City Council liveblog 4/28/09

4:24: Palmeri organized a walkthrough of the CitySquare project this morning with Berkeley Investments, and is talking about his observations. One issue is that Front Street won’t connect through to Major Tayor Blvd, at least in this first phase—Palmieri says he may request that a pedestrian walkway be opened, at least during daylight hours. “That will do as much for this project as anything.

There are CitySquare agreement pieces that need to be approved tonight in order to meet deadlines over the next few months; Unum and Berkeley are set to sign their final lease agreement in June, leading to a potential wrecking ball this fall.

“It felt different…it was moving…you could feel the peelback of the walls,” says Palmieri of his walkthrough.

He says the council (“you”) should be congratulated for staying firm and on course, and that the project will bring in other projects.

4:32: Young Park, Barbara Smith Bacon, and several other CitySquare related officials are here.

One–we don’t catch his name – thanks the City Manager and council for their efforts.

City Manager Michael O’Brien: “This is a complicated project…a lot of moving parts, a difficult economy.”

He cites the councilors’ persistence in holding the line on behalf of the taxpayers, but their flexibility in getting the project done.

4:35: YOUNG PARK SPEAKS!!!!!!!! Thanks Starwood Capital. “There’s a lot of work still to be done,” he says, thanking the Mayor, Manager, and Lieutenant Governor, among others.

“It’s a cooperative team effort.”

“It’s the epitome of a complex…public/private project can actually get implemented.”

4:44: Talk about CORI reform…huge turnout from area activists, citizens and former prisoners supporting reform.

4:50: Some poignant remarks here. Councilor Germain even references his past DUI, saying “I’ll never back down from giving someone a second chance.”

5:00: The vote to advertise the ordinance (which will be ordained in two weeks) passes unanimously to huge applause and cheers.

5:05: DPW Commissioner Bob Moylan says as of next Monday, he expects 6 DCR crews to be on the street, collecting brush piles and hangers in trees; more crews will be added as needed down the road—collections need to be done by June.

This collection is ONLY for debris on public ways as of now.

5:11: The original guesstimate for the city’s 25% contribution to collection efforts was in the $400,000 range. The latest estimate is triple that.

5:20: Some info on how much the city pays for legally mandated advertising; Petty wants it broken down by department.

5:24: Haller raising some serious concerns about regional transit, especially the WRTA. Funding is down, service is down, etc.

O’Brien says that service could get much worse – “dismantle mode” he calls it – if the funding situation doesn’t improve.

Rushton: “Until there’s a..deliberate debate [in the legislature]…about fixing roads, bridges…we’re pissing in the wind.”

5:31: Talk about the proposed Early Retirement Incentive Program and an extension of the City’s pension funding schedule.

Haller: “We have to be quick firm with the legislators that this is something we support.”

The vote being taken is for a resolution in “EXTREMELY STRONG SUPPORT” of a petition filed….by the city. Yes, they are in support of their own petition.

Clancy wants only those towns – like Worcester – with strong pension systems.

5:41: Local aid. Bottom line, says O’Brien, is we still don’t know exactly what cuts were facing in local aid.

Haller: “It’s kind of hard to do an 18 month budget when the roller coaster keeps driving through here.”

O’Brien says there’s no indication of when the state budget will be done. And unlike the city, which is dealing with the situation by (sort of) moving to an 18-month budget, the state is considering month-to-month incremental budgets.

5:46: Quinn Bill, which the city may be required to pay 100% of. O’Brien says his understanding is there are enough votes to restore the funding to its present level – at least for now – so that the city would have to contribute 50%.

5:52: Rushton says he’s upset the House has let the Municipal Relief Act sit for so long, but was able to pass a sales tax over a weekend.

6:10: Lot of talk here about the budget, the state action/inaction/whatever, and where we stand fiscally. Nothing really new, except for the fact that these guys want those guys to do more.

6:15: 15 minutes until budget, and 10 council orders plus four supplementals. CAN WE DO IT????

6:19: Nope. All council orders except a few already taken are held until next week.  Including the merger of human resources departments.

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