Rhetorical Conflict - Safe Streets and Vision Zero: February 12, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting
The battle for turf in the Rhetorical War continues this week with troops massing at the borders over the meaning of Vision Zero and Safe Streets. Continents could be sinking and frogs raining from the sky, but we'll once again get to witness the turf war over allocation of space on Cambridge roads (and sidewalks). Word has it that the Boston Cyclists Union has already rung the alarm and asked all troops to report for duty in the Sullivan Chamber on Monday to argue against "safe streets for all" if that might translate into giving up an inch of sand on the beachhead of segregated bike lanes. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition with the City hosting a Big Press Conference this past week announcing its Vision Zero Plan – basically reducing the speed limit to 20mph in the major Squares (a good thing) and creating a rhetorical framework to hush up anyone who questions future road reconfigurations. After all, you know, Vision Zero. If you don't like flexi-posts or traffic congestion or if you raise issues about road conditions in winter and safety considerations at intersections, surely you must be against traffic calming and in support of danger. Public Comment on Monday promises to be great (that is to say - bad) theater with about a 30 year age difference in opposing sides in the battle over the definition of safety.
Frankly, I'd rather talk about public transportation, but that would have far less drama. I was also unable to witness the presentation last week on the Battle of Inman Square that pitted tree huggers vs. bicycle segregationists (which actually pitted some people against themselves) in the elusive redesign of this crossroads.
Here's the menu of my personal favorite dishes being served up at this gathering:
Manager's Agenda #1. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Lechmere National Bank building at 225/227 Cambridge Street.
Manager's Agenda #2. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the Final Landmark Designation Report for the Hovey & Markham Cottages located at 40 and 44 Cottage Street.
Communications #3-10,12-17. Fourteen letters opposing historical landmark designation of 40 Cottage Street.
We are blessed with our most excellent Historical Commission who generate landmark designation reports (and other publications) that are incredibly good. These two reports are no exception. In a city with so many significant historic buildings it's not surprising that the Historical Commission is recommending landmark status in both of these reports. What makes this noteworthy are the communications - many of which were generated from the same template. Some of them even make reference to the "weaponization of the Historical Commission landmark study and designation process". Personally, I hope the homeowners of 40 Cottage Street will be allowed to renovate their home to the highest energy efficiency standards while maintaining as much historical integrity as possible. That said, either your building is landmark-worthy or it's not, and I'd say the report strongly suggests that this one is. It's true that various legal processes are routinely used in Cambridge to stall or block projects, but I guess it apparently does matter whose ox is gored. If you know the right people then it's called "weaponization", and otherwise it's called "neighborhood preservation". In any case, it will be good to hear more about how the Historical Commission balances preservation vs. modernization in a time when energy conservation and sustainability are prioritized.
Manager's Agenda #4. Transmitting Communication from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of a Sustainable Materials Recovery grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in the amount of $38,800 to the Grant Fund Department of Public Works Other Ordinary Maintenance Account which will be used toward the purchase of food waste collection bins for the citywide curbside organics program.
The starting date is now less than two months away. Speaking as the man formerly known as "Compost Man", I'm eager to see how this plays out and what problems arise as this service is rolled out citywide. I'm also mindful of the fact that this is just as much a rediscovery of former best practices as it is of innovative new practices.
Manager's Agenda #5. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 17-111, regarding the feasibility of implementing neighborways.
In short, the report doesn't endorse using art to calm traffic. We had a good way of handling this when I was a kid growing up in Queens, New York. We painted bases and baselines on the street and played stickball. The message to drivers was abundantly clear and there was never an altercation. We would also chant "Car Car C-A-R" when a car was coming. Other streets had hockey goals in the street that had to be moved to allow cars to pass, but nobody ever complained. We never called these "neighborways." We just called them streets.
Manager's Agenda #7. A communication transmitted from Louis A. DePasquale, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 18-01, regarding a report on possibility of a supermarket opening at 20 Sidney Street.
Perhaps nothing will come of this, but at least there's this: "Community Development Department (CDD) staff have reached out to real estate representatives at several grocery chains, including Market Basket, Aldi, Trader Joes, and bFresh to inform them about the opportunity and connect them to Forest City. Several grocery store representatives mentioned that they do not have plans to expand at this time, or that the space is too small for their traditional size requirements. Regardless, CDD staff has relayed the grocery store chains contact information to Forest City staff. Staff will continue to explore options and communicate with Forest City about possible tenants." In my view Aldi is the one that might work best at this site, but only if the rental agreement makes it economically feasible.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and the Cambridge Public Health Department regarding the current status of zoning language and public health regulations for the keeping of hens and food cultivation and proposed next steps to advance the Urban Agriculture initiative. Vice Mayor Devereux, Mayor McGovern
Perhaps we can just dispense with the supermarkets and just buy our milk and eggs from Farmer Jones down the street.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the Department of Public Works to report back to the Council on the success of the Polystyrene Ordinance, including implementation, enforcement, and remaining concerns among the business community. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Carlone, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui
When I was on the Recycling Advisory Committee (22 years, I believe) I often learned how some initiatives that were very appealing were actually counterproductive or, at best, a break-even proposition. For example, a "paper" drink cup is still lined with plastic, and when you take away the paper there is still a significant amount of plastic - perhaps more than in a "Styrofoam" cup. This Order asserts that expanded polystyrene (EPS), a.k.a. "Styrofoam", has been shown to leach harmful chemicals into food and beverages, but most reliable sources dispute that or note that any potential hazard is negligible. The real problem is that it's difficult to recycle economically and it doesn't really biodegrade.
Regarding the ban of plastic bags, except for the fact that the plastic gets caught in the machinery at the materials recovery facility (MRF), the environmental benefits of paper bags over plastic bags is not a slam dunk. Reusable bags, on the other hand, win the argument easily. That's why the Cambridge ordinance is best referred to as the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) Ordinance rather than as a plastic bag ban (which it isn't).
The jury is still out regarding the polystyrene ban. Some places now provide "compostable" plasticware, but recyclers aren't keen on it because it doesn't really biodegrade along with other organics except under very specialized conditions. Also, biodegradable plastic is often hard to distinguish from other plastic and this compromises the recyclability of all plastics. I suppose none of these details matter to city councillors as long as it makes them appear "environmental". I am, of course, interested to hear what DPW has to say about how the polystyrene ban has fared.
Order #4. That the City Manager and the Mayor’s Office are requested to establish a new working group consisting of a diverse set of stakeholders, including cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, small business owners, EMS/first responders, and City Officials to discuss the results of the protected bike lane pilot using clear evaluation criteria, and how best to construct a cohesive network in the future. Councillor Mallon, Councillor Kelley, Mayor McGovern
This is simply the fulfillment of the Jan 25, 2017 memo from Iram Farooq (CDD), Owen O’Riordan (DPW), and Joseph E. Barr (Traffic). That memo states in regard to the Cambridge St. reconfiguration:
In other words, there was always supposed to be a evaluation of this Separated Bicycle Lane Demonstration. It's interesting that at least one city councillor seems unable to grasp this in saying, "The protected lanes are here to stay and this order may suggest to some they are not." There is little question that enhanced bicycle (and pedestrian and motor vehicle) safety is the rule of the day (because, you know, Vision Zero), but the question remains how best to achieve this. Furthermore, saying that an evaluation will be "data driven" is insufficient. For example, banning all motor vehicles would surely produce data showing a reduction in motor vehicle crashes, but that would not imply that the ban was good policy or that a better solution was not possible.
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to create additional opportunities for the community to evaluate and understand the plan to redesign Inman Square and to provide input, including: walk-in clinics between now and the next community meeting and making more details available online including alternative designs considered but deemed unworkable, traffic simulations, and other relevant data or information. Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui
Perhaps nobody wants to hear this but there really are currently two feasible options available for Inman Square. One is the "current plan" to wipe out the trees in Vellucci Park, relocate some of that space to the north side, and move all bicyclists onto the sidewalks. The other is to keep Inman Square more or less as it is with its newly painted green stripes for bicycles and maybe with some tweaking of the signals, lane markings, and pedestrian phases. Do we have any safety data on how the intersection is working since the "temporary" changes were made last year?
Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to report on progress and efforts made to date to provide greater access to internet services citywide for low income residents. Councillor Zondervan, Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Simmons
Translation: Some advocates want municipal broadband whether or not there is the demonstrated need or demand, and the fact that Cambridge has a significant "free cash" position will be perpetually used to justify any required expenditures. I also wonder sometimes what fraction of people nowadays use only their phone to access anything online (and to, of course, post silly pictures).
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Carlone and Councillor Kelley, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for an additional public hearing held on Jan 24, 2018 to discuss the Zoning Petition filed by Peter Kroon, et al, to amend Section 20.50 of the Zoning Ordinance in the " Harvard Square Overlay District" dated Sept 28, 2017.
This might win the all-time award for longest committee meeting leading nowhere. At least we now know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Cambridge Celebrates Black History Month
Feb 9, 2018 – Join the City of Cambridge as we celebrate Black History Month with two very special events.
Open Mic Night - Feb 22
The Office of Mayor Marc C. McGovern is excited to host an “Open Mic Night” in celebration of Black History Month on Thurs, Feb 22, from 6-8pm, on the second floor of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. All are welcome! Feel free to perform, participate, or simply attend and reflect while enjoying good company and light refreshments. Song, dance, spoken word, poetry, readings, photography, and all other art forms are encouraged. Please reach out to email@example.com with any questions. We look forward to having you join us for this special evening!
Cambridge Black History Month Celebration - Feb 28
Join us for a special Black History Month celebration featuring renowned Gullah Geechee storyteller, Ms. Theresa Hilliard on Wed, Feb 28, from 6-8pm, at Cambridge City Hall, Sullivan Chamber, 795 Massachusetts Ave. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public! The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of West African slaves brought to the coasts of Carolinas, Georgia, and Northern Florida, whose geographic isolation helped them retain a distinct culture and language. Gullah storyteller, Theresa Hilliard, has been featured in National Geographic video magazine in 2014 & 2016. This special evening is sponsored by the City of Cambridge Employees' Committee on Diversity, the City Manager's office and Mayor Marc C. McGovern.
Participants Sought for Cambridge Works Transitional Jobs Program
Feb 2, 2018 – Are you a Cambridge resident, age 18–35, without a college degree, looking for a full-time job? If so, Cambridge Works might be able to help if you’ve had difficulty finding jobs due to limited work experience, gaps in your work history, legal or personal issues.
Cambridge Works is the City’s free, transitional jobs program that provides participants receive:
- A 3-month paid internship
- Support from a case manager
- Weekly job-readiness classes
- Job placement assistance
Members Sought for Cambridge Climate Protection Action Committee
Jan 26, 2018 – Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking new members for the Climate Protection Action Committee (CPAC). Appointees will fill a limited number of vacancies on the committee.
The committee, which consists of residents and representatives of the universities, the business community, and community organizations, advises the City on climate change policy and implementation related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the unavoidable impacts.
Cambridge has been working on climate change action since 1999. The City has an overall goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions at the community scale by 2050. The City is in the process of developing a Climate Action Plan which will set new climate protection goals and objectives for adoption by the City Council. In addition, a Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Plan is also being developed. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change will require concerted action by the entire community, and the committee is an important element of the effort to develop policies and programs to help residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations incorporate energy efficiency, renewable energy, resilience, and other measures into their homes and work places. The Committee acts a sounding board for City staff, makes recommendations to the City Manager, convenes community discussions about climate change, and is responsible for reviewing progress on the implementation of the Net Zero Action Plan. For more information about climate protection in Cambridge, visit cambridgema.gov/climate.
The committee generally meets on the second Thursday of the month, from 6-8pm, at Cambridge City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway. Any Cambridge resident or representative of a business, institution, or organization based in Cambridge who would like to work to address climate change is welcome to apply. Members are appointed by the City Manager, generally to a three year term.
The deadline for submitting an application for the Climate Protection Action Committee is February 26, 2018. Applications can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the city’s online application system at cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter describing your interest, resume, or applicable experience can be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Mass. Ave.
Cambridge Releases Vision Zero Action Plan to Eliminate Transportation Fatalities
and Serious Injuries and Announces 20 MPH Safety Zones in the City’s Squares.
City to take data driven approach to identifying causes and evaluating solutions
Feb 5, 2018 – The City of Cambridge is releasing its Vision Zero Action Plan at a public celebration at City Hall on Thurs, Feb 8, at 8:30am. Vision Zero, adopted by the Cambridge City Council in 2016, is an initiative to reduce and ultimately eliminate transportation fatalities and serious injuries, while at the same time creating safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all those who travel in Cambridge. The Action Plan serves as a blueprint for how Cambridge will achieve Vision Zero.
The Action Plan outlines specific short and long term goals that the City will undertake. These goals reflect the City’s commitment to:
- Design and Operate Safe Streets
- Improve Large Vehicle, Taxi/For-Hire Vehicles, and TNC Safety for all road users
- Ensure equity in Vision Zero efforts, paying particular attention to vulnerable and underserved populations
- Engage the public in Vision Zero initiatives
- Ensure that City employees and representatives lead by example in traffic safety matters
- Create new partnerships and foster existing partnerships with community organizations
- Use data to direct efforts and measure progress
In line with these goals, the City will be announcing the implementation of 20 MPH Safety Zones in the City Squares. Effective March 1, the speed limit in Central, Harvard, Inman, Kendall, and Porter Squares will be 20 MPH. Lowering speeds is one of the most effective tools to protect vulnerable road users and is fundamental to achieving Vision Zero, as slower speeds result in fewer and less severe crashes. In December of 2016, the City lowered the default speed limit to 25 MPH.
“Effective communication, collaboration, and public process are critical to successful initiatives, and these will be central themes that will guide our approach for Vision Zero,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “By coming together as a community, we will continue making it safe and easy for people of all ages and abilities to travel between work, school, shops, and other destinations, whether they choose to walk, bicycle, drive, or take transit. I look forward to working with the City Council and the entire community to enhance the safety of our city.”
“We know that lower speeds help save lives, and that pedestrians and cyclists are much more likely to survive a crash with a motor vehicle when speeds are below 20 MPH.” said Joseph Barr, Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation. “Cambridge’s squares are the heart of our city, and we want to make sure that we support their economic vitality by making them safe for everyone who lives, works, and plays in Cambridge.”
The foundation for the Action Plan is data driven decision-making. The City will seek to identify the fundamental causes of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities to come up with creative and implementable solutions to prevent those incidents, and to evaluate its successes and remaining challenges. The Vision Zero commitment reinforces a community-based focus on safety and the actions that can be collectively taken to create the safest possible transportation system—and the safest possible city.
Preliminary 2017 crash data from the Cambridge Police Department shows:
- 3% reduction in crash calls for service – to the lowest level in nearly two decades.
- 4% reduction in crashes requiring police reports.
- 17% reduction in crashes involving bicyclists.
- 17% reduction in crashes resulting in ambulance transport of injured parties to a hospital – to the lowest since 2005, when comprehensive EMS disposition data was captured.
For additional information, visit CambridgeMA.GOV/VisionZero. The Vision Zero Action Plan and detailed maps of the Safety Zones will be available on February 8.
Cambridge Announces Vacancies on Central Square Advisory Committee and Human Services Commission
Jan 31, 2018 – City Manager Louis A. DePasquale is seeking to fill vacancies on the Central Square Advisory Committee and the Human Services Commission.
The Central Square Advisory Committee helps review all major development actions in the Central Square Overlay District and monitors the progress of the non-zoning recommendations of the K2C2 Study relevant to Central Square. Members represent a cross section of stakeholders, which includes residents from abutting neighborhoods and representatives of Central Square’s business community. The Committee meets as needed to advise on non-zoning recommendations, undertakes all Large Project Reviews, and reviews and comments on all Board of Zoning Appeal variances and special permits within the Overlay District.
At this time, the following positions are vacant: The Port Representative, Riverside Representative, and Central Square Business Representative.
These appointments, to be made by the City Manager, will serve a term of three years that will expire in April 2021, with the option to renew. The Committee meets as needed based on project review needs and the status of ongoing and upcoming developments to Central Square. For more information, please contact Wendell Joseph at 617-349-9462 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Central Square Advisory Committee’s webpage.
Applications to serve on this committee can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume or applicable experience must be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline to submit an application is February 28, 2018.
The Human Services Commission advises the City Manager and the Assistant City Manager for Human Services on human services policy issues, needs assessments, and funding allocations. In collaboration with the Department of Human Service Programs, the nine-member Commission helps promote activities that enhance the quality of life for Cambridge residents. Over the years, the Commission has responded to local needs by recommending Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for a wide range of programs offered by the City and community agencies.
The Commission usually meets with the Assistant City Manager for Human Services on the second Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30pm. For more information, contact Mike Payack at 617-349-6208 or email@example.com. Commission members serve without compensation. Applications to serve on this committee can be submitted to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale using the City’s online application system at www.cambridgema.gov/apply. A cover letter and resume or applicable experience may be submitted during the online application process. Paper applications are available in the City Manager’s Office at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. The deadline to submit an application is March 2, 2018.
City Announces Second Minibond Issuance, Invites Residents to Directly Invest in Cambridge
Jan 31, 2018 – Cambridge residents will once again have the chance to invest directly in Cambridge infrastructure by purchasing minibonds. The City expects to sell up to $2.5 million of minibonds in its second minibond sale, which will take place from February 20-26, 2018. Minibonds enable residents to earn tax-exempt interest and invest for the future while supporting the Cambridge capital budget. Each Cambridge resident may purchase up to 25 minibonds for a total possible investment of $25,000 (25 x $1,000/minibond). The interest rate on the 2018 minibonds will be determined on February 20, 2018 and interest will be paid semiannually. Principal on the 2018 minibonds will be paid in five years, in 2023.
“For many years, the City of Cambridge received calls from residents asking how they could buy the City’s Bonds,” said Cambridge City Manager Louie DePasquale. "Our minibonds are a great way to provide Cambridge residents a way to invest directly in City projects that will benefit our entire community. There was a lot of demand from our citizens and we sold out early last year, so we are excited to expand our minibonds offerings to Cambridge residents this year.”
A minibond is similar to a traditional municipal bond in which investors loan money to a city or public agency for an agreed period of time, receive interest on the investment, and get their loan paid back when the bond matures. The City plans to use minibond proceeds to support capital projects such as school building renovations, municipal facility upgrades, and implementation of the Complete Streets plan.
Last year, the City sold out of $2 million in minibonds, in its first ever issuance. Additionally, the City’s minibond issue was awarded the 2017 “Deal of the Year” by the Bond Buyer in the non-traditional financing category. The annual award recognizes innovative municipal financial practices and recognized the City for its minibond program.
All municipal bonds previously sold by the City were sold in denominations of $5,000 or more. Minibonds are different because residents can purchase them for as little as $1,000, making them more accessible than traditional municipal bonds for potential investors.
The City is working with Neighborly Securities* to issue the minibonds. Neighborly is not affiliated with the City of Cambridge in any way, other than as the broker-dealer for this sale of minibonds.
Minibonds will only be offered to investors following the release of a Preliminary Official Statement of the City that will describe the terms of the minibonds and provide other financial information concerning the City. The City expects to release a Preliminary Official Statement by February 15, 2018.
Residents who are interested in buying Cambridge minibonds will need to create an account through Neighborly.com before the order period ends or purchase minibonds through their own broker. Once a minibond order is submitted through Neighborly, Neighborly’s investment team reviews it for approval and allocation. If the order is approved, minibonds will then be allotted and filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Neighborly representatives will be at Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue on Thurs, Feb 15, from 5:30-7:30pm and Wed, Feb 21, from 5:30-7:30pm to provide assistance and discuss the minibond process.
For general questions about Cambridge minibonds, please visit minibonds.cambridgema.gov or contact the City’s Budget Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 349-4270.
*Minibonds will only be ordered through Neighborly Securities, member FINRA, SIPC & registered with MSRB, pursuant to a preliminary and final official statement to be made available during the ordering period. This information does not constitute an order to sell or the solicitation of an order to buy any securities. You will be responsible for making your own independent investigation and appraisal of the risks, benefits, and suitability of any securities to be ordered and neither the City of Cambridge nor Neighborly Securities is making any recommendation or giving any investment advice.
Evenings with Experts 2018
First Wednesday of each month, February through May 2018
7:00pm - 8:30pm
A free public lecture series presented by Grow Native Massachusetts at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
For more information, visit us at http://grownativemass.org/programs/eveningswithexperts, or call 781-790-8921.
CEUs Available for each lecture: APLD (1.5 credits); NOFA-AOLCP (1.5 credits)
DATES AND SPEAKERS
The Beautiful Adaptations of Native Plants: Inviting the Wild into our Gardens
Dan Segal, Owner, The Plantsmen Nursery
Co-sponsored by the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
Native plants have evolved a broad array of adaptations in the wild, yielding not only the ornamental features embraced in horticulture but many fascinating mechanisms for survival. Dan will take us beyond 'pretty' plant features to explore the origins of these adaptive traits, and the critical importance of regional variation. This insight helps us to select plants that are genuinely suited to our landscapes. He will also compare and contrast large-scale nursery production that favors the cloning of cultivars, with small-scale nursery propagation that favors seed-grown straight species. To know and source native plants effectively, understanding their propagation can be just as important as species selection.
Dan Segal has collected and propagated over 1,000 species of native plants in his three decades of work as a nurseryman, giving him great insight into the fascinating variety of adaptations that plants have evolved to survive. He is the owner of The Plantsmen Nursery near Ithaca, NY, which specializes in native plants, local seed collection, and natural landscaping. He founded the Ithaca Native Plant Symposium in 2009.
Lessons Learned when Field Botany Meets Design
Uli Lorimer, Curator of the Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Co-sponsored by Mount Auburn Cemetery
Ecologically attuned designers are increasingly looking to nature for inspiration in the design of managed landscapes. But connecting field botany to horticulture is complex, and insights gained from observations in the wild don’t always translate directly into a cultivated garden. Uli will use the recently expanded native flora garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a cultivated pine barrens and coastal plain grassland, as a case study— sharing lessons learned along the way as the project evolved from a concept into a dynamic, living landscape. Good design allows for change and succession to occur, and flexibility in design intent is a valuable strategy because things do not always work out as planned.
Uli Lorimer has been the Curator of Native Flora at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Garden for over a decade. He was instrumental in the expansion of the Garden’s native plant collection, using only material sourced from the wild and grown from seed. As Field Chair at BBG, he coordinates fieldwork with regional botanists and leads botanical expeditions for naturalists and horticulturists.
Revealing a Sense of Place
Matthew Cunningham, Principal, Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design
Co-sponsored by the Boston Society of Landscape Architects
Seasonal New England is rich in its unique and dynamic ecological patterns. Join us, as Matthew explores how his observations of these natural systems have influenced his firm’s creation of contextual and native plant-centric projects that grasp the rhythms of everyday life. He will show us a variety of residential landscapes, large and small, that embrace our regional flora, utilize ecologically sustainable principles, and that build connections between interior and exterior spaces to strengthen our relationship with nature. Come be inspired by these beautiful, vibrant landscapes that enhance life for both their human and their wild residents.
Matthew Cunningham is a rising star in the world of landscape architecture. He is passionate about the landscapes of New England and is committed to excellent design with ecologically sustainable principles. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he worked at the renowned firm Reed Hilderbrand Associates before starting his own practice. Matthew was named “International Designer of the Year” by the APLD in 2017.
Evoking Nature: Form and Function on the High Line
Andi Pettis, Director of Horticulture, Friends of the High Line
The High Line in Manhattan was born of a city that is constantly reinventing itself. Built on a mile-and-a-half long elevated railroad, this dynamic landscape was inspired by the tenacity of plants in its industrial setting, and it uses a matrix of perennial and woody plants to evoke a natural landscape. Wildly successful and overwhelmingly popular, caring for this garden in the sky poses unique challenges. Andi will describe how her team uses traditional and innovative horticultural techniques, how they work to promote the park’s biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and how they foster an emotional connection to nature in this challenging urban environment.
As Director of Horticulture for the Friends of the High Line, Andi Pettis leads a world-class team of gardeners who care for this beloved elevated park in Manhattan. Andi’s horticulture career in New York City spans nearly two decades, including work in both private and public garden settings, park management, and teaching at the New York Botanic Garden.
Coming up at the Feb 5, 2018 Cambridge City Council meeting
Here's my first pass (and Gronkowski didn't pull this one down either) at the interesting agenda items with the usual brilliant/annoying observations.
Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to inquire whether the Community Development Department will apply for the Targeted Brownfields Assessment Grant regarding Jerry's Pond. Councillor Siddiqui, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Kelley
Many people may have forgotten this by now but there were once plans to enhance that whole area - not only by making Jerry's Pond an available resource but also doing, dare I say, some development in the vicinity of the MBTA headhouse east of the parkway and within the fenced-in area associated with the W.R. Grace site on the north side of the path. First it was the threat of naphthalene in the soil, and then asbestos. I will never believe that permanently fencing in a contaminated site near a T station is preferable to cleaning it up and turning it into a resource rather than a liability.
Order #3. That the City Manager is requested to work with the Community Development Department and any other relevant City Department to gain a sense of who is purchasing buildings in Cambridge. Councillor Simmons
I think this will be very interesting information, and not only because I'd like to see just how much property Gerald Chan now owns in Cambridge. At least he lives nearby. The greater problem is that in an uncertain world there's a lot more financial security in Cambridge real estate than in either pork bellies or Chinese financial markets. This reality is not always compatible with the quaint old notion of buying property either because you want a place to live or you need a place to operate your business. Cambridge property has in many ways become primarily a place to store wealth. Barring some new form of gold rush elsewhere I don't see this changing any time soon.
Order #6. That the City Manager explore the possibility of an "ALL WALK" pedestrian signal at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Prospect Street, and River Street. Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui
As appealing as this may seem, the traffic volumes on these streets may dictate otherwise. The greatest problem is the conflict between pedestrians crossing Mass. Ave. and right-turning vehicles from River Street onto Mass. Ave. There used to be a "slip lane" there, but that was even more hazardous for pedestrians. The real problem, in my opinion, is that many drivers and pedestrians don't have a clue about how to balance assertiveness and courtesy. I'm reminded of a small book from about 35 years ago called "The Boston Driver's Handbook: Wild in the Streets" that really said it all, especially the Cambridge tradition of acting aloof when crossing in Harvard Square.
I often think about writing a story on "How to Be a Pedestrian in Cambridge" complete with a guide to hand gestures and best ways to stop vehicles with just a look. These lessons will, of course, be lost on habitual cell phone users.
Order #7. City Council support of Representative Provost and the Cambridge Legislative Delegation’s efforts to pass a Right of First Refusal Bill, with an amendment for cities to provide final implementation modifications as needed. Councillor Carlone, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui
Please explain how this will apply to a multi-family homeowner who wishes to do a formal sale to family members or close friends for a price well below what is dictated by the market. - Robert Winters
Featured Items on the Jan 29, 2018 Cambridge City Council Agenda
Mayor McGovern has appointed the City Council committees and their Chairs pending final adoption of the City Council Rules. In addition, here are just a few of the noteworthy agenda items:
Charter Right #1. That the City Manager is requested to report back to the City Council regarding efforts to expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations, the feasibility of appropriately placing electric vehicle chargers on residential streets where there is need, the status of possible City fleet replacement to electric vehicles, expanded outreach and education on available rebates and incentive programs, and the feasibility of requiring developers to include a greater number of electric vehicle charging stations in new or substantially renovated multi-unit buildings. [Charter Right exercised by Councillor Simmons on Jan 22, 2018.]
This Order from last week exposed a potentially pretty significant rift. It's one thing to require electric vehicle charging capacity in new residential and commercial construction, but providing charging stations on public streets basically means that only those who can afford a $100,000+ Chevy Volt or comparable vehicle will be able to use those parking spaces. [Correction: It's the Tesla Model S that went for ~$100K. The Chevy Volt apparently goes for ~$30K.] It's understandable that people without driveways might want a mechanism for charging their cars (since running power cords across the sidewalk or down the street is not an option), but how will it go over with the neighbors if only some people are privileged to use these parking spaces?
Unfinished Business #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Devereux, Chair of the Ad-Hoc Rules Committee, for a public hearing held on Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018 to discuss and suggest changes to the City Council Rules and transmitting recommended changes to the City Council Rules.
I honestly don't know what Rules Changes they finally settled on at last week's meeting. The meeting materials only show the suggestions from the Ad-Hoc Committee and it's simply not worth reviewing the video to find out what the Council decided on before referring the revised version to Unfinished Business. It's primarily just nickel-and-dime stuff anyway.
Communications #16-25 and #27 transmitting written opposition to the Peter Kroon, et al. Harvard Square Overlay District Zoning Petition.
In addition to these communications, most of the public comment at last week's Ordinance Committee meeting was against the petition. I believe there may now be or will soon be expressed written opposition from more than 20% of the affected land ownership which means that a three-quarter super-majority vote would be needed to pass the Kroon Petition, i.e. 7 votes instead of 6 out of 9. I don't think it had the votes anyway, but it apparently doesn't matter because the Ordinance Committee failed to move it out of committee so it can't be passed to a 2nd Reading on Monday and it therefore cannot be ordained prior to the expiration date. It seems likely that a revised version will be filed after the Feb 19 expiration.
One particularly offensive part of the Ordinance Committee discussion centered on term limits on membership on the Harvard Square Advisory Committee and the desire of the petitioners and some councillors to drive one particular person out of the Chair and maybe even off the advisory committee entirely. There is a notification in this week's agenda for the reappointment of two 20+ year members to the Library Board of Trustees. Will the City Council now argue that they should be booted from the Board in the quest for "new blood"? City boards & commissions benefit greatly from having a mix of newer members and long-time members who carry a lot of institutional memory and skills. Having a good balance is what's really important.
Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to direct the City Solicitor and any other appropriate City departments to report back to the City Council with an update on any work that is currently underway regarding regulating adult use marijuana and to suggest next steps to the Council. Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Mallon, Councillor Siddiqui, Mayor McGovern
This is a timely order. The Trojan horse of medical marijuana facilities has already entered the city and it has the munchies.
Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to explore funding options for the possibility of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) for Central Square. Councillor Mallon, Councillor Simmons, Mayor McGovern
It is quite apparent that groups like the Harvard Square Business Association and the Central Square Business Association are already taking on some of the rules associated with a Business Improvement District. This may be the right time to make this official in Central Square. The benefits are many and the down sides are few.
PS - The Central Square Business Association and its most excellent Executive Director Michael Monastime hosted an especially good charrette on Saturday on the future of Carl Barron Plaza in the heart of Central Square. This was just the first of what will be many opportunities for public input on the upcoming River Street reconstruction project (from the river to Carl Barron Plaza) that will commence at some point in the next year or so.
Order #5. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department with the view in mind of creating a list of mitigated private spaces that are available to the public, what the exact eligibility of using these spaces is, and making the list available to the public. Councillor Toomey
This is a welcome request. Most people have no idea what spaces are available for use and what rules govern the use of these open spaces and meeting spaces. It will be great if this information can be made available along with information on all City-owned resources that are available for public use. Ideally there should also be a list of all spaces in churches and other buildings that are available for use at modest cost for meetings and events.
Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Commissioner of Public Works and the City Engineer on the potential of utilizing trenchless technology, micro tunneling and/or pipe jacking to lessen the time and impact on the residents of Gore Street. Councillor Toomey, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Mallon
Order #8. That the City Manager maximize the community benefits from and mitigating the impacts of the Cambridge Crossing sewer construction. Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Siddiqui, Councillor Toomey
Suffice to say that if during the construction of that dedicated sewer line the century-old water mains and gas mains are replaced (which will have to occur at some point anyway), that is, in itself, significant mitigation. If some of the electrical infrastructure can also be renewed and moved from poles to underground that would be even better.
Order #7. Endorsing Requests for Action or Further Study for the I-90 Allston Interchange Project in Boston. Mayor McGovern, Vice Mayor Devereux, Councillor Zondervan, Councillor Carlone
This is a complicated project with the potential for a lot of benefit and a fair amount of disruption during construction. I won't offer any opinions just now, but there are plenty to go around. It's worth the read.
Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Mayor Marc C. McGovern, transmitting the City Council Committee Assignments for the Council Term 2018-2019 pending adoption of the Rules as amended.
There's nothing particularly stunning about the appointments - mostly natural matches of function and interest. There are maybe three out of the 11 standing committees that could become cauldrons of controversy, but it's probably best to wait and see. I'll let you guess which three. - Robert Winters
Charrette - Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 12:30pm – 3:30pm at Workbar - Central Square, 45 Prospect Street (free ticket required - click link above)
Note on the Jan 24, 2018 Ordinance Committee meeting on the Kroon Petition
I was at the Ordinance Committee from about 5:30pm through shortly after the end of Public Comment around 8:30pm. I did hear that the meeting went on for about 5½ hours. They wasted a lot of time at the beginning because some councillors had no idea about the procedural issues. It was pretty obvious to me how they should proceed, but only Councillors Toomey and Kelley (and the City Solicitor) seemed to understand.
Most of the public comment was against the petition, and I believe that there is now expressed opposition from more than 20% of the affected land ownership which means that a three-quarter super-majority vote would be needed to pass the Kroon Petition, i.e. 7 votes instead of 6 out of 9. I don't think it has the votes, but it apparently doesn't matter because they failed to move it out of committee so it can't be passed to a 2nd Reading on Monday and it therefore cannot be ordained prior to the expiration date. It looks like a revised version will be filed after the expiration.
I spoke at Public Comment about the formula business regulation. My basic question was, "What exactly do you want to regulate?" Is it fast food? Banks? Phone stores? National chains? Anything other than a small shop? I gave my point of view about what the goals should be and Councillor Carlone seemed to be agreeing with me. It's all about the pedestrian experience, and the particular stores are almost irrelevant. There's really no difference between a Barismo and a Dunkin Donuts as long as there are people going in and out of the place. This petition is specific to Harvard Square, but their proposed formula business regulation is the same as in the Central Square Restoration Petition. Go after the retail killers like vacant properties and storefronts that are more like advertising billboards than entryways, and don't forget that some of those larger chains actually do provide necessary goods at reasonable prices.
One particularly offensive part of the discussion centered on term limits on membership on the Harvard Square Advisory Committee and the desire of the petitioners and some councillors to drive at least one particular person out of the Chair and maybe even off the advisory committee entirely. Manipulating the language specifically to target one individual is bullshit, but that's what the petitioners and their supporters on the City Council are doing. They would be well-advised to simply ask the City Manager to refresh the membership this spring when the terms of most of the members expire, and maybe just ask the current Chair if he would consider passing the gavel to someone else. This requires neither rocket science nor a zoning change. Let me emphasize that the Harvard Square Advisory Committee (HSAC) is an advisory committee only. It has no regulatory authority. It will be great if the HSAC can be as representative as possible of all interests, but it's still just a forum for hashing out some ideas and making some suggestions to other bodies. Committees like the HSAC benefit by having a mix of newer members and long-time members who carry a lot of institutional memory. Having a good balance is what's really important.
My sense is that ALL councillors would like to see housing as a part of most or all new construction that may come to Harvard Square, but there may some places where this is too restrictive, e.g. redevelopment of the Harvard Square Cinema property by Gerald Chan. There is a need for some changes to the zoning in Harvard Square to provide incentives for the better things and disincentives for other things, but this petition needs improvement and I believe at least some of the councillors understand this.- RW
Cambridge Democrats will hold caucuses throughout the month of February to elect delegates to the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Convention. The convention will be held June 1 and 2 at the DSC Center in Worcester, where Democrats from across Massachusetts will meet to decide which statewide candidates for governor and the other constitutional offices will be on the Democratic ticket in the 2018 Primary Election in September. The convention also gives delegates the chance to meet fellow activists, hear from elected officials, discuss issues, and attend trainings.
Caucus Locations and Times
|Date||Time||Ward(s)||Caucus Location||Caucus Address|
|Sun, Feb 4||2:00pm||8||Graham & Parks School (cafeteria)||44 Linnaean St.|
|Sun, Feb 4||2:00pm||10||Graham & Parks School (auditorium)||44 Linnaean St.|
|Sat, Feb 10||10:20am||11||Peabody School (auditorium)||70 Rindge Ave.|
|Sat, Feb 10||10:30am||5||LBJ Apartments||150 Erie St.|
|Sun, Feb 11||1:00pm||9||Tobin School||197 Vassal Lane|
|Sun, Feb 18||1:00pm||7||Baldwin School||85 Oxford St.|
|Sun, Feb 25||1:00pm||1,2,3,4||MIT Kresge Auditorium (separate caucus for each ward)||48 Mass. Ave.|
|Sun, Mar 4||2:15pm||6||Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (main cafeteria)||459 Broadway|
To find out what ward you live in, visit www.wheredoivotema.com (MA Secretary of State site).
The fine print: Delegates will be equally divided between women and men. Youth, minorities, and people with disabilities who are not elected as delegates or alternates may apply to be "add on" delegates. Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, disability, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation or economic status in the conduct of the caucus is prohibited. All caucus locations are handicapped-accessible. Details on the rules can be found at https://massdems.org/convention/2018-convention under "Method for Selecting Delegates." For disability-related accommodations or other information about the Cambridge caucuses, contact Chair Brian Corr at 617-254-8331 or Brian@BrianCorr.com.
2018 City of Cambridge Scholarship Applications Now Available
Jan 25, 2018 – Applications for the 2018 City of Cambridge Scholarship program are currently being accepted. The City Scholarship fund provides financial assistance to Cambridge residents who wish to pursue post-secondary education. Through this program, the city has awarded thousands of dollars to college-bound high school seniors and others who want to pursue higher education. In FY17, the city awarded over 84 scholarships of $2,500 each. With the increasing cost of higher education as well as continued economic uncertainty, these scholarships help ease the financial burden for many Cambridge individuals and families.
“I think it is remarkable that we can provide $210,000 in scholarships, a record for us,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “But this is only possible through the generous donations that we receive each year from Cambridge residents, businesses and taxpayers."
Scholarship applications may be obtained at Cambridge Public Schools, all Cambridge Public Library branches and at Cambridge City Hall. Interested residents may also download the application from the Scholarship Webpage, cambridgema.gov/cityscholarship. The deadline for the FY18 scholarship application, and all supporting documentation is March 5, 2018.
- Must be a resident of Cambridge; (All ages may apply);
- Must be attending, have received admittance to, or have an application pending at an accredited education institution beyond the high school level prior to the award date of May 2018;
- Scholarship is paid directly to education institution and should be used during 2018-2019 academic year;
- Prior recipients are NOT eligible as the City Scholarship Award is one-time only.
The City of Cambridge Scholarship fund is administered by the Finance Department. A Scholarship Committee comprised of six Cambridge residents appointed by the City Manager, reviews all applications and selects the scholarship recipients. Each application is evaluated and ranked based on academic achievement, financial need, community & extracurricular activities, and special circumstances.
Checks made payable to the City of Cambridge Scholarship Fund may be mailed to: Cambridge Scholarship Fund, City of Cambridge, P.O. Box 2005, Cambridge, MA 02139 or dropped off in person at the Finance Department Cashier’s window during regular business hours. Contributions can also be made online. For more information, contact the city’s Finance Department at 617-349-4220 or email@example.com.
New City Law Regulates Short Term Rentals
Registration with Inspectional Services Required by April 1, 2018
Jan 24, 2018 – The Cambridge City Council adopted a Short-Term Rental (STR) Ordinance (#1397) which goes in effect on April 1, 2018 and regulates the rental of property for transient housing (stays up to 30 days). Cambridge residents who meet eligibility requirements and wish to use their residential property for short-term rental must register with the city’s Inspectional Services Department by April 1, 2018.
Platforms such Airbnb®, Home Away™, and others have made the short-term rental of bedrooms or whole dwelling units a popular travel accommodation option, particularly in urban areas where hotel prices can be very high.
Research shows that Cambridge has hundreds of short-term rental units available. Just like other types of lodging houses and hotels, short-term rentals will also be required to comply with building code, life safety regulations, and health and hygiene standards. In order to qualify for a short-term rental certificate, the respective dwelling unit or bedroom must also be inspected by a city inspector. Additionally, the operator of a short-term rental must live in, or adjacent to the unit, as described in the new ordinance.
The city’s Inspectional Services will host informal drop-in sessions where residents can ask questions about the new Ordinance, eligibility requirements, the process of obtaining a Certificate of Registration, or check on the specific conditions of their dwelling unit.
The drop-in sessions will be held in the Lombardi Building, Basement Conference Room, 831 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge on the following dates::
- Tuesday, Feb 13, 5:30-7:30pm
- Tuesday, Feb 27, 5:30-7:30pm
- Tuesday, Mar 13, 5:30-7:30pm
- Tuesday, Mar 27, 5:30-7:30pm
For more information, visit CambridgeMA.gov/Shorttermrental.
Check out the latest episodes of Cambridge InsideOut:
If you would like to be a guest (or co-host) one of these Tuesdays, let me know. - RW
|Episode 291 (Feb 13, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Feb 12 City Council highlights - bike lanes, Inman Square redesign, Vision Zero, and more
|Episode 292 (Feb 13, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge Historical Commission landmark designation reports, fate of the "Tenant Right of First Refusal" bill, and more
|Episode 289 (Feb 6, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Feb 5 City Council meeting - Jerry's Pond, Central Square crosswalks, right of first refusal.
|Episode 290 (Feb 6, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: proposed "Right of First Refusal" enabling legislation now at the State House
|Episode 287 (Jan 30, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Jan 29 City Council meeting; electric vehicles; Mass Pike reconfiguration; committee appointments, and more
|Episode 288 (Jan 30, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Central Square news and opportunities, and more
|Episode 285 (Jan 23, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Transportation planning - Green Line Extension, Mass Pike realignment, and more
|Episode 286 (Jan 23, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: The Womens March - one year later; new voting machines coming; Kroon Petition and "formula business" regulation; Central Square news and opportunities
|Episode 283 (Jan 16, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Civic Nerdiness, City Council Rules and Committees
|Episode 284 (Jan 16, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Cambridge history of garbage
|Episode 281 (Jan 9, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Jan 8 City Council meeting highlights, supermarket closure, snow issues
|Episode 282 (Jan 9, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Council committee appointments; discussion of the record of the 2016-2017 City Council
|Episode 279 (Jan 2, 2018, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: 2018 Inaugurations of the Cambridge City Council and School Committee and the Election of Mayor Marc McGovern
|Episode 280 (Jan 2, 2018, 6:00pm)
Topics: Discussion of some of the more challenging priorities for the new 2018-2019 City Council
|Episode 277 (Dec 19, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 18 City Council recap, fond farewells
|Episode 278 (Dec 19, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Harvard Square, Central Square, Catching Up on the Cambridge News
|Episode 275 (Dec 12, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 11 City Council recap, Hubway, looking back at 2017
|Episode 276 (Dec 12, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Looking back at 2017, anticipating the next Council term
|Episode 273 (Dec 5, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Dec 4 City Council recap, curbside compost collection coming
|Episode 274 (Dec 5, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: more election-related facts
|Episode 271 (Nov 28, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Election Data Binge - Part 1, final results, voter turnout, demographics
|Episode 272 (Nov 28, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Election Data Binge - Part 2, fractional transfer, #2 votes, vacancy replacements
|Episode 269 (Nov 14, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Post-Election Notes - Part 1
|Episode 270 (Nov 14, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Post-Election Notes - Part 2
|Episode 267 (Oct 31, 2017, 5:30pm) [materials]
Topics: Pre-Election Notes
|Episode 268 (Oct 31, 2017, 6:00pm)
Topics: Pre-Election Notes
February Programs (and Beyond) at Fresh Pond Reservation
These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.
Date: Sunday, February 18th, 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
What trees in Massachusetts can be tapped? How long has this craft existed? Why are trees sweet? These questions and more will be answered inside and during a guided walk to Kingsley Park and a live tapping demonstration. Come learn about the lifeblood of New England! We will be walking off-path. To RSVP, please contact Ranger Jean at (508) 562-7605 or email jrogers@cambridgeMA.gov.
|Animal Detectives: Coyotes
Date: Wednesday, February 21st, 10:30am to 11:30am
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
February’s spotlight is on the Coyote. Come see what it takes to be a coyote as we explore what they do and how they act. This family program is best suited for kids between 4 and 12. Accompanying adult must be present, service dogs only please, and dress warmly as this is an outdoor program. Groups please check-in with Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov prior to Friday, February 16th.
|Intro to Animal Tracking for Kids
Date: Thursday, February 22nd, 10:30am to 12:00pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
Have you ever seen wildlife in Cambridge? Whether you did or not they have left behind clues. We’ll learn how to track an animal and go out looking ourselves! This family program is best suited for kids between 4 and 12. Accompanying adult must be present, service dogs only please, and dress warmly as this is an outdoor program. Groups please check-in with Ranger Tim at tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov prior to Friday, February 16th.
|Monday Night Movie Series: Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks
Date: Monday, February 26th, 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Place: Meets at the Ranger Station, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
What’s better than a free movie? Free popcorn! This documentary examines the life of America’s most famous urban park designer. Best-known for Central Park, NY, the Olmsted firm was also commissioned by the Cambridge Water Board in 1894 for work on Fresh Pond. [Runtime: 57 min. Rated G] tpuopolo@cambridgeMA.gov for more information.
Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or firstname.lastname@example.org for any RSVPs or questions!
Would you like to join Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation? Membership in Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation costs only $10 per year ($5 for seniors and students, $15 for families). To join, fill out a membership form available in the Ranger Station information racks, e-mail email@example.com, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at www.friendsoffreshpond.org to download a form.
Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at http://friendsoffreshpond.org to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants.
|A Remembrance of Chip Norton, Watershed Manager for the Cambridge Water Department:
Featured recent stories in the Cambridge Chronicle (the paper of record):
City of Cambridge to release Vision Zero Action Plan (Feb 6, 2018)
Officials: Now is the time to go solar in Cambridge (June 30, 2018)
New city law to regulate short-term rentals (Jan 24, 2018)
CTA Construction completes Newtowne Court renovation (Jan 22, 2018)
Cambridge arborist named Tree Warden of the Year (Jan 20, 2018)
City OKs affordable housing development in Porter Square (Jan 12, 2018)
Cambridge recognized for advancing solar energy growth (Jan 5, 2018)
|AMC Local Walks/Hikes - Come for a walk or hike with us.|
|Sat, Feb 17. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike/snowshoe around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. If no snow, bring traction device for boots. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.||Sun, Feb 18. Spring Hill and Nashoba Brook conservation areas, Acton. Relatively easy hike/snowshoe loop of about 5.5mi through contiguous Spring Hill and Nashoba Brook conservation areas, Acton, MA. 9:30am-1:30pm. Spring Hill contains the longest Acton segment of the Bay Circuit Trail that passes through this pleasant, quiet and wooded area. Adjacent Nashoba Brook is a scenic area with abundant stonework, early mill sites, a ‘potato cave’ and the historic pencil factory site. Meet 9:20am at Spring Hill Rd. cul-de-sac, off Pope Rd, Acton. From the Rte 2 Concord Rotary head NW on MA 119 W/MA 2A W 0.9mi to right on Pope Rd. Continue 1.9mi to left on Spring Hill Rd. Cul-de-sac is 0.3mi. Storm cancels. L Mark Levine.|
|Mon, Feb 19. Blue Hills Skyline Trail, Quincy. 6.5-mile hike rocky terrain with a number of steep hills with views, Moderate-rated hike, not for beginners. 10:00am-3:00 pm, mainly on Skyline Trail, lunch on Nahanton Hill with great view, Bring lunch/water/hiking shoes. Meet at Shea Ice Rink, 651 Willard St., Quincy. From SE Expressway Exit 8 in Quincy, go south 0.6 miles on Willard St. Or from I-93/Route 128 Exit 6 in Braintree, go north 0.7 miles. Or for public transit take Bus 238 from Quincy Adams T Station. Email if severe weather. If snow, bring traction devices. L Mike Tuohey.||Sat, Mar 10. World's End Reservation, Hingham. 5 mile hike/snowshoe, 9:00am-noon. Bring snack/water. From Rte. 3 exit 14, take Rte. 228N 6.5 mi., L on Rte. 3A 1.0mi. to rotary, R on Summer St. 0.5 mi. to light, L on Martin's Lane to entr. $6 fee for non-members of the Trustees of Reservations. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.|
|Sun, Mar 11. J Harry Rich State Forest, Groton. 1:00pm. This is a flat stroll along a scenic former bend of the Nashua River no longer in the main flow and popular with wildlife, parts of the active Nashua River, and thru typical New England woods. Meet at the entrance on Nod Road across from Common St., 42.63009N 71.57936W, about 2 hours, moderate pace. L Olin Lathrop.||Sun, Mar 11. Belmont and Audubon Conservation Lands, Belmont. It’s nearly spring and the sap is running. Slow-paced nature walk through Belmont conservation land fields and forests over to Habitat Audubon Sanctuary where we’ll talk about one of the sweetest signs of spring - maple sugaring. The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. Meet at Lone Pine Hill Conservation Land, Belmont, MA. ARRIVE EARLY. PARKING LIMITED. Steady rain or heavy snow cancels. L Boot Boutwell.|
|Sun, Mar 18. Wunnegan Conservation Area, Boxford. 1:00pm-3:00pm. It is easy terrain, moderate pace, will last about 2 hours. Kids and dogs are welcome. Take exit 51 off Route 95 in Boxford and head WEST on Endicott Rd. Very soon make a right on Middleton Rd. Next take 3rd left on Moonpenny Drive and then first right on Crooked Pond Dr. There is a sign for Wunnegan with a small parking area about a mile down from your last intersection on the right. L Steve Davis.||Sun, Apr 1. Blue Hills Ponkapoag Pond, Canton. Moderate pace 5-mi. hike around pond, 10:30am-2:00pm. Bring lunch & water. From Rte. 93/128 exit 2A, take Rte. 138 S 0.7 mi. to Ponkapoag Golf Course lot on L. Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.|
|Sat, Apr 7. Castle Island, South Boston. Fast-paced seven-mile scenic walk along ocean to Castle Island, 10:00am-1:30pm. Bring lunch and water. Meet inside JFK/UMass Red Line T station, upper level gates (no nearby parking). Storm cancels. L Beth Mosias.||Sun, Apr 15. Groton Traverse. 1:00pm. This hike will feature an impressive variety of environments while traversing a large patchwork of open and conserved lands. We will see beaver ponds, eskers, drumlins, marshes, dry uplands, hemlock groves, open fields, pretty streams, and wide vistas from hilltops. We will meet at Williams Barn (42.6265N 71.5610W), leave some cars, carpool to the start, and end up back at Williams Barn. About 2 hours, moderate pace. L Olin Lathrop.|
|Sun, Apr 29. Acton Arboretum, Acton. Slow-paced nature walk in search of a variety of early spring wild flowers and other signs of spring in the meadow, woods and bog of the Acton Arboretum. The walk will focus on plant ID and natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. From Concord rotary, take Rte 2 West 2.2 miles, Right on Taylor Road 0.7 miles to Arboretum on right. The Acton Arboretum is opposite #15 Taylor Rd. Arrive early, parking limited. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell.||Sun, May 20. Rocky Hill Sanctuary and adjoining woodlands, Groton. 1:00pm. This is a great area to hike around in, with a beautiful point on Long Pond, beaver marshes, a heron rookerie, and more. About 2 hours, moderate pace. No dogs. Meet at the Rocky Hill Sanctuary parking area off of Robin Hill Rd. in Groton, 42.5811N 71.5311W. L Olin Lathrop.|
|Sun, May 20. Grassy Pond Conservation Land, Acton. Slow-paced nature walk through fields and forests to Grassy Pond and the bog boardwalk looking for spring wildflowers The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. Rte 2 to Exit 42 (Rte 27/Main St, Acton). Follow Rte 27 north for about 1 mile through Acton Center and turn left on Nagog Hill Rd. Go 1.1 miles. Parking lot on left just past small meadow. Co-listed under “Family Outings”. Registration Required. Steady rain or heavy snow cancels. L Boot Boutwell.||Sun, June 17. Horn Pond Conservation Land, Woburn. Slow-paced nature walk looking for late spring wildflowers. The walk will focus on plant ID and fun natural history. 1:00-4:00pm. From Rte 95/128 Exit 33A take Rte 3 South for 3 miles. Left on Pond St. 0.8 miles to parking lot on left. The parking area is opposite #48 Lake Ave, Woburn. Parking limited, arrive early. There is additional parking on Arlington Road on the east side of the pond. Steady rain cancels. L Boot Boutwell.|
THE MUNICIPAL SITUATION IN CAMBRIDGE
A Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the National Municipal League at Chicago, April 28, 1904
BY HENRY N. WHEELER, PRESIDENT OF THE LEAGUE
PRECEDED BY A PROGRAM OF THE WORK OF THE LEAGUE FOR 1904
Cambridge InsideOut airs weekly every Tuesday at 5:30pm and 6:00pm with producers/hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. We will have other guest hosts as well.
[complete list of shows - with links to YouTube videos of each]
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 269-270: Nov 14, 2017 (Post-Election Notes)
Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 63 and 64 with Glenn Koocher
We had a great time doing these shows with the man who invented the original Cambridge InsideOut - Glenn Koocher.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2013-2014 featured co-hosts Susana Segat and Robert Winters.
Cambridge InsideOut on CCTV during 2015-2017 features co-hosts Judy Nathans and Robert Winters.
|MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989
By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990
A new report is estimating that the greater Boston area will need another 435,000 new housing units by 2040 to lure new workers and accommodate an aging population. [Reports available here]
Note: When comparing the peak population of Cambridge back in the 1950s (over 120,000) to what it is today (perhaps 107,000) it's important to keep in mind that families were typically much larger then. It's also the case that what people find acceptable in terms of living space and amenities has changed dramatically over six decades. This translates into considerably more "units" of housing (and higher density) in Cambridge if the population should rise to levels close to what they were in days of yore.
The Advent of PR in Cambridge
originally published in the Cambridge Civic Journal on Feb 12, 1998
Central Square Advisory Committee 2011/2012 Recommendations (Nov 28, 2012)
The Neverending Study of Central Square
Aug 11, 2012 - While preparing to write a series of essays on Central Square, I put together the following list of Central Square studies culled from a variety of sources. I have originals for most of these. If you know of any others, please let me know. - Robert Winters
June 1980 - CDD booklet entitled "Facade Improvements" with focus on Central Square
Apr 1983 - "Central Square Report" produced by City Council's Central Square Subcommittee (study began in 1980 or 1981)
1987 - A report produced in 1987 about a Subcommittee that allegedly built on the 1983 report (may be same as Central Square Action Plan)
Nov 1987 - Central Square Action Plan
May 1993 - Results of the "Mayor's Forum on Central Square"
Oct 1993 - Report by the Committee to Promote and Enhance Central Square Now!
Aug 1994 - A Study of the Visual Images and Signage of Central Square (CDD)
May 1995 - An Urban Design Plan for Central Square (executive summary)
May 2001 - Summary Notes from "A Conversation about Central Square"
Feb 2000 - The Gibbs Report, Central Square Commercial Market Study
Oct 2004 - Central Square, Cambridge - Rising Fortunes at a Regional Crossroads (Rekha Murthy)
Dec 2004 - Reviving a Traditional City - Central Square, Cambridge, gets a facelift (Rekha Murthy)
June 2005 - Street Media: Ambient Messages in an Urban Space - a photographic analysis of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Rekha Murthy)
2013 - K2C2 Final Reports
K2C2 Final Reports Released
The final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013
Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013
This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.
FYI - Current Rules and Goals: Cambridge City Council & Cambridge School Committee
City Council Rules 2018-2019 (adopted January 29, 2018)
City Council Rules 2014-2015 (adopted January 7, 2014, amended Feb 10, 2014 to reflect current Council committees)
City Council Goals - FY2012-2013 (adopted Dec 13, 2011)
City Council Committees (for the current term)
School Committee Rules (adopted January 7, 2008)
School Committee Goals (adopted October 7, 2008)
June 7, 2009 - Once upon a time there was a civic organization in Cambridge known as the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA). It was formed in 1945 out of several organizations that had been existed through the 1930s and that had lobbied the state legislature to create the Plan E Charter option (1938) which featured a city manager form of government and proportional representation elections for city council and school committee. These reforms were central to model charter reform movements active in the United States from the early 1900s. The central theme of the CCA in its early days was "good government" in the sense of being anti-patronage and for professionally managed local government. This changed with the introduction of rent control at the end of the 1960s after which the CCA shifted leftward and became permanently lashed to the mast of the rent control vessel. Though the CCA still exists on paper (I believe), it rapidly declined after the statewide abolition of rent control (late 1994) and essentially disappeared a decade later (early 2005).
I bring up the ghost of the CCA today only to point out that when it was created it had some very admirable goals. Here's the original Mission Statement of the CCA:
Purposes: This association is formed for the following purposes:
- 1. To promote businesslike, honest, and efficient conduct of local government, open to public scrutiny.
- 2. To induce residents to take an active interest in the affairs of the City of Cambridge.
- 3. To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs.
- 4. To assure that the best qualified persons are appointed to positions in the City government after consideration of all qualified candidates.
- 5. To promote among the citizens of Cambridge equitable distribution and benefit of public services and equal opportunity for economic security, education, and social advancement.
These are pretty good founding principles for a civic organization and I'm tempted to say that some should be incorporated into the recently adopted City Council's Goals for FY2010 (adopted Feb 2, 2009). In fact, of the 22 current goals, the only one that comes close is: "An increased level of recruitment and opportunities for membership on boards and commissions." The current Council goals emphasize things like "fostering community" via block parties and such, though one has to wonder if the City should be promoting these activities or just getting out of the way so that people can foster community on their own. The goals also seem to put some emphasis on developing "successful nightlife campaigns" while mentioning nothing about promoting ordinary "daytime" economic activity that supports the everyday needs of residents.
One founding principle of the CCA that fell into disuse over the years is listed above as #3: To encourage and support the candidacy of men and women seeking election to public office and to support intelligent, wholesome leadership in public affairs. Indeed, I can personally testify to the fact that in its dying years the only reason the CCA made endorsements at all was because the CCA-endorsed incumbents wanted the benefit of having an advertised CCA slate of candidates that would help secure their reelection. There was precious little effort to recruit new candidates or to support them. Today, the benefits of incumbency are greater than ever. The cost of political campaigns have become absurdly high and most of the incumbents now have (City paid) staff who are inevitably political appointees who directly or indirectly assist in the reelection efforts of their bosses. The deck is increasingly stacked against challengers. Furthermore, the salary and benefits for elected councillors are now so sweet that it is unlikely that any of them would ever want to move on to another job.
With this background in mind, I would like to encourage all Cambridge residents to help level the playing field by finding out about this year's challengers for seats on the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge School Committee. This is not meant as a dig against any particular incumbent as much as an appeal to support the challengers in what is a difficult and laudable effort. Please see the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the current list of expected candidates. Then use your own judgment - don't expect me or anyone else to do it for you.
Speaking of this year's municipal election, there are some activists who are now expending great effort to attack the City Manager and most of the current City Council. That is not nor has it ever been the intention of the Cambridge Civic Journal or its editor. Candidates are now being seduced by financial promises from one angry fellow with a Brattle Street address and a basketful of grudges. Former CCA Executive Board members from its darkest and most manipulative days are oozing up from the civic swamp trying to at last make good on their failed campaigns of the early 1990s to oust city manager Bob Healy.
It's entertaining to watch people who have primarily earned disrespect in their civic efforts try to capitalize on the recent Monteiro jury decision as a means of realizing their decades-old vendettas. Conveniently forgotten in their recent letters to Cambridge's "oldest weekly newspaper" are the many achievements of City Manager Bob Healy, the strong financial position of the City, and the recent 8-1 vote of confidence bestowed upon Mr. Healy in granting him a three year contract extension. Also missing in this testimony is the fact that virtually all affirmative action in the hiring of employees and department heads has taken place on Mr. Healy's watch. These letters also fail to divulge how long these writers have been carrying their jealousy and anger toward Mr. Healy for actually orchestrating progress in Cambridge while the best they could ever do is snipe from the sidelines. - Robert Winters
This Old Land of Cambridge - The true story of the geological history of Cambridge - by George Ehrenfried
Sadly, George passed away (Jan 5, 2010) at the age of 96. He led many a geology-themed hike with the AMC Local Walks/Hikes.
Selected City of Cambridge References:
Mass. General Laws Chapter 54A (governing Cambridge's PR elections)
Pen Portraits of Prominent People - by Henry J. Mahoney Editor, Cambridge Sentinel - 1923
This book was published c. 1923 and features very witty one-page “pen portraits” (with photo) of prominent Cantabrigians of the day. I'll be adding names alphabetically as time permits. There are 182 portraits in the book.
It comes to mind that there may be some value in expanding these profiles to other prominent Cantabrigians who arrived on the scene after 1923, including prominent Cantabrigians of today. With this in mind, I extend the invitation to any and all who may wish to contribute their own “pen portraits” of Cambridge people. Contributions do not necessarily have to be in the style of Mr. Mahoney. Inclusion is, as always, subject to the erratic discretion of the editor.
Special thanks to Karen Welch for sending me the book. - RW
Political History of Cambridge in the 20th Century
Which People's Republic
Cambridge School Volunteers is looking for people who can give one to two hours per week to help students in the Cambridge Public Schools, grades K through 12. No experience necessary. Call 617-349-6794 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Robert Winters, Editor
Cambridge Civic Journal
(about me - updated!!)
The Cambridge Civic Journal is an independent newsletter of civic affairs in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published as a public service by Central Square Publications. All items are written by Robert Winters unless otherwise noted. [Of course, I do sometimes forget.]
Thoughts for these times:
''This is our fucking city, and nobody is gonna dictate our freedom. Stay strong.'' -- David Ortiz
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“The Number One thing I would emphasize is that journalists and bloggers would do well to see themselves as partners in the provision of information and that each can benefit greatly from the other. I’ve never seen this as a competition. It is especially true these days that local papers and young journalists are not very well-versed in the communities they serve. Much of the institutional memory has either died out or been bought out.” -- Robert Winters, mathematician and creator of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online publication about Cambridge, MA (rwinters.com)
Jorkin: “Come, come, Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”
Fezziwig: “It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business, Mr. Jorkin…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must.”
Scrooge: “I think I know what Mr. Fezziwig means, sir.”
Jorkin: “Oh, you hate progress and money, too, do you?”
Scrooge: “I don't hate them, sir, but perhaps the machines aren’t such a good thing for mankind, after all.”
Memorable scene in "A Christmas Carol"