Summer Recess approaches…but important work remains! In this newsletter I hope to tell you about the passing of the city budget, the progress on the Transfer Fee Home Rule Petition, my resolution on Cameroon, upcoming public hearings on the Demolition ordinance and recognition of the Union Square Neighborhood Council, as well as some construction updates/warnings.
1. City Budget
It took 12 board meetings of review and questioning that spanned 48 hours of meeting time, but we finally passed the city budget proposed by Mayor Curtatone. For newsletter readers who may not understand the city budget process, the Board of Aldermen does not write the budget, it only has the power to approve or reject it. The one power they do have when approving a submitted budget is the ability to cut items. They can’t add items in, only remove or cut. This time around, the Board of Alderman was able to save the city $1,132, 866 in cuts. No essential services were cut during this process. I hope the city can use this savings to put toward important future projects on housing, labor negotiations and public service initiatives.
2. Progress on Transfer Fee
The Transfer Fee Home Rule Petition passed by the Board of Aldermen made it through its first hurdle at the state house. After a Public Hearing before the Joint Committee on Revenue on Wednesday, June 20th, the proposal made it out of committee with a favorable review and will now advance to a secondary committee for further deliberation. Stay tuned for more updates and possible ways you can support its passage at the state level.
3. Cameroon Resolution
I was proud to present my Resolution to the Board of Aldermen on June 28th calling on the Cameroon government to address the current humanitarian crisis plaguing the English-speaking region. A special thank you to the activists Fru Nkimbeng and Ndi Ernest who passionately testified before the board.
This is a crisis the world needs to pay attention to, and it was great to have the support of my colleagues on the board.
Now, I need all of your support. Please sign this online petition calling on The Secretary of State of the United States and the government of Cameroon to act swiftly to resolve this crisis before it results in a civil war.
Thank you for your support!
4. Families Belong Together March
My story as an immigrant to this country is so important to my identity and the great love I have for this country and the city of Somerville. That is why I thought it was extremely important that I stand with immigrants and their allies at the Families Belong Together March in Boston. We must resist the awful immigration policies of this administration that are literally tearing families apart at our border. Immigrants and immigration have always been the backbone of this country, and it is time that we started treating everyone with the human dignity that they deserve. I hope you will join me at future actions/demonstrations as we resist against the policies of hate this administration enacts towards immigrants.
5. Public Hearings Upcoming
Two important opportunities to provide public input on one night, Monday, July 9th 6pm. The Board of Aldermen will take public testimony on the Demolition Review Ordinance (proposed revision) and Union Square Neighborhood Council designation.The meeting will begin with a 20-minute presentation by Planning Director George Proakis followed by the Public Hearing on Demo Review Ordinance. Immediately following the first Public Hearing will be the second Public Hearing on the application of the Union Square Neighborhood Council (USNC) requesting to be designated by the City as the neighborhood council for the Union Square area.
I think that the model of the Union Square Neighborhood Council is exactly what I was campaigning for. We need democratically elected representation from the communities in which development is taking place. Community-led development is essential to maintain the social fabric of our neighborhoods and city. Please come down and testify on these important issues.
6. Construction Updates:
From the City of Somerville:
Beginning the week of July 2, National Water Main crews will be cleaning sewers along the eastern end of Somerville Ave. Drivers should expect isolated lane shifts around manholes between Webster Ave. and Medford St. so that workers can safely access those sewers. On-street parking may also be affected depending on the location of the work at a given time. These cleanings are expected to take about three weeks to complete. There are no expected impacts to water service as a result of this cleaning.
Barletta crews are also making progress as they work toward replacing an old water main beneath the Plaza. To do so, they need to set up temporary water service, remove the old main, then install the new piping. During their overnight operations this past week, they began this process by cutting into the main water line and installing two new valves. Prior to installation, the temporary water system will be tested the week of July 2, and once it’s determined to be working safely and effectively, select building services will be transferred from the old water main to the temporary water line.
During this cutover, anticipated for the week of July 9, a small subset of properties in the area will experience a short interruption to their water service. This interruption is only expected to last about one to two hours, and impacted properties will be notified directly by the City.
Excavation continues in Union Square Plaza as Barletta works to replace a 24-inch sewer line. The fenced-in work zone in the Plaza is expected to remain in place until late July. During this time, bicycle traffic should continue to share the lane with motor vehicle traffic on Somerville Ave. westbound.
Please note that construction will wrap up by noon on Tuesday, July 3, for the Fourth of July holiday. Work will resume Thursday, July 5, at 7 a.m.
Please refer to the project website for project background and other important information. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the project staff:
• City of Somerville Construction Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you and your families enjoy a wonderful summer! Stay tuned for news about an August fundraiser I will be holding here in Somerville.
Your Public Servant,
Alderman-At-Large Will Mbah