Preview: City Council agenda (December 11)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Taxes.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Tax Hearing: Among other things on the agenda is a hearing for setting property tax rates for 2019. If you have an opinion, this is a good meeting to attend. As per usual, the Council will also be voting on offering a $1,400.00 property tax reduction to the elderly.
  • Private and Public Streets: John Paul and Michelle L’Esperance want the private Bishop Ave made public.
  • Boards and Commissions: Michael Baker and Linda Hixon will be reappointed to the G.A.R. Memorial Hall Board of Trustees; Devon Kurtz reappointed to the Historical Commission; Walter Shea reappointed to the License Commission; and Thomas Conroy, Meaghan Hardy-Lavoie and HRH Gabriel Rollins to the Worcester Arts Council.
  • Plastic Bag Crackdown: The Council will vote on banning retailers from offering single-use plastic bags. They could sell non-plastic bags for 5 cents. After a grace period, there would be a $100/day fine for violating this.
  • Quality of Life Taskforce: There’s a report on what this small team of city employees has accomplished over the past 3 years. Illegal dumping: 5788 properties visited, 86 tons of trash collected, $31k in fines levied. Vacant and problem buildings: 3477 visited. Board of Probation checks on lodging house managers: 159 records checked. Unregistered vehicles: 251 dealt with. Homeless camps: 128 visited, 670 outreach visits. In the last 2 months they have added a Recovery Coach who has placed 8 homeless people into recovery programs and gotten an additional 7 people permanent housing. Needles collected: 1500. (Editorial note: I have interacted with a couple QOL people and they were awesome, good job picking people for this team.)

Preview: City Council agenda (November 27)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: A pretty light agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Expanding the Ballfield Project: The Worcester Business Journal has a good writeup on this. The Worcester Redevelopment Authority would like to expand the “urban revitalization area” associated with the upcoming minor league ballfield by an additional 21 acres, about a 10% expansion. As the article notes, this expansion plan includes acquiring “more than 20 properties and tearing down 18 buildings.”
  • Changing the Hope Cemetery Board of Commissioners: The manager would like to make some changes in the legal requirements for the Hope Cemetery Board, so as to make it easier to have a full slate of commissioners. One change would remove the requirement that there be 1 commissioner from each of the 5 city council districts. Another change would extend the term of service from 3 years to 5; the idea is that since people end up serving decades on this board, extending the term would mean they’d have to deal with the process of getting re-appointed fewer times.

Preview: City Council agenda (November 20)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: The proposed Downtown Business Improvement District.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Downtown Business Improvement District: The T&G has a good writeup on this. The Council will be discussing whether or not to approve a Downtown Business Improvement District. The city would add an additional .3% property tax to properties in the 78-acre BID (including non-profit properties) and that money would be spent by a Board of Directors on things like marketing, clearing ice from sidewalks, and repairs. The representatives of at least 51% of the property value of the BID submitted petitions in favor.
  • Public and Private Streets: These proposals will be forwarded to the Planning Board. Kristin Sundberg wants the private Martha Avenue be made a public street. Polar Beverages wants the private Woolfenden Street to be removed from the official map.
  • Zoning Changes: New Garden Park Inc. wants part of 305 Belmont Street rezoned from 2-story commercial and very light manufacturing to 3-story commercial. Tuan Ngo wants 96-102 May Street rezoned residential to 2-story commercial.
  • Whither the Urban Agriculture Ordinance: There are several items this week in which Councilors ask, “What happened to some old item the Council approved but the city seems to be ignoring?” For example, Councilor Rivera asks for an update on the proposed urban agriculture ordinance.
  • Expanding the Scope of Veterans’ Affairs: Councilor Bergman would like the Council’s Committee on Veterans’ & Military Affairs turned into a Committee on Veterans’, Military and Historical Affairs.
  • Regulation of Charter Communication: Currently, the city licenses a monopoly on cable services to Charter Communications. Charter is arguing to the FCC that their cable TV business faces “effective competition” from AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW service, and so Charter should be exempt from various regulations since they don’t actually get the monopoly they are paying for. The Massachusetts Attorney General opposes this, and Councilor Lukes wants the Council to go on record as supporting the AG. (I find this petition a little confusing, sorry if my explanation is wrong.) In an unrelated item, Councilor Rosen wants the City Manager to investigate the problems with Charter’s screwed-up phone service, “problems that result in, among others, dead phone lines, one-way audio reception, dropped calls mid-conversation, unrecorded voice mail messages, and threats to the operation of telephone-dependent medical alert systems.”
  • I Can Drive 25: Councilor Lukes wants a report on whether or not we should make 25mph the city-wide speed limit.

Proposed Business Improvement District

Preview: City Council agenda (November 13)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: A pretty light agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Boards and Commissions: The City Manager is appointing Tracey Weeden to the Human Rights Commission, Mariana O’Brien to the Elder Affairs Commission, Lisa Malo and Yasmin Goris to the Worcester Arts Council, and Kira Terrill to the Mayor Thomas Early Scholarship Fund. The Council will vote whether or not to appoint Savvas Kosmidis to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, Marie Dicardy to the Cable Television Advisory Board, George Cortes to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and Rachel Brown to the Citizens Advisory Council.
  • Christmas Tree Crackdown: The mayor wants a report “regarding the regulations and enforcement plan for the selling of Christmas trees for this upcoming holiday season.”
  • 4 Winslow Rezoning: The council will vote whether to accept the Planning Board’s recommendation to rezone all of 4 Winslow, the property adjacent to Ed Hyder’s Market, to residential.

Preview: City Council agenda (October 30)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: A pretty light agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Sunderland Road Parcel: Councilor Russell would like the city to sell, if possible, the city-owned lot at Sunderland Road and Lake Ave, as well as zone it for single family homes.
  • Auction City Stuff Online: Councilor Russell would like the city to start selling off surplus real estate, equipment, etc. via an online municipal auction service.
  • Craigslist “Safe Trade Station”: Councilor Bergman would like the city to establish areas in the parking lot and lobby of the main police station where people can meet to consummate Craigslist deals.
  • Jones Memorial: Councilor Bergman would like us to have a monument to Edward Davis “The Jones in Dow Jones” Jones.
  • A Beautiful Tree: Councilor Rose would like the city to plan “an eight foot evergreen tree” at Burncoat and Mountain, to make the area nicer and to allow tree-lighting events.

Preview: City Council agenda (October 23)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: A pretty light agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Stop Putting Signs in the Newton Square Rotary: The great Paula Bushey and Denise Billotta have a request that the Council prohibit people from putting signs in the Newton Square Rotary. (They are active in maintaining the area.)
  • Recognizing Local Businesses: The great Bill Coleman has two items asking the Council to recognize long-time city businesses. First, “Mark Ruffo, President and Owner of K & N Supply Plumbing & Heating Company of 159 Water St., a Worcester landmark since 1978.” Second, “S. Richard Sachs, his family and employees of A-1 Wholesale Window and Siding Co. for their long time commitment to the City since 1949.”
  • Boards and Commissions: Lowell Alexander will be reappointed to the Civic Center Commission. The Council will vote whether to reappoint Stephen Stolberg to the Commission on Disabilities, and Patrick Hare to the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board.
  • 521 Sunderland Road: The Manager would like the Council to authorize the city to sell a 2,881 square foot parcel there to a private person for $3,800.
  • Development Tax Breaks: The Manager has an update on our current Tax Incentive Financing deals, which he credits with generating $300 million in investment and 1,700 jobs. This particular report doesn’t outline the extent of the tax breaks themselves.
  • Hazardous Waste Collection Day: This will be Saturday, November 3, 2018, 9:00am–12:00pm. If you make an appointment to make a dropoff (1065 Millbury Street, 508-929-1300) you can give the city your hazardous waste to be disposed of in a responsible manner.
  • Leaf Collection: The city begins leaf collection November 5. All the details are here.

Preview: City Council agenda (October 2)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: A pretty light agenda.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Skate Park: Councilor Rosen has an item asking for “a public hearing on the progress being made in discussions between the city administration and the local skateboarding community as both parties work together to find an acceptable, affordable and safe site for a new skate park.”
  • Let’s Get Those Streets Fixed: Councilor Rosen has an item asking the City Manager to change the process of writing contracts for street or sidewalk repair, such that the contractors would “complete their work in a reasonable length of time.” If we can find such a solution, I think it would revolutionize the practice of construction worldwide.
  • Live-Streaming Meetings: Councilor King wants to know if the city is any closer to being able to livestream city meetings and events on social media.
  • Trans Rights: Councilors King, Mero-Carlson, Rivera, and Rose would like the Council to endorse ballot question 3, which would preserve transgender rights in the state. This was held over from last week’s meeting.

This week’s School Committee agenda

The report of the Superintendent is on “Innovation Pathways” (and it’s impossible to miss that someone else put this PowerPoint together and got it scanned), which looks like an extention of the vo-tech paths within the district; non-Tech kids are being bussed to Tech to take four sorts of vocational programs after school.

There are resignations, hires, transfers, as per usual this time of year. There are also congratulations of various sorts.

Mr. Monfredo is requesting a report on Buddy Benches, the Middle School Kindness Challenge, and a comparison of Worcester with other Gateways and Boston on financial aid, assessments, dropout rate, graduation rate, chronic absenteeism. With the exception of financial aid, if one assumes he means college aid, that would more or less be the report that Mr. O’Connell should probably request instead. 

Mr. O’Connell is requesting a report on 2018 MCAS scores; two thoughts: one would expect that to be this week’s report of the superintendent, and one might do better requesting a report on accountability results. 

Miss McCullough is asking for a report on ALICE training to include I’m not Scared…I’m Prepared programming.

Miss Biancheria would like a report on transportation that was moved to Fremont Street (the new full-size buses run from there, as the WPS-operated special ed buses always have), a report on those ten new buses, and a report on snow removal equipment (is this going to be a list of snowblowers at every school?).

And Mr. Foley has the following:

Request that the Administration consider the implications of excessive heat and humidity upon the learning environment in the classrooms and the schools without air conditioning and the adverse conditions for students, teachers and staff. The Administration should develop a policy to be followed when the city has experienced consecutive days of excessive heat and humidity and the conditions in many of the schools are intolerable.

There is a request to approve a prior year payment $2,060.20 to a parent for transportation of a McKinney-Vento student.

There is a request to accept:

  • a Project Lead the Way grant for $7500 (for “higher-order thinking”) at Jacob Hiatt Magnet
  • $399.21 from Lifetouch to Lake View School –
  • $50.00 from American Income Life Insurance Company to Belmont Street Community School
  • $24.50 from American Income Life Insurance Company to Tatnuck Magnet Elementary School
  • $515.16 from Lifetouch to Woodland Academy
  • – to Worcester Technical High School:- $5,920.00 from Sarah Daniels Pettit & William O Pettit, Jr Fund/Greater Worcester Community Foundation

    – $560.00 from Saul A. Seder Fund/Greater Worcester Community Foundation for participation in Skills USA

    – $291.00 from Thurston E. Solomon & Everett J. Morter Memorial Fund/Greater Worcester Community Foundation for participation in Skills USA

    – $500.00 from Air-Tite Products Co., Inc./Mr. & Mrs. Neil Garnache to be used as a scholarship for a student who will be furthering their education beyond high school in memory of Donald P. Garnache, graduate of Boys’ Trade

  • – to Worcester Arts Magnet:- $100.00 from various donors to be used for Chromebook licenses

    – $500.00 from JMH Solutions

  • – to support the Exhilarate Worcester Initiative at Woodland Academy:- $4,414.65 from various donors

    – $125.00 from On the Rise Baking

    – $500.00 from Blaine Warren Advertising

    – $750.00 from Commonwealth of MA Mid-District District Attorney’s Office

The administration is also requesting the school committee approve a five year lease for Chromebooks and a six year lease on desktops and such.And there are some new nurses to approve the hire of.

They’ve also once again posted a non-specific executive session, which isn’t cricket.

7 pm, City Hall. If an item is on the agenda, members of the public may request a suspension of the rules in order to speak to the item.

 

Preview: City Council agenda (September 12)

The Worcester City Council meets Wednesday at 6:30pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Immigration, Wu-Sox, preservation, driveways.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Immigration: The Mayor has an item asking the Council to endorse a statement that the US shouldn’t deport anyone with Temporary Protected Status and to preserve the DACA program.
  • Zoning: There’s a request to rezone 4 Winslow St. from business to residential. There’s a request to rezone 8 (aka 8 1/2) Washburn St. residential to business.
  • $50m to Preserve the Aud: It will cost $50 million just to do the basic renovations the Worcester Memorial Auditorium would need to bring it up to code.
  • Mt Carmel Deed Restriction: There’s a letter from the state about the deed restriction on the Mt Carmel property. The property is indeed restricted to be used for “religious, educational, or recreational purposes.” However this doesn’t prevent the diocese from demolishing the church and selling the property. It would restrict what the new owner could do with the property, and would require legislation on the state level to remove the restriction.
  • The Wu-Sox: The Council will have many items related to the Red Sox minor league team moving to Worcester. The City Auditor has a report saying the project is finally an ok deal. The most important item asks the Council to vote yes-or-no on the whole $100 million deal.
  • ROTC for Police: Councilor Rivera would like the city to create a “three tiered program” giving Worcester children a path to becoming a police officer. This “would include a Youth Academy for middle to early high school students, a second Academy modeled after ROTC for the purposes of law enforcement for older high school students, and a third Cadet Program for high school graduates … seeking a career in law enforcement … as a pipeline … into the Police Academy.”
  • Taxing Apartment Buildings as Commercial: The Municipal Operations Committee wants the whole Council to vote in favor of a proposal that would tax properties with 5+ housing units at commercial rather than residential property tax rates. As things currently stand, this would increase property taxes on those units, although of course these tax rates bounce around year to year.
  • DIY Driveways: Councilor Rosen tabled his own item on this issue last time—it should be popping back up this week.
  • Bonus for All Fans of Driveway Ordinances: Here are what the city ordinances say about sharing a driveway: “1. Common driveways that serve three (3) or more lots are prohibited except through the issuance of Special Permit by the Planning Board. 2. Common driveways cannot be used to satisfy or calculate frontage requirements. 3. The construction of common driveways must be in accordance with the standards outlined in the City of Worcester Subdivision Control Regulations. 4. Common driveways must access the lots over approved frontage. 5. Common driveways may not exceed three hundred (300) feet in length.”

Preview: City Council agenda (August 21)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6:00pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Wu-Sox, weed, driveways.

If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Zoning: The Council will send to the planning board a request to change the zoning for part of 37 Fruit Street from residential to business, thus making all of 37 Fruit business.
  • Boards and Commissions: **Carl Foley will be reported to the Worcester Airport Advisory Committee; Frances Langille and Chizoma Nosike will be appointed to the Elder Affairs Commission; Azal Khaled will be appointed and Christian Escobar reappointed to the Conservation Commission; Jordan Berg Powers will be appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Council will vote on whether or not to reappoint Amanda Gregoire to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.
  • Allen Court Privatized: Allen Court will be removed from the official map and made a private street.
  • Murals: The Council will approve POW! WOW! putting up murals again this summer.
  • Blackstone River Bikeway: The Council will be approving construction of another $7million part of the bikeway, this time along McGrath Boulevard.
  • Can the City Set Hours for Weed Stores?: According to the city solicitor, yes, and in fact the city has previously done so.
  • Seriously, Stop Making Your Own Driveway, Don’t Make Me Come Over There: The city administration is coming up with an ordinance that will stop people making their own driveways, thus taking away chunks of street parking (or causing conflict between street parkers and the rogue driveways they are blocking).
  • Wu-Sox: The Manager has announced the general outlike of bringing the minor league baseball team in Pawtucket to Worcester, creating the Worcester Red Sox. I am still trying to absorb this complex deal. The Manager takes pains to stress that “I approached these negotiations guided by the fundamental principle that no existing city tax revenue would be used to fund the ballpark construction. I am pleased to say that, as a result of our negotiations, the project meets this principle.”
  • Council Procedure Changes: The Mayor would likw to change the Council Rules so that when an item comes before the Council, motions to ignore (file) the item would take precedence over any other motion related to the item, presumably making meetings move a bit faster.
  • Improvements to The Cage: Councilor Rivera would like to see better street lighting at the Fatty Jenkins Memorial Basketball Court.
  • More Bike Sharing: Councilor Rosen (natch) would like to see another bike sharing operation come to Worcester, “especially one that utilizes a docking system.”
  • Deer Crossing: Mayor Petty would like to see a “Deer Crossing” sign installed on McKeon Road.
  • Mount Carmel Update: Councilor Mero-Carlson would like to know the city administration’s opinion as to whether the Diocese of Worcester can actually sell the Our Lady of Mount Carmel church and surrounding property, or whether the original granting of the property would prohibit this. (I think, I might be confused about this item.)
  • Worcester Preservation Fund: Councilor Bergman would like there to be a line on your property tax bill where you can donate money to a Worcester Preservation Fund.