November 16, 2014 Ward Letter

In this week’s letter I discuss two Citywide public works issues, two community meetings and an upcoming City Plan Commission meeting that will address two neighborhood concerns.
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Tomorrow night (Monday, November 17) at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, Third Floor, the Public Works Department will report on the City’s snow removal program.  It is my goal to establish a clear 24/7 contact point for every resident to receive a timely update from the Department concerning the snow removal status of their street.  In previous years, the City posted a “snow hotline” telephone number that operated only sporadically, frustrating callers.  I intend to press the Department to change this unacceptable state of affairs.

At the same meeting, the Public Works Department will update its October 14 report concerning sidewalk repairs.  At the previous meeting, the Department presented an admittedly incomplete list of more than one thousand unrepaired sidewalks, many of which were pending for up to ten years.  While we must, over time, reform our budget to provide operating funds for this type of maintenance, those who have waited ten years with a broken sidewalk understandably feel they have waited long enough.  The Public Works Department will present additional data to estimate the cost of a global repair, which could be funded through a general obligation bond subject to voter approval.

Now that the election has concluded, I and your State representatives wish to hear your ideas about the City’s and State’s priorities.  With that in mind, I have invited Senator Gayle Goldin, Representative Edith Ajello and Representative-elect Aaron Regunberg to join me for a community meeting.  It will take place on Tuesday, December 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Nathan Bishop Middle School.  By having all of us together, we can address your concerns from both a City and Statewide perspective.  If you are interested in discussing State issues before that time, my colleague Aaron Regunberg will be holding a community forum tomorrow night (Monday, November 17) at 7:00 p.m. at Rochambeau Branch Library.  All District 4 residents are invited to come help him to frame his agenda.  If you are unable to come but wish to be part of the conversation, you can join Aaron’s Facebook group.

On Tuesday night (November 18) at 4:45 p.m. at 444 Westminster Street, the City Plan Commission will meet to discuss five matters, two of which relate to our neighborhood.  First, the Commission will discuss an ordinance I introduced that, if passed, would remove the Historic District Commission’s authority to deny approval for solar roof panels.  The ordinance follows a recent decision by the Commission to deny approval for an environmentally-minded resident whose proposed solar panel design had been approved by the State Historic Preservation Commission but failed to gain City approval.  While I would prefer for the City Commission to change its guidelines to increase its recognition of the value of environmental conservation, they have not made sufficient use of that opportunity as of this time.  Also at this meeting the Plan Commission will review the subdivision plan for 460 Rochambeau Avenue.  This is a highly contentious issue, and I encourage affected residents to attend the meeting and join me in sharing your views with the Commission.