Monday, July 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.


Work is underway Tuesday on Carl Barron Plaza in Cambridge‘s Central Square. (Photo: Julia Levine)

Looking at Level Up English

School Committee Curriculum & Achievement Subcommittee, 5 p.m. Monday. This hearing chaired by David Weinstein and Richard Harding looks at Level Up, a program introduced in 2016 ending “tracking” for English classes that divided ninth-graders into honors classes and so-called “college prep” tiers. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.

Police, Central Square findings

City Council, 5:30 p.m. Monday. As the city releases its annual surveillance report – which may be spiced up by the Feb. 22 publication of leaked ShotSpotter gunfire-detector locations by Wired magazine – the bigger dialogue may be around a report by the Police Executive Research Forum about Cambridge’s response to the Jan. 4, 2023, police killing of Arif Sayed Faisal, 20, during a mental health crisis. The city’s refusal to release the name of the officer who shot Faisal became an issue all its own. That “ultimately stemmed from the lack of a clear protocol” that is already being clarified, the consultants’ report says, calling the fact that Faisal was the first officer-involved shooting in a city of 118,000 in more than 20 years “unusual, commendable and evidence of its police department’s commitment to resolving incidents without force whenever possible.”

A Central Square Lots Study Report looking at 10 city-owned parcels in and around the square is also out from city staff, with two parcels eyed for open space, one for community use, one for office space, one for six to 10 units of supportive housing such as for older adults and people with disabilities and the rest for mixed uses, such as 689 Massachusetts Ave. as offices and a relocated library branch. At 84 Bishop Allen Drive, a parking lot that has been hosting the open-air Starlight Square complex since the Covid pandemic for entertainment, retail and civic gatherings, planners envision keeping those uses in a permanent structure while adding affordable housing.

Staff respond to the council on the potential of adjusting fees to discourage gas-powered cars and encourage electric ones (there are legal reasons to proceed cautiously); and how Covid-relief funds must be disbursed (by Dec. 31, but recipients have until Dec. 31, 2026, to spend it). Councillors, meanwhile, sees a rising number of evictions and want money added to the upcoming municipal budget to get more tenants legal help or landlord mediation.

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

Board appointments and zoning

Housing Committee, noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillors Burhan Azeem and Sumbul Siddiqui considers the appointments of Elaine M. DeRosa and Victoria Bergland to five-year terms on the Cambridge Housing Authority board of commissioners; Bergland would serve as resident representative. There will also be discussion of zoning language that would codify that the city allows unrelated people to live together. (It’s taking a while to make it official.) The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

Impact from adding bike lanes

Economic Development & University Relations Committee, 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. This committee run by city councillor Paul Toner looks at the findings from an economic impact report on the city’s Cycling Safety Ordinance passed by the council in 2019. An amendment the next year set a timeline for the 25 miles of separated bike lanes to be in place before 2027. Residents and business owners have already been debating the findings. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

Ice cream and Coop renovations

Harvard Square Advisory Committee, 6 p.m. Wednesday. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, which makes the pints you probably see at the grocery store, is expanding its scoop shops to Massachusetts – one to Boston’s Seaport and the other to 1 Brattle Square, if it can get permission from the Board of Zoning Appeal as a “formula business” in a Harvard Square Overlay District meant to favor small, locally owned businesses. The dessert shop wants 1,375 square feet at street level in a prime location that has seen long vacancies from its departures (an EMS outdoors shop, Chipotle, Spyce). Also getting review: a redevelopment at the vacant 12-30 Palmer St. by Harvard University and the Coop, which could help activate an alley famous mostly for the folk club Club Passim being tucked away at one end. The committee meets on the second floor of the City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge. Watchable by Zoom videoconferencing.