Cambridge InsideOut - May 3, 2016

Topics du jour:
1) Events around town
2) Summary of CSBA meeting at City Hall on the topic of Central Square issues and pending improvements
3) Recap of May 2 City Council meeting
4) Discussion of proposal for City's voter guide for 2017 municipal election
5) Everything else.

Coming up this week:

Tues, May 3, 4:30pm - Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee will conduct a public hearing to continue to discuss the development of the process for the selection of a new City Manager. This hearing to be televised. (Sullivan Chamber)

Thurs, May 5

9:00am   The City Council's Finance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss the FY2017 City Budget. This hearing to be televised.  (Sullivan Chamber)

Mayor’s Office      
City Council
City Clerk
Finance Admin.
Information Technology      
Employee Benefits
General Services
Election Commission      
Animal Commission
Fire Department
Police Department
Traffic, Parking & Transportation
Inspectional Services
License Commission
Weights & Measures
Emergency Communications
* Date changes for individual departments may occur. The public is invited to attend and be heard.
These hearings will be cablecast live on Municipal Television.

Fri, May 6

9:30am   2016 Outstanding City Employee Award Ceremony  (Sullivan Chamber, City Hall)

Sat, May 7

10:30am-noon   A New Look at Old Cambridge - Jane Jacobs Walk  (Meet at large stone marker in Winthrop Park, JFK St. in Harvard Square)

This year’s walk, A New Look at Old Cambridge, celebrates the 100th anniversary of Jane Jacobs’s birth and, at the same time, explores Cambridge’s original settlement in 1630, the evolving moniker of “Old Cambridge,” and the changes that have taken place – and are still taking place – through the centuries. This walking conversation will begin by looking at traces of the initial village in what is now Harvard Square before venturing down Brattle Street to Longfellow Park, past the Marsh neighborhood, and then back on Mt. Auburn Street. During the eighteenth century, wealthy families built country homes along Brattle Street (later dubbed “Tory Row”), and by the mid-nineteenth century, the Irish arrived, filling and populating the former marsh. Thus, Cambridge became home to a diverse mixture of people in close proximity – with a working-class neighborhood adjacent to one of the richest, most cultured places in New England. After 1800 the new villages of Cambridgeport and East Cambridge distinguished themselves by referring to the original village as “Old Cambridge,” a term sometimes used more pejoratively than sentimentally that remained in use until the 1930s.

As always, we welcome the observations of all participants. Charles Sullivan, executive director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, will lead the walk. He and Susan Maycock, survey director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, are the authors of Building Old Cambridge: Architecture and Development, which will be available in October. More information and a plethora of images will be found in this thoroughly researched volume being published by MIT Press.

Lunch to follow at Grendel’s Den, whose entrance abuts Winthrop Park, where those who wish may continue conversation and purchase lunch. At 89 Winthrop Street, Grendel’s has been independently owned and run by the same family since 1961.

Sat, May 7, 2016   Moving Day at MIT

2:00-3:30pm   Crossing the Charles Parade and Competition with Grand Marshall Oliver Smoot. Gather at Mass. Ave. and Memorial Drive

8:30-9:30pm   Mind and Hand: A Pageant! -- Killian Court opens at 7:45pm

9:30pm-midnight   Let's Dance!

Tuesday, May 10 - Starting at 7:00pm there will be a meeting of the Cambridgeport Neighbors Association that will feature, among other things, an update by Bob Flack on the Mass & Main development (which is finally starting to perk back up again).

May Programs at Fresh Pond Reservation

These events are FREE and open to the public. Children are welcome in the company of an adult.

Dates: Thursdays 10am to noon
Place: Meets at the volunteer trailer in the front parking lot.
    Join our weed-warrior crew! We are Fresh Pond citizens dedicated to keeping invasive plants at bay for the benefit of wildlife, water and humans alike. No experience or long-term commitment necessary! All tools are provided; sturdy shoes, pants, long-sleeves and a water bottle are strongly recommended. Please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or for any RSVPs or questions!
Dates: Fridays 9 to 10am
Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Join us for casual nature explorations, designed for young kids and their parents/caretakers, and play in our urban wild! Please come dressed ready for the weather (and in clothes that are OK to get a bit dirty). Register with Catherine Pedemonti at
Dates: Mondays, May 9th and 23rd from 6-7:30pm.
    Spring has sprung at Fresh Pond, and among other things this means…weeds! Invasive weeds, that is. Help us protect native plants on the Reservation by keeping these intruders, such as garlic mustard and Canada thistle, at bay at these evening weeding sessions. No experience necessary; all equipment provided!
Date: Sunday, May 15, 7:30 to 9:30am
Place: Register for parking and meeting information
    Walk leader Herb Pearce will help us learn to identify and locate birds by their songs. The birds will be singing up a storm, courting or defending territories, while some will be hard at work building nests. We will use guides with pictures of the birds to help you get to know them. Birders of all experience levels are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. To register and for important meeting and parking information, email Catherine Pedemonti at
Date: Monday, May 16th, 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Meeting Place: Front door, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
    Find out how water that falls as rain in the suburbs 10 miles west of Cambridge is transported to Fresh Pond, and then tested, treated, and delivered to the City’s residents and businesses! You’ll have the chance to speak with water treatment staff, see the equipment in action, and check out our water quality lab. Advance notice is appreciated if coming with a large group. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Martine at (617) 349-6489 or
Date: Saturday, May 21st from 1:00 to 3:00pm
Meeting Place: Maynard Ecology Center, lower level of Neville Place, 650 Concord Ave.
    Mr. Higgins, a Professional Geologist and Steering Committee Member of the Massachusetts Geologic Society will be presenting an afternoon talk on the geology of Fresh Pond. Did you know that Fresh Pond rests on top of a buried bedrock valley? Or that deposits of clay were once mined in the area? Please join Mr. Higgins to learn firsthand about the geology of the Fresh Pond area. The goal of this presentation is to help people understand the geologic processes that formed the Fresh Pond landscape of today.
Date: Sunday, May 29, 8 to 10am
Place: Register for meeting location and parking information
    By the end of May our avian summer residents have returned. We may see tree swallows, catbirds, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, phoebes, vireos, warblers and orioles. At this time many will be nesting, so we may also hear baby birds, and see their parents bringing them food. Beginners are welcome. We have binoculars to lend and will show you how to use them. Led by Nancy Guppy. To register and for important meeting and parking information, email Catherine Pedemonti at

Unless otherwise specified, please contact Martine at 617-349-6489 or 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, call 617-349-6489, or visit our website at to download a form.

Keep up to date on events at the Pond. Visit the Friends group website at to learn more about Friends group activities and the reservation and its inhabitants. Upcoming Programs

The Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program
Fresh Pond Reservation users are getting involved! The Cambridge Water Department's Fresh Pond Reservation Stewardship Program brings people together on a regular basis to monitor plants, conduct maintenance activities, and to learn about the ecology and history of the area. You can find out about projects that are being planned for this summer, including invasive plants removal, Purple Loosestrife nursery monitoring, bird box monitoring, and more. Call Kirsten Kindquist at 617-349 6489 or email for more information.

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review (2013)"

Read the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation Annual "Year in Review (2014)"

Grow Native Massachusetts is offering a series of free nature-related "Evenings with Experts" lectures at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway. Details are at and in particular. First Wednesdays of the Month, 7:00-8:30pm.

• Sign up for the City of Cambridge's informative "Recycling and Composting Newsletter" by e-mailing

2016 Outstanding City Employee Award Recipients

April 22 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding City Employee Award.

City SealAlessandra Albano, Executive Assistant to the City Council, City Council Office

Kia Benjamin, Executive Assistant to the Police Commissioner, Police Department

Stacey Cooper, Administrative Assistant to the Finance Director, Finance Department

Brian Corr, Executive Director/Peace Commission & Executive Secretary/Police Review & Advisory Bd.

Lei-Anne Ellis, Division Head/Childcare Family Services, Department of Human Service Programs

Joshua Foley, Senior Job Developer, Department of Human Service Programs

Gary Littles, Laborer/Streets Cleaning Division, Department of Public Works

Timothy MacDonald, Director of Water Operations, Water Department

Linda Prosnitz, Project Planning/Housing Division, Community Development Department

Gerald Reardon, Fire Chief, Fire Department

Brendon Roy, Assistant Project Manager/Capital Construction Projects, Executive Office

Nancy Schlacter, Executive Director, Human Rights Commission

Jeremy Warnick, Director of Communications & Media, Police Department

Amy Witts, Purchasing Agent, Purchasing Department

Jason Yee, Associate Librarian, Library

The City Manager will also present an Award in honor and memory of Assistant City Manager for Community Development Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of other.

The recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2016 at 9:30am in the Sullivan Chamber of City Hall, for their superior performance, positive attitude, hard work and dedication to public service.  All are welcome to attend.

City Manager Appoints Members to the Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee and Working Groups

April 21 – The Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee, the Alewife Working Group, and the Engagement and Communications Working Group have been formed to advise City staff and a multidisciplinary team of consultants on Envision Cambridge. View the list of the Committee and Working Group members.

At later stages of the planning process, additional working groups will be formed. We anticipate working groups on topics such as climate and energy, economic development, housing, and mobility.

Meetings are open to the public and non-members are welcome to attend. Stay tuned for an announcement of the first meeting dates.

For more information about Envision Cambridge, visit

The first meeting of the Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee will be on Wednesday, May 18th from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Community Development Department, 344 Broadway, 4th floor conference room.

Envision Cambridge (current as of Apr 20, 2016)
Envision Cambridge Advisory Committee
Alexandra Offiong Matthew Wallace
Bethany Stevens Risa Mednick
Bill Kane Robert Winters
Dennis Swinford Ruth Allen
Ebi Poweigha Ruth Ryals
Frank Gerratana Tom Sieniewicz
Joseph Maguire Tom Stohlman
Josh Gerber Zeyneb Magavi
Marlinia Antoine Zuleka Queen-Postell
Envision Alewife Working Group
Catherine Connolly Karen Dumaine
Doug Brown Margaret Drury
Eric Grunebaum Margaret Gadon
Geoff Wood Mark DiOrio
James Butler Sam Stern
Jennifer Gilbert Tom Ragno
John DiGiovanni William Ahern
Engagement and Communications Working Group
Ben Peterson Justin Crane
Cathie Zusy Justin Kang
Debbie Bonilla Phyllis Bretholtz
Elaine DeRosa Sarah Kennedy
Eryn Johnson Tara Greco
Jeenal Sawla Zuleka Queen-Postell
At later stages of the planning process, additional working groups will be formed. We anticipate working groups on topics such as climate and energy, economic development, housing, and mobility.

Envision Cambridge

Discussion of the workshops and what comes next

Two extremes - high income and publicly subsidized (nothing in the middle)
Role of small landlords who now provide moderate income rentals
Regional increase in housing supply needed to bring market forces back into play
Problem of housing being purchased by LLCs (often with foreign investment) as an alternative during a period when stock markets and other vehicles are more risky that real estate
Shold everyone have to apply to the City or a City-associated agency in order to obtain housing? That is NOT a solution.

Much of Cambridge traffic is pass-through traffic - independent of whether or not there is local development. Indeed, new local housing development may actually decrease this traffic.


Social cohesion, civic engagement


Economics and economic development

Climate-related issues

Urban form

Cambridge Awarded Prestigious 5-STAR Community Rating
City Becomes the 50th Certified Community; Receives the Highest STAR Score to Date

Star Community SealApril 21 – The City of Cambridge has won national recognition by achieving a 5-STAR Rating from STAR Communities (STAR), a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit. STAR is the nation’s leading framework and certification program for evaluating local sustainability, encompassing environmental, social, and economic performance measures. Cambridge received high marks for its work on a range of issues, including transportation choices, energy efficiency, arts and culture, and innovative programs for youth engagement and community policing.

Cambridge distinguished itself by receiving the highest STAR score to date and joins Seattle WA; Baltimore MD; and Northampton MA as the only communities that have received the Certified 5-STAR Community Rating, the top certification level. In all, 50 communities and counties across the country have received STAR certifications, and hundreds of others are actively using the rating system to measure sustainability progress.

“Our strong performance with STAR Communities serves as affirmation of many years of work by City departments to build a better City for future generations” said City Manager Richard C. Rossi. “For decades, the City has incorporated innovative principles into our planning and programing to create a City that provides a high quality of life. As a result of the City, our residents, businesses and institutions working together, Cambridge has been able to achieve not only the 5-STAR rating, but also the highest point total STAR has ever awarded.”

In March 2015, Cambridge joined the STAR Communities Leadership Program, conducted a baseline assessment and compared best practices with other communities nationwide. Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq added that “achieving a 5-STAR rating reflects a shared philosophy about the importance of a sustainable community that cuts across City government. Over 20 departments, boards and commissions contributed time, expertise and information to the STAR Communities certification effort, one that showcases Cambridge’s commitment to healthy, resilient and sustainable environmental, economic, and social policies.”

STAR includes seven goal areas: the built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education; arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. Cambridge attained 90% or more of possible points in four of these areas (built environment; economy and jobs; education, arts and culture; and health and safety). The City also received credit for exemplary performance in affordable housing preservation, superior fire protection, supporting sustainable transportation choices, and proximity to public parks.

“Sustainable cities provide a healthy environment, support a strong economy, and continually improve the well-being of the community,” said Hilari Varnadore, Executive Director of STAR Communities. “Cambridge’s 5-STAR Community Rating clearly demonstrates their national leadership in sustainability. We look forward to sharing Cambridge’s success stories with other cities around the country and working with city leaders as they continue to make improvements that benefit the whole community.”

To learn more about Cambridge’s Star Community Rating, please visit:

Dos de Mayo - Interesting Items on the May 2, 2016 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Dos de MayoIt's a pretty short agenda this week as we head toward the Budget Hearings starting Thurs, May 5. Here are a few choice cuts:

Resolution #1. Congratulations to the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding City Employee Award.   Mayor Simmons

One of my favorite events. Special congratulations to Sandy Albano. The Awards Ceremony is this Friday, May 6 at 9:30am in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall.

Order #2. That the Economic Development and University Relations Committee be and hereby is requested to review City Ordinance 12.08.010 Encroachments onto streets – Permit required – Fee – Exceptions to discuss whether including additional approval criteria and adjusting the permitting fees is appropriate.   Councillor Devereux, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Mazen

On the Table #3-5. Three separate applications requesting permission for a sandwich board sign in front of the respective premises.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting additional information on sandwich board sign application for Mexicali Burrito.

How did sandwich boards get elevated to the highest level of attention in this City Council term? Can the color of sidewalks be far behind? Is adjusting the fee required for displaying a sandwich board sign really necessary? I often encounter a sandwich sign partially obstructing the sidewalk in front of a small place on Mass. Ave. on my way to MIT. I just move the sign to a location where it's less of an obstruction. Problem solved. If a business continues to obstruct the public way after a warning, just revoke the permit. Again, problem solved. Recently I saw a complaint filed on See-Click-Fix about a mattress that was set out on rubbish day on Inman Street that had toppled onto the sidewalk. Wouldn't it have been simpler to just move the mattress out of the way than to photograph it and file a complaint with the City? It's not like that property owner will be putting out mattresses every week. Simple solutions aren't complicated.

Order #4. That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to coordinate with the appropriate City departments to publish a Cambridge voter guide to be distributed to each household in Cambridge a month before the 2017 municipal election.   Councillor Mazen, Mayor Simmons, Councillor Devereux, Vice Mayor McGovern

Interesting proposal. Having curated the Cambridge Candidate Pages for the last 7 municipal elections, I'm in a rather unique position to comment on this. My purpose in setting up the Candidate Pages was always to provide a neutral, level playing field with the hope that it would mitigate the advantages that incumbents and candidates with very deep pockets had in getting their name and campaigns out to voters. Judging from the number of hits, especially in the days immediately before each municipal election, the Candidate Pages have been quite successful.

Some of the things that you may not know about is that in every election there are candidates who fail to provide basic candidate information even after repeated requests, candidates who frequently ask to change their posted information, candidates who submit statements that are truth-challenged, and candidates who are totally uncooperative - even though the site is completely neutral. There is also the rather severe constraint that this imposes on me personally since I have to refrain from saying what I really think about the various candidates in order to maintain some impartiality as the curator of the Candidate Pages. If the City chooses to go forward with this, I suppose this would give me the freedom to say exactly what I think about the candidates - something I am often asked to do and which I have resisted doing ever since I started the Candidate Pages. I may still choose to be impartial, but having this option does carry with it a certain appeal.

I can't help but wonder how things will play out when some of the more "out there" candidates object to what's permitted to go into the proposed voter guide. Will fact checking be required? Who will be in charge of putting this together and interacting with the candidates and their campaigns? This could open an interesting can of worms. I might speculate that with this free political advertising this could lead to local political parties (or entities that are effectively political parties) recruiting scores of candidates just to pack the pages with their platform. When all the fringe candidates get included, this might end up looking more like a comic book than a voter guide. - Robert Winters


Cambridge Family Policy Council (Formerly Kids’ Council) Vacancy

City SealApr 14, 2016 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking a Cambridge resident interested in volunteering to serve on the Cambridge Family Policy Council (Formerly Kids’ Council), which is dedicated to developing policy and program recommendations aimed at improving the quality of life for children, youth and families in the City of Cambridge, so that children and youth are:

The Family Policy Council meets approximately six times per year on the 3rd Thursday of the month, from 5:15-7:15pm.

The Mayor of Cambridge serves as the Chair of the Family Policy Council, and membership is comprised of key stakeholders in local government and in the community, which includes the following:

Recent Family Policy Council Initiatives
The Family Policy Council has been focusing on family engagement and developing recommendations to create and support genuine partnerships between families and the organizations and institutions that serve them by:

Past Family Policy Council Initiatives:

For more information, please contact Nancy Tauber, Executive Director, at 617-349-6239 or To apply, please submit a letter of interest and, if possible, a resume, by Friday, May 20, 2016 to:
Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph. 617-349-4300; Fax 617-349-4307