PSNA Meeting with MBTA tonight!

Date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Location: 

PSNA September 15, 2022 Meeting! TONIGHT! 7-9 PM pm on Zoom TONIGHT we will host a representative of the MBTA to answer our many questions about apparent drug abuse and evidence of drug refuse in/around the Porter Square T station and the little T Park (next to Commonwealth Lock). We realize that this is a problem bigger than the MBTA, but because we love our neighborhood (and Cambridge) we are asking the MBTA to commit to helping us (the neighborhood, the City, and many others on the Zoom meeting) with regular clean ups and working to alleviate the underlying problems leading to the conditions we are currently witnessing. We have invited Cambridge and Somerville Councillors who have been most interest, the CPD's social support unit, members of the DPW (whom we are always asking to clean up the area), a representative of CASPAR's First Step program (who work with the addicts/homeless in the area), neighboring businesses who have ongoing significant issues (e.g., the shopping center, CVS, Commonwealth Lock), and others, to join us. We thank Representative Marjorie Decker's office for helping us set up this discussion with the MBTA. The MBTA asked for questions to be submitted in advance (though we will not limit our discussion to those questions) and they appear below.

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Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85485494745?pwd=a3JlUmZHQk9KY3BYN1Y4emxaeHNldz09 Meeting ID: 854 8549 4745 Passcode: 452658 One tap mobile/Dial by your location: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kuXTfacjU

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The Agenda: We will, for the first time, have a rep for the MBTA (Adam Kamoune, Legislative and External Affairs Specialist) to talk to us/listen to us, and attempt to answer our questions. Many of those questions are about the MBTA's coordination (or lack thereof) with CPD, DPW, CASPAR, etc. We will have representatives of CPD, DPW, CASPAR and other city departments on the zoom call, because we are not trying to harass or move on the homeless. We are trying to see that the unhoused and the addicted get the help they deserve and need; we are also seeking to protect the neighborhood and our "community" property. We will introduce the MBTA rep who has kindly offered to join us, and lay out the ground rules for the evening. We will introduce our other guests, and the program will also be recorded; We will talk about PSNA's history of programs pointing out these problems (via our meetings, our Porter Square Clean Ups, our listserv) and our asking for assistance, struggling to know to whom we should address our concerns/ask for resolutions; We will work through the list of pre-submitted questions and allow the MBTA rep and our other quests to discuss these questions; We will take questions from the floor for the MBTA and have additional discussion with those on the call, if time allows; We will wrap up with (we hope) what we are asking the MBTA to agree to do NOW, and on A REGULAR BASIS; We will ask how and who can monitor these issues on an ongoing basis and follow up with a list of responsibilities and contact info for all involved. Some of the questions we have received are clearly for the CPD. They will be on the call. What is their responsibility for complaints re drug use and homeless issues? How do they address these issues? Is there a special unit? How to contact them? What is CASPAR, and what do they do? What is First Step? How do we contact them? While we are talking about Porter Square, we know this is a city-wide/area-wide problem, which in part is a squeezing at one point leading to bulges coming up somewhere else in the system. But this is our neighborhood and we have to deal with what is happening here. Thank you all,

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Here are the questions submitted so far (though there may be others asked from the floor): Do the T security personnel have jurisdiction to police the area around the T station? And to what extent do they collaborate with Cambridge police to prevent unsafe behavior on the surface property, including the little T-Park (next to Cambridge Lock on Mass Ave and the T property on the west side at the stairs down to the commuter rail? How many persons have been killed on the tracks, under trains, in stations, or on MBTA property along the Red Line between Harvard Square and Alewife Station since March of 2020? Are there statistics? Do we know why? Are there preventive measures being taken? What instructions are inspectors given for clearing and closing stations? What monitoring, if any, is there of their conduct in doing so? Why are they allowed to verbally assault and harass paying T riders [“customers”] entering stations to take buses and trains when they are still operating late at night? Can T employees not respect the public, even while having to do the difficult job of clearing stations, which has been admittedly dumped on them by the systemic neglect and lack of options for housing people who are homeles? We, PSNA, and the neighborhood have been working with Cambridge Community Development and interested businesses and representatives in the Porter Square area, to enliven and make more welcome our local open spaces, including around the very prominent Porter Square Red Line T stop and the Commuter Rail stop. We would like to do small events in the area, but find any request to the MBTA to be met with very burdensome paperwork and very large fees. Why? Is it not possible for the MBTA to work with us collaboratively to allow small events to happen in this, our only, open space? The process with Cambridge and the permitting/fees are very manageable. Why is the MBTA, in effect, a big thumbs down? What can you do to make the public feel safe in going down and into the redline, or the commuter rail? Especially late at night? Why do we witness the public unsure about going down the stairs (on the west side of Mass Ave) to the commuter rail, hesitating to go through/past a several steps deep group of homeless people? Why are we told the cleaning crews refuse to go deep into the tunnel between the redline and the commuter rail, fearing to get hurt by drug refuse (mostly needles but other unsanitary things)? Why should we (the community seeking to use the little T-Park ) need to call DPW to clean up the needles before we have an event? Why do we, the community, need to take it for granted that we cannot plan anything on the west side of Mass Ave, with the semi-circular concrete benches, and hurry by with our children? Note, this is all T property!

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Related Questions FOR the Cambridge Police Department:

What are your instructions regarding making arrests of people who may be homeless? Where are these “orders” coming from, and why? What are the views of various experienced “frontline” officers as to how best to deal with the troublesome and sometimes criminal behavior of people who are evidently homeless? This is a problem that carries over to the shopping center, particularly the 24 hr. CVS, and behind Commonwealth Lock. Has Cambridge (CPD) disbanded (or suspended) the “Drug Unit”? If so, why? If cops know who the dealers are (as some officers have said they do), why are they not being allowed to make arrests? What steps are being taken by the MBTA to help these homeless and drug-addicted people? Does the T cooperate with the CPD and both with CASPAR and the First Step Program (and others) to help them? Please elaborate. We understand that medical and other services are available to them. Does the T cooperate with CPD, CASPAR, St. James, and others in helping the homeless/addicted avail themselves of these services, as well as food, clothes? Please elaborate on the level of cooperation, services, and let us know, as a community, how we can help them and you. The broken window theory: We, the community, Cambridge Arts Council, many of our local businesses would like to see the "Gift of the Wind" repainted its original red (not the pathetic dirty pink it is now). Also, we have called and requested that the many-years dead trees in the little T- park be taken down/replaced. to no avail. How can we get this done? Why is there not simple, regular, scheduled maintenance? We ask Rep. Marjorie Decker's office , annually, that you wash the glass at the Red Line T stop, in coordination with our "Clean Up Porter Square". Could this not be done on a more frequent and reliable basis? How do we contact you, or someone at the T, to hear our concerns? Can we, the MBTA, and Cambridge DPW work out a plan for regular communication and reliable maintenance?

When was the last structural integrity inspection completed for the Porter Square subway station? As you are likely aware, there are several consistent water leaks and there is nearly always water dripping or pooling in the station. Is the station safe? What is the timeline for an overhaul and renovation of the station?