Preview: City Council agenda (February 9)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week’s agenda has many items on finance. Here’s Worcester Magazine’s Council preview. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Street Changes: Denise Healey has a number of petitions regarding streets and landscaping, including a request for new shade trees in Burncoat (post-ALB), and a request that phase 2 of Shrewsbury St improvements be delayed until other streets have gone through phase 1.
  • Winter Street Court: There’s a request to remove this street from the official city map, so the whole area can be private property.
  • Kicking People out of Meetings: Occasionally, like last week, members of the public are kicked out of meetings for yelling or swearing or something. Gadfly Jo Hart has a petition asking for a new policy on this matter, “acknowledging problems before having a speaker removed by police.”
  • Belmont Street Changes: Councilor Mero-Carlson wants a temporary crosswalk in front of Belmont Towers during the current construction project. It has been tricky to walk around that area.
  • Skate: Bill Coleman has a petition that the oval behind City Hall be made a roller rink during the spring and fall via “a removable, wooden, parquet floor.”
  • A City: Bill Coleman also asks the Council to note the anniversary of Worcester becoming a city on February 29, 2016.
  • Boards and Commissions: Ken Asafo-Adjei and Jesse Gibson will be appointed to the Citizens Advisory Council; Amanda Gregoire, Deborah Hall, and Jennifer Maddox to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women; and Nicola D’Andrea to the Community Development Advisory Board.
  • Coes Knife Park Universally Accessible/Multigenerational Playground and Park: If you have ideas regarding this hilariously-named park, the next public meeting is February 22, 6:30pm, at 242 Mill Street.
  • Gun Crimes: The City is moving forward on new laws (proposed by Councilor Bergman) to expand the definition of “nuisance” behavior by tenants. The new laws will mean you can be evicted for having illegal weapons or bombs, and that if you are arrested for a serious firearms crime, your landlord could face criminal prosecution if he or she doesn’t take action to evict you.
  • Open Meeting Law: Previously, there was a concern that when the Council agenda says “there will be a presentation on X,” if according to Open Meeting Law the presentation should be included in the agenda published before the meeting. The city’s lawyer has considered the issue and thinks that as long as the agenda mentions the topic at hand, the presentation doesn’t have to be included with the agenda. (It is subsequently available as part of the minutes.)
  • Homelessness: There will be a report on homelessness in Worcester. No proposals yet, but various meetings are to be held. As of last winter, there are 212 homeless families with children (652 people, all sheltered), 377 homeless families without kids (39 unsheltered), 135 homeless vets (1 unsheltered), and 50 “chronically homeless” people (14 unsheltered). There are either 25 people camped outside or 25 encampments, the report is vague here. (Map below.) At the Triage Center on Jacques Ave, aka “the shelter,” aka SMOCGWHCTAC, there are up to 123 people staying at a shelter meant for 25. The report blames opiate addiction and decreasing mental health resources for the increase in homelessness. One ongoing issue is the lack of cheap rooms.
  • Needles: There will be a report on dealing with dirty needles. If you find one in a public place, call 508-929-1300 and the city will deal with it. Just since August, we’ve dealt with 480 needles. The city has a public education campaign about how to deal with needles safely, and AIDS Project Worcester is beginning a needle exchange program, which the report notes will likely decrease the number of needles on streets as well as disease transmission.
  • Five-Year Financial Forecast: The City Manager has a report on what he expects the city’s finances to look like over the next five years. A key chart is below.
  • Capital Transfers: Here are all six-figure capital transfers. $100,000.00 from Loan Account Water Mains to DPW Account Water System Security; $125,000.00 from Loan Account Elm Park to Parks Account Elm Park, to allow for current and anticipated contractual obligations for site improvements at Elm Park, phase 4, which is 70% complete; $277,320.00 from City Wide Capital Equipment to Elections Capital Equipment, to pay for invoices associated with voting machines; $500,000.00 from Loan Account Street Construction to DPW Account Downtown Streets & Sidewalk Improvements.
  • Grants: Resolutions to file and accept grants. Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program Grant of $125,000.00; Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services grant of $425,000.00; $250,000.00 Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs grant to renovate Betty Price Playground.
  • School Buildings: A number of items regarding school buildings, including Flagg Street School, Francis J. McGrath Elementary School, Grafton Street School, Jacob Hiatt Magnet School, Belmont Street Community School, Chandler Elementary Community School, Gerald Creamer Center, Wawecus Road School, Doherty Memorial High School, Burncoat High School and Worcester East Middle School.
  • Zoning: Plans are moving forward to rezone the area around the Worcester Auditorium and former Worcester County Courthouse.

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