Monthly Archives: April 2018

Preview: City Council agenda (April 24)

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

This week: Affordable housing, health centers, Bill Coleman.

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

  • Free Dog Licenses for the Elderly: Kathryn Hagan has a citizen petition asking the city to waive the dog license fee for people over the age of 65. Currently the fee is waived for those over 70.
  • Fatty Jenkins Court AKA The Cage: There was a big neighborhood meeting a couple weeks back, at which it was agreed that the city should take steps to clean up, and possibly even relocate, the basketball court on Hawley St off Pleasant St. This week, Councilor Rivera has the first mention I’ve seen of this in the public record, asking there to be “No Parking Anytime” signs installed in front of the court.
  • Raising Taxes for Affordable Housing: A group is asking the city to approve an extra 1.5% property tax to fund more open space, recreational land, and “community housing” (which I guess is affordable housing?). If we did this, the state would give us an extra 16%. To do this, it would have to be approved by a ballot measure. The T&G reports this would generate like $2.5 million in extra taxes.
  • Closing Our Community Health Centers: There’s a report to the Council on how things will go with UMass Memorial closing Plumley Village Health Services, which has something like 1,000 active patients. Councilor King has an item asking UMass Memorial and Community Healthlink to reconsider their decision to close the children’s mental health facility Burncoat Family Center.
  • Bill Coleman’s Giant Mosaic of the City Seal: The Economic Development Committee is interested enough in Bill Coleman’s idea that they’d like a report from the city administration on what it would take to make it happen.
  • Airbnb: Councilor King would like a report on how recent state legislation regarding state and local taxes on Airbnb will be implemented in Worcester.
  • Are Our Yellow Bags Worse?: Councilor Rosen wants a report on whether city trash bags are worse than they used to be. (They are definitely different.)
  • Let’s Not Expand the Library: Councilor Rosen wants a report on how much taxpayers would save if we put the $8 million expansion and renovation of the main library “on hold.”
  • Summer Youth Bus Passes: Councilor Rivera would like to know how things worked out with our summer 2017 program issuing unlimited ride passes to people ages 8-24, and if it will happen again this summer.
  • Unrelated Occupants: Councilor Russell would like to know if we can let landlords with RG-5 apartments apply for a special permit to allow more than 3 unrelated persons live in a unit.
  • Vintage Streetcars: Councilor Rose has an item asking if we could create a mile-long “trolley or street car system.” The T&G clarifies this would be more about making a bus look cool than actually installing train tracks.
  • These Kids on Their Bikes: Councilor Rivera has an item asking how things are going with various groups working with the police “to approach” the problem of kids on bikes doing crazy stuff.
  • Public and Private Streets: Andrey Rudenko wants the private street Gardner Terrace to be made public. The Public Works Committee (and the Planning Board) recommends that the Council turn down Ninonzka Garcia’s request for the private portion of Welcome St. to be made public.

Preview: City Council agenda (April 10)

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

This week: Affordable housing, complete streets.

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

  • Lodging Houses: Councilor Bergman has an item (held over from last week) asking that existing multi-family homes not be considered “lodging houses” for city enforcement purposes. I do not understand this item.
  • A Million Dollars for the Library: Xristian De’Jesus and about 50 others have a citizen petition asking the City Manager to increase library spending by $1,000,000 “to expand books in the business section, world language books, classrooms, charging stations, recording studios and video game stations to utilize the benefits of the library.”
  • Police Body Cameras: Gordon Davis has a petition asking the Worcester Police Department to use body cameras.
  • Hate Crimes Stats: Gordon Davis also has a petition asking the city to release the hate crimes statistics it sends to the state (are these not a public record already?) and for a report on how the Worcester Police Department prevents and investigates hate crimes.
  • Boards and Commissions: Aaron Richman will be reappointed to the Human Rights Commission. The Council will vote on appointing John Stewart and Kimberly Vanderspek to the Election Commission.
  • Affordable Housing: The Manager has a report noting we’ve committed or spent $23.4 million over the past 7 years to develop and preserve 1,849 affordable housing units. 13.4% of our housing is “affordable.” We “have more subsidized housing inventory than the next eleven towns and cities in Worcester County combined.”
  • Increasing the Sewer Rate 3%: The Manager would like to increase the sewer rate. “The Department of Public Works and Parks recommendation for water and sewer rates for FY18 will increase the annual combined bill for the average single family home by $19.00 or 2.9% based on Worcester’s average usage of 68 CCFs. This recommendation is significantly less than the average combined rate increase of 4.7% over the last 10 years.”
  • $3.5 million Loan Order for Parking Repairs: The Manager would like the Council to approve a loan order so we can restore the Pearl Elm Garage, upgrade the stairs at Federal Plaza, and improve security at the Major Taylor Boulevard Garage.
  • Creating a Transportation Advisory Group: As part of creating a Complete Streets policy, the Manager would like to establish a Transportation Advisory Group that would include city and state employees as well as members of the community at large.

Preview: City Council agenda (April 3)

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

This week: Guns, zoning.

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

  • Guns: Mayor Petty has an item asking if we can stop investing city pension funds in any company “that derives more than 15 percent of its revenues from sales for non-law enforcement or non-military purposes” from guns and ammo.
  • Lodging Houses: Councilor Bergman has an item asking that existing multi-family homes not be considered “lodging houses” for city enforcement purposes. I do not understand this item.
  • Marijuana Laws: After months of back and forth, the Council will officially vote to change the city ordinances to reflect the various suggestions and state mandates on how we handle marijuana establishments.
  • Old Public and Private Streets: Mark Liriano wants Weldon Ave. to be made public.
  • New Public and Private Streets: The proposal to make Norton St. public has gone through the requisite hearings and the Council will presumably vote in favor.
  • New Zoning Requests: There is a request to clean up the zoning around 5 Reeves St., extending the amount that is residential and excluding all of it from the Commericial Corridors Overlay District.
  • Old Zoning Requests: The Council will presumably vote in favor of various zoning requests that have gone through the requisite hearings. These include rezoning areas near 57 Highland St, 452 Southwest Cutoff, and Ed Hyder’s.
  • How Are Our Taxis Doing?: Councilor Rosen has an item asking how the city’s taxi medallion system is doing in this age of Uber and Lyft.

This week’s School Committee Agenda

I don’t usually have musical accompanyment for these, but with the City of Champions coming, I can’t miss the chance to add this: 

The report of the superintendent is “A Tale of Two Cities” (and we’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about revolution. BYO knitting. “It is a far, far better thing I do…”), which, as I understand it, are Brockton and Worcester in this telling. There is only one recognition Thursday (and a single item in executive session), so the report should start before 7:30. Come see the latest in Foundation Budget Review Commission analysis!

There are a number of recognitions and a few appointments.

There is a request for a prior fiscal year payment of (yikes!) $8,212.50.
There is a request for reception of a donation of $100 from Fidelity Charitable Gift4Giving Program

Mr. Monfredo offers a reminder of the annual City that Reads book drive, a request that the district create a community service program of snow shoveling, and a suggestion that students do math over the summer.

Mr. O’Connell offers a request that Worcester send a delegation to the July statewide Civics Education Institute, a request over multiple items that the district consider blizzard bags or the like (aka, some other way to make up snow days other than adding days), a request for an update on federal grants (in a paragraph), a request that the district submit a grant application for a grant from the Education Innovation and Research Program as well as one for STOP School Violence Act.

Miss Biancheria offers a request for a “a report on the cohort, conducted by the Worcester Public Schools”…which I have no idea what that means. 

Mr. Comparetto requests an addition to school adjustment counselors, the course of study for ELL students, and a report on community organization partnerships.
Administration asks that the dates for summer camp at South High be changed.
Administration also asks that the mission and focus statement of South High be changed (for which the only backup is the new statements and what appears to be a pie chart with no information explaining who is responding, let alone anything about where the mission or focus statement came from or why it is being changed).

There is also an executive session at 6 pm on negotiations with administrative secretaries.