Wednesday, May 22, 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.

whitespace

Shelter for unhoused families

A shelter for unhoused families newly open in North Cambridge. (Photo: Marc Levy)

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. Twelve families experiencing homelessness are now able to shelter at 2222 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge, which opened last week as the Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center with funding from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. “The state is in dire need of family shelter beds given the numbers of families already in need in the state plus the large number of refugee families who have been arriving in the last several months,” according to a letter in the council’s agenda packet from city staff, responding to a policy order from Sept. 19. The historic R.H. Farwell House, which has served as offices for the Weston Jesuit Community, has “adequate kitchen facilities, a playroom for children and spaces for the Hildebrand staff to provide critical services” – and families moving out will get stabilization services for up to two years once they are in their own housing. The building owner is known to the city from the Green Street Shelter in Central Square; assistant city manager Ellen Semonoff worked with the owner, state and Hildebrand to get the shelter open.

Cambridge was rejected when it bid for a federal grant to pay for a test of geothermal heating and cooling – but with only $600,000 at stake, the City Manager’s Office is being asked why the city can’t just go ahead and pay for a test itself with partners such as Eversource and Brightcore Energy of Armonk, New York. The wells would be built mostly along Cushing Street in Strawberry Hill, on one-third of a mile that includes uses including the Haggerty elementary school, Russell Youth Community Center and a 153-unit affordable-housing complex as well as private homes. This system, which could be the first of several, is expected to supply at least 70 percent of the annual heating, cooling and hot water needs of the connected buildings.

As expected after discussion last week, the council has a motion to look at the best use of four parcels making up 0.8 acres in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood that city staff hope to get for $14.4 million and use for a space-strapped Public Works Department, at least for a while. The council, though, might like to use the land to “increase 100 percent affordable housing and open space,” and may vote to request a study along those lines – if the land is still for sale by the time the comes to a vote.

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


Digging into proposed budget

Finance Committee, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. This committee run by city councillors Dennis Carlone and Patty Nolan explores details of a proposed $881.8 million city budget for the 2024 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Bringing back triple-deckers

Planning Board, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The board hears the “Restore Cambridge Housing Zoning Petition” proposed by Charles Franklin and other citizens to encourage housing development citywide by allowing the development of residential building types and scales “similar to the prevailing patterns of existing development” – that is, like the triple-decker homes that are all over the city yet can’t be built under existing zoning. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.


Sidewalk and street project

Joint Transportation Committees, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The bicycle, pedestrian and transit advisory committees gather for an update on a five-year plan for sidewalk and street reconstruction. Committee members can ask questions to city staff, and there’s 10 minutes of public Q&A built in. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.


More budget hearings – maybe

Finance Committee, 9 a.m. Thursday. This committee run by city councillors Dennis Carlone and Patty Nolan returns – if previous hearings haven’t satisfied councillors’ curiosity – to dissecting the proposed $881.8 million city budget for the 2024 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Two miles on Massachusetts Ave.

Massachusetts Avenue Partial Construction Working Group, 3 to 5 p.m.Thursday. The team is focused on $50 million worth of reconstruction on the two miles between Cambridge Common and the Arlington town line, a project springing from the city’s Cycling Safety Ordinance and its addition of bike lanes. This meeting describes the purpose and background of the project, introduce working group members, reviews the basis for design and potential design options and provide space for discussion. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.


Pro-Housing Walking Tour

North Cambridge Pro-Housing Walking Tour, 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. The third in a series of neighborhood walks from the group A Better Cambridge meets outside the Porter Square T stop and goes on to look at a variety of housing styles, ages and forms and consider how its history shaped the neighborhood. The rain date is Sunday.