City Council revisits Sailwinds, plans new for new proposals

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CAMBRIDGE — Snow forced a Monday postponement of the City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting on the 25th, but on Wednesday the 27th, the full agenda was covered. After formalities of minutes approval, the council approved the first item on the “Consent Calendar.” The council granted the permits, city services, and noise variance necessary for the annual car show on Aug. 14. More than 100 vehicles will be showcased from the corner of Race and Muir, down to the corner of the Post Office, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The well-attended event is sponsored by the Cambridge Wheels Car Club. Approved.

The next item is a familiar one, Sailwinds, but some decisions have been reached and some are under consideration. Decision One: The council has decided rather than parceling out the various parts of the Sailwinds project, one master developer will be in charge, providing a comprehensive and consistent plan. Decision Two: While Dorchester Hospital is a presence in the Sailwinds development, the council decided not to wait on the hospital administrators to announce their decision. That might take too long and it’s time to get moving on the Cambridge project.

Decision Three: In seeking a master developer, the council must offer direction and specific features. It was suggested that “council members should tour successful waterfront developments in other locations to find out what works, learn what didn’t, on someone else’s dime.” (May I interject an opinion? The world’s most beautifully developed riverfront is Paris, France. If the council starts there, they will need press coverage. I selflessly volunteer.)

Decision Four: By March or April, the council should have an RFP, the requirements for a candidate for master-developer. To prepare, on Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. the council will hold a work session. The public is invited to attend but public comment is not allowed at a work session. As Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley said referring to proposals, the task is “weeding out the ridiculous and the sublime.”

Another waterfront decision has been reached. “Finding that a two-acre parcel of property is no longer needed for public use,” the city has leased the parcel to Yacht Maintenance Company for 30 years.

Another decision was reached concerning Home Day Care. After months of appearing on the agenda, and hearing from women affected by the requirement that they must actually live in the day care home, a decision has been made to eliminate that requirement.

Ordinances 1064 and 1065 affecting the regulation of sheds and pods on residential property have been amended and recommended for passing, after a second reading. Also on the agenda is the Hearn Building, the partially collapsed building on Race Street that affects some businesses and street traffic. Originally, a project manager was scheduled to stabilize the endangered wall, but the county wanted no further delay so the county will take the responsibility and do the stabilization work. The County Manager is in charge, and the City Manager is also involved. Grant funds have been earmarked.

The Cambridge Housing Authority owes the city some back taxes, but the company that is partnering with the federal government to improve the properties and pay the back taxes wants to change the conditions of the PILOT, (Payment in lieu of taxes) and offers to pay $25,000 out of pocket, as a sign of good will. The remainder of the debt will be paid at the end of March when the company, CHLLLC, signs the lease with the federal government.

The council also approved changes to employee health benefits and insurance, approving Chet McWilliams to implement an Employee Wellness Program and a change in the employees’ health network.

Also announced at the meeting, the proposed training center for the homeless will not be opening at the site that was being leased. Pat Esher, of Planning and Zoning, ruled that the training center is not a permitted use under the city codes. The owners of the neighboring barbershop, Bob and Sherry Shubert, protested both to the County Council and to city departments. Their objections ranged from welfare and safety, to the presence of predators and parking. They brought signed petitions to show disapproval. The center will not be located on Washington Street.

Preparations for producing a city budget are underway. City Manager Sandra Tripp-Jones has a very structured format for department heads and others to follow. The schedule has goals from January to June, and the budget will get done in a thorough and timely manner, according to Ms. Tripp-Jones.

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