Ground Officially Broken at Skatepark

After more than a decade of committed advocacy, ground was officially broken at the future site of the Lynch Family Skatepark today. Despite gusty winds and heavy rainfall, the event was attended by an impressive collection of public officials, skateboarders, BMX riders, and inline skaters, as well as skateboarding legends Tony Alva and Christian Hosoa. The event was also attended by urban development advocates, as well as important benefactors Peter Lynch of the Lynch Foundation and Steve Van Doren, Vans’ Vice President of Events and Promotions. Congressman Michael Capuano was also in attendance, and reminded the crowd of the relentless advocacy spearheaded by Renata von Tscharner, President of the Charles River Conservancy (CRC), who in turn praised the individuals and groups that contributed to turning this formerly downtrodden area to an artistic public recreation space.

Rep. Toomey with Sen. DiDomenico and Renata von Tscharner

Rep. Toomey with Sen. DiDomenico and Renata von Tscharner.

The 40,000 square foot skateboarding and recreation facility, which will be located adjacent to the Zakim Bridge and nearby North Point Park, is the result of a collaborative effort between the CRC and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). von Tscharner also reminded the crowd that the project wouldn’t have been possible without generous support from Vans, The Lynch Foundation, the City of Cambridge, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The project has also received support from more than 400 skaters and their parents, who helped design the park and donated what they could to support the development. Once constructed, the park will be managed, maintained, and operated by DCR as a state park. Vans, the sneaker and skateboarding company, plans to hold two large-scale, professional skating events at the park annually. Please click this link for more information about the Lynch Family Skatepark.

More Sullivan Courthouse Documents Made Public

Yesterday morning, my staff were given access to a significant volume of documents detailing the proposals the state received for redevelopment of the Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge. This document disclosure came in response to a public records request I made this summer and follows the release of the purchase and sale agreement between DCAMM and Leggatt McCall earlier this month. My staff were given physical access to the documents at DCAMM’s offices in the McCormack Building in downtown Boston, but could not remove the documents to copy them. I expect that DCAMM will provide me with a complete digital or hard copy of the documents within the coming weeks. For now, I am able to provide some “scans” of the documents that my staff were able to take with their cell phone cameras. These documents include information regarding the appraisal of the courthouse, bid prices, and the evaluation criteria that DCAMM used in selecting Leggatt McCall as the developer.

Staff edit: We are now hosting the documents on Tim’s website so you do not have to create a Scribd account in order to download them. These are direct links to the PDF files:

Make East Somerville shine this Saturday and win fun cleaning prizes

East Somerville Main Streets (ESMS) is partnering with Alderman Matthew Mclaughlin to host a Fall Clean Up, and they would love to have your help. If you’re interested in volunteering to make East Somerville the most beautiful neighborhood in Somerville, please contact ESMS at projectassistant@eastsomervillemainstreets.org or call at 617.676.5307. ESMS will provide prizes for “Best Before and After!” and “Weirdest piece of trash.”

When: Saturday, October 18th, 10:30am (Rain Date: Sunday, October 19th)

Where: 115 Broadway (East Branch Library)

 

Head of the Charles Road Closures and Parking Restrictions

The Head of the Charles Regatta is this weekend. It is the largest two-day regatta in the world and attracts an estimated 300,000 spectators to the Charles. Please take a minute to review this press release from the Department of Conservation and Recreation for information about the road closures and parking restrictions that will be in effect:

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will close roadways, and portions of some roadways, to accommodate the Head of the Charles Regatta this Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and October 19. Parking also will be restricted in some areas beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, October 15. All parking restrictions will be strictly enforced. It is illegal at all times to park vehicles of any kind on parkland. All illegally parked vehicles will be towed.  Commuters should also expect delays on Soldiers Field Road on Friday, October 17, between 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. as crew teams load in equipment for the event.          

WHERE and WHEN:

Lane Closures: Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, 2014

Soldiers Field Road westbound

Right lane closed (Drop off only)
Western Avenue to North Harvard Street ramp
Saturday & Sunday: 8 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Soldiers Field Road westbound
Right lane closed
Herter Lot No. 2: Drop off only
Saturday & Sunday: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

North Harvard Street Ramp
Soldiers Field Road westbound – Shuttle Bus Access only
Saturday & Sunday: 9:00 a.m. (TBD by State Police – 4:30 pm)

Memorial Drive CLOSED
Between Western Ave and Fresh Pond Parkway
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m./Cleanup finished
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m./Cleanup finished

Parking Restrictions: Wednesday, October 15 through Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014

Soldiers Field Road
Lots 1-4
Wednesday, Oct. 15 – Sunday, Oct. 19
10 p.m. Wednesday – 8 p.m. Sunday

Memorial Drive westbound
#940 Memorial Drive to Mt. Auburn Street
Saturday, October 18 – Sunday, October 19
8 a.m. Saturday – 9 p.m. Sunday

Cambridge Boat Club (Gerry’s Landing Road at Memorial Drive)
Wednesday, October 15 – Sunday, October 19
10 p.m. Wednesday – 8 p.m. Sunday

Riverside Boat Club
Thursday, October 16, 6:00 p.m. – Sunday, October 19, 8:00 p.m.

Magazine Pool Driveway
Thursday, October 16, 6:00 p.m. – Sunday, October 19, 8:00 p.m.
(Drop off Only)

MWRA Cottage Farm Pump Station Lot
Thursday, October 16, 6:00 p.m. – Sunday, October 19, 8:00 p.m.

Parking is available on Greenough Boulevard on the westbound side, from Buckingham Brown and Nichols (as posted) to Grove Street. Greenough Boulevard eastbound side parking from Arsenal Street to the Marsh Post is as posted. Parking is not allowed along the guardrail or anywhere else on Greenough Boulevard.

Image credit: Fcb981, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY: MBTA Red Line weekend diversion – October 11

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will close the Longfellow Bridge this Saturday (October 11) to all motor vehicle travel, except MBTA buses as part of the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project. The closure is necessary to implement an MBTA Red Line diversion which will allow MassDOT’s design/build contractor, White-Skanska-Consigli JV, to perform work in close proximity to the Red Line tracks that is not possible during MBTA service hours. Buses will replace Red Line trains for service between Kendall/MIT Station and Park Street Station, with a stop at Charles/MGH Station. The bus route and stops are shown on the map below. All shuttle bus stops are accessible for people with disabilities. Bus service will be in place for Boston and Cambridge-bound Red Line customers during service on Saturday, October 11. Red Line trains will resume service on Sunday morning, October 12.

BusRoute-Red Line Diversion

MBTA buses will be the only motor vehicles permitted on the bridge. All other motor vehicles, including passenger vehicles, trucks and all other buses, will need to use one of two routes to reach Boston. One route uses Memorial Drive westbound to make a U-turn at Ames Street for access to Memorial Drive eastbound to Land Boulevard and Charles River Dam Road (Monsignor O’Brien Highway/Route 28) to reach Leverett Circle. A second route uses 3rd Street and Binney Street to reach Land Boulevard. Truck restrictions are in place for Memorial Drive.

BostonBound_wknd-Red line diversion

The Cambridge-bound detour remains in place using a signed route from Charles Circle following Charles Street to Leverett Circle, Monsignor O’Brien Highway/Charles River Dam Road and Edwin H. Land Boulevard.

DetourRoute_CB_rev-red line diversion

Emergency response, bicycle and pedestrian access will be maintained across the bridge during this weekend diversion. Please note: Bicyclists must walk their bikes on the sidewalk across the Longfellow Bridge to ensure the safety of all bridge users. The Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path across the Craigie Dam Bridge can be used as an alternate route to ride bicycles across the Charles River.

The Longfellow Bridge, which connects Boston and Cambridge over the Charles River, is being rehabilitated as part of a three and a half year, $255.5 million effort funded through Governor Patrick’s Accelerated Bridge Program. Rehabilitation of the iconic “salt and pepper” Longfellow Bridge will improve structural integrity and capacity, meet modern codes, including ADA accessibility, and create a safer configuration for more modes of travel.

Click this link for more information on the project and traffic management plans. For questions, to report issues and concerns related to construction or to be added to the project email distribution list, please call the project hotline at 617-519-9892 or email longfellowbridge@state.ma.us.

Courthouse Purchase and Sale Agreement Released

DCAMM delivered to my office this morning a full copy of the purchase and sale agreement (below) for the Sullivan Courthouse, along with the first, second, and third amendments to the agreement first amendment to the license agreement, and second and third amendments to the purchase and sale agreement, in accordance with the Supervisor of Records’ letter dated October 3rd. The purchase and sale agreement gives us information about the terms of the sale, including the price. These are the only documents I have received from DCAMM thus far.

DCAMM Ordered to Release Courthouse Records

This summer, I filed a public records request with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) for documents related to the sale of the Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge.  With this request, my goal was to obtain more information about the bid selection process and criteria that were used by DCAMM in selecting Leggat McCall Properties as the developer for the courthouse, and to obtain information about the sale price in order to help inform the public conversation about the site’s redevelopment.

DCAMM has been tight-lipped about this information for years now, and has refused all informal requests for this information, as well as an invitation to participate in a working group I organized this Spring.  Predictably, DCAMM denied my initial public records request. I appealed their denial with the Secretary of the Commonwealth on grounds that the information I sought was no longer exempt from Massachusetts Public records law and should be made available for public review.  I received notice today (posted below) that the Supervisor of Public Records has made the determination that the records I requested can no longer be withheld, and DCAMM has been ordered to provide the requested records within ten days. I will be sure to post an update here if and when I receive the records from DCAMM.

Public Records Appeal Decision

Image credit: Pingswept, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Phone Scammers Targeting Mass Residents

Unfortunately, I have heard from a few constituents over the past year that have fallen victim to predatory phone scams. It can be difficult to tell whether or not a phone call is legitimate, especially  when the person on the other end of the line is aggressive or threatening. Knowing what kinds of scams are out there can help you protect yourself, and when in doubt, remember that you can always hang up and call back an official number for the business or institution the caller claims to represent.

Cambridge Police Detective Brian O’Connor breaks down some of the most common phone scams in this column originally published in the Cambridge Chronicle:

The phone rings and a phone number you do not recognize shows up on the caller ID. You pick up the phone and say hello. The voice on the other end of the line says that a family member has been in an accident and they will cause harm to them unless you send money, which will guarantee their safety. What do you do? This is only one of the many current phone scams that are plaguing U.S. residents every day.

Phone scams are a multi-million-dollar business for scammers, who mostly reside outside of the United States. With new scams popping up every day, trying to keep up with the current ones and the technology is difficult. Caller IDs may or may not show a real number, as scammers are taking to technology and using Caller ID spoofing to make their phone number appear as a legitimate number, like 911 or a police department.

The following is an overview of some of the current phone scams, which have been recently reported to the Cambridge Police and neighboring police departments.

Tax money owed to the IRS

One of the largest scams at this time is an IRS tax-fee scam. This scam involves an individual receiving a phone call from a person claiming to be a federal agent with the IRS. The individual will usually know the person’s name and will claim that they owe money in back taxes. The scammer will inform the person that if they do not pay their tax fees either by wiring money or using a pre-paid money card, they will be arrested. The caller ID will generally show as a Washington, DC (202) area code, and may even show up as the IRS. The IRS has issued alerts that they do not contact individuals via telephone for owed taxes.

Family member in an accident

Another scam involves an individual who calls a person and states that a relative of theirs has been involved in an accident. The individual knows the identity of the person who “was in the accident” and uses threats and anger to try to convince the person being called that they will harm the relative. The caller will generally make the person stay on the phone while they go to a local store and purchase pre-paid money cards or wire money to the scammer.

Microsoft computer issue

You may receive a phone call from an individual who states that they are from Microsoft and that there is an issue with your computer. The scammer will try to convince the person to go onto their computer and visit a particular website. By visiting this website, the user runs the risk of downloading malware or viruses to their computer, which would allow a criminal to have access to the information on the computer or use your computer’s IP address to hide their identity.

Utility company fees

You could receive a phone call from a utility company stating that you owe money and, if you don’t immediately pay it off, your utility service will be shut off. This scam has been seen mainly with business customers. The scammer will request the business purchase pre-paid cards and provide the number to the scammer to keep their utilities on.

Immigration warrant or arrest warrant

You may receive a phone call from an individual claiming to be an agent of the federal government or a police department and they inform you of an immigration violation or an arrest warrant. The individual may then request you purchase pre-paid money cards or wire funds to clear up your warrant or violation.

The mysterious text message from a bank

You could receive a text message from an unknown number stating that verification is needed on your account (bank or credit card). The scammers are hoping that people will contact the phone number provided in the text and provide information, which will result in unauthorized debits to your bank account or credit card. If you receive a text message from a financial institution, contact your bank at its customer service number and speak to a customer service representative.

These are just a few examples of the many phone scams that are being seen across the United States. Once you provide a scammer with a pre-paid money card number, the chance of you recovering the money is very slim. If you have doubts about a phone call you received, contact the company or organization that “allegedly” called. If you receive any calls mentioned in this article, or anything suspicious, please hang up and contact the Cambridge Police at 617-349-3300.

If you have any questions about scams, you can contact Detective Brian O’Connor, CFCI Criminal Investigations Section, Financial and Computer Crimes Cambridge Police Department, 125 Sixth St., Cambridge, MA 02142; 617-349-9307; boconnor@cambridgepolice.org.

Brian O’Connor is a Cambridge Police Department detective as part of Financial and Computer Crimes.

Column republished here with the permission of Det. O’Connor. Image credit: Holger.Ellgaard, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Traffic advisory this weekend: Medford St. Bridge closure for GLX work and Cambridge St closed for Ribfest

Phase 1 of Green Line Extension (GLX) construction is underway and that will result in the complete closure of Medford Street, between South Street and Somerville Avenue, to all traffic on Saturday and Sunday this weekend (Oct. 5 & 6). During this time, vehicles will be redirected as follows:

  • Vehicles traveling south to Cambridge will proceed to the Somerville Avenue intersection and turn left at Somerville  Avenue onto McGrath Highway.
  • Vehicles traveling north into Somerville will be detoured left onto South Street to Windsor Place, right onto Webster Avenue, right onto Prospect Street, and onto Somerville Avenue.

Pedestrian access will also be restricted due to pubic safety concerns. As always, you can learn more about the GLX project on www.greenlineextension.com and click here for more details on the construction that will be conducted this weekend on the Medford Street Bridge.

Also, I’d like to remind you that Ribfest is being held this Sunday from noon to 4pm, which will result in the closure of Cambridge Street in East Cambridge, between Fulkerson Street and Fifth Street,  so keep that in mind if you’re driving to East Cambridge on Sunday.

 

Annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness this Wednesday in Somerville

This Wednesday, from 6pm to 7pm at the Public Safety Building in Union Square, Mayor Joseph Curtatone and the Somerville Commission for Women will host the annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness. Domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a complex and widespread problem that affects all types of individuals in every community, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. According to a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national survey, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime while 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This physical abuse has severe emotional impacts for victims, with studies showing that there is a link between IPV and depression and suicidal behavior. The physical and emotional effects of IPV are compounded by the economic toll that victims often experience. Studies have shown that IPV causes the loss of 8 million days of paid work nationally each year, and anywhere from 21% to 60% of victims lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts legislature passed comprehensive domestic violence legislation that seeks to address these issues by improving prevention efforts and affording victims greater protections. The bill establishes employment leave for domestic violence victims, increases training and education regarding domestic violence, and creates the first offense of assault and battery on a family member and requires violators to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program.

Event information:

What: Annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness

When: Wednesday October 1- 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where: 220 Washington Street Police Academy – (Union Square, Public Safety Building)

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