Mid-August Updates!

Cambridge meets France!


Hi everyone. First, happy 19th amendment month! August 18, 1920 the 19th amendment was ratified and on August 26 it was certified – look for an event in September celebrating this milestone. While having the amendment alone did not mean all women could freely vote – just as the 15th amendment did not automatically guarantee African Americans and formerly enslaved men could vote – it did establish the right to vote.

I hope you have been able to beat the heat this summer. I was lucky and thrilled to have two weeks of family vacation – the first in many years – a week hiking in the French Alps, and then a week with our Danish exchange student and her family in southern France. We did not escape the inferno that is gripping not only parts of the USA but much of Europe. We did spend quality time together, were reminded of how timelines in France are fundamentally different (1000 year old structures are not uncommon), had some great time outdoors with splendid vistas, and affirmed that local fruits and vegetables are the best wherever one is. I am back in Cambridge and excited to get back to the work of the Council.

Since I last wrote to you all I have hired a new aide, Patrick Hayes. Please feel free to use him as a resource and reach out to him for any of your Council needs at phayes@cambridgema.gov.  I’d like to thank Adrienne for her hard work and wish her the best as she begins graduate school in the fall. She is studying environmental policy with a goal of working to address the climate crisis – an issue that becomes more urgent every day.

A few top line items I wanted to talk about today are the new climate bill passed by the State of Massachusetts (!!!), the upcoming MBTA closures, the Memorial Drive/Riverbend Park News, and a few other Cambridge related issues/items. There are other substantive and important issues I have been addressing which I will discuss in a future newsletter. Notably, the proposal [referenced as BEUDO] for the city to require reductions in building emissions, since our climate goals have not been achieved and the city wants to be environmental leaders, which means we need to do more.

As always, please take care of yourself and enjoy something every day. Covid is still with us, monkeypox is on the rise, the Loire River in France has dried to the point not seen in two millennia, and the richest state public transit system is a complete mess. BUT, dedicated people are working to develop cost-effective ways to store energy, wind farm electricity is cheaper than fracked gas, free concerts across the city showcase awesome talent, and there is excellent ice cream in every Square in Cambridge…. While I loved being away, I feel lucky to live in Cambridge, in Massachusetts, and in the USA… Breathe deeply, and commit to making our world a better place.

– Patty

MBTA Closures (free Bluebike pass this month)


Unfortunately for the tens of thousands of people who rely on the Green and Orange lines every day for their transportation needs, the MBTA will close the Orange Line and part of the Green Line between August 19 and September 18. You should expect significant travel delays and major traffic throughout the area. You should plan to budget extra time for all your trips, no matter how you travel.

The MBTA will close the Green Line between Government Center and Union Square beginning Monday, August 22 and reopening Monday, September 19. The closure includes the portion of the Green Line connecting Government Center, Haymarket, North Station, Science Park, Lechmere, and Union Square. The entire Orange Line will be closed beginning on Friday, August 19 at 9 p.m. and reopening on Monday, September 19.

Shuttle buses will replace Green Line and Orange Line service along the closed routes. At Lechmere, the only Cambridge station impacted by closures, the MBTA plans for all shuttles to stop on Water Street. (Note: these plans are subject to change and will be updated accordingly.)

While Lechmere is the only Cambridge MBTA station impacted by the closures, many Cambridge residents and workers use the Green or Orange Lines to travel around Greater Boston and should plan accordingly. MBTA bus routes that connect with Green or Orange Line stations may also experience delays. Cambridge residents and workers should also expect the closures to impact traffic on Cambridge streets and highways.

I hope that the closures will allow the MBTA to make some much needed improvements. The only good news here is that anyone can sign up for a free 30-day Bluebike pass from August 19 until September 18. Use the link below to learn more and sign up.


New Climate Bills

I couldn’t be more excited to hear the news of not one, but two historic bills affecting our City. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed into law the “Inflation Reduction Act”, which, among other things, makes significant investments in domestic energy production and manufacturing. This bill will push to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and should provide funds for people and organizations seeking to decarbonize their buildings – a key part of our move to address the climate crisis.

On the state level, Massachusetts has just passed the “Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind”. This large and comprehensive bill will aid offshore wind energy production, update solar energy regulations, and provide for a litany of other clean energy efforts. We in the Council have been following this bill very closely with our local delegation and are excited about the possibilities for Cambridge. Much more to come on this front. A key element of this bill is to finally – after years of advocacy – allow some municipalities to require no fossil fuel in new construction. Cambridge is one of the 10 municipalities included because the Council sought to ban fossil fuels and filed a home rule petition to the state legislature. We are now awaiting word from the state on when we can implement the new rules. Sadly the legislation does not allow us to prevent new labs and health care facilities from using fossil fuels. That exemption is short-sighted since labs are among the most emission polluting buildings in Cambridge. We will be working with lab builders to decide on their own, without a requirement, to be free of fossil fuels.

Water Department Visit (Drought Update)

My aide, Patrick, and I spent a few hours last week meeting with the Cambridge Water Department regarding the current drought and ongoing mitigation efforts. Managing Director Sam Corda and Director of Water Operations, Julie Greenwood-Torelli, gave us a tour of their facility and a breakdown of their operations. We sat down to discuss current water levels, drought mitigation efforts, and the ongoing work of the City and the Water Department to combat the Climate Crisis.

The good news is that the Water Department is working hard to continue to modernize their efforts to mitigate drought damage and are thinking critically about the Climate Crisis. The bad news is that we still have a lot of work to do. In the City Council, I will continue to press the City and work with Department Officials to step up efforts and improve upon existing systems – especially when it comes to effective communication with the community. We have not yet updated our water management report or our water use projections as the climate changes, heat waves affect water use and levels, and sea level rise continues with a potential to affect our operations. The Water Dept. is working on getting updated reports in the near future.

In terms of the ongoing drought, the state has issued an advisory for our part of the state STOP ALL NON-ESSENTIAL WATERING. That means no car washing, no outdoor watering of lawns. But DO WATER YOUNG TREES, ESPECIALLY STREET TREES. Currently our reservoirs have enough water and we are working to make sure it stays that way.

All of us who lived through – sweated through – dragged through – the last heat wave know that energy use is critically important. As energy demand goes up in a summer heat wave, the electric grid which is not (yet) all renewable, uses more polluting energy. So, please sign up for SHAVE the PEAK alerts and when weather gets hot again (it will), do what you can to reduce electricity usage from 5 – 8 p.m. every day (If it’s sunny, think most about 6 – 7 pm). The most impactful thing you can do is reduce your need for AC.

Here are practical ways to “shave the peak” during those specific hours:

  1. Pre-cooling works! Focus your AC usage on a couple of rooms, and get them nice and cool before 5pm. Then, turn the AC up a few degrees, or turn it off if you can handle it.

  2. Use fans wherever possible to compensate for AC, and draw the blinds to help keep rooms cool. If you’re planning an outing to the pool or to the air conditioned library or mall, do it during peak hours!

  3. Don’t do the laundry. When you do, wash in cold water.

  4. Don’t run the dishwasher.

  5. If you have an electric car, schedule your charging session for 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Avoid peak times!

Thanks for taking steps to clean up our electric grid! Stay cool!

Street Trees Need Our Help!

Cambridge street trees need your help getting enough water! The City is asking residents and local businesses for assistance in maintaining its healthy urban forest, which includes trees on streets, in parks, on private property, and campuses. Recent extreme heat and the current drought have significantly stressed many new and mature trees throughout the city. These trees provide essential shade, clean the air, and support a living ecosystem.

Street trees need about 20 gallons of water per week. If you are able to help provide them with some of that, our urban forest would be grateful! “The most important thing people can do is help by watering trees near their home,” said Public Works Superintendent of Urban Forestry Andrew Putnam. “This is the most sustainable way to water, and we’re asking any residents and businesses who are able to please do their part by filling a Gator Bag on a tree or drenching the soil in a nearby tree well.”


Riverbend Park Update (Memorial Drive Weekend Closures)

I am happy to report that because of the outpouring of dismay and concern DCR has now announced they will keep Riverbend Park open on Saturdays! THANKS to all who advocated for the continuation of this park.

The decision announced by DCR to close Riverbend Park on Saturdays and Saturday night and open up Memorial Drive to cars on those days was a surprise to the City Council, the city administration and much of the community. And our state delegation – Reps. Connolly, Decker, and Owens– let us know that it was a surprise to them as well.

As soon as we heard from DCR that they would be ending the Riverbend Park and reverting to only the required (by state law) Sundays from 11am – 7pm, I was frustrated and disappointed by the decision. I did not understand why such a decision would be made without conferring with the City Administration and the City Council, who initiated the closure request. My experience is that the closures have been overwhelmingly positive, popular and appreciated by our community. There are some neighbors who did not like the closures, who expressed their opposition and who felt unheard. I am sorry for their feeling unheard. The people who opposed the Saturday extension were far outnumbered by people both in the immediate neighborhood and the city who supported the park being open weekend long. Our city council voted overwhelmingly to request the closures. And over 4000 people signed a petition in favor.

I am glad to see a reversal of what I saw as a unilateral, undemocratic, dismissive decision that ignored the wishes of our city. I look forward to continuing ways for us to use the riverfront throughout the year. And, I will support hosting a meeting to explore mitigations and impact of the closures, so we base decisions on actual data.

First Meeting of the Charter Review Committee

The Charter Review Committee met for the first time this week on Tuesday night. The Committee was briefed by both the City Clerk and the City Solicitor on the legal responsibilities of the Charter Committee. Chairwoman, Kathy Born, introduced the members and led the group in discussion about their vision for the Committee and their commitment to the task of reforming our City Charter.

I, for one, am very excited about the prospect of working to improve upon our democracy here in Cambridge. As a member of the City Council, I’m anxious to consider the ideas that come from this historic Committee.


September 6 is the Massachusetts primary for statewide offices. Make a plan to vote! All registered voters got a postcard about voting by mail and a brochure about early voting, which is August 27 – September 2. Make a plan to vote. Early voting locations are: Mina Library, Cambridge Water Department, and Valente Library. A few precinct locations for voting have changed, and your voting location may have changed. Check your mail for information – Cambridge is doing a great job of sending out information.



The city is working to address the problems from last year when many families found they had no spot in any after school program – leading to understandable and justifiable frustration. If you know anyone who might fill a job – see this announcement. Fall Job Openings at the City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs.

Are you or someone you know looking for a job in Cambridge this fall? Do you enjoy working with young children, middle schoolers, or teens? The City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP) is hiring for a variety of child and youth-serving positions! DHSP’s part-time positions earn $20-24 per hour and full-time positions offer salary and benefits. Learn more about the open positions and how to apply: https://camb.ma/DHSPJobs.

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! I hope you are able to enjoy the rest of the summer, but remember to stay cool. There is a lot to look forward to once regular City Council meetings resume next month, so stay tuned. 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: https://pattynolan.org/news/

Our mailing address is:
Councilor Patty Nolan 
184 Huron Ave
Cambridge, MA

Scroll to Top