Cambridge Focuses on Economic Recovery

The events of Sept. 11 continue to shape local concerns—and as a result, last night’s City Council meeting focused on the continuing effects of the terrorist attacks on Cambridge.

The council agenda included bringing about economic recovery for tourist industries, ensuring that civic employees will not receive a pay cut should they go to war and making sure that Cambridge’s local nuclear reactor remain safe.

The council unanimously passed a measure stipulating that the city will continue to ensure a full salary for “any city employee, police or fire recruit currently in academy training” if they should go off to military training.

It is been nearly a decade since the city has passed such a measure.

“The last time we had to have a discussion like this was during the Persian Gulf,” said City Manager Robert W. Healy.

Councillor Kathleen L. Born brought up the safety of the nuclear reactor at the MIT in light of recent events of terrorism.

“That reactor has been there for a long time—it was old when I was a student there in the 1970s,” Born said. “I think if there were some visible security there it might be a great way to reassure the public.”

Healy told the council that he had met with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the reactor, and that it had approved some of his suggestions.

Healy refused to comment further about how the reactor is kept secure, and told the council that “security procedures are confidential.”

Councillor Marjorie C. Decker advocated that the parking lots adjacent to the reactor be shut down—and that the manager tell the council in a closed session about the reactor’s safety and other confidential safety matters.

“I think in these times, it is appropriate to take the most conservative and aggressive steps,” Decker said.

Decker suggested that the council stop the meeting to move into executive session so that confidential security measures could be discussed.

“I think it would be counterproductive to the council’s time not to have the appropriate public safety official present,” Healy said.

Mayor Anthony D. Galluccio moved that the council have its executive session later in the week.

Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72 brought up the matter of boosting local tourist industries, which have taken a drop since Sept. 11.

The appropriation funds for such an effort—since the Office of Tourism is funded by hotel taxes, which are down—was unclear, Healy said.

But the council discussed ways to revive the lagging local tourist industry.

“Imagine a weekend in Cambridge—the Loeb Theatre, the restaurants,” Galluccio said. “Tie it to why you’d want to stay in Cambridge as opposed to Boston.”

Reeves said Galluccio would be ideal at spearheading an effort to increase tourism.

“I have the sense that you would be an excellent leader, like Rudy Giuliani, in this,” Reeves said to Galluccio.

At the end of the meeting, Councillor Jim Braude congratulated Galluccio, who found out yesterday that he will win the JFK Library’s Fenn Award for Political Leadership on Nov. 7.

—Staff writer Lauren R. Dorgan can be reached at dorgan@fas.harvard.edu.