The City Council held our second March regular meeting on Thursday, March 28, working through a 91-item agenda in a productive 79 minutes.

Conway Field infill displacement

Fire & Police Lateral Transfers
I arrived 20 minutes into the meeting after coming from a Somerville Homeless Coalition event, and I missed the highest-profile item on that evening's agenda -- the update from the Administration on Fire and Police lateral transfers -- being tabled until the next regular meeting on April 11. Councilor McLaughlin made this motion, citing the timing of the communication from the Mayor coming in as a supplemental and the fact an updated firefighter civil service list is due to be released on Monday, April 1. There was no objection from colleagues, and I would've supported this motion had I been there for it.

My understanding is that our police unions support the use of lateral transfers, while the firefighter union opposes this. The difficulty of finding new recruits for both departments and the elimination of reserve lists have been used to justify using this approach. I don't deny the difficulty of finding new patrol officer recruitments on the Police side, but the firefighter civil service list is long I'm told there are many interested Somerville residents on that list. I hear the firefighter academy isn't happening as frequently as it's supposed to, and that this makes it difficult to get new recruits trained and ready for duty. I've contacted the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy to ask for details on training, and I look forward to speaking with them about this.

I'll listen to the Administration's case for using lateral transfers and keep an open mind about the difficulties of filling vacancies. But I'll name that it feels hypocritical for us to take advantage of lateral transfers for police after denying a large number of lateral transfers out of Somerville last year when Cambridge opened up for lateral transfers.

I look forward to speaking to the Administration, Human Resources, Fire, and Police about this in the coming weeks, and I'll be there when we take up this item for an update on April 11 at the next council meeting.

Addressing Cut-Through Commuter Spillover onto Neighborhood Residential Streets
In conjunction with my ward councilor, Councilor Clingan, I introduced an order seeking a discussion about bringing back the NO RIGHT TURN 7-9 AM MON-FRI signage at Temple Street for eastbound traffic on Mystic Ave, and potentially doing likewise for Fellsway West. Both streets are seeing a heavy volume of cut-through commuter traffic peeling off of Mystic Ave and looking to shave a few minutes off of their morning commutes by zipping down to Broadway. Hopefully we can discourage this behavior with these prohibitions and keep commuter traffic on highways and off of our neighborhood residential streets.

Police Staffing & Operations Report Implementation Roadmap
When the consultants at Raftelis presented the Police Staffing & Operations Report to the council on November 30, they said a document providing an implementation roadmap already had been written, and promised it would be shared with the council the following week -- the first week of December. Nearly four months later, the council hasn't heard a peep about this, which leaves me concerned that we're moving slowly to follow those recommendations or that we have no intention doing so at all. My order was send to the Public Health and Public Safety Committee, and I'll be following that discussion there.

Synthetic Turf Field Maintenance
There is significant displacement of the Brockfill Southern pine infill occurring at Conway Field, particularly during heavy rainfall events. This ties into general questions I have about how we're maintaining the eight synthetic turf athletic fields we are responsible for. We've invested significant public dollars in these fields, and they're used heavily by local children and adults. Synthetic turf fields need to be groomed regularly to keep the infill in place and the pile (the fake blades of grass) standing upright and not lying flat, where it becomes vulnerable to being pulled out by activity. So I'm asking the Superintendent of Grounds to update the council on what they're doing for routine maintenance and special remediation efforts in this area.

Jake Wilson


Somerville City Councilor-At-Large (he/him/él)