The City Council met in person last night for the first time since five of us joined the council. It's a very different feel and even a slightly different process at times doing these meetings in person rather than remotely.
There were some technical glitches for those attending the meeting remotely that we hope to see ironed out next time. Still, it was great to see colleagues in the flesh and meet some staff for the first time.
Here are some current things I'd like to highlight for you:
My FY23 Budget Priorities
The new administration requested that we share with them our budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2023 ahead of the start of Budget Season. In no particular order, here's what I submitted as my budget priority resolutions:
- That the FY 2023 budget include a funding increase for ISD to hire new inspectors to increase enforcement and ensure coverage on evenings, weekends, and holidays.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to create a fare-free bus pilot program for at least two MBTA bus lines for two years.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to provide free MBTA bus and subway passes and bikeshare memberships for Somerville youth and income-eligible residents.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to create a curbside municipal composting pilot program.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to create a municipal broadband pilot program in the 02145 zip code.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to implement widespread use of rodent hormonal birth control.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to create and fund additional social worker and counselor positions within the Administration.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to offer financial compensation in the form of an optional stipend to all members of boards & commissions.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to hire support staff for City Council committees.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for staff and technology support for a participatory budgeting (“People’s Budget") process for FY 2024.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for citywide studies required to accelerate the systemic and systematic approach to safe and accessible streets and equitable mobility (i.e.: parking plan, bicycle network plan, traffic signal inventory, etc.) to bring the city into alignment with the priorities of the Vision Zero Action Plan.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for quick-build daylighting solutions for intersections in the short term and begin installing infiltration bump-outs throughout the city as the long-term solution.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to create a streamlined program to install speed humps on neighborhood residential streets identified as having a high incidence of cut-through vehicle traffic.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to purchase and install automated enforcement equipment for traffic signals and create the infrastructure within Somerville Police Department for mailing warnings and citations.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to purchase required equipment and allocate the Somerville Police Department budget in such a way to mail warnings and citations for speeding in bulk.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for a procurement disparity study.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for public information campaigns around safer driving and using the forthcoming Green Line.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for drainage infrastructure improvements to address flooding on private property in the neighborhood around Foss Park.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to plant a Miyawaki forest (a dense, biodiverse pocket forest) on city-owned land.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding to prioritize the delayed grass athletic field renovation projects at Dilboy Auxiliary Field and Nunziato Field.
- That the FY 2023 budget include funding for expanded Parks & Recreation programming.
We'll be taking up all of the City Council's budget priority resolutions at a special Finance Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, March 30 at 6 PM. We've been working with the Clerk's office and the City Solicitor's office -- who consulted the Attorney General's office -- to get creative with how exactly we can conduct this meeting efficiently while ensuring compliance with City Council rules and Open Meeting Law. I'm loving the planning work involved with this and really am looking forward to seeing this happen on the 30th.
Fare-Free Bus Pilot
I know from the election a few months back and from conversations with colleagues that a number of us on the City Council badly want to see a fare-free bus pilot in the city. Councilor Burnley put in an order calling for an equity study to determine the best bus routes for this, and I'm strongly supportive of this initiative. Bus routes tend to go through multiple municipalities, so this is going to require coordination with neighboring cities. But it's clear there's real momentum behind this movement and I'm hoping the process to create a pilot program can be standardized and simplified.
Virtual Meeting Survey
The increase in attendance at and attention paid to public meetings in our city is one of a handful of silver linings to this pandemic. Continuing to allow a remote option to attend -- and participate in -- public meetings is a must. So please take a moment to fill out this survey on remote access to meetings from the ACLU.
Route 16 Traffic Study
I'm part of the Route 16 Traffic Calming Coalition, a group that's looking to make Mystic Valley Parkway and Alewife Brook Parkway work more like the parkways they're supposed to be and less like the speedways that they've become. Please take a few minutes to contact your electeds on Beacon Hill ASAP to express support for an earmark for a Route 16 traffic study. This is an important step to making these parkways safer for everyone -- drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. And please contact me if you'd like to be part of this coalition.
2022/23 Afterschool Registration
One of the biggest challenges for working families is figuring out whole-day child care. Registration recently opened for afterschool programs in Somerville for next school year (2022/23). You can register for that here.
With so much happening around the city, I encourage you to subscribe to my colleagues' newsletters. Here's a (possibly incomplete) list of City Councilors' email newsletter signups:
Ward 1: Matt McLaughlin
Ward 2: J.T. Scott
Ward 3: Ben Ewen-Campen
Ward 4: Jesse Clingan (Scroll down)
Ward 6: Lance Davis
Ward 7: Judy Pineda Neufeld (Scroll down)
At-Large: Willie Burnley Jr.
At-Large: Kristen Strezo
Please join me on Wednesday, March 16, from 3-5 PM for group office hours. I'm continuing to offer on-demand office hours convenient for your schedule to meet outside of group office hours. If you'd like to book a time on my calendar to meet in person or virtually, you can do that directly on my Calendly.
And I can't stress enough how much I enjoy meeting with constituents, so please don't feel like you're taking up my time when you book a slot on my calendar!
The Week Ahead
Here's what I’ll be attending this coming week:
Monday, March 14 (6 PM) - Gilman Square Redevelopment Community Meeting
Tuesday, March 15 (9 AM) - Central Hill Playground Ribbon Cutting
Tuesday, March 15 (7 PM) - Commission for Women Meeting
Wednesday, March 16 (6 PM) - Citywide Drainage and Water Quality Master Plan Meeting #1 (Wards 5/6/7)
Thursday, March 17 (6:30 PM) - Human Rights Commission Meeting
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