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Worcester School Committee meets Thursday

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

The Worcester School Committee meets Thursday; you can find the agenda here.
The big news will be FY18, of course, but that report isn’t yet posted.

However, there is some news for FY17; namely, that the city DID in fact forward $70,000 from free cash when they closed the fiscal year to assist in saving the kindergarten aides! We aren’t there yet (if I’m reading this correctly, we’re still $300,000 or so short?), but we’ve made progress.

In the process, some budget related news: FY17’s statewide charter reimbursement line (identical to that proposed for FY18) was funded at only 46%, shorting Worcester $714,532 and the whole state by $54.2M.
There are some recognitions, retirements, appointments, and one resignation which is of note: Grace Howard-Donlin, who resigned effective last week, was the appointed director of the international baccalaureate program, and had been charged with planning that. It appears that the last gasps of a hope of any such program in Worcester have (once again) died.

There’s a report on the charter school tuition assessment  (which maybe I need to re-read, because I’m not sure why this was being asked…)
There’s responses coming back on the Space Monkey Challenge (and dangers thereof) and attempting to expand the AVID program.
There’s a request for this year’s incidents reports.
There’s a request that math activities accompany summer reading lists (as they do already).
There’s a request for a report on dual enrollment.
There’s a request that Worcester’s colleges perhaps kick in for Worcester’s students AP exams.
The administration is sending the student handbook to subcommittee, and they are recommending these additional new classes:
High School:  Accounting 1; AP Seminar; Document Processing
Middle School:  Chorus; Dance Ensemble; Dance for Fitness; String Orchestra
Those will go to Teaching, Learning, and Student Support; there is as yet no description of any of them.
There are also requests that the School Committee accept donations of $292.20 and $1,212.49 for Woodland Academy and $400 for Forest Grove.

And the administration is requesting that the following schools and projects be forwarded to the MSBA:

Burncoat High School: Window Replacements*
Elm Park Community School:  Window Replacements
Lincoln Street School:   Window, Roof and Boiler Replacements
Rice Square School:   Window Replacement
Thorndyke Road School:   Window Replacement

*Yes, this is the ridiculous idea that started circulating at the last school committee meeting that the secondary school that most needs rebuilding should just get windows.

PCBs remain in executive session; there is also collective bargaining with teachers and a grievance from an HVAC worker.

I’m going to try to make the budget report this go-round.

Preview: City Council agenda (January 24)

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

This week: rezoning, police, waterfront property taxes. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here. If you want to read about the agenda in more detail, here’s the writeup in the T&G.

  • Boards and Commissions: Robert Bolivar is being appointed a Constable; Courtney Ross Escobar is being appointed to the Historical Commission. The City Council will vote whether to reappoint Talena Ngo to the Citizens Advisory Council; Christian Escobar to the Conservation Commission; and Bill Eddy to the Worcester Housing Authority.
  • A Little Rezoning: The City Manager would like the council to approve rezoning some land zoned for manufacturing to residential in the James Street and South Ludlow Street area. (Map below.)
  • Revised Tax Breaks: A couple years ago, to encourage someone to build 60 apartments at 100 Wall Street (the old El Morocco), the city offered a $1.2 million tax break in the form of a “tax increment exemption.” It’s taking them longer than originally planned, and the Manager would like the Council to amend the offer to reflect this delay. Rather than construction beginning this summer, it will now begin the summer of 2019.
  • Still a Drought: Has all the rain helped our drought situation? A little bit; this week, we’re moving from Stage Three back down to a Stage Two drought.
  • More Police: The Manager and the Police Chief would like to add 7 more police officers to the force. If I am reading the memo right there are currently 344 officers, with 23 positions vacant. Filling the vacancies and the new positions would have us at 374 officers. They would also like an additional 5 of those positions to become supervisory roles: sergeants, captains, lieutenants.
  • Waterfront Property Assessments: Residents with waterfront property are unhappy they have seen unexpected increases in their property values this year, and thus increases in their property taxes. The City Assessor has a report to the Council explaining that these increases reflect higher selling prices for such property of late, rather than a new formula for calculating the values. The local taxpayer activist group AWARE is critical of this report, pointing out, for example, that property on gross or boring bodies of water still saw an increase comparable to property on nice ponds etc.
  • A Market at the Aud?: Councilor Rosen proposes that we turn the long-vacant Worcester Memorial Auditorium in Lincoln Square into an “indoor retail and farmers marketplace” while we continue to wait for a motivated developer to do something else with the building.

Preview: City Council agenda (December 20)

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

This week: Mt. Carmel, Airbnb, property taxes. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Mt. Carmel: The diocese wants to shut down Our Lady of Mt Carmel parish, tear down their damaged church, and sell the land. Some parishioners are strongly opposed to this idea. This week, the Council has the opportunity to make the area a “historic district” as part of preventing the diocesan plan from happening.
  • Tax Rates: The discussion continues about what our 2017 tax rates for “residential, commercial, industrial and personal properties” will be. The Council has some control over this but many parameters are set by the state.
  • Airbnb: There are several items from the Economic Development Committee asking the Manager to report on options for taxing, regulating, and generally cracking down on “short term accessory rentals” aka Airbnb.
  • Buying Cable Boxes: Councilor Rosen has an item asking if Worcesterites can maybe just buy cable boxes, rather than renting them for $7/month. Our cable service in Worcester is from Charter, a monopoly they negotiate with the city government.

Preview: City Council agenda (December 13)

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

This week: Property taxes, reservoir land, boards, and commissions. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Tax Rates: The discussion continues about what our 2017 tax rates for “residential, commercial, industrial and personal properties” will be. The Council has some control over this but many parameters are set by the state.
  • Surveillance Cameras: Ermal Krol is asking the city to install surveillance cameras at 75 Townsend St. to stop people dumping trash there.
  • Boards and Commissions: Jose Castillo and Samantha Fiakofi are being reappointed to the Worcester Arts Council; the Council will vote on whether to appoint ex-Councilor Barbara Haller to the License Commission, to reappoint Deborah Hall to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women, to reappoint Robert Haddon and Joseph Wanat to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and to reappoint Vincent Pedone to Chair the Worcester Redevelopment Authority.
  • Dealing with Snow: As part of a previously-discussed revamping of the city’s snowplowing plans, the Council will vote to increase the pay rate for City employees when acting as “Snow Customer Service Representatives.”
  • More Watershed Land: The city is acquiring about 100 more acres of land in the watershed of our reservoirs. We’re paying the AMC $35,000 for 1.6 acres of land near Howard St, Anita Burque $85,00 for 58 acres, and $185,000 to David Nichols for 36.49 acres. (All of these are technically eminent domain “taking,” but all the participants are willing.)
  • Early Voting: This was the first election that allowed Worcesterites to vote early at polling places. 25% of votes were cast early.
  • More Tax Breaks for Seniors: The Manager is asking the Council to vote to double the property tax exemption available for certain residents older than 70, from $700 to $1400. He anticipates 411 Worcesterites would be eligible. (AFAIK this doubling is something which happened last year also.)
  • OPEB: The city reports that our liability for Other Post-Employment Benefits for retired city workers went up 10% in the previous fiscal year.
  • Street Changes: The Planning Board recommends the Council approve a petition from Craig Blais asking that part of Pond St be removed from the official map (as part of a development project).
  • Mount Carmel Next Week: Although it’s on this week’s agenda, the item about creating a “historic district” around Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be tabled till next week, as there’s so much finance stuff to discuss this week.

Worcester School Meetings This Week

(Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.)

There are two Worcester school meetings this week of interest:

The Worcester School Committee Finance and Operations subcommittee meets Monday at 5:30 (that’s at the administration building, 4th floor); the agenda is here.

This is the first quarter meeting, so it closes out FY16, updates FY17 in full, and with accounts of particular concern…which are concerning. It’s only the end of the first quarter, so there are no recommended transfers as yet, but currently FY17 for WPS stands at over $700,000 projected in the red. The reasons are telling:

  • The loss of the state kindergarten grant when the Legislature cut it for this year: $694,132
  • Special education tuition beyond anticipated: $442,912
  • supplemental programs, in largest part additional need for translation due to updated Department of Justice requirements (hey, did we know anything about that?): $264,529
  • transportation, due to the city not increasing capital spending, and thus WPS having to cut back on needed new buses (and rent instead): $130,468

That, of course, adds up to more than $700,000; if you look at the report, you’ll see projected balances, as well. But this isn’t a good place to end the first quarter on. And the first snow falls tomorrow.

And do notice how many of those have to do with the state needing to update the foundation budget.

There’s a report on the MSBA-funded work done in WPS since 2012. A question of interest: the reimbursement comes back to the city; has the city been using the funds to pay off the MSBA-related borrowing? Or has it gone into the general fund?

Finally, there’s a response to Mr. O’Connell’s query regarding the signing of warrants. The full letter from City Solicitor David Moore is here. To say that this has rather startling policy implications, if fulfilled, would be an understatement, as Mr. Moore goes well beyond the municipal charter–which is in line with Lowell and Cambridge’s charters, where committees sign warrants–into querying the position the school committee holds in state law (and drawing conclusions I will say that I have seen nowhere else).  He also never speaks of ch. 71, section 34, which is where the authority is derived. I also find the tone of polite horror at school committees having to sign off on every expenditure a little entertaining, as it’s done in nearly every district in the state (yes, including cities).

The full Committee meets Thursday at 7 at City Hall; the agenda is here. The report of the superintendent will be on expanding preschool; there is as yet no posted backup.

There are reports of subcommittees, appointments, retirements, congratulations.

Mr. O’Connell requests a salary schedule.

Noting the update on school improvement plans that passed this past year, he also is asking for a process of consultation on school improvement plans.

Administration is requesting the School Committee accept $1700 in donations to Goddard Scholars.

Miss Biancheria would like to know how principals are evaluated.

She also is requesting that buildings be inspected with regard to: water systems, foundations, leaking roofs, heating systems, and
wrapped pipes…sounds rather like the facilities plan noted in the subcommittee report.

Miss Colorio would like all teachers and other licensed personnel renewed through “the new data base tool from DESE” by which I assume she means this, which is just a database, not a new way to renew.

She also would like a robocall to go out on the recovery high school and on Worcester Opiate Educational Forum.

There are two prior year invoices, including one for $74,967.76 for special education transportation services.

There is an executive session: the teachers and the IAs are still in negotiations (hm…nobody else?), they’re going to talk about PCBs some more, and there’s a lawsuit: Lyons v. the Worcester Public Schools. That’s at 6 pm, prior to the meeting.

Preview: City Council agenda (December 6)

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

This week: Tiny houses, marijuana regulation. If you care about these issues, it would be appropriate for you to show up and speak for a couple minutes at the beginning of the meeting. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

In other meeting news, at 5:30pm December 7 the Planning Board will meet to discuss Brady Sullivan’s site plan for redeveloping the old courthouse. The Worcester Community-Labor Coalition has been putting pressure on city government around this, wanting various concessions and noting many concerns other cities have had about them. If you are concerned with any of these issues, this would be an appropriate place to speak out.

  • Library Board: The Council will be choosing 2 new members of the Library Board of Directors.
  • Economic Development Report: The quarterly report highlights the WRTA vacating its Grove St location (making it available for other uses), improvements to Union Station, 365 anticipated “luxury housing rental units” at CitySquare, UMass Memorial Health Care expanding their downtown presence 25%, and the decades-vacant South Worcester Industrial Park finally getting sold off and built up.
  • Private and Public Streets: Hilltop Group Holdings has petitioned the Council to make Denmark St a public street (maintained by the city etc).
  • Tiny Houses: The Council’s Municipal Operations Committee is asking the Manager to recommend new regulations “to include the trending use of tiny houses, granny pods and home medical pods.”
  • Stop Parking on the Sidewalk: Municipal Operations also wants the city to start cracking down on people parking on sidewalks.
  • Mounted Police: The Public Safety Committee wants the Worcester Police Department to get some horses.
  • Dirt Bikes on Streets: The police have had a special unit cracking down on people using off-road vehicles on the street. Public Safety says they did a great job. I saw some people speeding down Piedmont Street Friday, before that I hadn’t seen any of this activity for a month or two.
  • Marijuana Regulations: Mayor Petty wants a report from the city’s lawyers on “all possible options” for regulating marijuana sales in the city. Councilor Lukes wants to know if we can prohibit marijuana sales completely.
  • Wind-Blown Recyclables: Councilor Rosen wants the Manager to come up with a plan to revise our recycling system. The latest plan I’ve noticed is to have people put out their recycling in transparent trash bags, rather than in open bins where paper and bottles blow around the streets, get soaked by rain, etc. This is like the third time in recent months I’ve seen an item like this, I don’t understand why this is dragging on.
  • Traffic Tech in Newton Square: Councilor Rosen wants us to “use new and innovative pedestrian safety technologies” to make it easier for pedestrians to transit the traffic circle at Newton Square.
  • City Bond Rating Improves: Councilor Lukes wants there to be discussion of the city’s bond rating, which determines how cheaply we can borrow money. Two of the agencies rating us have us stable, the third has given us the highest bond rating from them we’ve ever had. Good news! Councilor Lukes wants more information on the many ways this might impact city government in the coming year, even things like “the eminent domain powers available to the WRA.”
  • Simpler Leaf Disposal: Currently, you can rake your leaves into the gutter on a certain day, and city street sweepers will remove them that week. Currently you have to be on the ball and know which week is the week for your street; Councilor Bergman wants you to generally be able to ditch your leaves on November 1 and not have to worry about all the complications.
  • Mt. Carmel Historic District: Municipal Operations wants there to be a Historic District established around Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which very recently the diocese wanted to demolish and sell, a plan put on hold after great outcry from politicians and the public. Currently the church is being repaired and a foundation is being established to maintain the building for the long term.

Preview: City Council agenda (October 18)

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

This week: Not too much on the agenda. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • War Memorials: Over the next month, the downtown Vietnam Veterans and EX-POW memorials, currently adjacent to Notre Dame church, will be renovated and moved to the Franklin Street side of the Common.
  • Crosswalk Crackdown: Councilor Toomey has an item asking whether we can raise the fines “for violating pedestrian right of way in crosswalks.” At the moment I would guess maybe 10% of Worcester drivers are good about stopping for someone to use a crosswalk.
  • Home Businesses: Councilor Lukes has an item asking for a list “of all home businesses in the city” and various questions about what we require of them. What percentage of home businesses in Worcester do you think are actually registered with the city? This item reminds me of the recent debates about Airbnb in Worcester.
  • New Main Street Mural?: The people who own the parking lot across from the Palladium want to put up murals on retaining walls abutting the lot. The Council needs to approve an easement. Councilor Lukes has concerns and has tabled this item “under privilege” until this week.
  • A Tangent: Since Worcester has had various debates about new services like Uber and Airbnb in recent years, a recent US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision may interest those who read these Council notes. The Court ruled that Chicago is allowed to have different regulations for Uber vs. taxis, and could refrain from regulating Uber at all. The decision is by the legendary Judge Richard Posner and worth reading if you care about this stuff. I liked this paragraph, in which he makes an argument I wish the Worcester City Council would take more seriously: “‘Property’ does not include a right to be free from competition. A license to operate a coffee shop doesn’t authorize the licensee to enjoin a tea shop from opening. When property consists of a license to operate in a market in a particular way, it does not carry with it a right to be free from competition in that market. A patent confers an exclusive right to make and sell the patented product, but no right to prevent a competitor from inventing a noninfringing substitute product that erodes the patentee’s profits. Indeed when new technologies, or new business methods, appear, a common result is the decline or even disappearance of the old. Were the old deemed to have a constitutional right to preclude the entry of the new into the markets of the old, economic progress might grind to a halt. Instead of taxis we might have horse and buggies; instead of the telephone, the telegraph; instead of computers, slide rules. Obsolescence would equal entitlement.”

Preview: City Council agenda (September 20)

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

This week: Lots of changes in parking, improving snow removal. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Street Changes: There are lots of street changes on the agenda. Two of the bigger ones: Hana Lasell requests speed bumps etc on “Ruth St. and the surrounding streets of Van St. and Underwood St.” Michelle Medeiross resident-only parking on the block of Sterling St. between Harlem St. and Fairfax Rd., “both sides, twenty four (24) hours a day and seven (7) days a week”.
  • Hazardous Waste Disposal Day: Worcester residents will have the opportunity to get rid of hazardous waste properly on Saturday, October, 2016. More info.
  • Worcester-EPA Agreement: The city and the EPA have long been in conflict over Worcester’s polluting the Blackstone. We now have an agreement with the EPA that will allow us to create an “integrated plan” for dealing with these impacts. It will be years before the plan is done. Reading this report, I have no idea how to judge this agreement.
  • Snow Removal: The Manager has a report noting that the city did a bad job dealing with snow last year. They have various plans to do a better job, basically making more equipment and personnel available.
  • Regulating Zoning of City Nonprofits: Last week, Councilor Bergman had an item about “enacting legislation to regulate and restrict non-profit organizations in residentially zoned districts.” I noted that this item seems to come up all the time and lead to nothing. This week, the City Manager has a report noting that this item last came up about a year ago and is still on the agenda of one of the Council committees.

Preview: City Council agenda (September 13)

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

This week: Homeless encampments, the mural menace, drought. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Nuisance Bus Stop: Daniel and Cindy Phan ask the city to relocate the bus stop in front of their home at 208 Pleasant St. There’s a whole litany of complaints here, but the bus stop one in particular is interesting—I haven’t noticed anyone complain about a public bus stop before.
  • Official Homeless Site: The Public Health Committee (Petty, Rivera, Economou, Mero-Carlson) wants the Manager to issue a report on what a Worcester “sanction site” might look like, a place homeless people could camp at legally and officially, with showers, medical clinic visits, etc. The City Manager has clarified that this is not going to happen, this is just part of the discussion of what to do about existing homeless camps. Currently, there are around 90 people in the summer (and 20 in the winter) living outside in the city behind houses, in the woods, and anywhere else they can find.
  • Maximum Lukes: Recently, an international group of artists came to the city and, with official support, created a bunch of huge, stunning murals downtown. Councilor Lukes, as is her wont, intends to spend the city’s time nitpicking this majestic achievement. Her agenda item, in full: “Request City Manager report on process for selection of murals in the city pursuant to the PowWow Worcester event, including the funding and funding sources, what type of juried process was followed, whether a further event with the same selection process will be held, how the participating artists were selected, the address of the artists, what payments were made for the benefit of artists, why more local artists did not participate, and what kind of outreach to the public, property owners and art community was followed, how long will the murals be shown and what kind and cost of maintenance is planned.”
  • Restricting Group Homes etc: Councilor Bergman has an item on “enacting legislation to regulate and restrict non-profit organizations in residentially zoned districts.” Currently state law allows non-profits to buy residential properties and use them in ways consistent with their missions. The Council has been trying to restrict these uses for a long time with no luck. Councilor Bergman knows zoning as well as anybody, so perhaps he has a new idea in mind here.
  • Stage 3 Drought: The Manager has a report on the drought. Usually our reservoirs are at 81.7% at this time of year; currently they are at 55%. Watering your yard, washing your driveway, etc are prohibited.
  • Wage Theft: Mayor Petty and Councilor King have an item asking the city to stop awarding contracts to employers guilty of wage theft.
  • Banning Leaving Free Stuff on the Curb: There’s a proposed ordinance that would clarify city law such that leaving stuff on the sidewalk with a “free” sign would be considered illegal dumping.
  • Dogs in Parks: This agenda item is back again this week.

Preview: City Council agenda (August 16)

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

This week: Dog park, Airbnb, dumping, Pokémon Go. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Proposed Police Hearings: Local activist Gordon Davis wants the city to hold hearings regarding “broken windows,” “stop and frisk,” body cameras, etc. I’m noting this request here because for all the protests etc around this stuff, these issues only rarely appear before our local elected officials in written, actionable form.
  • The Right to Defend Your Good Name: Local activist Susan Serpa wants a new rule so that when a city official insults a member of the public during a public meeting, that citizen would be granted two minutes to argue in their defense.
  • Boards and Committees: John Amoah and Timothy Quinn have been appointed to the Mayor Thomas Early Scholarship Fund Committee. Meaghan Hardy-Lavoie and Hank VonHellion have been appointed to the Worcester Arts Council.
  • Trash: The Commissioner of Public Works reports that in June the city cleaned 155 sites, hauled away 30 tons of trash from public areas, removed 76 instances of graffiti or stickers, hauled off 30 abandoned vehicles and 4 shopping carts, and issued 11 related citations for $3900.
  • Dog Park: We now have a master plan for dogs in parks. If passed, the plan would allow dogs on leashes in most parks, and would make it a little easier for us to have an actual off-leash dog park somewhere. Many more details at the end of this post.
  • Elm Park Construction Done: The city’s 5-year, $6 million upgrade of Elm Park is done.
  • Tax Breaks for Senior Housing: The administration has responded to Councilor Bergman’s proposal for the city to exempt from property tax anything built or improved for housing a senior relative of the property owner, this exemption lasting as long as the person lives there. First, this is already an option under current law. By a simple vote of the Council, we could give up to a $500 break for this (equivalent to no taxes on a $25,000 upgrade). Second, if we wanted to give larger tax breaks, we’d have to ask the state legislature to take action; it’s not something the Council could do. It’s likely the Council will ask to raise the limit.
  • Airbnb Crackdown: The administration presents possible legislation that would give the Council more control over Airbnb renting in the city. The first piece would make it clear you can still rent rooms to people if they’re renting for more than 30 days. The second piece would require a license (and presumably fees) to rent to someone for less than 30 days. The City Manager encourages the Council to have some public hearings as part of the process, both because this is a relatively new issue and because, administratively, there are a lot of moving parts.
  • Overdoses: We have a report warning that August and September are historically months with lots of overdoses. We’re currently on track to have about as many opiod overdoses in 2016 as we did in 2015. It’s nice the number isn’t going up, but it’s a high number. Police and fire administered narcan (anti-overdose medicine) about 150 times in 2016 so far. We had 2 overdose deaths in July, and 89 suspected overdose incidents. Most repeat incidents are happening on Main Street, Chandler/Madison Street, or at the library. If you want to learn to use narcan, there’s a free class August 23, 5:30pm, at the library. Last year I got some narcan and took a class, and I’m glad I did. Now when I see someone passed out on the sidewalk I can give their foot a little tap to see if they’re responsive. I haven’t narcanned anyone so far. Our Department of Public Health is doing a bunch of education on drugs, but it’s not yet clear what effect this has had.
  • More Dumping: The city’s “Quality of Life Taskforce” has a report on how they’re responding to neighborhood problems and homelessness. There is a ton of info in this report. Some highlights: They’ve removed 395 tons of dumped junk in the past year and issued $8000 of fines. They have installed cameras to record activity in areas with frequent dumping, so they can catch more dumpers. They have 2 proposed ordinances that would increase city fines for dumping. On the homelessness side, they have identified 80 camps of homeless people and are doing outreach to them.
  • Marijuana: Councilor Gaffney would like a local law restricting public weed smoking just as we restrict public drinking.
  • Jaywalking: Councilor Gaffney asks the city’s law department what we can do to crack down on jaywalking. (Every time I walk around the city, I am so glad we can freely jaywalk; every time I drive I am driven nuts by people wandering slowly back and forth across busy streets.)
  • Water Street: Councilor Lukes would like to see us try “traffic calming” strategies on Water Street on weekends, like making some areas pedestrian-only.
  • Architectural Review: Councilor Lukes would like to see there be an “architectural review” phase of new public buildings and new construction by developers getting tax breaks.
  • Pokémon Go: Delayed from last week. Councilor Lukes has an item asking if we can use Pokémon Go “as a teaching tool regarding current public events and city historical monuments and buildings,” and also asking if there are “negative and dangerous aspects of the game and whether police oversight is required.”
  • Outsourcing the Parks: Delayed from last week. Councilor Lukes has an item asking for a pilot program to outsource “maintenance of a large city park.”

Dog Park Notes

Master Plan includes a number of key recommendations that include the following:

  • An Ordinance amendment that includes: Changes to where dogs are allowed on leash; Sunset Provision that requires a review of the program after two years; Changes to licensing of dogs, license fees, and tightly controlled off leash locations; Locations still off limits to dogs even on a leash; Provisions for the City Manager to manage this revised ordinance
  • New policies and operational protocols: To support the new ordinance change that will require DPW & P to develop operational and management protocols to ensure successful integration of the dogs and their owners into the public park landscape
  • Establishment of a Friends of Worcester Dog Parks: To support the new dog related facilities and be an advisory group to the Parks & Recreation Commission
  • Public outreach: To market and inform the public of the new ordinance, new facilities, and updated rule and regulations
  • Installation of new park elements to support access by owners/dogs will include: New signage to support the new ordinance; Two types of new off leash facilities (Type A – lower costs to allow facilities to be developed on a smaller footprint with basic amenities. Some of these could include second phase of work as funding becomes available; Type B – higher costs with a more elaborate and expansive program, larger footprint, and more amenities)