Category Archives: City Council Meeting Preview

Preview: City Council agenda (July 22)

The City Council meets Tuesday, July 22 at 6 pm. The agenda is here. Because summer Council meetings are rare, the agendas are huge: my original highlights list had 32 items. I’ve left out most of the items that will be discussed further in committee.

There’s a rally before the meeting at 5pm. “Community Unity Rally Against Racism.” This is in response to the noose displayed at the downtown post office. (T&G article.) The feds are investigating the noose, and the Council will be voting on a resolution asking the US Attorney General to get involved.

The Worcester Community-Labor Coalition is asking people to show up at the meeting in support of holding “public hearings starting in September on charter change and that at the conclusion of the hearings take a vote on holding an election to let the voters decide Worcester’s future.” “Charter change” in this case would mean switching from our current City Manager-run government to a Mayor-run government.

  • City of Worcester Veterans Square Project: The Council is honoring Worcester Police Officer Sean M. Lovely, Sr. for creating the worcvs.org website.
  • The Worcester Revolution of 1774: Randall Orno wants a plaque at Main & Exchange “to commemorate September 6, 1774 when the representatives of King George were escorted out of Worcester, which ended up being a significant factor in the Battle of Lexington & Concord six months later.” More on the Worcester Revolution.
  • Asian Longhorned Beetles: “Anthony Maloney et al request to stop the removal of 500 ALB host trees” in Green Hill Park “that are not yet infected by the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Instead, treat the unaffected trees with Imidacloprid, which is well documented to kill the beetle and prevent infestation.” The counter-argument here is that this chemical is bad for bees and other bugs.
  • Gender Identity: There’s an item which will expand the Human Rights Commissions’ purview to include gender identity, to create a “gender identity and expression policy” for the City, and to require all vendors we do business with to have similar policies.
  • Crime Stats: The Council will officially receive a report stating that arrests are up and crime is down. T&G story.
  • Senior Center Heroes: The Council will honor Matthew Sullivan and Brandi Manca of QCC, who operate a cafe at the Senior Center where they train students, and who have dealt ably with three medical emergencies there in recent months.
  • The Unused Field at Boynton Park: The Council wants the City Manager to come up with a plan for this.
  • Olympics: Councilor Rosen wants the City to tell Boston we’re willing to partner in their bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • City Seal: Councilor Toomey wants the Law Department to say whether people can use takeoffs of the City Seal. I don’t know what this is about. People using takeoffs of the City Seal include at least one local blogger and one e-cigarette store. In another item, Councilor Bergman would like flags with the City Seal flown in our parks.
  • Pedestrian Safety: Councilor Lukes wants a pedestrian safety pilot program in Webster Square. This would be based on programs in other cities which have free flags!
  • City E-mail Signatures: From Councilor Economou: “Request City Manager consider all City e-mail signatures include the following, in an effort to self-promote our community: 'One of the Top 10 Largest Metro Cities to Raise a Family - Forbes 2014'.”
  • Sex Offenders: Councilors Bergman and Rivera are asking about legal issues regarding limiting where “Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders” can live.
  • City Manager Search: Item 17a notes that the City Councilors are meeting with consultants [T&G link these last few days, ranking candidates for City Manager.
  • Uncle Sam’s: “22q. REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON TRAFFIC AND PARKING Upon the Petition of Dheyaa Al Khamees of Uncle Sam request 15 minute parking for business at 151 Pleasant St.: recommend Petition be denied.”

Preview: City Council agenda (June 17)

The City Council meets Tuesday, June 17 at 7 pm. The agenda is here. Here are some other items that jumped out at me.

  • Library Board: Candidates for an open spot on the Library Board will be speaking before the Council. A new member will be voted in next week.
  • Obama: Bill Coleman wants the City (item 9j) to put up a plaque at Tech High to commemorate Obama’s commencement speech.
  • Bus changes: Beloved gadfly Jo Hart has an item (9l) requesting the city take out a front-page ad in the T&G any day there are bus changes. I’m skeptical about this idea as compared to, say, text alerts.
  • Board of Health: There are more items regarding the City Manager’s efforts to make our Board of Health a regulatory, rather than advisory, board. These items are scheduled to go to committee, which is the best place for you to comment if you care about this issue. T&G article.
  • DCU: There’s at least one $2.2 million finance item regarding rehabbing the DCU Center. The City Manager would like to borrow millions more for this and related projects. T&G article.
  • Meeting rules changes: The Council is expected to approve some changes in the ways meetings happen. The changes include:
    • “That when scheduling Standing Committee Meetings, that they be
      conducted after regular working hours, as often as possible, for the
      convenience of the public”.
    • That if you come to a meeting wanting to speak, you should speak at the beginning of the meeting, even if you’re addressing an item to be discussed much later in the meeting.
  • Maps: Councilor Toomey has an item requesting that the city talk “with the various online mapping and directional agencies” to make sure that changes to our streets are reflected in the digital world.
  • More Obama: Councilor Lukes wants the School Department to pay for part of the police costs associated with Obama giving the commencement speech at Worcester Tech High School.
  • Crystal Pond cleanup: Councilor Rivera wants there to be a “cleanup of the pond in University Park (formerly known as Crystal Park).”
  • No dogs in the parks: Councilor Rivera additionally wants there to be “No Dogs Allowed” and “No Littering” signs in our parks.
  • NDAA: The City Council is expected (item 13a) to ditch (“file”) a citizen request that it speak out against certain parts of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains troubling attacks on our civil liberties. The Council is very capable of taking stands on non-municipal issues like this when it wants to.

Preview: City Council Meeting (Jan 14)

The City Council meets Tuesday, January 14 at 7 pm. The agenda is here

Under Public Petitions, Jo Hart, Council gadfly, calls out the Council’s longstanding practice of using supplemental agenda items and of bringing up practically anything under suspension at the end of their meetings: 

7f.  Jo Hart request Mayor and City Manager, in fairness to the public and in support of the Open Meeting Law, immediately cease the current practice of bringing up items not on the current agenda at City Council meetings, including items under suspension of rules and supplemental items.

Councilor Lukes (8c) is asking about the properties owned and run by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority (WRA) and how much it’s costing the city. 

The city administration requested a 30-year lease of the ground-floor space of the Union Station Garage for the WRA (9b/10a). The WRA would then sublet the space for commercial use. The administration says that the RFP process has been a hindrance in finding a tenant for the space, and that the WRA can negotiate with tenants in a way the city cannot. Some city councilors expressed concerns about the length of the lease (30 years) to the WRA. This was held (by Councilor Lukes) from last week’s meeting; expect another lively discussion.

Councilor Economou (8j) is pushing for better public notification about postponed meetings (due to lack of quorum) and postponed items.

And Lukes is calling for an immediate process on getting a new permanent city manager (8l).

For those interested in smart meters, the Zoning Board of Appeals meets tonight at 5:30 in the Levi Lincoln chamber at City Hall regarding National Grid’s proposed project.

The WRTA Transit Advisory Board meets Thursday at 8:30 am at 60 Foster Street.

At the last City Council Rules Committee, City Clerk Rushford agreed to start posting what is called the “Pending List” for all the City Council Committees. The pending list is the list of items referred to the Committee which are waiting to be discussed.  You can now find the pending list for each committee next to that committee’s archived agendas.

 

Preview: City Council Meeting (Jan 7)

Augustus Sworn In
Ed Augustus, who officially became Worcester City Manager at midnight Sunday, will be publicly sworn in at 6 pm before the City Council meeting.

New Councilors Beginning their first terms on Council at Tuesday’s meeting are

  • Gary Rosen, District 5
  • Moe Bergman, At Large
  • Michael Gaffney, At Large

The first meeting of the year for the Worcester City Council is tomorrow night. As it is a new term, the Councilors will start the meeting by drawing for their seats, approving their rules, and voting to publish their rules.

On the agenda:

  • a request from a member of the public that commercial property owners get a tax deduction if they clear their own snow.
  • $1.4 million coming in from the EPA for brownfield clean ups
  • changes to CitySquare, including use of Parcel F for public open space (until it is built) and a change in the fee structure for the third permit fee of $1 million
  • as already mentioned by Nicole, the DPW is suggesting a dog park for Green Hill Park. If this is something you’re interested in, you’ll want to come and testify or get in touch with your councilors.
  •  new councilors filing orders: Rosen brings up PILOT again; all three new councilors on Tatnuck Square; Gaffney on other post employment benefits (OPEB); Bergman looking for more credit card parking meters, market rate housing downtown, and he joins Palmieri and Rivera on items on graffiti
  • Lukes is asking for clarification on the Open Meeting Law specifically on councilors communicating with each other and councilors spending time together socially.
  • Rivera and Palmieri also have the first of the annual shoveling items.

Preview: City Council meeting (April 23)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013. Esther Howland Chamber, City Hall. 7:00 P.M. Agenda.

  • Slot machines: Our story so far–the state is going to authorize someone to put in a slot machine casino somewhere. A company wants to put it in Worcester. After the City Manager makes a proposal to the company (what will they do to help the city deal with the inevitable problems), there will be a vote where Worcesterites can decide if they like the deal. The Council will be voting on whether they want the Manager to engage in this process at all. Also there are other citizen petitions on the issue. Also some people are concerned that councilors may have been discussing the issue illegally outside of the official meetings. The T&G has a good wrapup of all that. If you are pro or anti-slots, this is a good meeting to attend.
  • Let’s get this show on the road: There’s a citizen petition that the Council moves petitions through the process in a timely manner. “Cecilia Mason et al request that all petitions filed before City Council and upon referral of any and all petitions to the proper committee, board, commission or any other body of the City Council shall not remain in any committee, board, commission or any other body of the City Council for more that 90 days and request all City Councilors or city employees refrain from the practice of prioritizing any and all petitions and to afford every petitioner the right to be heard fairly, impartially and in a timely manner of 60 days as stipulated in rule 51 of the Rules of City Council.”
  • Taping more city meetings: A related “order” from two councilors: “Request City Council amend the the Rules of the City Council to require all Regular, Special and Emergency meetings of the City Council and its Standing, Ad-Hoc and Joint Committees be videotaped regardless of the location in which they are conducted in order to provide more complete community access. (Rivera, Economou)”
  • The Council will be notified of the herbicide application schedules of MassDOT, Pan Am Railways, and other organizations.
  • More about the WRA: As has been mentioned in this email several times, there has been an ongoing effort to revitalize the City’s WRA, which would seem to compete with the non-governmental WBDC. From the City Manager this week: “Transmitting Informational Communication Relative to an Update of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority.”

Preview: Worcester City Council (March 19)

This week’s meeting: billboards, city census, CitySquare, slot machines, litigation, SWIP, and possibly the Theater District Master Plan. Agenda.

  • Ad company wants to make I-290 billboard digital: “Transmitting correspondence received from Lamar Advertising notifying of their intention to submit applications to the Outdoor Advertising Board requesting to convert from static to digital on its west facing billboard structure on I-290 located at 28 Garden St. and on both faces of the billboard structure located on I-290 near Route 146 and 45 McKeon Rd.
  • City Census and Absentee Ballots: Every year the City expects you to mail them a census form, or reply via their website, telling them you have not moved and should still be counted as an active voter at your address. According to a report from the City Clerk that will be presente to the Council, in recent years somewhere between a quarter and a half of Worcester’s voters have been on the “inactive” list. Another report shows that somewhere between 1% and 5% of Worcester votes are absentee.
  • CitySquare/Notre Dame: Economic Development Committee is recommending that the old Notre Dame Church and property be allowed to be added to “the CitySquare Priority Development Site”.
  • Gambling: A company wants to build a slot machine casino and hotel on the old Wyman-Gordon property near the Green Island neighborhood. There is lots of opposition, some from people who think this sort of gambling enterprise will hurt the city, some from people concerned that a new hotel there would damage the chances of getting a fancy new hotel downtown. There are three City Council items on this, including one proposing public hearings, and another (from Konnie Lukes) wanting to make it clear that anti-casino comments are allowed at these hearings.
  • Litigation: Looks like the Council might recess to a non-public Executive Session to discuss “pending litigation.”
  • South Worcester Industrial Park: For more than 18 years now, the powers-that-be have been trying to get someone to do something with the large SWIP parcel of land. The latest: the Economic Development Committee recommends that parcels within SWIP be designated “Specific Economic Opportunity Areas”.
  • The Theater District Master Plan: Tracy Novick has the details. This was introduced but tabled at the last Council meeting. It will likely be discussed this week. If you have an opinion about whether the Library parking lot should be turned into a hockey rink or something potentially more interesting, today would be a good day to contact your City Councilors. The plan will likely be sent to a City Council committee for more discussion. Nicole Apostola notes that the public hearings had almost no effect on the (possibly) final wording of the plan.

City Council Preview: Urban Renewal Edition

This week: medical marijuana, panhandling, urban renewal, and the Willis Center. If you’d like to get these previews in your email, subscribe here.

1. Medical marijuana

2. Reports on panhandling

3. Rebooting the Worcester Redevelopment Authority

4. Helping Firefighters with anti-panhandling restrictions

5. Willis Center closing controversy

6. Worcester’s third anti-panhandling plan

7. “Open Space” meeting

8. “Theater District” meeting

Continue reading City Council Preview: Urban Renewal Edition

Worcester City Council agenda preview

Some highlights (such as they are) from this week’s Worcester City Council agenda. Narcan, new sports fields at Lake Park, a dog park, mixed-use zoning downtown, a tweak to Council rules.

* Item 7f: Billy Breault continues his narcan follow-up. Mr. Breault is a neighborhood activist who’s opposed things like medical marijuana an used-syringe disposal boxes. In this case, he opposes ordinary people possessing narcan. If someone is overdosing on heroin, you can stick them with narcan and it’ll save their life.

For the past couple years, narcan’s been distributed in Worcester, and Mr. Breault has been bird-dogging the issue with various petitions to the City Council.

Item text: ” William Breault on behalf of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety request City Council request the City Manager provide a report concerning the city’s policy for dealing with the distribution of Naloxone (narcan) at so called “911 Good Samaritan Law” pilot sites in Worcester and if no policy is in place request the City Manager make recommendations and report as to the role the State Department of Public Health has in the development and implementation of this program in Worcester.”

* Item 8a: Should the City lease Lake Park from the state and build athletic fields there?

Item text: “Recommend Adoption of an Order with the General Court to Authorize the Department of Conservation and Recreation to Utilize the City of Worcester to Create and Operate a Football/Soccer Field at the Lake Avenue Park.”

More from Worcester Magazine.

* Item 9b: Could we have a dog park in Worcester?

Item text: “Request City Manager update City Council concerning the feasibility of designating a dog park in the city. (Rivera)”

* Item 9f: Downtown zoning. Konnie Lukes is asking if we could make zoning changes to get more mixed-use development downtown.

Item text: “Request City Manager review zoning ordinances for downtown Worcester to consider a change from business only to mixed residential and business for the purpose of encouraging mixed use of buildings located in downtown. (Lukes)”

The CitySquare development is supposed to have lots of mixed-use stuff, but some people are concerned because so far there has been a lot of not-mixed-use construction.

* Item 9i: A City Council rules change. Last week there was a Joint Committee meeting (on panhandling) and Konnie Lukes was on both committees that made up the Joint Committee, so when it was time to make a decision she got two votes. Here, she’s asking for a Joint Committee to be treated like one big committee, in which case she would have gotten only one vote.

“Request City Council consider amending Council Rules to allow a joint committee to act as an Ad Hoc committee for the purpose of hearing and voting on joint referrals with each committee member casting a single vote for each jointly referred agenda item, rather than casting a vote for each jointly referred item as a member of each separate standing committee. (Lukes)”

A Worcester paramedic on narcan:

Some highlights from other municipal meetings this week:
Zoning Board of Appeals – Monday, 1/7 at 5:30pm – agenda
They’ll be discussing a proposal to convert 371 and 379 Main Street to 60 units of market-rate housing, at least half of which will be used by MCPHS students.
More from Worcester Magazine.

Election Commission – Monday, 1/7 at 6:00pm – agenda
Among other things, they will be discussing the rate of people who do not return the annual street listing (“city census”).

City Council Economic Development Committee – Tuesday, 1/8 at 5:30pm – agenda
They’ll be discussing the proposed streetscaping and urban design guidelines for downtown and the Canal District.

Historical Commission, Thursday, 1/10, at 5:30pm – agenda
They will be considering whether to grant demolition delay waivers on the complete demolition of the following buildings. If they don’t grant the waiver, the owners have to wait a full year before tearing down the building:
332 Main Street (The Central Building; next to the Commerce Building) more info
70 Elm Street (Gardner Paine House)