Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

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 Those ideas were either withdrawn or put on permanent hold.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

April 1, 2015

April 1 Cambridge News

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:00 am

April 1 Cambridge News

City Unveils Climate Change Opportunity Assessment

Mystic-AlewifeApril 1 – After several years of research the City of Cambridge at long last has revealed its assessment of what may be in store in the decades to come – and it’s exciting!

DPW Commissioner Owen O’Riorden summarized the report as follows: "We started out with the idea of producing a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in order to prepare for rising sea levels, extreme weather, and higher temperatures. Our highest priority was to determine what changes in infrastructure might be necessary to prevent catastrophe. Then at some point we simply realized we were looking at this all wrong. We began to see that one man’s catastrophe was another man’s opportunity."

City Manager Richard Rossi noted how a 10 foot rise in sea level plus the natural rise and fall of the tides could be used to provide clean energy at virtually no cost. "Here we were worrying ourselves silly about the ocean spilling over the Charles River Dam and the Amelia Earhart Dam. Then we realized the enormous hydroelectric potential of this new clean, renewable natural resource. Sure, we may have to sacrifice a neighborhood or two, but just think about how many electric cars we’ll now be able to power at virtually no cost. That’s the kind of traffic congestion we can all get excited about – really sustainable transportation."

Tremendous job growth is expected in such diverse fields as climate control, dam and levee construction, hydroelectric power, and a whole range of seafaring jobs from captain to bilge pumping.


Fresh Pond to host yacht club at site of Water Treatment Plant

Thurston Howell III and Lovey
FPRA’s visionary leaders plan for a bright future

With rising sea levels come all sorts of new possibilities and creative ideas. One especially exciting proposal in the City’s Capital Plan is the expansion of the Walter J. Sullivan Water Treatment Plant to include new docks extending into Fresh Pond to support the newly formed Fresh Pond Yacht Club. Construction costs will be covered by recently enhanced Participatory Budget funds. With the over-topping of the Amelia Earhart Dam on the Mystic River, members of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance (FPRA) quickly realized the potential to transform the Alewife Brook into a new inland waterway. From the FPRA press release:

"We were getting so worked up about housing on New Street and the prospect of being inundated by hundreds of new residents that we failed to see the exciting possibilities that can come with true inundation. No longer will we have to travel to our second homes on the Cape. We will now be able to just bring our yachts to Cambridge via the new Mystic/Alewife Inland Waterway!"


Growing the Local Economy – Our Silver Maple Lumber Future

Lovers of great quality furniture were thrilled to learn of a new start-up at the western frontier of Cambridge. Recent logging operations in the Silver Maple Forest yielded a bonanza of high quality Silver Maple lumber that’s now being milled and used in the production of some truly great furniture.

Cut Maple
From protester to entrepreneur – one woman’s road from anger to opportunity!

Leading this venture is Sue Woodson of Cambridge Highlands. "Last year I was out in the streets protesting the clear-cutting of the forest and cooling my heels in a detention facility," said Ms. Woodson. "Now I’m the CEO of a furniture manufacturing company. I could never have predicted this!"

Lumber
Freshly milled Silver Maple lumber

Here are some samples from the new Cambridge Silver Maple Furniture Company catalog:

Furniture! Furniture!
Furniture! Guitar!

Buy Local! We even make silver maple guitars!


Lovin’ Local Campaign Misinterpreted – Love-Ins Break out all over Cambridge

Thurston Howell III and Lovey
Love-In Local

It began as a well-intentioned effort by Cambridge Local First, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Division of the Community Development Department to give a boost to businesses hit hard by the recent tough winter. Game cards were issued for local consumers to fill in as they patronized a range of local businesses. An unfortunate misprint on the card, however, led to unintended consequences as participants thought this was the Love-In Local Campaign, and began participating with great gusto!

Said one aging hippie, "We haven’t seen this much Free Love in Cambridge in over 40 years! My old lady and I hope this becomes an annual tradition! It’s like the Sixties all over again!"

Millennials were also caught up in the campaign. Taking time out from their "Code for America" activities, they allowed themselves to be swept up in the excitement. "I even wrote an app for the event," texted one young hipster. His card sadly remained empty.

Love In LocalSome especially randy residents were so motivated to quickly fill in their Love-In Local game cards that they filled them up on the first day and came back for more game cards. City officials debated whether to print more cards or call off the campaign. Even Public Health officials were getting concerned.

"Sure, we’re lovin’ all the Love-Ins now taking place all over town," said Iram Farooq, Acting Asst. City Manager for Community Development , "but we have some concerns about the effect on the local economy. Many people are taking time off from work and even when they show up at work they’re getting just a little too cozy with their co-workers."


New "Creator Space" Comes to Central Square – open 6 days/week followed by Day of Rest

Thurston Howell III and Lovey
Creator Space© – now open in Central Square

Recent trends in the creation of "maker spaces" and similar components of "creative class’ economics reached a new zenith with the surprise arrival last week of the new Creator Space in Central Square. Previously located in Providence, plans for the new space can best be described as having almost biblical proportions. This is not a single purpose operation. Initial plans call for dedicating each Day of the week to very specific and distinct purposes.

On Mondays, for example, entrepreneurs specializing in heaven and earth-based manufacturing as well as all things relating to lighting will dominate the space.

Tuesdays will be for sorting and inventory control – primarily separating heavenly bodies ("firmament") from water-based products.

Wednesdays will be for land-based technologies, land reclamation, and biological engineering, e.g. grass, fruit trees, and the like.

Thursdays will be dedicated to solar products and various lunar and cosmological technologies.

In partnership with several seaport companies, it is expected that Fridays will be dedicated to the design and manufacture of various aquatic and airborne products or, as the company likes to joke, "fish and fowl".

Rather than take off for the whole weekend, Creator Space will dedicate every Saturday to a variety of animal and human-based technologies. It is expected that 3D printers will be utilized in creating duplicates in the image of The Creator.

On Sundays, Creator Space will be closed for a welcome Day of Rest.


Luxury Overlay District proposed

Luxury Overlay DistrictA group of residents living in and around Brattle Street have submitted a zoning petition to the City Council requesting that a "Luxury Overlay District" be created that encompasses Brattle Street between Mason Street and the Cambridge/Watertown city line. In a letter accompanying the petition, the residents note that their lawns would be considered spacious parks in some neighborhoods and the only parking problems that they have is the expense of plowing long driveways. "It is time to give back to our City," the letter continues, "While some neighborhoods reject gentrification, we will take on that burden, and welcome billionaires with open arms."


Robert Healy to move back to Cambridge – files organization papers to run for Cambridge City Council

Robert Healy #1After a successful career in city management, former Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy recently announced plans to move from Lowell back to North Cambridge in order to seek a City Council seat. This is where his roots are and he expects to have a strong neighborhood base on which to build his campaign. "I think I may have the Danehy vote all locked up," said Healy. "Various other candidates have courted that constituency with some success over the last twenty years, but these are really my people." Healy plans to open his campaign headquarters at Norris St. and Mass. Ave.

"Ever since I turned over the keys to the city to the current administration, I’ve been just itching to get back to show some of these newbies on the City Council a thing or two." Asked what special talents he may have to offer as a city councillor, Healy said "I think I’d be pretty good as Chair of the Finance Committee, but I do want to remind everyone that ‘I don’t do zoning‘." He added "and don’t forget to vote Healy #1 this November."


Cambridge Election Commission Endorses Mandatory Voting

Vote!In a surprise move last week, the Cambridge Election Commission took a hint from President Obama and proposed that all Cambridge residents who are eligible to vote will henceforth be required to exercise their franchise at every election. "We just got sick and tired of low voter turnout," said Commissioner Ethridge King. "If people want to live here, drive on our streets, play on our playgrounds, and send their kids to our schools, then the least they can do is show up to vote." Penalties for failing to go to the polls may include loss of parking sticker or being required to run for public office.

Anarchists and Libertarians were equally outraged at what they see as an infringement of their inalienable right to live freely outside of the political process. They are planning demonstrations at the polls on Election Day and are threatening to lie down in the doorways of polling precincts with their arms chained together inside traditional ballot boxes. "Apathy is our right," said former Occupy activist Wanda "Lightfoot" Macnair. "We choose to vote not with our fingers, but with our feet."


New Mayoral Election Method Debated

Musical ChairsIn response to the friction that happens ever two years as city councillors engage in horse trading over the question of who should be elected Mayor, the Government Operations Committee met last week and proposed a novel method sure to satisfy the concerns of even the most hardened opponents of the Plan E Charter. Councillor Toomey’s proposal calls for the arrangement of 8 chairs in the center of the Sullivan Chamber on Inauguration Day. Music will then be played at the direction of the City Clerk who will secretly signal that the music be stopped without warning. At that moment, councillors will seat themselves. Whoever fails to be seated will then be eliminated from mayoral contention. This will be followed by the removal of one more chair. The music will then play again as the remaining 8 councillors circle around the remaining 7 chairs. Once again, at the discretion of the City Clerk, the music will suddenly stop, councillors will make every effort to be seated and the one not seated will be removed from contention. This series of musical runoffs will continue until the last person seated is declared Mayor for the next two years.

Election reform advocates from around the country are very supportive of the proposed change in election method. "Especially in the case of a city using proportional representation to elect its City Council, this method is remarkably fair," said Rob Richie of Fairvote. Other cities will no doubt want to follow Cambridge’s lead.


MBTA Announces Meigs Elevated Railway Service to Central Square and Beyond

Meigs Elevated Railway

The City’s Transit Advisory Committee, working in concert with the MBTA and the Cambridge Historical Commission, have announced plans for new kinda-rapid transit service to Central Square with the option of extending service further west in the future. On the drawing board for more than a century, the Meigs Elevated Railway will add desperately needed capacity to supplement the Red Line. "Several cranky neighborhood activists have been complaining about "Crush Hour on the Red Line", but offered few suggestions for improvement. MBTA analysts decided that it was just too difficult to safely move that many people underground and concluded that the time-tested concept of elevated railway service is an old idea that’s about to become new again.

Meigs Elevated Railway PlaqueCambridge stops are planned for Kendall Square, the new "Village in Lafayette Square", and the western end of Central Square where City Hall now stands.

On a related note, plans are being drafted to relocate City Hall to Hilliard Street in order to make way for the new Central Square station on the Meigs Elevated Railway.

Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan conceded, "The Rindge gifts have had their day in the sun. While we remain grateful for the remarkable gifts from Frederick Hastings Rindge to the City of Cambridge, including City Hall, it’s time to make way for grander visions." Sullivan added, "Sometimes history is simply overrated."

Regarding the relocation of City Hall, City Manager Richard Rossi added, "People from Hilliard Street have been trying to run the City government for years. We see this as a bold move toward more open government."

"It’s what we always wanted," said Gladys and Priscilla, two long-time residents of Hilliard Street. "Sure, we were able to pull strings behind the scenes for decades through various front organizations, but it will be so much simpler when it’s in our own front yard."


Cambridge City Council Flip-Flops on Olympics 2024
McGovern to compete in Greco-Roman Wrestling

Marc McGovernWhen news broke a few months ago about plans to host the 2024 Olympics in Boston and neighboring cities, Cambridge city councillors were none too pleased about not being consulted or involved in any way in the Olympic bid. They even passed a resolution opposing the Boston bid. Concerns were raised about the financial risks associated with the Olympic Games, the impact on housing and transportation, and especially on the ability of Cambridge residents to access their second homes on the Cape and elsewhere.

Well, now the Council is whistling a different tune. The tide began to turn when Councillor Marc McGovern announced his intention to compete in the Greco-Roman wrestling event. "I’ll definitely have home field advantage," said McGovern.

It’s not yet clear if any other elected officials are planning to compete. Councillor Kelley did, however, state that, "If they finally get around to making chess an Olympic sport, then I’m all in."

Several members of the City administration also expressed interest in competing. Any potential Olympians currently employed by the City of Cambridge are asked to contact Recreation Director Paul Ryder for details on what steps are necessary to become qualified. Olympic officials have quietly let it be known that they’ll let pretty much any local official or City employee compete if it will help bring the Olympics to the Greater Boston area.

March 31, 2015

Web page includes two videos of Cambridge bicycle infrastructure

Please check out this Web page,with two of four videos illustrating exciting new developments in Cambridge bicycle infrastructure. Can you identify the locations?

Exciting new technology demonstrated at a Cambridge bicycle facility.

Exciting new technology demonstrated at a Cambridge bicycle facility.

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