Update: Washington Street and Somerville Ave Intersections

In May, I joined several of my colleagues on a site visit to two intersections in Somerville that posed a possible safety hazard to pedestrians due to the layout of the crosswalks and condition of the markings. During the site visit, I discussed the concerns that I had and the concerns that residents had expressed about the intersections with officials from MassHighway. I have learned that MassHighway has developed initial plans to signalize the crossings, a step that would significantly improve pedestrian safety.

Because these improvements are still only in the initial planning stages, I will be continuing to use this space to provide updates on the project as new developments are communicated to me in the weeks and months to come.

Public Meetings for the Month of October

Charles River Basin Connectivity Study

Three public meetings have been scheduled to discuss the Mass Department of Transportation and the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Charles River Basin Connectivity study. This study is being carried out as a way for MassDOT to closely examine the various gaps that preclude a seamless connection across Charles River Basin bridges, their sidewalks, and adjacent intersections. The connectivity of the path system throughout the Charles River Reservation will also be studied. These meetings will serve as an opportunity for the public to hear from MassDOT’s design consultant before the study is carried out. The focus of the presentation will be on an analysis of the existing conditions in the Charles River corridor that has already been carried out.

Meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • Tuesday, October 11, 6:30 to 8 PM, Shriners Hospitals for Children, 51 Blossom Street, Boston
  • Thursday, October 13, 6:30 to 8 PM, Community Rowing Boathouse, 20 Nonantum Road, Brighton
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 6:30 to 8 PM, Morse School Auditorium, 40 Granite Street, Cambridge
Green Line Extension Environmental Assessment

A public meeting will be held to discuss the Environmental Assessment of the Green Line Extension and potential interim project offsets that will be required due to the delay in the extension’s completion date. MassDOT will be taking suggestions for interim project offsets from the public, provided that suggestions conform to the following guidelines:

  • Proposed interim offset projects and measures have to be able to be in place by December 31, 2014.
  • Suggested projects or measures have to be within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, i.e., they cannot be private, local, or federal.
  • Quantifiable air quality benefits have to be associated with any potential interim offset project or measure.
  • Projects and measures that only reach their full potential once the GLX is in place are unlikely to work.
  • Proposed interim offset projects and measures are not required to be within the GLX corridor, but MassDOT understands the importance we put on this requirement.  It is worth noting here that for the Fairmount Line Improvement Project delays, MassDOT chose projects within the Fairmount corridor only.

This meeting will be held on:

  • Thursday, October 20, 2011, 6 p.m. open house, 6:30 p.m. hearing, Somerville High School, 81 Highland Avenue, Somerville

Spotlight on Local Business: Modern Homebrew Emporium Customer Appreciation Day

Modern Homebrew Emporium, Cambridge – map

On Saturday, September 10th, Modern Homebrew Emporium on Massachusetts Avenue held its customer appreciation day, inviting customers to brew beer outside the store and introducing many passersby to the growing hobby of homebrewing.

Home brewers brew beer under the watchful eye of the Cambridge Fire Department

Inside the store, customers browsed shelves stocked with malted barley, hops, and a wide range of equipment used to brew both beer and wine. Outside, owner Roger Savoy cooked hotdogs, burgers, and chicken wings for hungry brewers.

Savoy, who owns a total of three homebrew stores spread out across Massachusetts and New York, purchased the Modern Homebrew Emporium in the early 2000s. The store had previously been known as “Modern Brewer,” and opened in 1990. The former owners attempted to turn the store into a microbrewery, a venture that they were, unfortunately, forced to end after a relatively brief period. While in operation as a brewery, Modern Brewer gained local notoriety for producing a beer known as “Fat Cat ESB”, a bitter English-style ale. After Modern Brewer’s brewing operation closed, Fat Cat was licensed to other area brewers. Famed beer critic Michael Jackson gave high praise to Fat Cat in a review published in 1998, calling it an “excellent example of the English style.”

Tim with Modern Homebrew Emporium owner Roger Savoy

For those adventurous enough to try recreating Fat Cat, the Modern Homebrew Emporium has published the recipe in their Fall 2011 newsletter as a celebration of their 10th anniversary. Those adventurous enough to try to create their own “Fat Cat” can find the recipe here, and will certainly find the ingredients, equipment, and knowledgeable staff that they will need to brew it right here in Cambridge at the Modern Homebrew Emporium.

Mudflat Unveils New Studio

81 Broadway, Somerville – map

The building that once housed the Broadway Theatre in East Somerville has seen quiet use as a warehouse since the theatre closed its doors in 1982. Now, after extensive renovations, the old theatre has become the new home to Mudflat Studio, a non-profit organization that offers studio space to artists and pottery classes to the community.

Mudflat, which has been in existence for 40 years now, had outgrown its old space at 149 Broadway. In 2002, it was selected by the City of Somerville, the then-owner of the old Broadway Theatre, to develop the building into a space for city artists. In 2005, Mudflat purchased the Boradway Theatre property from the city, and began the process of renovating it into their new studio.

Cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

The renovations, which were partially funded by a $300,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, have turned the theatre into a modern, spacious environment that is filled with natural light. High-capacity gas-powered kilns provide Mudflat with a greater ability to fire artists’ clay, and new classroom, studio, and display space greatly enhance Mudflat’s ability to teach and support artists.

Gas-fired kilns.
The new Mudflat Studio is spacious and well-lit..

On Saturday, September 10th, I joined Somerville Ward #1 Alderman Bill Roche and Alderman at-large Jack Connolly, Charles Coe from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Mudflat’s Executive Director Lynn Gervens in the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Grand Opening of the new Mudflat Studio. Mudflat’s new space is truly welcoming and unique, and I strongly encourage anyone in the neighborhood or beyond to go and check it out. Mudflat offers a wide range of community programming for both adults and children, so if you have even the slightest interest in learning more about pottery, East Somerville is the place to be.

The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band provided music.

City of Cambridge Seeks Members for Police Review and Advisory Board

The City of Cambridge is seeking members for its civilian Police Review and Advisory board, which is responsible for providing a means for citizen participation in the review of the policies of the Cambridge Police Department and the investigation of complaints. Please see below for more information about the board and how to apply:

The City of Cambridge is seeking residents interested in serving as members of the Police Review & Advisory Board. The Board generally meets on the last Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m.

The Police Review & Advisory Board was established by City Ordinance in 1984 to:

• Provide for citizen participation in reviewing Police Department policies, practices, and procedures;
• Provide a prompt, impartial, and fair investigation of complaints brought by individuals against members of the Cambridge Police Department; and
• Develop programs and strategies to promote positive police/community relations and provide opportunities for expanded discussions, improved understanding, and innovative ways of resolving differences.

The Board consists of five civilians who are representative of the City’s racial, social, and economic composition. Board Members must: possess a reputation for fairness, integrity and responsibility; have demonstrated an active interest in public affairs and service; and be a resident of the City of Cambridge. For more information about the Board, see its web page at www.cambridgema.gov/prab.

Board Members serve as volunteers without compensation and assist in education and outreach to improve community confidence in city government in general, and to strengthen police/community relations.

A letter of interest with a brief résumé should be sent via e-mail, mail or fax by Friday, September 23, 2011 to:

Robert W. Healy, City Manager
City of Cambridge
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA  02139
Ph. 617-349-4300
Fax 617-349-4307
E-mail: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

Grounding McGrath Study and Working Group

Somerville High School Auditorium – map

A public informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 20th at 6:00 p.m. in the Somerville High School auditorium to discuss the future of the McGrath O’Brien Highway. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which gained ownership of the Route 28 corridor as a part of the 2009 transportation reorganization law, has begun a conceptual planning study in partnership with the City of Somerville to consider the future use of the highway and the potential for the removal of its elevated sections.

There is an exciting opportunity here to participate in the planning of a Route 28 that offers greater access and promotes connectivity. Lowering McGrath would allow us the opportunity to take what is now a barrier that divides neighborhoods in East Somerville, and change it into a destination that unites neighbors instead. The future Green Line Extension also creates a significant opportunity to redesign McGrath into a space that is mindful of multi-modal transportation and serves to nourish local businesses.

I encourage you to attend this meeting if you have an interest in planning the future of this highway. Renovations to the McCarthy Overpass (which carries Rt 28 over Washington Street) will also be discussed, and there will be a question and answer session with MassDOT officials at the end of the meeting.

Should you require access or language accommodations, please contact Regan Checchio at rchecchio@reginavilla.com or 617-357-5772 x14.