Cambridge Council Plans to Audit City Manager, Improve Mass. Ave., and Honor Burger of the City

Cambridge city councillors serenaded the new mayor, Kenneth E. Reeves ’72, who is one month into his term, with a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” at City Hall last night. But they had other business to attend to as well—addressing a range of issues from contracts to cuisine to concrete.

The council outlined a plan to evaluate the performance of its city manager, Robert W. Healy, whose contract is set to expire this summer. It is likely to negotiate another term with him, according to a council member.

Councillors have until the end of February to vote over whether to rehire Healy, who has served as Cambridge’s city manager since 1981. Before then, each councillor will meet individually with Healy to discuss his performance, according to a late order passed yesterday. The council will also hold a public hearing to discuss Healy’s work on Feb. 22. Later this month, a majority of councillors will then vote over whether to retain Healy.

Under Cambridge’s Plan E form of government, the elected council, chaired by the mayor, hires the city manager, who directs most of the daily operations of local government.

Last fall, several outsider council candidates criticized some of Healy’s policies, including the creation of a $50 million police headquarters to be named after Healy himself. One of those critics, Craig Kelley—who became the only non-incumbent to win a council seat last November—said yesterday that he would not block Healy’s contract renewal.

“I can’t imagine that he won’t be rehired,” Kelley said. “Whatever my personal views, I’m not out lobbying” to change councillors’ minds.

As the council looked to evaluate one man’s quarter-century tenure, it celebrated the endurance of another Cambridge fixture.

Councillors passed a ceremonial resolution congratulating Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Harvard Square on its 45th anniversary.

Councillor Michael A. Sullivan, who was mayor until this year, quipped that Bartley’s burgers—a staple of the Square’s tourist fare—go “above and beyond the call of duty in both flavor and aroma.”

“[Bartley’s] is an important reason why we’re on the map,” Councillor Henrietta Davis added.

The council also discussed improving the median strip on Mass. Ave. north of Harvard Square. Kelley described the median, a plain concrete strip about four miles long between Harvard Square and Arlington, as “about as ugly as one can get” and inconvenient to people crossing.

Sullivan suggested that plants, used in some median strips in Chicago, could provide an attractive, yet affordable partial solution.

The council then passed without discussion an order to investigate installing a traffic light and pedestrian walk signal on Mass. Ave. and Church Street, outside Johnston Gate.

But a routine announcement of committee assignments issued by Reeves descended into confusion. Kelley noted that two of the committees, Public Safety and Human Services, had more members than stipulated in the rules. The council resolved to amend at a future date the rules to allow for more committee members.