Monthly Archives: March 2015

Preview: City Council agenda (March 31)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week’s meeting has many items, but most of them are the usual sorts of business.

  • Voting on the Olympics: Bill Coleman has a citizen petition to ask, on the November 3 municipal ballot, “Do you support bringing the Olympics to Boston in 2024?”
  • Rooftop gardens: Councilor Lukes has an item asking the City Manager for a report on “the feasibility of installation of roof top gardens for new development projects and whether incentives or other encouragements would be appropriate for such installations.”
  • Chambers Street still private: The Public Works Committee recommends that the petition to turn Chambers Street from a private to a public (city-maintained) street be denied.

Preview: City Council agenda (March 24)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday, March 24, 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: selling the old courthouse, conserving open space, free electronic recycling.

  • Nelson Place land swap: The city wants to swap some Nelson Place School land with Assumption College to help out the college. School Committee member Tracy Novick has more.
  • Conserving 6 acres: The City Manager wants the city to spend $300,000 to purchase a “conservation restriction” on 6 acres of land from the EcoTarium.
  • Selling the old courthouse: The city is selling the old courthouse to developers for $1.2 million. The building will be preserved and turned into apartments and retail space.
  • Dover Amendment: Councilors Bergman and Economou would like the city to seek special exemptions from the Dover Amendment, which “exempts agricultural, religious, and educational corporations from certain zoning restrictions.” The City Solicitor has written a report for the Council that I think can be summarized as “that’s probably not going to work.”
  • CitySquare updates: The City Council needs to amend some stuff to keep the CitySquare project moving forward, so the manager has an update of how all the pieces are going.
  • Free Household Electronics Recycling Day: Saturday, April 18, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM, 1065 Millbury Street. More details here.

Preview: City Council agenda (March 10)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday, March 10, 6:30pm. The agenda is here. This week: city employees union, Uber, Holy Cross tax-exempt land.

  • City Employees Union: The City has made a 3-year agreement with the National Association of Government Employees. The T&G has details. The Council will briefly recess into executive session to “discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining.”
  • SeeClickFix: We will soon have a smartphone app for reporting and tracking non-emergency issues like potholes and graffiti.
  • Library Parking Lot: There’s a report on this. Since the introduction of paystations, revenue is up 8%, complaints are down, and operating costs are down. Some students of the downtown QCC campus are using the lot.
  • Uber: The City Law Department has a report on proposed regulations for Uber. From my sleep-deprived reading of this report, Uber doesn’t qualify as either a taxi or livery service, so it’s not currently regulated.
  • Holy Cross Undeveloped Properties: You may remember that Holy Cross College has a couple of undeveloped parcels that it doesn’t pay tax on. People have argued that since it’s not using these parcels for educational or charitable purposes, it should be paying taxes. The City Assessor has issued a report saying that the courts have generally found it is OK for a college to have undeveloped parcels as buffers or green space.
  • Snow Removal: The City Manager is requesting another $1,619,557.53 be authorized for the snow removal budget, both to cover current invoices and “anticipated future snow costs.”

Preview: City Council agenda (March 3)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday, March 3, 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: the triage center, Net Neutrality, Holy Cross tax-exempt land.

  • Elections: Tuesday is the first day to “pull papers” to run for Worcester City Council or the School Committee. We’ll be tracking details of this year’s election here.
  • Economic development: The quarterly economic development report will be presented. This quarter: construction of the Gardner Kilby Hammond Bike Path; design work for the Worcester Blackstone Visitor Center; capital improvement plan for Union Station; and “relocation of Cogmedix, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coghlin Companies, Inc., to 17 Briden Street in Worcester. The company provides manufacturing and engineering services to medical and dental equipment companies”.
  • Triage center: There are several items regarding the homeless shelter on Queen Street. It has been operating way above capacity this winter: as many as 120 people staying in what should be a 40-person shelter. Also, a man died in a private room there earlier this year, and it was days before his body was discovered. The Public Health and Human Services committee is asking the city to make a plan for a second shelter run by a different agency.
  • Net neutrality: the Federal Communications Commission adopted strong net neutrality rules last week. This week, Councilor Lukes has this item: “Request City Manager communicate with Charter Communications regarding how the FCC’s new net neutrality Regulations will impact on programming and costs to the Worcester ratepayers.” Cable monopolies have been against net neutrality; it will be interesting to see Charter’s claims here.
  • Taxing Holy Cross land: Councilor Rosen is asking the city to start taxing Holy Cross College for 2 “long-time vacant but developable parcels” of land, saying that “they are not being occupied for charitable use and, therefore, are not an integral part of the college’s operations.” The local group AWARE thinks taxes on the parcels would be $48,000 annually. It’s worth noting that several Worcester colleges have PILOT deals with the city, where they pay a little money to the city. These agreements have a clause that says that if the city tries to hit them up for tax money on any of their properties, the PILOT agreement goes out the window. Holy Cross gives some money to the Worcester Public Library, but that is not a PILOT deal.
  • Cleaning the slate: There are ongoing efforts to see to it that City Council items are dealt with in a timely manner. This week, there are a ton of old agenda items that will be officially resolved, by “filing” them without any further action. These include items originally proposed by former Councilors Bill Eddy, Mike Germain, Joff Smith, and Paul Clancy.

Worcester School Committee meeting preview (March 5)

People who would like to see a strong police presence at North High will be protesting outside before this meeting.

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

You can find the agenda here; we also have a supplemental, which is just sending the bus bids off to the March 16 F&O meeting for consideration.

We’re recognizing our Posse Scholars this week!

We have a communication coming in from the EAW regarding the new fingerprinting law.

The report of the Superintendent this week is the first FY16 budget estimates. Note that the Governor’s budget is set to come out the day before, on March 4 (which is why there’s no backup on this item as yet). If you can’t make the meeting this week,  Mr. Allen will be at CPPAC on March 11 at 7 pm at Chandler Magnet with the same presentation (or a similar one).

We have a response from administration on Constitution Day activities.

We have a response from administration regarding the CSX funds.

We have a response from administration regarding the Betty Curtis Young Writers’ Conference.

We have an item on the auditors’ reports which we’re sending off to F&O, to discuss at the same March 16 meeting.

Mr. Monfredo has asked that we congratulate the Valentine’s Day contest winners.

Ms. Biancheria is asking for an update on North High.

We’re being asked to accept a donation of $45.05 for Tatnuck Magnet School.

I have an item congratulating WPS on the second reception of the Meritorious Budget award!

I’ve asked that parents receive the specific dates their children are scheduled to take PARCC or MCAS.

I’ve also asked that we get some information on the impact the changes in vocational school regulations passed last week by the Board of Ed will have on admission to Worcester Tech.

Finally, administration is requesting authority to enter a 10 year lease agreement with the YMCA. Jacob Hiatt uses their gym and some parking spaces.