Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 16, 2013

Episode 12 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Alice Wolf (Part 2)

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:27 pm

Episode 12 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Alice Wolf (Part 2). This aired on Oct 15, 2013 at 6:00pm.

Episode 11 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Alice Wolf (Part 1)

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:24 pm

Episode 11 of Cambridge InsideOut with guest Alice Wolf (Part 1). This aired on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:30pm.

October 15, 2013

Alewife Reservation Constructed Wetland Grand Opening Ceremony – Tuesday, October 15

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 8:42 am

Alewife Reservation Constructed Wetland Grand Opening Ceremony – Tuesday, October 15

Cambridge, MA – After a long and collaborative effort between the City of Cambridge’s Department of Public Works, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the three agencies are pleased to announce the grand opening of the Alewife Constructed Wetland just west of the Alewife T Station along the Alewife Greenway Extension multi-use path, Tuesday, Oct 15, from 2:00-5:00pm. (See more detailed directions below).

Alewife Restored Wetland (Aug 2012)
Alewife Reservation Constructed Wetland during restoration – August 2012

Alewife Constructed Wetland - Oct 2013
Alewife Reservation Constructed Wetland – October 2013

The 3.4-acre wetland is designed to store and treat stormwater runoff before it enters the Little River. The new wetland will slow down the flow of stormwater through contact with a series of marsh systems, allowing sediment to settle, and removing nutrients and pollutants from the water. Several types of habitats, ranging from emergent marsh to riparian woodland have been created to enrich and enhance the biodiversity that already exists in the Alewife Reservation. The wetland also provides recreational amenities, including a boardwalk and scenic overlooks, environmental education opportunities, an amphitheater designed with seating for a class of students, interpretive signage, and links to the Alewife Greenway Extension’s bike and pedestrian paths.

"This newly constructed wetland not only improves water quality in the Little River and Alewife Brook, but also provides a new and unique recreational and educational open space for the community to enjoy," said Richard C. Rossi, City Manager.

This project is funded by the City of Cambridge, MWRA and the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust through the Clean Water SRF program administered by MassDEP.


Please visit the City’s website to learn more about this innovative stormwater management project and new urban wild at (select Cambridge Park Drive Area Drainage Improvements and Stormwater Wetland Project).

Directions to Alewife Reservation Constructed Wetland:
Walking directions to the Basin Amphitheater via Alewife Greenway Extension:

From DCR Discovery Park Lot – 100 Acorn Park Drive, Cambridge

Exit DCR parking lot at driveway entrance.

• Turn LEFT out of parking lot going SOUTH to walking trail at the Corner of Acorn Park Dr., approx. 90 ft.

• Turn LEFT on walking trail going EAST to Alewife Station Access Rd., approx. 900 ft.

• Turn RIGHT on Alewife Station Access Rd. going SOUTH over the Little River to Alewife Greenway Extension, approx. 450 ft.

• Turn RIGHT on Alewife Greenway Extension going WEST to Basin Amphitheater, approx. 1300 ft.

From MBTA Alewife Station – Intersection of Alewife Brook Parkway and Cambridge Park Drive

• Exit Alewife Station to Alewife Station Access Rd.

• Turn RIGHT out of Alewife Station going NORTH under parking structure overpass, approx. 500 ft.

• Turn LEFT to cross Alewife Station Access Rd. going WEST to Alewife Greenway Extension, approx. 80 ft.

• Stay STRAIGHT on Alewife Greenway Extension going WEST to Basin Amphitheater, approx. 1300 ft.

October 13, 2013

Polling Locations for the 2013 Cambridge Municipal Election

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 3:30 pm

Polling Locations for the 2013 Cambridge Municipal Election

The 2013 Cambridge Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013. All polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm. For any additional information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office at 51 Inman Street, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at

1-1:  O’CONNELL BRANCH LIBRARY, 48 Sixth Street, Corner of Thorndike Street

1-2:  TRUMAN APARTMENTS, 25 Eighth Street, Community Room, Thorndike Street Entrance

1-3:  MILLER RIVER APARTMENTS, 15 Lambert Street, Cambridge Street entrance

2-1:  PISANI CENTER, 131 Washington Street

2-2:  M.I.T., Kresge Auditorium, behind Stratton Center, 70 Mass. Avenue

2-3:  M.I.T., Kresge Auditorium, behind Stratton Center, 70 Mass. Avenue

3-1:  KING OPEN SCHOOL (formerly Harrington School), 850 Cambridge Street, Main Entrance

3-2:  AREA IV YOUTH CENTER, 243 Harvard Street, Lower level, Rear entrance (previously located at DPW)

3-2A:  AREA IV YOUTH CENTER, 243 Harvard Street, Lower level, Rear entrance (previously located at DPW)

3-3:  SALVATION ARMY HEADQUARTERS, 402 Massachusetts Avenue

4-1:  PUTNAM GARDENS, Community Room Entrance between Magee and Callender Streets

4-2:  CITY HALL, 795 Massachusetts Avenue, Driveway Entrance

4-3:  2 MOUNT AUBURN STREET, Putnam Apartments, Lobby

5-1:  LBJ APARTMENTS, 150 Erie Street, Community Room (Parking Lot Entrance)

5-2:  WOODROW WILSON COURT, Magazine St., Community Room, Fairmont St. Entry between Door 7 and 8

5-3:  MORSE SCHOOL, 40 Granite Street, Main Entrance

6-1:  CITY HALL ANNEX, 344 Broadway, Conference Room, Second Floor

6-2:  CAMBRIDGE REHABILITATION & NURSING CENTER (formerly Vernon Hall Nursing Home), 8 Dana Street, Activity Room

6-3:  SPAULDING HOSPITAL (formerly Youville Hospital), 1575 Cambridge Street, Hovey Avenue Entrance

7-1:  BALDWIN SCHOOL, Community Floor, 28 Sacramento Street entrance

7-2:  BALDWIN SCHOOL, Community Floor, 28 Sacramento Street entrance

7-3:  GUND HALL, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge Street Entrance

8-1:  GRAHAM AND PARKS SCHOOL (formerly Peabody School), 44 Linnaean St., Playground Entr.

8-2:  FRIENDS CENTER, 5 Longfellow Park, Community Room

8-3:  QUINCY HOUSE, 58 Plympton Street, Main Entrance

9-1:  LEXINGTON AVENUE FIRE HOUSE, 167 Lexington Avenue

9-2:  NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY, 450 Concord Avenue, Classroom

9-3:  HAGGERTY SCHOOL, 110 Cushing Street, Gym, Lawn Street Entrance

10-1:  RUSSELL APARTMENTS (Senior Citizen Apartments), 2050 Massachusetts Avenue

10-2:  GRAHAM AND PARKS SCHOOL (formerly Peabody School), 44 Linnaean Street, Playground Entr.

10-3:  CADBURY COMMONS, 66 Sherman Street


11-2:  PEABODY SCHOOL GYM, 70-R Rindge Avenue

11-3:  BURNS APARTMENTS, 50 Churchill Avenue, Community Room

Absentee Ballots are now available at the Cambridge Election Commission office. Any voter who is unable to go to the polls on Election Day due to physical disability, religious belief, or absence from the City may request an Absentee Ballot from the Commission by Noon on Monday, November 4th. Absentee Ballots may be mailed to voters, or such voters may choose to vote at the Commission office during regular City office hours: Monday, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm; Friday, 8:30am-Noon. The office will also be open for Absentee Voting on Friday, November 1st from 8:30am until 5:00pm and on Saturday, November 2nd from 9:00am until 5:00pm.

October 11, 2013

The Candidates – SPECIAL STATE ELECTION – Massachusetts 5th Congressional District

Filed under: 2013 Election,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 8:52 am

Representative in Congress for Massachusetts
5th Congressional District*
(to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of Edward J. Markey)

The Candidates

Democrats (October 15, 2013 State Primary)
Will Brownsberger
Will Brownsberger

(current State Senator)
120 Gilbert Rd., Belmont
15% in primary
Katherine Clark
Katherine Clark

(current State Senator)
64 Prospect St., Melrose
32% in primary – NOMINEE
Peter Koutoujian
Peter Koutoujian

(current Sheriff of Middlesex County)
33 Harris St., Waltham
22% in primary
Martin Long
Martin Long

(former member of Lexington School Committee)
30 Mill St., Arlington
1% in primary
Paul Maisano
Paul Maisano

(businessman, community activist)
10 Gorham Ave., Stoneham
2% in primary
Carl Sciortino
Carl Sciortino

(current State Representative)
17 Orchard St., Medford
16% in primary
Karen Spilka
Karen Spilka

(current State Senator)
18 Rome Way, Ashland
13% in primary
Republicans (October 15, 2013 State Primary)
Frank Addivinola
Frank Addivinola

1 Longfellow Pl., Boston
49% in primary – NOMINEE
Mike Stopa
Mike Stopa

38 Westfield Dr., Holliston
26% in primary
Tom Tierney
Tom Tierney

7 Lomas Dr., Framingham
25% in primary

The Special State Primary will take place on October 15, 2013

The Special State Election will take place on December 10, 2013

*Middlesex County     Suffolk County Worcester County
Wd. 3, Pct. 2A
Wd. 4, Pcts. 2, 3
Wds. 6, 7, 8, 9
Wd. 10, Pcts. 1, 2
Pcts. IA, 2, 3, 4, 5

October 9, 2013

A quick word on another City Council candidate forum

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,City Council,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:03 am

A quick word on another City Council candidate forum

Oct 8 – Congratulations are in order to the good folks of the Porter Square Neighbors Association (PSNA) for putting on an excellent, well-attended City Council candidate forum tonight. There were other sponsors, but this was clearly a PSNA production. Alice Wolf moderated the forum and did a great job managing things with just the right tone and sense of humor. I was especially appreciative of the choice of questions presented to each of the three panels of candidates. They were fair and relevant – a big improvement over last week’s MCNA candidate forum. I am grateful that Erin Baldassari from the Cambridge Chronicle was there taking notes, and I will defer to her report for most of the details of what was actually said and emphasized by the candidates.

One thing that distinguished candidates was their differing views of new residential and/or commercial development in the city. Several of them spoke of the need for a "master plan" which, quite frankly, makes me think of Robert Moses and others who felt they had all the answers. This was softened to some degree by a call for "neighborhood planning" which was not really defined and which could, quite easily, be just a code word for "not in my backyard". Some candidates (who I will refrain from naming for now) spoke only of their fear of any redevelopment in Central Square. The final candidate of the night was the only one who emphasized the importance of training local residents to take advantage of job opportunities in developing areas such as Kendall Square.

On a personal note, I have to say that I was gratified to see some people in the audience who had with them material printed from the Cambridge Candidate Pages. I also greatly appreciated the fact that several candidates referred to material I have posted on the Cambridge Civic Journal. I wonder sometimes why I continue to do this civic journalism, and it helps a lot when I see people actually making good use of what I produce. The next four weeks are going to be brutal in terms of the misinformation and outright falsehoods that are going to be spread about the candidates and about various issues. I’m already seeing some of it in listservs and pamphlets distributed at these forums. At some point self-appointed oracles will tell you which candidates you should vote for and who you should not vote for. As tempting as it may be to go up to the mountaintop and come down with a few inscribed tablets commanding you who you should vote for, I will continue to resist that urge and, once again, ask you to consult what the candidates submit to the Cambridge Candidate Pages and post on their own websites, use your own judgment, and decide on your own how to rank the candidates. Above all, I urge you to ignore any advice from self-anointed pundits regarding which candidates you should vote for. – Robert Winters

October 7, 2013

Cambridge Watershed Bike Tour – October 19

Filed under: Cambridge,cycling,water — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:13 pm

Cambridge Watershed Bike Tour – October 19

Cambridge, MA — Explore where your water comes from! Join Cambridge Water Department (CWD) staff on a guided bike tour of the watershed Saturday, Oct 19, from 8am-4pm. The 34-mile loop will take cyclists from the Walter J. Sullivan Purification Facility at 250 Fresh Pond Parkway in Cambridge, to the watershed lands and reservoirs in Lincoln, Lexington, Weston and Waltham. Rain date is Sunday, Oct 20.

The tour will include stops at the CWD Field Office, Winter Street Dam and Gatehouse, Stony Brook Dam and Gatehouse, and Paul Revere Capture Site. Advanced registration is required; registration closes on Oct 15. Participants must be comfortable with the 34 mile distance and must provide their own bike (road or hybrid), helmet and lunch. Technical assistance will be provided by Urban AdvenTours.

To register, please contact Katie at or call 617-349-7712. For more information, visit

Cycle to the Source

October 6, 2013

OctoberFest – Oct 7, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Notes

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:22 pm

OctoberFest – Oct 7, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Notes

Here are a few items of interest.:

City Manager’s Agenda #8. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a request from Leggat McCall Properties that the City of Cambridge consider the disposition by a long-term lease to Leggat McCall of four-hundred twenty (420) parking spaces and a portion of the ground floor retail space at the City-owned First Street Garage.

There are a number of good reasons to do this as outlined in the City Manager’s letter, but the devil is in the details and the City should not settle for just the promise of a grocery store and a better retail environment.

Charter Right #1. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the proposed zoning petition regarding Medical Marijuana Regulations. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Toomey on City Manager Agenda Number Nine of Sept 30, 2013.]

It’s pretty clear that these dispensaries will have to go somewhere and the proposed districts in NorthPoint and in the area of the Fresh Pond Shopping Center may be the best available option.

Charter Right #2. That the City Manager is requested to review the permitting process and any zoning and building code barriers to greater adoption of solar energy. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Decker on Order Number Fifteen of Sept 30, 2013.]

It’s hard to understand why Councillor Decker felt the need to delay this Order other than to continue her pointless sniping of her less favored colleagues. As I said last week, this Order is the kind of energy efficiency initiative that actually makes sense in that it addresses what all property owners could potentially choose to do to conserve energy and save money and makes so much more sense than mandating "net zero" buildings.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Director of the Information Technology Department and with any other relevant City staff and City partners to determine the feasibility of bringing free wireless internet access to Central Square, and to report back to the City Council on what must be done in order to make this a reality within the next year.   Vice Mayor Simmons

This is a good idea – even if it means having to suffer even more hipsters playing with their apps on their razor-thin Macbooks and other devices. My personal choice would be to create several designated areas for hot dog stands.

Order #4. That the City Council go on record strongly urging the Cambridge Housing Authority to reopen the public decision about the smoking ban that is scheduled to go into effect on Aug 1, 2014, in order to allow for a more robust discussion and greater collaboration with all of those will be directly impacted by this policy change.   Vice Mayor Simmons

You just gotta love the exceptionalism. We go through a huge battle to make bars and restaurants more healthy and pleasant by driving out the smokers, yet when the same standard is applied to public housing there’s outrage. I would never allow smoking inside my building, and I don’t think the City or the Cambridge Housing Authority should permit it either. What kind of "collaboration" does Councillor Simmons have in mind?

Order #6. That the Mayor is requested to form a new standing committee of the City Council — a Non-profit Relations Committee.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

I have two objections to this proposal. First, the University Relations Committee is a relatively recent invention and it has never had a particularly heavy burden. If anything, incorporate this new focus into a modified "University and Nonprofit Relations Committee". My second objection the reference in the Order to any future Community Benefits Process. This could so easily become the committee assignment of choice due to the potential patronage benefits associated this any such process.

Order #8. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council the Assessing Department’s findings regarding the feasibility of granting small commercial properties a modest exemption on their real estate property taxes.   Councillor vanBeuzekom

This law states: "With respect to each parcel of real property classified as class three, commercial, in each city or town certified by the commissioner to be assessing all property at its full and fair cash valuation, and at the option of the board of selectmen or mayor, with the approval of the city council, as the case may be, there shall be an exemption equal to not more than ten percent of the value of the parcel." This is an interesting idea in that it would potentially provide a small benefit to small businesses at the expense of larger businesses. I look forward to what the Assessor has to say about this idea.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to provide the City Council with a report on how the city planning team supports and encourages safe bicycle lane travel citywide   Councillor vanBeuzekom

My only concern about this Order is that it’s almost exclusively about the blocking of bike lanes and, though cyclists may resent seeing vehicles stopped in those lanes, this is not an especially great hazard. As a daily cyclist, I’m far more concerned about problematic road surfaces and the idiocy exhibited by both cyclists and motor vehicle operators at intersections. If we are to take action against illegal parking, start by going after any driver who fails to park within a foot of the curb.

Order #10. That the City Manager, the Police Commissioner and their designees shall not activate or cause to be activated any security cameras, surveillance cameras, or any other video or audio recording, watching or listening devices or implement any policy relating to such cameras unless in either case there shall be held a prior affirmative vote of the majority of the City Council specifically authorizing the contemplated activation or implementation.   Councillor Decker

I would like to see the authorization of a reasonable number of such cameras put to a vote of the City Council just so we can see which councillors are opposed to what most law enforcement officials see as a reasonable and very helpful tool for finding and prosecuting criminals. It would be especially nice if this could take place prior to November 5th so that I can further narrow the number of choices on my municipal ballot.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Leland Cheung, Chair of the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee, Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Chair of the Economic Development, Training and Employment Committee and Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves, Chair of the Public Facilities, Arts and Celebrations Committee for a joint public meeting held on Aug 5, 2013 to discuss the future of the Foundry Building.

In spite of the previous report on this property and the recommendation to sell it, there is no way this will politically happen. What will be interesting is to see if there is any creative way to deliver some of the benefits people seem to want without having this be a huge, permanent financial burden on the taxpayers. – Robert Winters

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