Saturday, May 18, 2024

Spaces such as this one for lease in Harvard Square in 2017 – and still available – are to be discussed by a City Council committee Wednesday. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Why can’t the city grant direct Covid-19 aid?

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. There’s skepticism from a couple of councillors about the city’s claimed inability to offer coronavirus-related financial aid directly to residents and small businesses; as a result, Dennis Carlone and E. Denise Simmons are asking for a memo outlining specifically the federal, state or municipal law that restricts the giving. “The city manager and his staff claim there are restrictions on the use of municipal funds that prevent the city from allocating direct financial assistance” even though federal and state governments do it, the councillors said. Since their reading of the city charter hasn’t turned up the limitation, they’re looking for where it’s stated and, “if no such restrictions exist” for the city manager to develop a plan immediately to offer “direct financial assistance to Cambridge residents, nonprofit organizations and small businesses suffering during the Covid-19 Pandemic.”

Councillors are also asking the MBTA to reconsider bench bars installed on seating at the Central Square T, which transit officials describe as demanded by accessibility guidelines but also are “unwelcoming to homeless residents”; planning a roundtable or working meeting to talk about the 2020 Cambridge Resident Survey, which looks very positive until broken down by race and income; and looking for a dedication marker in Cambridgeport to honor Eurie Stamps Sr., a former Cantabrigian killed in 2011 by Framingham police serving a search warrant for someone else’s drugs. The agenda also holds proposed changes to Kendall Square zoning to ease the way for an Eversource electrical substation. The zoning rescues a residential neighborhood from hosting it while granting hundreds of thousands more square feet of development.

Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Affordable housing work citywide under Covid-19

Housing Committee, 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillors E. Denise Simmons and Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler will hear from the Community Development Department, the Cambridge Housing Authority and affordable housing developers Homeowners Rehab Inc. and Just-A-Start on current work and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their operations. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Public schools’ approach to remote learning …

School Committee Curriculum and Achievement Subcommittee, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Members will talk about the “successes, challenges, learnings, opportunities and needs of remote learning” in public schools in the spring, as well as looking ahead to the fall semester.. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

… and school district plans for in-person classes

School Committee special meeting, 7 p.m. Tuesday. The whole committee plans a look at Superintendent Kenneth Salim’s plans for expanding in-person learning in February. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

The return of composting?

Recycling Advisory Committee, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The city has been putting residents’ curbside compost in with the trash since the start of coronavirus restrictions and social distancing rules (and have been upfront about it), with unrealized hopes for a return of actual curbside composting last fall with renegotiated Public Works contracts. Now composting pickup might return for real: Department of Public Works commissioner Owen O’Riordan is on the agenda to talk about it. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

vacant storefronts problem

Economic Development & University Relations Committee, 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by vice mayor Alanna Mallon will look at a proposed Vacant Storefront Policy and other strategies to address vacant storefronts. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Development at large hazardous waste site

Alewife Study Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday. IQHQ, new owner of the former W.R. Grace site, plans to build labs and office space on a site heavily contaminated with asbestos and in a floodplain, according to this all-volunteer neighborhood group that’s been researching and sharing information about the site since 1995. It extends an invitation to anyone living, working or playing near Russell Field or Jerry’s Pond: “If you are keen on the urban wild that has sprung up around Jerry’s, if you are concerned and/or hopeful” about plans, attend a Zoom meeting with information at