Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 7)

Feds Take Step Toward Volpe Center Redevelopment

Yesterday, the federal Government Services Administration (GSA) announced that it was seeking ideas from developers for the redevelopment of the Volpe Center site in Kendall Square.  GSA, which is responsible for managing the federal government’s real estate, intends to transfer a portion of the Volpe Center property to a private developer in exchange for the developer picking up the tab for construction of a new DOT research facility on the existing site.

Redevelopment of the site has been discussed for a long time within the Cambridge community, but this is the most significant step toward redevelopment that we have seen the federal government take so far. I am looking forward to a robust public process that will gather input from residents and the Kendall Square business community. There is immense potential for the under-utilized space at the Volpe Center to be put to positive use.

Homelessness prevention program now accepting applications

Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) is now accepting applications for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. Through RAFT, eligible families can apply for funds that can be used to help retain their housing, obtain new housing, or otherwise avoid becoming homeless. For more information on the program, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit the MBHP website.

Mayor Maher’s Allston Street Fire Relief Fund

The City of  Cambridge and Mayor David Maher have created a Fire Relief Fund for the nine families that were displaced by the devastating fire that ripped through three homes on Allston Street during the early morning hours of Sunday, July 27th. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but the majority of the residents displaced were renters that do not have insurance to recover their loss.

Please visit this page if you wish to contribute to the relief fund set up to help these displaced families get back on their feet. Donations can also be made by check to “The City of Cambridge Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund”. Checks can be mailed to or dropped off at:

Cambridge City Hall
c/o Finance Department
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

East End House Receives Re-Accreditation

Congratulations to the East End House for receiving re-accreditation from both the Council of Accreditation (COA) as well as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This endorsement recognizes that East End’s practices are in full alignment with best practices for the learning, health, and development of our youth.

East End House, one of Cambridge’s oldest social service centers, supports families and individuals of every age and ability with their inventive after school programs, helping our children learn just as much outside of the class room as in one!
Congratulations to everyone at East End House, and their partners at the Cambridge Public School District—you continue to make us proud every single day.

Cambridge InsideOut: Conversation with Tim Toomey

Part 1:

Part 2:

Keeping Your Home Warm and Cozy this Winter

Stay warm this winter with help from the Fuel Assistance Program.

Stay warm this winter with help from the Fuel Assistance Program. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Winter is here, and a blast of Arctic air is on its way to New England. If you’re worried about paying your heating bills this year, there are a couple programs you should know about.

The first line of defense is the Fuel Assistance Program, which helps low-income households pay their heating bills in the winter months. In Massachusetts, families that make either 200% of the federal poverty level or 60% of the Commonwealth’s median income are eligible—click here to see if you qualify. If you’re facing an imminent “heat emergency,” your application will be fast-tracked. Please call (617)-349-6252 to make an appointment.

You may also be eligible for discounts on your utilities and/or tax credits to weatherize your home. The City of Cambridge maintains a list of other heating assistance programs here. And even if you don’t qualify for any of those programs, you still might be able to receive 100 gallons of free heating oil from Citizens Energy (they’re the folks behind those “Joe for Oil” commercials you might have seen).

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold, snowy winter for southern New England. Make sure you and your family stay warm.

 

Remembering Our Veterans

Thank you to everyone who has served and is currently serving in our nation’s armed forces.

Turning the Grand Junction into a Space for our Community

The following is a press release from my 2013 City Council re-election campaign. -Tim

On Wednesday, City Councillor Tim Toomey released a new video highlighting his work on issues related to the Grand Junction Railroad in Cambridge. The Grand Junction, which traverses several Cambridge neighborhoods, has become a hot button issue in recent years with proposals for Commuter Rail trains and ethanol transport being considered at the state level. Toomey, who resides in East Cambridge several blocks from the tracks, has been a strong supporter of creating a mixed-use bike and pedestrian path in the Grand Junction’s right-of-way.

“Grand Junction is an incredible asset for our community,” Toomey said Wednesday. “While it has an important regional significance, being the only rail link between the northern and southern halves of the MBTA Commuter Rail system, it is also essentially a large swath of undeveloped, lightly-used land in the heart of Cambridge. With the exception of Commuter Rail maintenance trains and a freight train that carries produce to Chelsea several times per week, the tracks are seldom used. It’s pretty clear that there are many outside of Cambridge that have an eye on it, but unfortunately their plans tend not to benefit abutters of the tracks in any way.”

In 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began studying ways to use the Grand Junction Railroad for Commuter Rail service from Worcester to North Station. Their plans, which included more than twenty trains per day travelling at high speeds through six intersections in Cambridge and Somerville, were met with intense community skepticism and opposition. Councillor Toomey’s outspoken opposition helped force the state to more closely study the plan, and it was eventually shelved.

“That was a real victory for our community,” said Toomey. “There is such a strong need for better public transportation in our state, but that was not the way to do it,” Toomey said, adding that the Massachusetts Sierra Club joined in opposition to the state proposal. “By blocking that proposal, we kept Grand Junction open to uses that will provide tangible benefits to Cambridge residents.”

In 2013, Toomey emerged as a leading voice in the fight to stop a Fortune 500 company’s plan to use railroads in Cambridge and Somerville to move millions of gallons of flammable ethanol each week. The plans included the possibility that Grand Junction could be used for trains carrying more than 60 tanker cars full of flammable chemicals. This proposal was met with intense community opposition not only in Cambridge, but in many of the surrounding communities. After a successful push by legislators at the State House, Global Partners, the petroleum company behind the proposal, backed down from their plans.

“Again, this was an immense victory for our neighborhood and the entire region, really,” Toomey said. “An accident in a place like Cambridge or Somerville would have disastrous effects. While we have one of the best trained and best equipped fire departments in the entire country right here in Cambridge, an ethanol accident in an urban residential area would necessitate a regional response capability that just does not exist right now,” Toomey said, adding that this was another plan that would have potentially precluded a positive community use for the Grand Junction Railroad.

“I think the fact that our community has had to fight back against destructive uses of these tracks twice in as many years highlights the urgency of building the rail trail,” said Toomey, referring to a proposal to use unused space next to the Grand Junction railroad tracks to construct a mixed-use bike path. “This corridor passes through Kendall Square, where we have seen enormous growth in the numbers of people who bike and walk to work as opposed to driving cars,” said Toomey. “The rail trail would offer a safer place for people to commute and recreate. The demand is already there.”

In a video released on Wednesday, which can be found on Toomey’s website, the City Councillor describes work he has done to bring the rail trail closer to construction, including his work to include the path in the East Cambridge Open Space Planning Study and secure $500,000 in funding from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“More and more people are realizing just how much sense this project makes,” Toomey said. “Just as we have been successful in opposing problematic proposals in the past, I firmly believe we can be successful if we support the rail trail with the same intensity.”

 

 

Making Development Work for Neighborhoods

East End House Summer Block Party Tomorrow Night

East End House has served the East Cambridge community since 1875. Image via East End House.

East End House has served the East Cambridge community since 1875. Image via East End House.


It’s time for the annual East End House Summer Block Party! Tomorrow night at 6:00pm, the party gets started in front of the East End House (105 Spring St.) in East Cambridge. There’s a BBQ, ice cream sundaes, live music, a moon bounce, and much more, and it’s all free.

East End House just wrapped up their backpack collection drive at the Cambridgeside Galleria, but they’re still accepting school supplies at tomorrow night’s event. The idea is to ensure that every East End House student has a backpack full of supplies this fall, and they’re looking for all the stuff you’d expect: pencils, notebooks, calculators, rulers, art supplies—everything kids need to succeed in the classroom.

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