Monthly Archives: March 2014

Preview: City Council agenda (March 25)

The City Council meets Tuesday, March 25 at 7 pm. The agenda is here. Here are some items that jumped out at me.

  • Salaries: The Council is being given a list of city employee salaries. The T&G has more.
  • Foreclosure mediation: For a few months there, the city administration was discouraging the Council from asking for a city foreclosure mediation program, because of legal and other concerns. Well the Council voted for it, and now the administration has an item with details on how it would be implemented, how much it will cost, and what the first financial steps are. The T&G has more.
  • details via T&G). Now that this plan exists, the city is allowed to negotiate directly with people interested in buying parcels, rather than going through a public bidding process. Nicole has all the background on SWIP you could want. Here is a video of the area in question.
  • Parks: The latest Open Space and Recreation Plan is being presented by City of Worcester Parks & Recreation Commission. There is no hope of me summarizing this giant thing.
  • Indian Lake: There’s also a new master plan for Indian Lake.
  • Smart Meters: National Grid has a long response to some of the questions/paranoia surrounding it’s plan to bring “smart meters” to Worcester.

Preview: City Council Meeting (March 18)

The City Council meets Tuesday, March 18 at 7 pm. The agenda is here.

  • Road work: There’s a citizen request that Eastern Ave be repaid. Councilor Economou is requesting “installation of 6-inch concrete diameter posts in front of 1 Marmion Avenue.” Are people confused by this intersection and driving onto the lawn?
  • Crosswalks: Matthew Kracher has a citizen petition requesting that “police crosswalk stings” cease at the intersection of Lancaster and Dix Streets. He has a writeup of his concerns and basically thinks these stings are BS. Every so often the Council has asked the police department to conduct these stings, to try to get motorists to take crosswalks more seriously. I do not think this culture change has happened.
  • Cable access TV: Councilor Gaffney has an item asking a bunch of questions about how the city has been spending its “cable franchise fees” in recent years. These moneys are used, among other things, for funding the public access and government cable tv channels. The item has no hints of where he’s going with this.
  • Pawnbrokers: Councilors Bergman and Economou would like a city ordinance requiring pawnbrokers “to photograph their purchases and acquisitions and transmit same to the Worcester Police Department.”
  • Alcohol: Councilor Lukes has a couple items asking how the city can extend “closing times for the serving of alcohol, especially for a limited geographical footprint as a pilot project.”
  • Street vendors: Councilor Rosen has an item asking if more “street vendors of food and retail items” can be allowed on Worcester Common. (He has in the past also supported food trucks.)
  • WRA: As part of our series noting the revival of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, let’s note item 10b, “relative to the Debt Service Schedule for the City’s Issuance of $500,000.00 in Bonds Associated with the Downtown Urban Renewal Project Proposed in the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget to be Undertaken by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority.
  • Name change: There’s a petition from Mahmoud Soheili and Aliveza Avshadi to change the name of Olean Circle to Soheili Circle. At this meeting, the proposal is moving from the Planning Board to the Public Works Committee.

Preview: City Council Meeting (March 11)

The City Council meets Tuesday, March 11 at 7 pm. The agenda is here.

Quick meeting this week, mostly reports from the City Manager.

Preview: Worcester City Council (March 4)

The City Council meets Tuesday, March 4 at 7 pm. The agenda is here. Here are some items that jumped out at me. There are some important items, and many silly items, on the agenda.

  • Property taxes: There’s a citizen proposal that $1,000 each year be subtracted from property tax bill for three-family, owner occupied buildings if $1,000 is spent on exterior house improvements.”
  • Civil War: One of the most confusing items ever. Why doesn’t this call it the Civil War? And why does it read like there are 150-year-old donations to the city sitting in an escrow account somewhere? “Transmitting communication from Councilor Morris A. Bergman and Dr. Wendy J. Bergman requesting City Council to accept donations relating to the City of Worcester from the period 1858 through 1863 in conjunction with commemorations taking place across the United States noting the 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States.”
  • Crime Stats: There are some items requesting crime stats, as well as “a map of those areas of the city that have been recipients of Tactical Response Area funds.”
  • Flagg Street: The Committee on Traffic and Parking is asking for a review of how effective the Resident Permit Parking zone on South Flagg Street has been, 6 months after it’s instituted. I don’t know what the background is, but it’s encouraging to see something reviewed a few months after it’s tried. The Committee is also asking for “aggressive enforcement.” Non-residents, beware!
  • Dog Park: The Parks & Rec Committee has a bunch of items relating to the proposed new dog park. The most hilarious one asks if we could use “some kind of tag or card” that would only unlock the gate for licensed dogs, and if we can charge non-Worcester dogs a different fee. The marginal cost of a visiting dog has not yet been reported publicly. The marginal cost of irritating visitors with dogs who just want to hang out with their friends has not been reported either.
  • Panhandling: Speaking of reviewing the effectiveness of new policies, it’s been a year since Worcester’s latest anti-panhandling ordinances came into effect. Councilor Rivera has an item asking how things are going with the city’s panhandler outreach worker.
  • TV: Councilor Rosen has an item asking the City Manager if we can get a network-affiliated TV station in Worcester, so that we’ll have better news coverage. If the City Manager’s powers of persuasion can get a TV station to move here, I can come up with a long list of other stuff the Council should ask for.

Preview: School Committee (March 6)

The Worcester School Committee has the first March meeting on Thursday, 7pm. You can find the agenda

here. (This preview cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.)

  • First up, the postponed honors from last week for South High.
  • We also have a member of the public coming to speak on PARCC. That, combined with a response from administration regarding an item from Ms. Colorio on PARCC, means it is up for discussion. Please come if you wish to be heard!
  • We have several responses coming back from administration: on the Sheriff’s FACE to FACE program; on posting the Friday letters online (they’re up!); on the participation of students with disabilities in athletics; on data charts (no, not walls); and on sending requests for repairs through SchoolDude.
  • We have Ms. Biancheria’s items, held from last week.
  • We have a request to approve a prior year payment of$1,960.00.
  • The School Committee is requested to accept the donation of $2500 for a scholarship for a graduating senior, which is from ASBO due to Mr. Allen’s Distinguished Eagle Award
  • We have a request to approve a prior year payment of $28,105 to Behavior Concepts, Inc. for ABA services.
  • I’ve put the proposed charter regulation changes on the agenda for consideration ahead of the Board of Ed’s March 24th meeting; I’ve also proposed that we urge our delegation to oppose any lift of the charter school cap.
  • We’re being asked to accept a donation to the Caradonio New Citizens Center from METSO Automation USA, Inc.
  • We have a bit of a tweak to Worcester East Middle School’s Statement of Interest with MSBA–if you’re interested in WEMS, you’ll want to read it–that adds a general systems upgrade to the request for roof and windows that we’d requested. It’s pretty cool that MSBA did this; they could have just turned us down flat, but instead agreed that we needed what we asked for and more.
  • We’ve got the Meritorious Budget Award!
  • Assuming a positive vote, we’re setting a date for budget priority setting of March 20.
  • We’re going to recognize our ski team (that we share with St. Peter-Marian).
  • We’re asked to accept a donation of $500 from METSO Automation USA, Inc to Clark Street for basketball.
  • And we’re working on moving the School Committee date in April off of Holy Thursday, for those who observe it.
  • Plus: executive session has three student long-term suspension hearings.