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January 2010

Porter Square Neighbors Association Meeting Minutes
January 21, 2009

Agenda

  • 2010 Census
  • North Massachusetts Avenue
  • St James update
  • Ears to the ground

2010 Census
Presenter: Norman Eng, a Partnership Associate for the 2010 Census

The US Constitution requires that a census be taken every decade. The results are important because they determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives given to each state. Massachusetts currently has 10 of the 539 seats and could lose one or even two seats, so it is essential that everybody be counted. The census also affects federal funding for things like roads and bridges, Medicade, and Pell grants.

The Census is hiring census takers now. This is a temporary, part time job, involving night and weekend work and pays $20 per hour. To qualify one must pass a 28 question test, being given at various locations.

Q: Is your census information kept confidential?
A: It is a serious violation of the law (US Code, Title 13) to disclose census information to anybody.

Q: In 2000 a random selection of people were asked to fill out a long form that asked many invasive questions. Will that happen again?
A: This time everybody will get a short form. There is a separate long form census, but it has been spun off entirely from the main census.

Q: Are college students counted at college or at home?
A: They are counted wherever they live for the main part of the year. Here, in other words. The census is organizing special meetings at local dorms to engage with students.

North Massachusetts Avenue
Presenter: Taha Jennings, CDD

The Community Development Department will be conducting a study of the North Massachusetts Avenue corridor between Beech Street and the Arlington line, starting in early 2010, in order to explore ways to improve the character of the Avenue along this stretch. The goal is to develop recommendations for improvements to the Massachusetts Avenue corridor from Beech Street to the Arlington line, addressing urban design objectives, design guidelines, streetscape improvements, and enhancement of the retail environment. Changes to the roadway profile (median, curb lines etc.) are not expected to be a component of the study, as they would require major roadway reconstruction of Massachusetts Avenue, which is not expected in the foreseeable future.

The first public meeting will be 6:30 February 25 at the Peabody School on Rindge Avenue. It will start with staff city presentations; then there will be some small group work followed a bigger discussion at the end.

If you are interested in being included on the mailing list for this study please contact Taha at tjennings@cambridgema.gov or by telephone at 617-349-4603.

Q: If this doesn't include curb or median changes, what does it include?
A: Things like planters, trees, landscaping. Also the retail environment and strategies to enhance it.

Q: Will this include crosswalks?
A: ADA requirements mandate modifying curbs for wheelchairs, so a crosswalk takes more than just paint. However, CDD wants to hear about crosswalk needs.

Q: What about urban design guidelines? The last set of guidelines was done in 1984, covering Harvard Square to Alewife Brook Parkway.
A: Yes, design guidelines can be considered.

St James update
Presenter: Susan Hunziker and others

This was an informal update on the results of the January 7 Historical Commission review. Although they granted conditional approval, there were a number of significant unresolved items. The big one seems to be financing for the continued viability of the church. Others included the landscaping plan, commitment to public access, and exterior materials. Another Historical Commission review is scheduled for February 4. (Added after the fact: at February 4 the CHC put off further consideration until May.)

Ears to the ground

Still no word on Banjo's. (Added later: Banjo's opened at last on February 6.)

The next regular meeting is scheduled for 7PM March 18. The February meeting has been cancelled.