Monthly Archives: August 2011

Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian

Warren Street – map

The 85th annual feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian will be held on Warren Street on September 10th and 11th. Festivities will begin on Saturday at 2 p.m. with rides, music, games, and food. A candlelight procession will begin at 6:30 p.m. at 17 Porter Street, and there will be a healing service held at 7 p.m. There will be live music on Cambridge Street on Saturday night, including The Reminisants, Ayla Brown of American Idol fame, and Bobby Rydell.

Festivities on Sunday will begin with a procession at 8:30 a.m. to St. Francis of Assisi Church for a mass that will begin at 9:30 a.m. There will be a parade starting at 1 p.m., and more music and festivities Sunday evening.

This feast is a classic community event and one of the longest continuously running celebrations of its kind in New England. All are welcome and I hope to see you there!

For more information about the feast and a complete schedule, check out

Hearing to be Held on Monday to Discuss Developer Mitigation

As the Co-Chair of the Government Rules and Operations Committee for the Cambridge City Council, I will be holding a hearing on Monday August 29th at 5:30pm in the Ackerman Room of City hall to discuss the appropriate way the City should determine mitigation derived from large building projects in the City of Cambridge.

Historically, mitigation from large building projects has been designed to directly benefit the neighborhoods that were being impacted by the project itself.  Over the last few decades, Kendall Square has developed at a rapid pace, often at the expense of open space opportunities to East Cambridge.  Mitigation balances the negative impacts of the projects with improvements to the neighborhood.  This practice has made possible the East Cambridge Scholarship Fund, Open Space Fund, and Outdoor Skating Rink. Recently, 2.5 acres of land were set aside for a new neighborhood park within East Cambridge.

I feel that it has become important to create guidelines that will maintain mitigation as something that benefits residents on the neighborhood level. While some have expressed a desire to see mitigation spread equally around the city for each project, I am firm in my belief that these funds should remain in the neighborhoods that have to deal with construction impacts, noise increases, and traffic impacts of development.  When large projects are built in Cambridge, the city residents already benefit as a whole.  Development contributes to our tax base and keeps residential tax rates the lowest in the state, it helps us maintain city services, and helps to fund city programs that most municipalities cannot even imagine offering.

The issue of neighborhood mitigation is a matter of fairness.  While we as a city benefit as a whole, those impacted by projects, those whose quality of life has been disrupted, and those who cannot get their views of the river back should be compensated to the best of the city’s ability, and the only way to do that is to be sure mitigation funds find their way back into the abutting neighborhoods.

Please come to the meeting on Monday to share your views with the City Council.  If you cannot make it please submit your comments to and request to be added to the record.

Hurricane Preparedness

While there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the precise track that Hurricane Irene will take as it nears the East Coast, now is the best time for New Englanders to begin preparing for the possibility of severe weather. With the storm still roughly four days away, there is plenty of time to safely and thoroughly prepare using the tips below from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Think about the supplies you will need for a basic emergency kit. These will include:

  • Water: one gallon per person per day for three days is the recommended quantity.
  • Food: three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Radio: battery powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio for receiving weather alerts, along with extra batteries for both.
  • Flashlight: make sure to have extra batteries for the flashlight as well.
  • First Aid Kit: your first aid kit should include two pairs of latex or sterile gloves, sterile wound dressings, a cleansing agent and antibiotic towelettes, burn ointment, adhesive bandages, eye wash solution, a thermometer, any medication prescribed to you and your family members that you take every day, such as insulin, heart medicine, and inhalers, as well as any prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment. Tweezers and scissors may also be helpful to have on hand.
  • Whistle: to signal for help.
  • Sanitation: moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties.
  • Can opener
  • A map
  • Cell phone: extra batteries and a solar or inverter charger should also be considered.

Other items to consider:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and water for your pet
  • Cash and travelers checks
  • Important financial documents, insurance policies, passports and identification, immigration documents, and bank account records stored in a portable and waterproof container.
  • Emergency reference materials, such as a first aid manual
  • A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and sturdy shoes
  • Chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper. Add 16 drops of bleach to a gallon of water to create a disinfectant.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene products
  • Mess kits and paper towels
  • Paper and pencils
  • Books, games, puzzles, and other activities for children  

Should hurricane conditions be expected by the National Weather Service, prepare your home and property:

    • Take in bikes, lawn chairs, tables, and other items from yards and decks, as they could be picked up by strong gusts of wind.
    • Close all windows, doors, and storm shutters. If forecasts show that hurricane-force winds may strike the area, it is recommended that you cover windows with plywood.
    • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible to keep air cold in case the power goes out.
    • Make sure your car has a full tank of gas.

    Please pay close attention to news and weather reports in the coming days. Staying informed is one of the best ways to be prepared and stay safe.

    Route Changes May Bring More Hazardous Materials Through Cambridge and Somerville

    In 2009, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration directed the city of Boston to conduct a risk analysis of alternative Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials (NRHM) transport routes through the city. The City of Boston has prepared an evaluation of trucking routes and has concluded that transportation of hazardous materials through the streets of downtown poses too great of a risk to public safety, and such materials should instead be taken around the downtown area through alternate routes. 

    Yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has been named as the routing authority on this issue, held the first of a series of four public meetings that will take place over the next two weeks to discuss the routing changes with the public. I am particularly concerned about how these routing changes will affect residents of Cambridge and Somerville. Because hazardous materials are prohibited from being transported in the I-93 tunnel, trucks must use surface roads to carry their cargos through Boston. If they are prohibited from using streets, however, they may opt to use a route that would take them through Cambridge and Somerville. Trucks travelling on I-93 would be routed around the tunnels using Washington Street, McGrath Highway, Land Boulevard, Binney Street, Main Street, Mass Ave, and Western Ave to reach I-90.

    Map of one of the route alternatives being considered..

    Trucks would use I-90 in combination with I-95 to transport hazardous materials through the Boston area.

    I am disturbed by the possibility that large volumes of hazardous materials, including explosives, flammable liquids, and poisonous substances, will be transported through dense residential and commercial areas of Cambridge. The area around Binney Street will be built out extensively in the coming years, making the area even denser. The route’s proximity to MIT’s Nuclear Reactor and the requirement that trucks cross the Grand Junction train tracks are also cause for concern. 

    I hope to see any decision made about a designated route would be one that uses Route 128, which would keep hazardous materials in sparsely populated areas and out of dense urban neighborhoods. Unfortunately, there is not an enforcement mechanism readily available to keep trucks from cutting through Cambridge and Somerville, although they would indeed be ticketed by Boston Police were they to enter the streets of downtown. I will be exploring this issue in more detail in the coming weeks, and will be discussing solutions with my colleagues. Should you desire more information about changes in hazardous materials routing, I would encourage you to attend one of the remaining three meetings:

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011
    Thomas Crane Public Library
    40 Washington Street
    Quincy, MA 02169
    6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Tuesday, August 30, 2011
    Clark Government Center
    Main Auditorium
    119 School Street Waltham, MA 02451
    6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Thursday, September 1, 2011
    Stoneham Town Hall Auditorium
    35 Central Street,
    Stoneham, MA 02180
    6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

    Reminder: Community Meeting Tonight at Police Station

    This is a friendly reminder that I will be hosting a community meeting along with the Cambridge Police tonight at the Healey Public Safety Building. There has been an increase in housebreaks in East Cambridge in recent weeks, and it is my hope that this meeting will serve to update residents on what is known and what is being done about the break-ins. Break-in prevention tips will also be discussed.

    Please join us Tuesday, August 16th at 6 p.m. (tonight) in the first floor community room at the police station (125 6th Street).

    For more information, please see this alert from the Cambridge Police.

    Community Meeting to be Held to Discuss Increase in Housebreaks

    In light of the recent uptick in housebreaks in the East Cambridge area, I will be hosting a community meeting along with the Cambridge Police at the Healey Public Safety Building to discuss tips for preventing break-ins and to update residents with the latest information from CPD.

    Please join us on Tuesday, August 16th at 6 p.m. in the first floor community room at the police station (125 6th Street).

    For more information, please see last week’s alert from the Cambridge Police.

    Residents Petition State for Clear GLX Plan

    More than four hundred people have signed an online petition sponsored by the City of Somerville asking for a definitive plan for the Green Line Extension to be adopted. The recently-announced multi-year delay in the project, which will push back the estimated completion date as far as 2020, has increased the importance of obtaining a strong commitment from MassDOT, the MBTA, and the Governor about the future of the project.

    If you are interested, please take a moment to sign the petition:

    Multi-year Delays Expected in Green Line Extension Project

    The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that the Green Line Extension, which was trending towards completion in October of 2015, is now expected to be delayed until 2018 at the earliest, and possibly until as late as 2020. In its annual State Implementation Plan (SIP) Status Report, MassDOT has declared that it will formally petition the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the Green Line Extension’s implementation, for a delay.

    This comes as very disappointing news. The Green Line Extension is both a federally mandated component of Massachusetts’ State Implementation Plan for compliance with the Clean Air Act, and required mitigation for the effects of the Big Dig project. In order to bring the Massachusetts within compliance of the Clean Air Act, the Green Line Extension must be completed before December 31, 2014, or else the state will risk losing federal funding for any other transportation projects. Beyond being required by law, extending the MBTA Green Line through Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford is a key component of bringing long-overdue environmental justice to cities and its citizens.

    MassDOT and the MBTA must now compile a list of reduction offset measures that will be implemented in order to mitigate the project’s delay. These measures will be established through a process that includes public input, and it is my hope that they will bring a meaningful level of environmental justice to the communities that the Green Line Extension will serve while the project is delayed.

    In response to these developments, I will be meeting with members of the Green Line legislative delegation, Mayor Curtatone, and officials from MassDOT and the Patrick administration with the goal of finding more information about precisely why the delay is necessary, and to discuss how this delay will impact various phases of the project, such as the relocation of Lechmere Station.

    I will be sure to provide an update about what the next steps are as soon as possible. As always, I welcome your input in the comments section below.