Another busy week at City Hall!
Happy March! I hope you enjoyed Leap Day. There has been a ton going on in City Hall and I hope these emails have been helpful – if you have any suggestions for these email blasts please let me know, and forward to anyone you think might be interested! As always, I am acutely aware of how lucky we are to live in Cambridge. We just finished up Black History Month with a wonderful celebration at City Hall (including the Gwen Ifill stamp unveiling – picture above) and now we are entering Women’s History month – lot’s to celebrate.
Next week, there will not be a Council meeting as most of us will be at the National League of Cities in DC. I am very much looking forward to learning from and collaborating with folks from around the country.
Lastly, I will be establishing weekly office hours starting next week! If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Resolution #57: Resolution on the death of Richard Gonci – a friend of mine who will be sorely missed in Cambridge.
Policy Order #43: Preparations for Coronavirus Outbreak – I was pleased to join Councillors Simmons and Toomey in asking for a report on city preparations for the coronavirus outbreak. At this point, the state and city public health authorities are quite active in taking all necessary steps to ensure public safety. Since we don’t yet know the extent of this new virus, people have been concerned and want information on what precautions are appropriate. The Mayor has communicated that the city’s Public Health Department will be convening a task force on this issue this week. The School Committee and department also understand the need for clear communication and establishing protocols. The flu remains an important health issue as well – the main way to protect from the new Covid-19 applies in general during flu season: be aware of coughing – use your elbow and cloth instead of your hands, click elbows instead of shake hands if in doubt, wash your own hands regularly with soap and water (no need for antibiotic soap which overuse causes other problems.). Stay healthy and if sick get proper care and take care to stay at home if sick.
Here are other matters of interest on the agenda:
City Manager’s Agenda Item #4: A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Harvard Square Conservation District Study Committee report.
Unfinished Business #4: A Zoning Petition has been received from Suzanne P. Blier regarding Harvard Square Zoning Petition. [Passed to a Second Reading on Feb 18, 2020, to be Ordained on or after Mar 2, 2020 (deadline is Mar 10, 2020)]
This is the second reading (necessary before adoption) and I believe it will pass this evening. Here are my thoughts from the first reading: This petition came about due to an inclusive process with stakeholders from the large array of groups and people engaged with Harvard Square development. That process resulted in a petition that the various groups agree will be positive for the Square, and bring some welcome rationality to the zoning of the area.
City Manager Agenda Item #54 Fresh Pond Apartments: Many people in the city – both the Mayor, and the city administration and housing advocates have worked tirelessly over the last year to preserve 502 units of affordable housing on Rindge Avenue. After a lot of hard work, the Council will be voting on the city manager’s recommendation to approve $15 million to finalize the preservation of those units. This policy order represents wonderful news in the city- for the hundreds of residents affected directly.
City Manager Agenda Item #56 Eversource Substation: At long last, the petition by Alexandria Real Estate to move forward with a project in East Cambridge on the old Met Pipe site (where I bought several items and sadly was one of the last old time supply places in East Cambridge). This project includes several elements – a new building, preserving some open space, adding to the Grand Junction path, and the relocation of a proposed Eversource substation. The deal is complex and the neighborhood group worked tirelessly to ensure a good community supported outcome. The proposal before the Council is to approve the project, preserving the open space and ensuring that the Eversource station will be located on a different site – instead of next to an elementary school and a residential neighborhood. In exchange, the owners of the newly identified site have stated that the cost of the relocation will necessitate the building of two additional 400,000 SF buildings on a different site. I will be supportive, although I will also be interested to see how to ensure community inclusion in the process when the final plans for the new site are known.
Last week, I attended an event at the State House hosted by Transportation for Massachusetts to address the transit crisis this state is facing. We got a chance to learn about the extent of this issue and speak with our Representatives – who will be voting on multiple bills this week! If you care about improving transit, take action today!
Here is info from T4MA on how to help:
“The Massachusetts House of Representatives is debating legislation this week to improve transportation all across the state, from Pittsfield to Provincetown, and every community in between. Your State Representative needs to hear from you before Wednesday, March 4th, when voting on two important bills begins. Please click here to contact your State Representative today with our easy-to-use online form. This simple, two-minute action will make a real difference in whether we fix this crisis.”
- 2020 Census Info Session, Monday, March 2, 6-7:30 p.m., O’Neill Branch, 70 Rindge Ave. This information session will help explain what the Census means for you as well as a timeline of what to expect and what you need to do to make sure you, your family, and others are counted in the 2020 US Census. Learn more at www.cambridgema.gov/
- Fair Housing Listening Session: Tuesday, March 2, 6-8 p.m., Valente Branch Library, 826 Cambridge St. . Residents and community members are invited to share their experiences with fair housing in Cambridge at this listening session hosted by the Community Development Department and the Human Rights Commission. Information gathered will help the city better understand barriers to fair housing so that these issues can be considered for use of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) future funding.
- Climate Resilience Zoning Task Force Meeting: Wednesday, March 4, 5:30-8 p.m., 806 Mass Ave, Citywide Senior Center.
- US Census 2020 Job Fair, Wednesday, March 4, 5 -7:30 p.m., O’Connell Branch, 48 Sixth St. The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting workers for the 2020 Census and census employees will be on hand to help you apply for open positions.
- Camp Information Night, Wednesday, March 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, 459 Broadway, Main Cafeteria. The community is welcome to attend the annual event to meet representatives from the Cambridge Community School Inclusive camps and other private and public camps, including: camp programs for youth (grades K-8), day and residential camps, programs for middle school students, job opportunities for youth, and programs for children with special needs. Parking is available in the CRLS garage; no pre-registration required.
- Film Screening/Discussion of Race Series. The Peace Commission is organizing a film screening of The Difference Between Us, Episode I of the series RACE: The Power of An Illusion on Thursday, March 12, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. After the 55-minute screening, participants will have the opportunity to take part in an interactive, facilitated discussion including reflections, activities, resources; an opportunity for participants to identify personal next steps; and reflect on what each of individual can take away from the experience. This is the first in a three-part series organized by the Cambridge Peace Commission and co-sponsored by the Citizens Committee on Civic Unity.