CAMBRIDGE — Two major pieces of business were on the agenda of the City Council meeting on April 13. The unfinished business of the referendum was the first of the two. A little history; the Commissioners’ voted on Dec. 15 to change the city charter and proceed with the hiring of a City Manager. Their vote could be overturned only by a referendum. In order to have a referendum, 20 percent of the electorate must petition. On Jan. 26, William Jackson came in with the required number of signatures on petitions. Those signatures had to be verified and Clerk Treasurer Oden Wheeler appointed a panel of election judges to do that job.
Back to the present: At the council meeting, Mr. Wheeler apologized that the expected results were not ready. The process of verifying proved more tedious than he had expected; the job was not completed. After the meeting, Steve Rideout, a proponent of the City Manager ordinance reacted in an e-mail. “It appears from Mr. Wheeler’s comments that those assigned to the task have taken their obligation very seriously and are doing what everyone hoped would happen to ensure to the extent reasonably possible, that they are complete and thorough in their work.” The laborious process continues and the final results are expected at the next council meeting on April 27.
The second piece of major city business was the necessary participation of the City Council in the RAD agreement which had divided the council in the last meeting. Before a federal deadline of April 17, the commissioners had to vote and the mayor had to sign the RAD agreement with the Federal Hud, private investors and the Cambridge Housing Authority. The 21 million dollar deal is for the management and repairs of 190 units of low-income housing. This time the council approved the measure. Tenants sighed with relief and the city will be getting some extra dollars in the agreement terms.
The permit and variance part of the meeting went smoothly. The dedication of the 29th Division Association’s new memorial to War heroes on Long Wharf is scheduled for May 9, and preparations will be underway the week before. The Cambridge Sail and Power Squadron will hold flare demonstrations at Great Marsh Park on May 23, and plans to bring back the Fourth of July Boat Parade are in discussion. The Hyatt will have Skeet Shooting at a Manufacturing Convention; the Camper family has permission for a Aug. 29 reunion, and Jack Saum of Christ Church has permission to string up a banner across Race Street to advertise the Fun Dog Show. Watch for it.
Close to $128,000 was authorized by the commissioners for expenses that ranged from paving projects, police equipment, and sewers, to buckets of emergency pails of foam.
But there’s always a solid learning experience at Council meetings and this session brought commissioners up to date on the changes at Chesapeake College. Many of us frequently walk by the building on Race Street without giving a thought to this center of education right smack in downtown. Dr. Barbara Viniar and Bob Boettger described improvements such as new science labs, computer labs, classrooms. To prove the point that it’s a great place for learning, they brought along charming Katie Lipsius, a graduating Senior who will move on to the University of Maryland in the fall.
The college has lots of continuing education courses for adults and they came to the council meeting to extend an invitation to have a look. It may not be beautiful like Long Wharf, or picturesque like High Street, but Chesapeake College is clearly another asset of our fair city.