Sunday, May 19, 2024

These are just some of the municipal meetings and civic events for the coming week. More are on the City Calendar and in the city’s Open Meetings Portal.


The Engine, an MIT project, moves labs down Main Street from Kendall Square and toward Central Square. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Zoning for labs, North Mass. Ave.

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. Expect some annoyed conversation over a citizens’ petition to regulate where labs can go, as councillor Quinton Zondervan is seen as pulling a political shenanigan: Citizen zoning petitions go automatically to the Planning Board and council’s Ordinance Committee, while councillors’ proposed zoning changes do not, so a lab-regulation petition Zondervan put forward a few weeks ago by policy order was instead sent off for a six-month discussion period (in an 8-1 vote with Zondervan opposed) by committees that would report back March 30 – from Zondervan’s perspective, a political shenanigan itself. The language agreed upon there would only then become a zoning petition for Planning Board and Ordinance Committee consideration, councillors said Oct. 3. While the distinction between a councillor’s zoning petition and one from a resident is questionable, the maneuver strikes some as new and perhaps a bit of a Pandora’s box. It was councillor Dennis Carlone who cracked it open, noting to his peers when Zondervan was shut down that “any councillor could ask 10 residents to submit a zoning petition, and it will go to the Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board automatically. So, not mentioning any particular councillor, but that person could do that tomorrow.” The struggle facing the petitioners and Zondervan is making an argument for the zoning petition so persuasively that it overcomes any council hostility it generated in getting where it’s going.

Another citizen petition, to rezone North Massachusetts Avenue, comes from Patrick Barrett, the lawyer and Central Square developer behind the 907 Main hotel and a proposal to rebuild The Middle East nightclub and restaurant complex.

Councillor orders for the night include a call for police to meet with tenants at the LBJ public housing apartments in Cambridgeport worried by “undesirable and threatening behavior … from those who have no business being in the building,” a situation similar to what’s been reported repeatedly at Manning public housing in Central Square; a roundtable on city-owned broadband Internet, an idea to which the previous city manager was hostile; and an opinion from the Law Department on whether people have to reveal their name and address to give public comment at meetings.

The council meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Superintendent’s contract

School Committee special meeting, 9 p.m. (or before) Tuesday. This is all about approval of district superintendent Victoria Greer’s contract, which would start July 1 with a $260,000 salary and see 2.5 percent hikes in each of the two years following. Another 1 percent is possible in years two and three with evidence of progress on goals in a district strategic plan and committee ratings of “proficient” or “exemplary” on her performance. (Twenty-five days of vacation, too.) Approval will keep Greer in office through June 30, 2025.

While the city calendar puts this meeting to approve Greer’s contract as starting at 9 p.m., a notice from the committee’s executive secretary says it will happen “immediately after the [6 p.m.] regular meeting” – and that has a pretty bare agenda, with only two presentations (on an educator hiring and retention goal and on “draft goals and focus indicators” for the superintendent’s evaluation). The committee meets in the Dr. Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Office building project update

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Longfellow Real Estate Partners wants to add 33,000 square feet to its existing 183,925-square-foot office building at 125 Cambridgepark Drive, in North Cambridge near Alewife, including three loading docks. The changes would reduce parking for 179 cars to 79, resulting in more open green space – including outdoor dining for an expanded Revival cafe. There’s also an update from Biogen to beautify some industrial tanks for pedestrians passing 125 Broadway, Kendall Square. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Alewife zoning recommendations

Alewife Zoning Working Group, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. The group provides an update and gets feedback on its latest recommendations. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Garden Street and the Galeria

Historical Commission, 6 p.m. Thursday. There’s plenty on this agenda, starting with changes resulting from the addition of protected bike lanes to Garden Street in West Cambridge – flex-posts, a flashing beacon at a Waterhouse Street crosswalk and the addition of an accessible parking space. Raj Dhanda is back for final approval to add four stories of apartments atop his Crimson Galeria building at 57 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, though he’s expected to face criticisms about his replacement of a historically preserved stone wall with concrete. Lesley University has plans for its South Campus near Harvard Square, in former Episcopal Divinity School property, including a connector bridge between halls. And Regency Centers, the owners of The Abbot shops and restaurants in Harvard Square, want permission for an illuminated sign for belowground tenants, including The Comedy Studio. The commission meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.