Cambridge unveils new interactive city web site

 

The new citizen's response page is now operational at ChooseCambridge.com

The new citizen’s response page is now operational at ChooseCambridge.com

CAMBRIDGE — An item came up at the very end of the Monday night’s council meeting; nonetheless it’s at the top of my story because I think folks in Cambridge will find this exciting.

Do you have a complaint? A pothole? A broken streetlight? Who are you going to call? Forget Ghostbusters, all you have to do is go on line to the new and improved Cambridge web page. Oden Wheeler, director of Public Works, explained how the new page at the city’s website will work. You visit the citizens’ FAQ heading and you’ll find the page where you can make your request or complaint, or get needed information. The system will automatically track it to the right department and you can count on a response in 48 hours. If you want a response, you have to fill the form that asks for your information, but, (habitual whiners take note) you can do it anonymously. Obviously, this is a step forward in a city that is demonstrating a desire to be responsive.

Back to the night’s agenda: Commissioners are presented with a well-prepared Consent Calendar, a number of planned activities that need council approval. The City Manager and staff have already recommended approval for the requests. However, permits and variances, electrical outlets and trash cans must have the approval of Commissioners. The council approved events for Boy Scouts, the Department of Social Services, The Harriet Tubman Organization’s lecture at Cannery Way on July 22 at 5 p.m., a challenge walk for the Multiple Sclerosis Society on Sept. 10. Some groups really think ahead; the Character Counts Mid-Shore group reserved Great Marsh for its event on May 6 … next year! Other calendar items involved shifting funds around for police programs like gun violence.

A big part of the council work is updating old ordinances and introducing new ones. Some adjustments to parking were made and Ordinance 1086 prohibiting relieving oneself on the street was adopted. The ordinance has penalties so police can be effective in enforcement. No offensive or tasteless signs will be posted. What adult has to be told they shouldn’t?

Two important Charter Resolutions were adopted. The first one (Charter Resolution 2016-04) changes Cambridge’s Election Day to coincide with Federal elections, starting in 2020. It’s expected to save thousands of dollars in voting expenses and increase voter participation. The second Charter change also deals with elections. It provides for elimination of primaries and sets the terms if a run-off is necessary.

On the matter of Sailwinds, an agreement to hire Delta Associates to prepare the market analysis for the property, at a cost of $32,000 has been tabled till the next meeting on July 24. It was also decided that it is more prudent to select a different firm as broker for the property.

A number of application of grants are up for consideration and the Commissioners discussed the priorities. Members of the public also spoke and the final list, prioritized is 1. Phillips Packing; 2, American Legion; 3, Facade Improvements; 4, Property Acquisition; 5, Maryland Avenue Streetlights; and 6, the Hearn Building.

Phillips Packing represents potential jobs, the American Legion is part of the city’s gateway and the devastating fire can determine a revitalization that improves the entry into the city. What does the Hearn Building at the bottom indicate? One councilman says where is the buyer and where are his efforts, or “skin in the game?”

One final act of the council … a promised sewer system to the families in Oak Hill may become a reality. The authorization of $93,000 for the purchase of low pressure force mains and grinder pumps and an additional $330,000 for construction has been appropriated. I’m not sure what all that means but the Oak Hill residents will gain a sewer system and lose a tax break. According to Oden Wheeler, they have waited a long time.

Look for the Citizens FAQ and Feedback page at : http://www.choosecambridge.com/index.php/extensions/dept-public-works/

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