Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

May 21, 2017

Budget Passage – Notable May 22, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council,transportation — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:45 pm

Budget Passage – Notable May 22, 2017 Cambridge City Council Agenda Items

Allston projectIt is expected that the City’s FY2018 Budget will be approved at this meeting. In addition, there are a few other items of interest.

The Pike
Manager’s Agenda #4. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to a letter written by Community Representative and former Mayor Henrietta Davis to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack regarding the Allston I-90 project.

Order #1. City Council endorsement of the letter of Community Representative and former Mayor Henrietta Davis to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack regarding the Allston I-90 project, prepared in consultation with the community and City of Cambridge officials.   Mayor Simmons, Vice Mayor McGovern

You should really understand the whole proposed project and not get too caught up in the details of whether or not the River Street exit ramp from Storrow Drive should be preserved as is. [Jan 19 Cambridge presentation] It’s a VERY interesting project and there’s no question that the current state of the affected area is ripe for significant change in every way.


The FY2018 Budget
Unfinished Business #7-10 relative to the appropriation and authorization to borrow (7) $20,000,000 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 Alewife Watershed, Cambridgeport neighborhood, and the Port neighborhood; (8) $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks; (9) $2,000,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects including roof repairs at the Fletcher Maynard Academy, and a new boiler at an elementary school; and (10) $5,000,000 to provide funds for the Municipal Facilities Improvement Plan.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearings held on May 2, 2017, May 10, 2017 and May 9, 2017 relative to the General Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2018 and recommending adoption of the General Fund Budget in the amount of $568,246,680.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 10, 2017 relative to the Water Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2018 and recommending adoption of the Water fund Budget in the amount of $13,973,850.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 10, 2017 relative to the Public Investment Fund for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2018 and recommending adoption of the Public Investment Budget in the amount of $19,912,815.

Councillors – Please limit your "thank you" remarks to under one minute per councillor. Your unanimous vote on the Budget will send that message clearly enough.


Peace, Love and Understanding
Resolution #8. Declare June 12 to be Loving Day in Cambridge.   Vice Mayor McGovern, Mayor Simmons

It’s not what you think. Then again, maybe it is.

Order #2. City Council in support of Somerville officials in their efforts to achieve 20% affordable housing in all development projects.   Councillor Carlone

This is pretty clearly about whether or not a waiver should be granted in the Assembly Row project. The situation there was that the developer (Federal Realty) was eligible for the waiver because it had entered into a master planned agreement with the City of Somerville prior to the raising of the affordable housing requirement for a building of that size from 12.5 percent to 20 percent. On Thursday, May 18 the waiver was granted, so this Order is essentially moot (unless there are additional projects permitted prior to the increase in the inclusionary requirement).

There is, however, one very questionable aspect to this City Council Order. It is not addressed to the Somerville Board of Alderman but rather calls on the Cambridge City Council "to stand in support of Somerville officials, like Alderman Matthew McLaughlin, in their efforts to achieve 20% affordable housing in all development projects." This reads an awful lot like a candidate endorsement. The Order also calls specifically for sending "a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to Somerville Alderman Matthew McLaughlin on behalf of the entire City Council." This Order should really be amended to address the issue rather than the incumbent Somerville Alderman seeking reelection this November. – Robert Winters

April 25, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 221-222: April 25, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 221 (Part 1)

This program was broadcast on Apr 25, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics were drawn from the Apr 24 Cambridge City Council meeting, including the FY2018 Budget and the proposed Surveillance Ordinance. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 222 (Part 2)

This program was broadcast on Apr 25, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics include the Envision Cambridge Working Groups and general concerns about long-term planning. Hosts: Judy Nathans, Robert Winters [On YouTube]

[Materials used in these episodes]

October 24, 2013

Toomey Highlights Work on Grand Junction Train Issues, Vision for Future Bike Path

Filed under: Cambridge,East Cambridge,transportation — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 11:48 am

Toomey Highlights Work on Grand Junction Train Issues, Vision for Future Bike Path

On Wednesday, City Councillor Tim Toomey released a new video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6jv5rJJPjk) highlighting his work on issues related to the Grand Junction Railroad in Cambridge. The Grand Junction, which traverses several Cambridge neighborhoods, has become a hot button issue in recent years with proposals for Commuter Rail trains and ethanol transport being considered at the state level. Toomey, who resides in East Cambridge several blocks from the tracks, has been a strong supporter of creating a mixed-use bike and pedestrian path in the Grand Junction’s right-of-way.

"Grand Junction is an incredible asset for our community," Toomey said Wednesday. "While it has an important regional significance, being the only rail link between the northern and southern halves of the MBTA Commuter Rail system, it is also essentially a large swath of undeveloped, lightly-used land in the heart of Cambridge. With the exception of Commuter Rail maintenance trains and a freight train that carries produce to Chelsea several times per week, the tracks are seldom used. It’s pretty clear that there are many outside of Cambridge that have an eye on it, but unfortunately their plans tend not to benefit abutters of the tracks in any way."

In 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began studying ways to use the Grand Junction Railroad for Commuter Rail service from Worcester to North Station. Their plans, which included more than twenty trains per day travelling at high speeds through six intersections in Cambridge and Somerville, were met with intense community skepticism and opposition. Councillor Toomey’s outspoken opposition helped force the state to more closely study the plan, and it was eventually shelved.

"That was a real victory for our community," said Toomey. "There is such a strong need for better public transportation in our state, but that was not the way to do it," Toomey said, adding that the Massachusetts Sierra Club joined in opposition to the state proposal. "By blocking that proposal, we kept Grand Junction open to uses that will provide tangible benefits to Cambridge residents."

In 2013, Toomey emerged as a leading voice in the fight to stop a Fortune 500 company’s plan to use railroads in Cambridge and Somerville to move millions of gallons of flammable ethanol each week. The plans included the possibility that Grand Junction could be used for trains carrying more than 60 tanker cars full of flammable chemicals. This proposal was met with intense community opposition not only in Cambridge, but in many of the surrounding communities. After a successful push by legislators at the State House, Global Partners, the petroleum company behind the proposal, backed down from their plans.

"Again, this was an immense victory for our neighborhood and the entire region, really," Toomey said. "An accident in a place like Cambridge or Somerville would have disastrous effects. While we have one of the best trained and best equipped fire departments in the entire country right here in Cambridge, an ethanol accident in an urban residential area would necessitate a regional response capability that just does not exist right now," Toomey said, adding that this was another plan that would have potentially precluded a positive community use for the Grand Junction Railroad.

"I think the fact that our community has had to fight back against destructive uses of these tracks twice in as many years highlights the urgency of building the rail trail," said Toomey, referring to a proposal to use unused space next to the Grand Junction railroad tracks to construct a mixed-use bike path. "This corridor passes through Kendall Square, where we have seen enormous growth in the numbers of people who bike and walk to work as opposed to driving cars," said Toomey. "The rail trail would offer a safer place for people to commute and recreate. The demand is already there."

In a video released on Wednesday, which can be found on Toomey’s website, the City Councillor describes work he has done to bring the rail trail closer to construction, including his work to include the path in the East Cambridge Open Space Planning Study and secure $500,000 in funding from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"More and more people are realizing just how much sense this project makes," Toomey said. "Just as we have been successful in opposing problematic proposals in the past, I firmly believe we can be successful if we support the rail trail with the same intensity."

Note: This was taken from a press release.

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