Preview: City Council agenda (January 31)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: “sanctuary city” status, decriminalizing agriculture, infinite street and sidewalk items. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Sidewalk Repairs: There are so many items about specific sidewalk repairs on the agenda this week. If you’ve been wondering about your sidewalk, you might want to check the agenda.
  • Lake Quinsig Docks: One item asks the City Manager to provide “access to docks, where Lake Ave. North was repaired on Lake Quinsigamond, to nearby residents as they have always had for generations.”
  • More Train Service: Mayor Petty has an item asking that city, state, and federal officials meet to figure out how to increase MBTA and Amtrak service between Worcester and Boston, Springfield, and New York City. If all goes well, in the next few years we will add hundreds of housing units a short walk from the train station, a housing expansion equal to roughly 1% of our total current housing.
  • Stop Your Recycling from Blowing Around the Streets: Councilor Russell has an item asking the city to start cracking down on people who are overloading or badly packing their recycling bins, which causes their recycling to fall out and blow all over the neighborhood. As someone whose fence is perfectly oriented to snag the windblown recycling in our area, this idea makes me happy. Note also that there has been a proposal to switch from bins to clear trash bags for recycling, a change which would eliminate this issue.
  • Allowing Commercial Agriculture: At one point it looked like city government might draft some zoning rules such that it would be possible to farm commercially in Worcester. Lately, this seems to have stalled out. So this week Councilor Rivera has an item asking for a progress report on this.
  • Tax Breaks for Developers: Councilor Lukes has an item asking if, in the past five years, we’ve had any developers fail to comply with the terms of their tax breaks (Tax Increment Financing), and if so what the consequences for them have been.
  • Home Businesses: Councilor Lukes has a couple items asking for a report from the City Manager on all aspects of “home businesses” in the city. These are similar to items she submitted not long ago—I asked her what was up and she says “something else” has come up that “reminds me that our home business ordinance [discussion] continues.”
  • Sanctuary Cities: Whatever you want to call it, a lot of US municipal police departments avoid overly cooperating with federal immigration police unless it involves violent crimes, on the theory that plenty of people have friends and family in the country illegally, and that lots of people are going to be reluctant to talk to the police if there’s a risk somebody is going to get deported, and that we are all better off if people feel ok talking to the police to resolve actual violent crimes, thefts, and the like. This non-cooperation with immigration police takes various forms, for example if someone gets arrested and they are here illegally, the police would detain them the same amount of time they would detain a citizen they’d arrested, rather than holding them longer so that ICE could send someone to pick them up and deport them. Councilor Lukes has a series of items this week asking the Council to officially say that we want the Worcester police to cooperate fully with ICE in deporting illegal immigrants. Councilor Gaffney has a tiny item on the same topic but I can’t figure out if his item is written in such a way it would actually mean anything (also typos, c’mon Councilors, what the heck). People opposed to Lukes’s proposal will be demonstrating at City Hall starting at 6pm.
  • Surveillance and Dumping: Councilor Rivera has an item asking for a camera in front of the Benefit St community garden to discourage people dumping trash there. (Just a random thought: changes in how we handle snow removal really seem to be working, it is like Shock & Awe out there everytime it snows. What would it cost to make similar revisions in how we treat dumping?)
  • Dog Park/Rules: Councilor Rivera wants a sign explaining dog rules at Maloney Field.
  • Executive Session: The City Manager would like part of the meeting to be an executive (private) session for the Council to discuss a lawsuit between the city and Green Landscapes LLC.
  • Private and Public Streets: Laurian Banciulescu wants the city to convert Denmark St. from private to public.
  • Rezoning Norfolk St: The Planning Board and the Economic Development Committee both want the Council to reject the request to rezone some parcels on Norfolk St to residential.

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