Cambridge seeks meeting with Arlington, Belmont
Despite testimony from residents and officials shocked by Monday’s savage morning thunderstorm, flash flooding and even the touchdown of a tornado in Revere, an order aimed at saving the Silver Maple Forest from development -- and shielding Cambridge, Arlington and Belmont from even harsher weather as climate change takes hold -- wound up as watered down Monday evening as the region itself.
City Manager Richard C. Rossi is to arrange a meeting as quickly as possible with his equals in Belmont and Arlington to see whether the communities have the combined will to save the the 15-acre forest between Route 2 and the Alewife Brook Reservation from development by Philadelphia-based O’Neill Properties. Because councilors are given 36 hours to call for reconsideration of their votes, their orders can’t be acted on immediately by the City Manager’s Office, and as of Wednesday afternoon the order to arrange a meeting hadn’t been received.
At its introduction, the order from Councillor Dennis Carlone called, among other things, for much broader action by Rossi "to convene an open meeting with officials from Cambridge, Arlington, Belmont and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, along with representatives of other interested parties, to discuss all possible options for the preservation of the Silver Maple Forest."
But it was whittled down bit by bit in debate that started in hour five of a 6 1/2-hour meeting, with councilors skeptical Cambridge and its 2.7 acres of Silver Maple Forest would have much impact in a project permitted in Belmont’s 12.9 acres of forest. Arlington’s interest lies mainly in the floods faced by East Arlington as changes in land use and climate result in the equivalent of "100-year storms" taking place now about every three years.
Twenty Ottoson Middle School students hope to put their six robots underwater in a real-world test at Spy Pond this fall.
Their teacher, Brandy Whitney, stands behind that hope.
The students worked from February into June to assemble and successfully test the robots, called SeaPerches.
"They amazed me with their will to keep doing something over and over despite setbacks and challenges," Whitney wrote in an email. "They have amazing dedication."
A teacher for eight years, four of them instructing in engineering, Whitney provided an outline of the persistence by the members of the Robotics Club.
Sixth- through eighth-graders aim to complete the project this fall and hope to compete, perhaps diving into the SeaPerch challenge.
High schoolers usually tackle this kind of engineering project.
The slide show with this story portrays snapshots of the students' progress. See the full robot assembly slide shown here >>
In June, Campbell Conrad won the Arlington Soap Box Derby and advanced to national competition in Akron, Ohio. After a poor showing in trials, "it looked like a one-and-done event for the Conrad family" on Saturday, July 26, wrote Cary Conrad, organizer of the Arlington race.
Instead, his son made history: Campbell was the first person from Massachusetts to win an All-American Soap Box Derby race in Akron, Ohio.
The 17-year-old took first-place honors in the Local Masters Division, outracing Brittany Bisighini of Sanford, Fla., and Cameron Burdgick of Albany, N.Y., to the finish line. Conrad's winning time was 29.162.
"I've been racing for six years, and this is my third year at the World Championships," Conrad told the AASBD website. "In my two years before this year I didn't win a heat. I felt good throughout the day. My father ... helped me all day today."
In an email Monday, July 28, his dad was ecstatic: "In a race where millimeters often decide the results, Campbell beat them by ¼ car length. Wow….he drove a perfect race…."
He also described how his son's chances appeared before the race:
Legendary Arlington High School science teacher Don Bockler is gone but hardly forgotten. His name lives on through the persistent work of former students -- and through the name of a wasp.
A new species has the recently approved scientific name Lanthanomyia bockleri. You can call it the "Bockler Wasp."
The award-winning teacher who died in 2008 at 65 lives on with a lot of help from AHS graduates Margaret Dredge Moore of Arlington and Tabatha Bruce Yang of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, at the University of California, Davis, and its nonprofit BioLegacy Program.
In 2012, Moore and Yang led an effort locally to have a new species of insect named in Bockler's honor. It raised more than $2,000 from 95 donors for the endowment of the Bohart Museum, after senior scientist Steve Heydon had discovered the tiny wasp in Chile.
AHS 1993 graduates Yang and Moore, who have known each other since first grade and were lab partners in Bockler's AP biology class, saw it as a wonderful tribute to "Doc Boc," the teacher's nickname.
In an email July 25, Moore wrote that Bockler was "incredibly passionate about science education, so we were thrilled to have this opportunity create a memorial for him in science history. The success of the project is a tribute to the lasting impact he had on hundreds of students.
UPDATED, July 30: Work began in July 2014 on the first phase of the $6.84 million Mass. Ave. project, starting at Pond Lane and heading toward Cambridge. Ground was broken July 29, as shown in photo-animation at left by Adam Auster.
A description of what residents and business can expect was presented, followed by comments from 27 residents at the project kickoff at the Thompson School on Monday, June 16.
Town update: During the final week of July, drainage work will continue. Tree removal and test borings for new traffic signals may be conducted during this week as well.
Word on the Street, a blog by Auster, is providing ongoing accounts of the project -- in words and pictures:
July 29: Ground broken
July 27: Week in pictures
July 22: John Deere lands
July 20: Trees wrapped
July 18: Grafton St. staging
The single medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Cambridge, near Alewife, appears to be back on the table, as an informal presentation is set for Thursday, July 31, with the state officials who blocked the plan last month. If approved, the Greeneway Wellness Foundation dispensary opening could occur early next year.
For more, see Cambridge Day >>
UPDATED, July 28: A town resident questioning the redactions in a separation agreement with former assessments chief John B. Speidel has received support for his effort from the state Public Records Division.
In a July 22 email Shawn A. Williams, supervisor of records for the state division, told town counsel that "an in camera review of an unredacted copy of the responsive record would facilitate a determination as to the applicability of the exemption claim made by the Town."
Williams asked Town Counsel Douglas Heim to provide the state with a copy of the April agreement without deletions in 10 days, or by Friday, Aug. 1.
In an email Monday, July 28, Heim wrote that the town will provide an unredacted copy of the agreement to the supervisor of public records.
"If a substantive response beyond the unredacted copy is issued by this office, I'll let you know and provide you a copy," he wrote. "However, right now all they're asking us for is the document."
He declined to comment further, except to write that "the State is looking for further information, which is common in a public records appeal, especially of this nature. The order is not an opinion on the substance of
the appeal itself."
After review, the document would be returned to the town -- and no one else.
Williams wrote in connection with an appeal by Chris Loreti, who did not accept the Town of Arlington's response to his request for public records filed June 26.