Saturday, July 20, 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.


A rendering of the modules proposed as a temporary fire station in Mid-Cambridge. (Image: City of Cambridge)

Budget arrives, grilling’s off

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. Councillors ask for final language on a Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance enforcing some net-zero measures by 2035 at large commercial and institutional structures and a draft petition for Affordable Housing Overlay zoning that sets most affordable-building heights in the corridors at 12 stories and in the squares at 15 stories.

But the biggest items come from the City Manager’s Office, starting with a budget and appropriation orders for the 2024 fiscal year of $186.8 million. The council will see specific requests to borrow $51.5 million for sewer separation and stormwater management improvements and $26 million in related reconstruction of various streets, sidewalks and bike facilities; $50 million for reconstruction of Massachusetts Avenue between Cambridge Common and the Arlington town line to allow for separated bike lanes while keeping emergency-vehicle access and curb uses such as outdoor dining, loading and parking; $35.4 million for upgrades at government properties around the city; $2.5 million for the Peabody School playground in North Cambridge and Raymond Street park in Neighborhood 9; and $1.8 million in school building upgrades.

Grilling may be called off at Neighborhood 9’s Danehy Park for a while and construction slowed after methane escaped during the drilling of test holes there March 21. The 50-acre space was landfill between 1952 and 1971 before being turned into a park that opened in 1990; the methane generated by decomposing waste under a clay cap – too little to recover and reuse – are supposed to vent safely, but the discovery of a pocket of the gas calls for an evaluation, officials say, and maybe some vent flares to burn it off. The state Department of Environmental Protection “has asked the city, out of an abundance of caution, to limit construction activities in the park as well as temporarily remove the charcoal grills and suspend permits for grilling in the park,” according to the City Manager’s Office. This complicates responding to a council call for improvements and fixes to a Danehy irrigation system that broke for more than a month during 2022’s unusually hot summer, causing a tree die-off. A comprehensive look at Danehy is expected to start in the winter and take about a year; construction of a Danehy Gateway Pavilion for sports use was never scheduled to start until early 2024.

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

Temporary fire station

Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District, 6 to 8 p.m. Monday. The City of Cambridge presents plans to build a temporary fire station at 1591 Cambridge St., between Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and a Spaulding Hospital campus. The station would be used for three years while the fire department’s headquarters at 491 Broadway is renovated. The plan is to build the temporary station out of two modules that will rest on skids, not a foundation, to cause minimal impact on land owned by the hospital and leased by the city. Firefighters’ living-quarters module will be set back on Hovey Avenue; the garage will be set back from Cambridge Street in city plans and have bay doors facing Hovey. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Bike lanes’ effect on business

Economic Development & University Relations Committee, 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillor Paul Toner sees results of a survey and study on the effects of bike lane installations, “positive or negative,” that will help inform future installations along commercial corridors. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

A rendering of a pollinator meadow proposed for East Cambridge. (Image: Divco West)

An East Cambridge ‘meadow’

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. DivcoWest introduces a plan to make a green oasis out of a triangular block in East Cambridge, across Monsignor O’Brien Highway from its Cambridge Crossing development in the North Point neighborhood. (The other roads defining the triangle are Cambridge Street to the south and First Street to the west.) City staff suggested its use as a pollinator meadow. “We thought this was a terrific idea, and immediately scrapped our previous approach,” DivcoWest’s Mark Johnson said, describing what’s to come: a swinging bench in the middle of a meadow and street trees, with speakers playing birdsong of species native to New England and a Bluebikes station. A retail kiosk could go along the First Street side of a space the East Cambridge Planning Team once imagined as a 12-story hotel with a ground-floor cafe. Watchable by Zoom video conferencing.

Charging and sharing cars

Ordinance Committee, 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors Marc McGovern and Quinton Zondervan hears a zoning petition from former city councillor Craig Kelley that would allow for wider use of private electric-vehicle charging stations and rentals of private cars through apps such as Turo. It was before the Planning Board on April 11. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.