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March 2007

For a meeting that I almost canceled, we certainly covered some reasonable ground last week.

CAMBRIDGE SCIENCE FESTIVAL
The woman I invited to come had to bail at the last minute, so we didn’t get a detailed list of the events. The festival runs from April 21-29. They want to make this an annual event.

Details here: http://cambridgesciencefestival.org/

Note that the PDF files on the home page seem to be more helpful than the site itself, which given that MIT is sponsoring this whole thing is fairly amusing (to me, anyway).

NORTH CAMBRIDGE FAMILY OPERA (NCFO)
One of the events in the science festival is a musical piece for kids, written by David Haines, who wrote the piece that the NCFO performed last year. Heather Hoffman from East Cambridge, whose daughter is in the chorus, came to get the word out about that performance and also the NFCO performance of a new work by David Bass and John Kane this weekend and next.

Details here: http://www.familyopera.org/

WIFI IN CAMBRIDGE
Mary Hart, CIO for Cambridge, and her colleague, Ash Dyer, gave a quick overview that explained how it works and what they were doing. They also some answered questions. I can remember none of the details as it was the sort technical stuff that makes my eyes glaze over. Those of you asked the questions and remember the answers are encouraged to post that information.

But here are the points I remember:

+ Cambridge is one of several cities that is trying to set up wifi and is no further ahead or behind than the rest of them.

+ Harvard Square is pushing to get this set up first, as part of the renovations and other efforts to restore it to a destination site in the area.

+ The city seems to be responding to wherever the demand is coming from, so if we are dying to have this in Porter Square next, we need to organize our cage-rattling efforts.

You'll probably get better information here: http://www.cambridgema.gov/wifi/

LESLEY UNIVERSITY
George Smith gave an update, with drawings, of planned changes to the Porter Exchange building. This building will be renamed to University Hall at some point, but we locals will probably always call it Sears ;-)

+ The Rustic Kitchen will reopen as The Parish Café around June. (The delay is due largely to the time required to transfer the liquor license.) All the renovations that have been done in that space in the last few years are redounding to benefit the new tenants, who plan to make the place more open and bright, moving away from the bat cave that the previous tenant created.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of this place, but the chef and manager have been running a restaurant of the same name and concept in Boston since 1992. This will be their second one. The menu seems quite reasonable and priced to what the neighborhood is likely to support. For details, check out their Web site: http://www.parishcafe.com/index.html

+ Lesley has signed a contract with Bruner/Cott (architects who did the Mass MoCA buildings in North Adams) for the AIB buildings. Ideally, the first meeting for public input to the design will be held before graduation this year.

+ The pictures that George brought were of the plans for giving the Porter Exchange building a stronger identity with Lesley. The two front entrances will have a new glass “awning” through which you will be able to see two signs for “Lesley University” over the top of the doors.

Between these entrances will be more street entrances to four smaller retail spaces. (They have a letter of intent from Starbucks for one of them.) The construction underway inside is a glass wall at the back of these spaces, so you’ll be able to see through the building from the sidewalk.

The back entrance will have the same new “awning” as the front plus some landscaping.

ELEVATOR PROJECT FOR PORTER SQUARE STATION
Although we actually spent the most time on this item, there is not much to say about it. The design work is almost 30% finished and appears to be on schedule. One new item that emerged since we saw plans in January, was to leave a space next to the new elevator for an elevator from the street to the commuter rail platform. Hard to know how this work would be funded, but it will at least be possible.

We will see these plans again in June, when will be close to 60% finished.

PAST AND FUTURE EVENTS
+ The city of Cambridge lost one of two tactical manuevers filed after our victory on the appeal to avoid having the hearing re: Long Funeral Home. We should hear about the fate of the second one soon. If they lose that one as well, we will be able to take a number and get in line for a hearing date.

+ Qdoba got the liquor license.

+ Next month's meeting will probably be devoted largely to reviewing/discussing plans for Hotel Kaya.

+ We are going to have a Porter Square clean-up day on (note change in date) Saturday, April 21 from 11 am to 2 pm. The folks at the Hope Fellowship church where we meet did one of these a couple years ago and were very helpful in laying out what needs to be done, where, and for how long. (Thanks, Odoi.) Members of their congregation will join us.