will be partially razed for safety reasons. The Dec 3, 2016 fire in the Harrington/Wellington/East Cambridge neighborhoods caused significant damage to six buildings, and fire or water damage to at least five others.

As of 3pm, 48 displaced families, representing 104 individuals, have registered with the Red Cross of Massachusetts. There may be more families and individuals that have not yet registered and the City is strongly encouraging all displaced individuals to register with the Red Cross by calling 800-564-1234 or by coming to the City’s Fire Recovery Resource Center at City Hall.

The first step in receiving assistance from the City is to contact and register with the Red Cross of Massachusetts.

On Mon, Dec 5, from 8:30am-8:00pm and Tues, Dec 6, 8:30am-5:00pm, the City is hosting a Fire Recovery Resource Center on the 2nd floor of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave. Impacted residents can meet with representatives from the City of Cambridge, American Red Cross, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Division of insurance, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Division of Transitional Assistance, Housing and Development, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Public Health Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Mental Health, National Organizational Voluntary Active Disaster, and Riverside Community Care.

The public can donate to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund online at www.cambridgema.gov/firefund or by sending a check to:

Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

While greatly appreciated, the City is urging people to hold off on donating food, clothing or material goods at this time. Should this change, an announcement will be made in the media and on the City’s website and social media outlets.

A number of street closures will remain in place in Cambridge. The following streets have no access for pedestrians or vehicles:

  • Berkshire Street – from York Street to Plymouth – indefinite
  • Plymouth Street – Cardinal Medeiros Ave to Berkshire Street – indefinite
  • Vandine Street – Cardinal Medeiros to Berkshire Street
  • York Street – Willow Street to Berkshire Street

Residents impacted by the fire can call the City’s dedicated phone line, 617-349-9484, with questions regarding the fire or recovery assistance.

City Encourages Families and Individuals to Register with the Red Cross of Massachusetts
Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund Accepting Online Donations

Dec 4, 2016 – The City of Cambridge is encouraging displaced families and individuals impacted by the December 3, 2016, fire in the Harrington/Wellington/East Cambridge neighborhoods to contact the Red Cross of Massachusetts to register for assistance.

“The most important first step displaced families and individuals can take is to register with the Red Cross of Massachusetts,” said Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager.

Individuals can register by calling the Red Cross at 800-564-1234 or by stopping by one on of the following drop-in sessions:

  • Sun, Dec 4, from noon – 6pm at the Frisoli Youth Center, 61 Willow Street;
  • Mon, Dec 5, from 8:30am until 8:00pm on the 2nd floor, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.; or
  • Tues, Dec 6, from 8:30am to 5:00pm on the 2nd floor, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.

The key first step that needs to occur for the City to assist and communicate with the impacted families and individuals is for them to register their information with the Red Cross.

Members of the public can donate to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund online at www.cambridgema.gov/firefund or by sending a check to:

Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

The City appreciates the numerous offers for volunteers and donations of physical assets; however, what is needed most is donations to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund. The City is currently not accepting physical donations.

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