City Council Updates, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and More

Construction on a great new substation project in Kendall Square - read below to find out more!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And it is almost spring, although with the almost non-winter we’ve had, it’s hard to tell… I am wearing green and will celebrate my patron saint’s day by going to a concert tonight at Sanders Theater – supporting artists is a joy. I was invited to read to a 4th grade class this week, on Pi Day, so of course I chose to read from “G is for Googol”, an alphabet math book – one of my personal favorites. We read about M [Mobius Strip], S [Symmetry], E [Equilateral], K [Konigsberg], and Z [Zillion]. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it… no matter what your age.

Yesterday I went to the celebration of the new building at 300 Binney Street, a remarkable BXP Life Sciences project that will replace a 4 story parking garage with a 10 story underground electrical substation AND a residential and office tower above. The project is revolutionary and showcases a lot of future solutions for our city. The substation will double the electrical capacity of the entire Kendall Square area and will be able to meet the enormous demand from the area for decades. We need more of these projects if we are to be prepared for a decarbonized future. Eversource and Boston Property speakers were effusive in their praise for the collaborative effort that led to this project. Although the ground is already being prepped, there will be a number of times over the next few years to celebrate and learn about the project. If this type of project can be replicated elsewhere, once again Cambridge will lead the way into a better future.

Last week I asked: how did Cambridge vote in the 1915 statewide referendum on enfranchising women to be able to vote? CAMBRIDGE VOTED AGAINST women’s suffrage then! Luckily, later on, Cambridge women won the right to vote. Interestingly enough, this result happened despite Cambridge being one of the first cities to have a woman elected in local elections to the school board.

This week’s query: when and why did Boston start a St. Patrick’s Day parade?

Below are some comments on a few top line items and a few quick notes for Monday’s meeting.


Event with Boston Properties, Eversource, and City Manager Huang, celebrating the nation's first underground substation of this size

Local Events/Notes

Gas Pump Warning Labels
In 2020, Cambridge became the first community in America to put health and environmental warning labels on fuel pumps at gas stations. The stickers are intended to remind drivers of the impact of using fossil fuels and hopefully consider non-polluting options. Similar to cigarette warning labels, the intent is public education. Now, other municipalities and states are considering labels. A UMASS study is seeking to understand how effective the warning labels are. Please take two minutes to fill out the survey below (It really is just 2 minutes). Please share with your networks!

Five Years of Curbside Compost
This spring marks the five-year anniversary of the citywide curbside compost program. DPW has announced a new food waste drop-off waste site located across from 10 Education Circle in the North Point part of East Cambridge. Any resident may use this drop-off location to dispose of their food waste. To encourage participation, DPW staff will be distributing kitchen compost bins at The Common at Cambridge Crossing, 320 Morgan Avenue on Monday, April 10, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Additionally, residents can request kitchen compost bins at www.CambridgeMA.Gov/Recycle.

City Council Updates

Roundtable on Municipal Broadband
Last week, instead of the regular City Council meeting, we had a roundtable meeting of the City Council to discuss the latest updates on a municipal broadband program. We received a brief presentation on the final feasibility study and received the final report on Wednesday night. I am excited about the opportunities presented in the study and look forward to working with the City Manager and my fellow councillors to figure out which of the options presented make the most sense for Cambridge to pursue. I have been working on this issue since before I was elected to the council and will continue to advocate for this critical infrastructure. The price tag of an investment of about $150 million seems well worth it. We have spent that much and more on a single school building – and the return on that investment is a 21st century building for students. With this $150 million investment, we could get affordable, reliable internet service with appropriate safeguards for privacy and net neutrality.

City Council Meeting – Monday, March 20, 2023

Cambridge Police Department
There are three items in the City Manager’s Agenda for this week related to the Cambridge Police Department, including a report on the status of obtaining body cameras for police officers. This is a thorough update and I look forward to digging into the details with my fellow councillors on Monday. Further, as co-chairs of the Finance Committee, Councillor Carlone and I will be holding a meeting on Thursday, March 23, from 1:00pm – 3:00pm to discuss the FY24 police department budget. Commissioner Elow and her team will give a brief presentation on their upcoming budget proposal and how our budget compares to other cities, per our request. and councillors will have time to discuss the details. This kind of hearing is long overdue, and as co-chair of the Finance Committee, I am glad to be working with the City Manager and Commissioner Elow on bringing more transparency to our budget.

Garden Street
This week, I have cosponsored a policy order with Councillors Toner, Simmons, and Carlone to address concerns over the new Garden Street traffic pattern. I understand that there is concern we are proposing specific changes before the full report from the city is available. I publicly asked for these ideas to be included and considered – and after reviewing the information on use to date and having ridden my bike, driven my car, and walked that street many times over the last few months, I believe the proposal will increase safety, improve traffic flow, mitigate some of the traffic concerns, without any downside. After discussing the traffic patterns with the city, with community members, and with my fellow councillors, I think this proposal will help to alleviate many of the issues we are seeing while maintaining safe and effective bike lanes.

HEART Funding
Two weeks ago, I cosponsored a policy order calling for the funding of a community response program called HEART. This program does great work and I hope this will act to solidify our commitment to community response efforts that aren’t solely tied to police work. We can and should commit ourselves to non-violent intervention and community safety and I think this is a great step. I exercised my charter right during floor debate on the policy order in order to have a few more conversations with city staff and HEART. Since then I have had the opportunity to understand the perspectives of some of the stakeholders, and will propose some clarifying edits and hope that the policy order will pass with the full support of the council. I am committed to a strong contract for HEART that allows them to utilize their growing skill sets and improve our community response efforts.

Starlight Square
Like many residents, I was very disappointed with the BZA decision not to renew Starlight Square for a fourth season. Thank you to those of you who reached out to share your support of Starlight. I agree that the city should find a way to ensure that type of space is OPEN – and is able to provide the wonderful array of events and opportunities it has provided. I know that some neighbors have expressed concern about ongoing noise and disruption. I believe that the accommodations made along with some additional changes could address those concerns adequately. And that we can and should be encouraging the programming Starlite supports.

I spoke to several community members and to many other councillors and I was happy to see two items on the agenda for Monday in support of a permanent solution for Starlight. The first, an outdoor use zoning petition from Central Square BID, and the second, a policy order, requesting the City Manager work with Central Square BID to provide support for Starlight Square. I support both of these efforts and I will be working with the petitioners and my colleagues to ensure that Starlight will be a fixture in our community for years to come.

Charter Review Committee
The Charter Review Committee has been continuing their work reviewing our city charter and to prepare their report for the city council. The CRC currently meets every other Tuesday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm and are actively seeking input from all members of the community. The CRC is scheduled to meet with the full City Council on Wednesday, March 22, from 3:00pm-5:00pm to give an update on their work. In the coming weeks and months, they will be planning more public outreach events. They have also been working to attend community group meetings to spread the word about their important work and get input from the community. If you are part of a community group and would like to invite a CRC member to your meeting to talk about the work and get involved, please reach out to them via email! I invite you to attend their meetings and events, engage with members of the committee, and discuss your vision for our City charter. All the information as well as recordings of previous meetings can be found on their website. Further, you can submit written comments at any time to be considered by the CRC by emailing

And for women’s history month, there are many opportunities to celebrate, learn and enjoy:
I want to highlight the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s events this weekend: March 16-18:  Julia Wolfe’s Her Story. Highlighting the third and final BSO program of the Voices festival, on March 16–18, is Julia Wolfe’s BSO co-commissioned Her Story, for vocal ensemble and orchestra, which invokes the words of historical figures and the spirit of pivotal moments—from a letter written by Abigail Adams to words attributed to Sojourner Truth, public attacks directed at women protesting for the right to vote, and political satire—to pay tribute to the centuries of ongoing struggle for equal rights, representation, and access to democracy for women in America. Featuring the Lorelei Ensemble (Beth Willer, Artistic Director), under the direction of frequent guest Giancarlo Guerrero, with stage direction by Anne Kauffman, scenic, lighting, and production design by Jeff Sugg, and costume design by Márion Talán de la Rosa, Her Story is the latest in a series of compositions by Wolfe—who draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock alike—that highlight monumental and turbulent moments in American history and culture, and the people—both real and imagined, celebrated and forgotten—that defined them. Opening the program is Polish composer Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. This event is part of the BSO’s season and tickets are on sale here. $25 tickets are available.

In a related free event on March 18, the composer of Her Story, Julia Wolfe, is joined by scholars Dr. Jane Kamensky and Dr. Robyn C. Spencer-Antoine for a discussion of this groundbreaking new composition (Symphony Hall, 5:30 p.m.). Free event, but tickets are required and can be reserved here.

COVID Boosters
The CDC recommends use of updated (bivalent) COVID-19 booster shots for better protection against COVID-19 Omicron variants. The updated Moderna booster is authorized for people ages 6 years and older. The updated Pfizer booster is authorized for people ages 5 years and older. Children in this age group are eligible for the bivalent boosters if it has been at least two months since the completion of their primary series or booster vaccination. Please see the links below to learn more about getting the booster and find out where you can get yours.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information
COVID-19 Vaccine Finder

Thank You

Thank you to everyone for reading. If there are any topics you want me to cover in future newsletters, I’m always happy for the input! As always, please feel free to reach out to my aide, Patrick ( , or me for any of your City Council needs.

You can find all previous newsletters on my website. Please share with anyone you think would be interested:

Scroll to Top