Construction Announcement: Sixth Street Road Closure – Begins Apr. 22

The following announcement is from Chris Neil, the Community Relations Manager for the City of Cambridge Deptartment of Public Works. – Tim

Location and Impact:

Sixth Street will be closing between Cambridge Street and Otis Street from both directions during general working hours. Abutters will maintain access.

Dates:

Beginning April 22, 2014 and continuing for about 2 weeks.

Description of Activity:

As part of the mitigation plan for the private development project at 22 Water Street, the developer, in collaboration with the City of Cambridge, will enhance the drain system on Sixth Street from Cambridge Street to Otis Street. The work is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 22 and is expected to be completed within 2 weeks.

During this work, Sixth Street will be closed between Cambridge Street and Otis Street from both directions during general work hours, but abutters will maintain access. General work hours will be from 7AM to 4PM, Monday through Friday. “No Parking” signs will be posted in advance of construction.

Please be sure to check posted signs for exact date and times. The two handicap parking spaces that are currently located in the work area will be relocated within the same block on Sixth Street, between Cambridge Street and Otis Street.

Notices were distributed to area residents earlier this morning. If you have any questions about the work, please reach out to the City of Cambridge Department of Public Works on their Twitter feed @CambridgeDPW, visit their Facebook page, or contact my staff on 617-722-2380.

A handmade bowl. A hearty meal. A way to help.

Join me on Saturday April 12, 2014 for the inaugural Empty Bowls benefit at Mudflat Studio in Somerville to help support Food for Free, a nonprofit organization that rescues and distributes fresh food to more than 80 food programs in Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Medford, Peabody, and Somerville. Enjoy delicious soup, bread and beverages provided by beloved local establishments to the tunes of Alembic and Tony Leva. In addition to the food and music, your tickets include beautiful ceramic bowls that are handcrafted and donated by Mudflat artisans and their students. I hope to see you there!

Individual tickets are $15 if you purchase them in advance or $18 at the door. For Families of four or more, tickets are $50 dollars if you buy them in advance and $60 at the door. Visit this link if you want to buy tickets in advance or if you wish to make a donation to Food for Free.

To learn more about Food for Free’s Work, please visit www.foodforfree.org/produce-rescue-program.

Tim

Massachusetts House unanimously passes anti-shackling legislation

The following is taken from a press release from the Speaker of the House, Robert A. DeLeo’s Office. The bill prohibits shackling of pregnant inmates and mandates proper prenatal, labor and delivery care – Tim

(BOSTON) – Representative Tim Toomey joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass a bill that prohibits the shackling of pregnant women after their first trimester and forbids the use of certain restraints on a pregnant or postpartum inmate.

This bill ensures that all incarcerated women have access to labor and delivery care in an accredited hospital and requires that they are afforded with a minimum of a forty-eight hour hospital stay following delivery. Additionally, under this legislation, all inmates must receive prenatal, delivery and postpartum care including dietary and nutritional care.

“The practice of shackling pregnant inmates is bad for mothers, bad for children, and with the exception of some rare and extreme cases, serves no useful purpose in the criminal justice system,” said Representative Tim Toomey (D-Cambridge). “We cannot expect incarcerated women to change their behavior when they are outside of prison if the treatment they receive in prison worsens their physical and mental health and that of their children. I am happy to say that the bill passed by the House will contribute to safer pregnancy outcomes for these prisoners and prevent their children from being punished for crimes they had nothing to do with.”

“This legislation will put Massachusetts’ on the forefront of health care for incarcerated women,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “We have an obligation to ensure that children born to inmates enter this world with the proper care and that mothers receive the resources they need to deliver healthy children. I’m proud that the House took this step which I believe will reduce prevent trauma and physical harm.”

“I am incredibly proud that the House has passed this ‘anti-shackling’ bill and that we are on the path to ensuring this dangerous and unnecessary practice will be eliminated in the Commonwealth,” Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton), Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. “By establishing one uniform standard that protects the health of all pregnant and post-partum incarcerated women, we can reduce physical and psychological traumas in both mothers and children by providing all pregnant inmates with the appropriate medical treatment throughout the pregnancy, during delivery and in post-partum follow-up care.”

The bill also includes the following provisions:

• Requires that pregnant inmates receive written information on child birth, correctional facility policies and practices regarding care and labor, post-discharge planning, medical services and mental health screening and counseling;

• Instructs that if a correction officer is present in the room during the pregnant inmate’s physical examinations, labor or childbirth, the officer shall, if possible, be female. Whenever possible, the correction officer shall be positioned in a location in the room that will ensure, to the extent feasible, patient privacy.

• Provides for the safe transportation of pregnant women to and from medical visits.

The bill passed the House unanimously.

Civil War Preservation Grant Opportunity

The following is taken from a press release from The Massachusetts Sesquicentennial Commission of the Civil War. Please pass along this grant opportunity to anyone you feel might be interested. -Tim

The Massachusetts Sesquicentennial Commission of the Civil War announces the availability of matching funds for the preservation of historic objects, sites, and document collections that are significant to the history of the Civil War. The commission is accepting applications until April 1, 2014.

The program, a partnership of the Sesquicentennial Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, is now in its second cycle.  Earlier this year, the Commission awarded over $91,000 in matching funds to 24 projects across the Commonwealth.

“The preservation aspect of this program is just one more example of how Massachusetts is preserving the past for future generations,” said Robert von Wolfgang, Commission Chair.  “It also clearly serves as a reminder that the Civil War is a lot closer in time than most people think.”

Sean Garballey, state representative from Arlington and West Medford, and appointee to the Commission, commented, “I am proud to play a small part in helping preserve historic Civil War objects, sites, and document collections. Many municipalities have veterans’ memorials and documents which have dilapidated from exposure to the elements.  These grants are a wonderful incentive for communities to take concrete steps to once again honor their residents’ roles in the Civil War.”

The program is open to Massachusetts municipalities and non-profit organizations and provides state matching funds of up to 50 percent of a project’s total cost, but not exceeding $7,500.  Eligible projects may include the renovation, rehabilitation, restoration, or enhancement of existing monuments or memorials relevant to the Civil War and Civil War veterans.  Proposals to construct new markers for historically significant sites will also be considered.  Also, eligibility was recently expanded to include preservation or digitization of historic documents. This will encompass local libraries and towns which may own or seek to acquire documents relevant to the Civil War such as archived records, or letters which may require restoration or digital archiving.

The rolling application period began January 1, 2014 and ends on April 1, 2014.

Application materials may be found on the Sesquicentennial Commission’s website: www.MA150.org/civil-war-preservation-grants

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Cambridge Medical Marijuana Dispensary Application Misrepresented Local Support

Last Friday afternoon I sent a letter to the Department of Public Health in regards to an application to open a medical marijuana dispensary in East Cambridge. The Greeneway Wellness Foundation, which was granted a provisional certificate by the Department on February 1st, intends to open a medical marijuana dispensary at 11 First Street (also known as One First) in the space where Finagle a Bagel currently operates.  Upon reviewing their application, I was disappointed to find it contained many inaccuracies, and I felt the need to set the record straight.  It’s important that people have access to the medication that they need, and incidents like this will only serve to delay that access.  -Tim Toomey

UPDATE: I was informed by The Greeneway in a letter received on Wednesday, Feb. 12, that they are now exploring alternative locations. However, this does not guarantee that this applicant will not continue to pursue One First as a dispensary location. I will be continuing to work with residents, City officials, and Mass DPH to ensure that any dispensary opened in Cambridge is sited in an appropriate, safe location.

UPDATE 2: I received a call Thursday afternoon (2/13) from the attorney representing the Greeneway. They are “no longer interested” in pursuing One First as a location and will be looking at alternative locations in Cambridge that fall within the zoning established for dispensaries. I will continue to monitor this situation until it is officially resolved. -Tim

Dear Commissioner Bartlett,

It is my understanding that the Department of Public Health recently approved The Greeneway Wellness Foundation, Inc. for a provisional license, a step within the medical marijuana licensing framework which allows The Greeneway to pursue local approval to operate a medical marijuana dispensary within the City of Cambridge.  It is also my understanding that the suitability and local support claimed by The Greeneway for their proposed location (11 First Street, Cambridge, also known as One First Street) were heavily weighed by DPH during the approval process.

While I cannot speak for any of the other local officials listed by this applicant in their application as being “in support” of the proposed location, I can unequivocally state that my support for siting a medical marijuana dispensary at One First Street, a residential condominium building, was never given, neither verbally nor in writing.  During the initial phases of the medical marijuana application process, I met with John Greene twice, at which time I acknowledged the general support that the voters of Massachusetts voiced for medical marijuana, and pointed out that Cambridge was in the process of developing guidelines for zoning and permitting medical marijuana dispensaries.  More importantly, I specifically informed Mr. Greene that it was critical for him to do his own due diligence by meeting with residents of One First and the surrounding neighborhood, and that it was important for him to gain the support of local community organizations like the East Cambridge Planning Team before I would ever consider supporting his application.  I provided him with a number of contacts for Cambridge organizations, and to the best of my knowledge he did not use them before his application was submitted.

These inaccuracies are particularly troubling because one of the assurances that DPH made to the public regarding the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program was that local support would be heavily weighted throughout the licensing process.  Of the nine members of the Cambridge City Council, eight members of the Cambridge State Legislative Delegation, dozens of Cambridge neighborhood organizations, and hundreds of residents of One First Street, Mr. Greene supplied one letter of local support (application exhibit 5.4, letter from Councillor Cheung) for his proposed dispensary. I would like to know if this one letter was all that was needed in order for this applicant to earn the application evaluation points needed to designate “local support.”

Furthermore, the City of Cambridge adopted its zoning and permitting ordinances for medical marijuana dispensaries this fall, well before any final decision was made regarding Mr. Greene’s application. One First Street is outside the two districts that were zoned for medical marijuana dispensaries, and to my knowledge, would not comply with the permitting adopted by the City. I would like to know whether these facts were ever considered, or even known by DPH when the decision was made to approve this application.

The voters of Cambridge, both as a whole and within my legislative district, have been strongly supportive of allowing medical marijuana in the Commonwealth.  While other cities and towns tried (unsuccessfully) to ban medical marijuana altogether, Cambridge thoughtfully and efficiently updated our zoning and permitting laws to ensure that patients could gain access to their medicine as soon as it was feasible. It is for that reason in particular that I am disappointed that this applicant did not return the courtesy of doing the public outreach that was not only suggested by myself, but was also required as part of the application process.

I support a medical marijuana program in Massachusetts, and I want this medicine to be available in a safe, secure location for my constituents who need it. However, by failing to verify the support and legality of location claimed by this applicant, DPH has created a situation that will almost certainly result in the delayed siting of a dispensary in Cambridge. At the end of the day, it will unfortunately be patients who suffer the most because of it.

Please accept this letter as a matter of record that my “support” for this application has been grossly exaggerated, and that the statements it contains regarding my support are misrepresentations of the truth.

Sincerely,

Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

26th Middlesex District

 

Two More GLX Sound Barrier Meetings Next Week

Faithful readers of the blog already know about the next week’s Green Line Extension noise barrier meetings for neighbors living near the new Lechmere and College Ave. stations. Just in case you missed it, here’s the details:

  • Lechmere Station, serving the Glass Factory Condominiums, North Point, and East Cambridge: February 4, 6:00-8:00pm, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (41 Second St., Cambridge)
  • College Avenue Station, serving Tufts University and South Medford: February 5, 6:00-8:00pm, St. Clement School (579 Boston Ave., Medford)

Please come if you can!

Green Line Extension Seeks Public Art for New Stations

The Green Line Extension is seeking public art submissions for its first three stations.

The Green Line Extension is seeking public art submissions for its first three stations, including the redesigned Lechmere station. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The first three stations on the new Green Line Extension—Lechmere, Union Square, and Washington St.—are approaching the 60% design threshold, and now, MassDOT is looking for local artists to help make these stations beautiful. Artists are encouraged to submit their designs for public art at the new Green Line stations, and everyone who’s interested should strongly consider attending a prequalification/information session on Thursday, February 6 at 5pm at the GLX Project Office (100 Summer St., Suite 250, Boston). You can read the full Request for Qualifications here.

All applicants will need to apply through MassDOT’s online platform. All submissions are due by noon on Thursday, February 20. With the vibrant arts communities in Cambridge and Somerville, I know our local artists will come up with some brilliant designs!

 

Celebrate MLK Day with Free Admission at the MFA

The MFA is offering free admission from 10am to 4:45pm on Monday, January 20

The MFA is offering free admission from 10am to 4:45pm on Monday, January 20. Image via Museum of Fine Arts.

To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Museum of Fine Arts is offering free admission all day long on Monday, January 20. In addition to the Gauguins, Sargents, and van Goghs, visitors to the MFA on Monday will find a community arts showcase, hands-on art-making activities for kids, and famous civil rights speeches recited by local teenagers, entertainers, and even a former American ambassador. All of this is yours to enjoy, free of charge, on the day when we remember a man whose work transcended a nation and reminded us of our shared humanity.

 

Two Green Line Noise Barrier Meetings This Week

The site of the forthcoming Washington St. station on the Green Line Extension, near Washington St. and Joy St. in Somerville.

The site of the forthcoming Washington St. station on the Green Line Extension. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

This week, the MBTA continues its series of public meetings regarding noise barriers on the new Green Line Extension. The next two meetings focus on the neighborhoods surrounding the Washington St. and Gilman Square stations, affecting neighbors in Winter Hill, Prospect Hill, and East Somerville.

The Washington St. meeting takes place on Tuesday, January 14, from 6:00-8:00pm at the Holiday Inn (30 Washington St., Somerville). The Gilman Square meeting is scheduled for the following night, Wednesday, January 15, from 6:00-8:00pm at the Armory (191 Highland Ave., Somerville). As always, you can find more detailed information about the Green Line Extension here.