It was a return to normal for the City Council at our first February regular meeting tonight, following the tension and emotion of the previous meeting. I had submitted three items for the meeting agenda:
- An order (co-sponsored by Ward 4 Councilor Jesse Clingan) on behalf of Mothers Out Front regarding repair versus replacement of leaking gas pipes in the city. Mothers Out Front have a subject matter expert who wants to present to a City Council committee on this, and I spoke with City staff who are eager to talk about what they and Eversource have been doing on this front. The item was sent to the Public Utilities and Public Works Committee, so be on the lookout for that committee meeting in the next month or so.
- A resolution (also co-sponsored by Councilor Clingan) opposing the expansion of Hanscom Civil Airport's private jet facilities. With private jets being such an alarmingly large and growing contributor to particulate matter air pollution and carbon emissions, it feels obscene to be encouraging this sort of travel behavior by our wealthiest. I sponsored Lindsay Lucke of Mothers Out Front to speak, and I was pleased that the resolution was approved unanimously by the council.
- A communication as the Chair of the Finance Committee laying out the process we will go through over the next two months to identify the City Council's shared budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2025. There will be a (virtual) public hearing on the night of Tuesday, March 19, at 7 PM. And the big meeting where councilors champion their pet priorities, we vote on our top 10 budget priority areas, then we go about crafting resolutions on the areas receiving the most votes will take place on Tuesday, March 26, at 7 PM in the City Council Chambers.
I also co-sponsored Councilor Clingan's order calling for the creation of an on-call emergency response fire unit to assist constituents who lose their homes and/or possessions to fires. The idea for this came after a conversation we had with a constituent who was displaced and lost almost everything when a neighboring unit caught fire late last year.
Finally, an order of Ward 5 Councilor Naima Sait's that I had co-sponsored two weeks ago was taken back up off the table, as we heard from Center for Arts at the Armory Co-Director and CEO Stephanie Scherpf about the destabilizing situation that the Armory's operator and tenants have been experiencing since the City took the cultural center via eminent domain in 2021. This is something we really need to figure out, and soon, as the current situation can not continue.
Additionally, some of the things we did as a council tonight included:
- discussing a pair of order calling for the City to figure out how to once again offer free COVID tests and masks to residents
- approving a transfer of approximately $1.4 million from the Community Preservation Act into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
- confirming the promotion of Mark Matthews to Fire District Chief
- recognizing Nicole Eigbrett of CAAS for her years of incredible service to renters in the community
- observing February as Black History Month
You can watch video of the meeting here -- and jump to the discussion of a particular item of interest to you.
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