Schooner Rendezvous, tax incentives topics at Cambridge City Council meeting

Schooners

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper The annual Schooner Rendezvous was one of the topics at the biweekly City Council meeting.

CAMBRIDGE–First up at the Cambridge City Council meeting was Jane Devlin, executive director of the James B, Richardson Foundation, to present an overview of the 9th Annual Cambridge Schooner Rendezvous. Ms. Devlin’s basic facts: 21 boats, including The Pride of Baltimore and Connecticut’s Mystic Whaler, good weather, a combination that brought thousands to the waterfront to enjoy music, food concessions, and educational programs aimed at young people. Many also boarded for free sails in an event best described in The Banner as “nothing quite as nice as the sight of a flotilla of fully-rigged sailboats plying the blue waters of the Choptank River!” But Jane Devlin is looking ahead, saying, “for the 10th rendezvous, we have to ramp it up or go home.” That means her committee will be looking for more sponsors and aid from Economic Development for a marketing budget. The boats bring not just beauty, but business as well.
Gene Lauer, of the Cambridge Economic Steering Committee, advised the council that two tax incentives presently in place should be renewed because they are working. The first, the Downtown Development Tax Credit, a five-year sliding credit, has proven an important tool for future growth and can tip the balance on getting new and expanding businesses.
The second tax credit is the Senior Tax credit for people over 60 who buy a primary residence in Cambridge. His research indicates that on the average they buy homes assessed at $197,000, well above the city median of $164,000. Their incomes are also higher, according to Mr. Lauer. The Senior Tax Credit has been advertised on the US Route 50 billboard and has brought interest.
Another bright economic development was presented by Keasha Haythe and Susan Banks in their County Economic Development Annual Report. A new supermarket, Save-A-Lot, has signed up to open in Cambridge. Ms. Haythe and Ms. Banks report that it is the fifth largest grocery chain in the country and negotiations were not easy because the company customarily locates in more populous areas. One commissioner asked how were they able to finalize the deal, and the young women replied, “We were pit bulls with lipstick.”
The City Manager ordinances were again (and remain) unfinished business. Some changes have been written in to the proposed ordinance and the lengthy result of the combination of proposals can be found online at www.choosecambridge.com. Look for the first listing in the green box, “Charter Resolutions and City Manager Documents, HERE. Click on the capitalized “Here.” Therein lies the history and changes of the proposal to change the form of government, too lengthy to present in this publication. It remains on the Unfinished Business folder.
The rest of the meeting involved routine approval of expenses for roofs, Ironworks, and fireworks, but two items produced a bit of fireworks of their own. The first, a $2,831.06 bill for two retiring department heads, produced a protest from some commissioners. “Too much for a small city” was their opinion, but the City Clerk Treasurer explained that it has been customary since the 80s. The council voted its approval for this time, (but I suspect present department heads won’t have to measure their ring fingers before retirement.)
The second controversy was a bill from Morris and Ritchie Associates for services for Phase II work on Sailwinds. “Where’s the report on Phase I?” asked two members of the council; and despite their objections, the purchase order was approved.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 8 and there will be an opportunity for public comment.

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