Thursday, June 06, 2019

Boston City Council Looks At Cannabis, Art Institutions, Transit, Local Capital Budget Items & Much More

City Councilor-At-Large Michelle Wu publishes notes from Boston City Council meetings. The Boston City Council considered the following items and many more at their May meetings and June 5, 2019 meeting:

  • Zoning Board of Appeals: Craig Galvin reappointed as a member until March 2022; Edward Deveau appointed as an alternate member until July 2021
  • Audit Committee: Catherine O'Neill as a Member until November 2020

Animal Care & Control: The Council voted to pass the Mayor’s ordinance that would transfer the Animal Care & Control unit (currently 18 employees) from the Inspectional Services Department to the Parks & Recreation Department. At the hearing, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space Chris Cook described that the function of the Parks & Rec department is to manage and maintain parks and open spaces, and most of the complaints concerning unleashed dogs and wildlife occur in parks and open spaces. The move would also enable the creation of a Friends group to help support the City’s animal adoption center, similar to Friends groups that exist in support of various parks around Boston.
Community Preservation Committee (CPC): The Council voted to approve the two budgetary orders to appropriate $1.2M for the FY20 administrative costs of the CPC and reserve $24.3M of FY20 revenues from the CPC Fund for further appropriation based on future project recommendations of the CPC throughout the year. The CPC Fund was created upon Boston’s adoption of the Community Preservation Act in November 2016 and is funded by 1% property-tax surcharge on certain residential and business property tax bills and a state matching mechanism. The funding must be targeted to open space/recreational use, historic preservation, and affordable housing. Learn more about the committee and process to submit project proposals for funds at:
Capital Budget: The Council voted unanimously to advance the capital budget--the first of two required votes to approve appropriations for the City’s $2.78B FY20-24 Capital Plan. Councilor Ciommo highlighted several projects, including (NOTE: This list is abridged to reflect local projects or interests)

  • Designation of 1% of the City’s annual Capital Budget for the commissioning of permanent public art in municipal spaces;
  • Renovations at community centers; designing and constructing a new EMS Seaport station, beginning construction on Engine 42 in Roxbury (which will be the first new fire station built in 25 years) and completing design for a new Engine 17 facility in Dorchester and replacements for Engine 3 in the South End, Engine 37 in the Fenway, and continuing construction of Engine 50 in East Boston and Engine 5 in Charlestown;
  • Beginning climate resiliency improvements at the Raymond Flynn Marine Park;
  • Completing designs for the reconstruction of the Long Island Bridge, Northern Avenue Bridge, and Dalton Street Bridge, and reconstructing roadways such as Summer Street in Fort Point, North Square in the North End, and Beach Street in the Leather District

Red-Blue Connector: The Council voted to adopt Councilor Edwards’ resolution supporting the Red-Blue Connector. Connecting the Red and Blue Lines on the MBTA is an unfulfilled promised to Bostonians, committed as mitigation for impacts of the Big Dig. Building the connector would reduce congestion, improve transportation connectivity, promote access to medical care, shorten commutes and link key institutions such as Logan Airport, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, the Kendall Square innovation district, MIT and Harvard.

Equitable Regulation of Cannabis: Councilors Flaherty and Janey reported back on the well-attended working session this week discussing Councilor Janey’s proposed ordinance for equitable regulation of cannabis. Councilor Edwards emphasized the need for an independent local board to oversee Boston’s new regulations, rather than relying on state oversight. The matter remains in the Government Operations committee for further discussion.

North-South Rail Link: Councilor Essaibi-George called for a hearing on the proposed North-South Rail Link. The Massachusetts Commuter Rail system is effectively split between the North and South of Boston, preventing statewide connectivity and mobility, and Boston is the single gap in continuous service between Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which runs from Washington D.C. to Boston, and Amtrak’s Downeaster, which runs from Brunswick, Maine to Boston. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation for a hearing.

Boston's Arts Institutions: Councilor Janey called for a hearing regarding diversity and inclusion in Boston’s arts institutions, following the experience of the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy students at the Museum of Fine Arts. She stated that the issue is broader than this particular experience, and it is time that Boston should have a conversation about race, diversity and inclusion in the arts, because despite commitments and efforts, many of Boston’s cultural institutions struggle to be welcoming to all. This matter was assigned to the Committee on Arts, Culture and Special Events for a hearing.

UPCOMING HEARINGS (In the City Council Chamber unless otherwise noted. Watch at:
  • Monday, June 10th, 5pm: Housing & Community Development Hearing - Docket #0144 - Order for a hearing to discuss the inclusionary development policy and affordable housing
  • Our next City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, June 12th

For complete notes on Boston City Council meetings, visit or sign up to receive these notes automatically. 

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