Boston's Morning Newsletter
Cambridge's 'Riverbend Park' controversially returning to Sunday-only schedule
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Tuesday marked the beginning of an uncertain new chapter in contemporary American history that threatens to further polarize local residents. (I’m of course referring to the rumors that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been trying to trade quarterback Mac Jones.)
Let’s start today with some real on-the-ground news. It’s not quite potholes, but it’s close:
Boston public works crews are “extraordinarily” fast to respond to problems with things like streetlights or bridges under their control. In some cases, “we can be there in 15 minutes,” according to Mike Donaghy, the city’s street lighting and assets manager. However, officials acknowledged yesterday that things sometimes do fall through the cracks. It’s an issue the Boston City Council turned to with renewed urgency after a streetlight in the Seaport fell and injured a woman last fall, prompting the removal of roughly two-dozen other lights.
- Let’s reiterate: We mentioned this in yesterday’s newsletter, but the city’s aging infrastructure is in a constant battle with New England’s harsh weather. The deterioration caused by things like sea air and salt water mean that crews must make repairs more often than in other places, particularly by the ocean.
- Boston manages over 70,000 streetlights and 40 bridges. While bridges are inspected at least every two years, streetlights are inspected on an “ad hoc basis” when issues are noticed — which can be “challenging” to spot early.
- Another issue: 311 reports can get lost in the process of trying to figure out which city or state agency is responsible for repairs, said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets. “I have a few maps that I keep around of areas that have a lot of multiple jurisdictions at play, and it’s almost comical,” he said.
- What’s next: Boston City Council President Ed Flynn urged the city’s public works leaders to not be shy about requesting more money and personnel as the city enters budget season: “If the mayor says 30% increase, say ‘Flynn says 40%,’ because we want to make sure that we have the right resources to get the job done.”
State officials are planning to keep Memorial Drive in Cambridge open to cars all day on Saturdays this summer. The Department of Conservation and Recreation announced this week that pedestrians and cyclists will have the stretch to themselves only on Sundays, beginning April 30 through Nov. 12. It’s a controversial return to the pre-COVID schedule for the so-called Riverbend Park.
- The last few years, the street was closed on both Saturdays and Sundays in the summer through the fall. Several elected officials in Cambridge are publicly speaking out against the “disappointing” decision — even asking fellow Cambridge resident Gov. Maura Healey to overturn it.
- Why the change? DCR spokesperson Ilyse Wolberg told the Boston Herald that there were “concerns about elevated traffic and pollution in surrounding residential neighborhoods, some of which are classified as environmental justice communities.”
The head of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is stepping down, following allegations of verbal abuse and controversial decision-making. The Boston Globe reports that David D’Arcangelo’s last day leading the state agency will be this Friday.
- His resignation comes after the Globe reported Sunday that D’Arcangelo had been the subject of multiple HR complaints alleging verbal abuse and inappropriate comments. Employees also questioned his decisions to cut resources and services while pursuing expensive projects, including a television studio in Boston and a comic book that was unavailable in Braille.
Boston University will allow students who are not vaccinated against COVID to enroll this fall. BU became one of the first large local universities to announce plans yesterday to drop their universal COVID vaccine mandate. Beginning on May 23, the university will move to a “tiered” policy that only requires students and staff involved with patient-facing healthcare to show proof of vaccination.
- BU is still strongly encouraging everyone on campus to stay up to date on their COVID vaccines and boosters. However, Judy Platt, BU’s chief health officer, said the relaxation of the mandate aligns with the end of the state’s COVID public health emergency next month.
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