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City Council Discusses Watershed Protection, Cycling Promotion

By Ivan B. K. Levingston and Tyler S. B. Olkowski, Crimson Staff Writers

The Cambridge City Council discussed preservation of the Silver Maple Forest and allocated a $27,000 donation from the Helen and William Mazer Foundation to purchase a bicycle counter interface at its Monday meeting.

The meeting, which took place inside the Attles Meeting Room at Cambridge Rindge and Latin Public School, also included the confirmation of Paula Crane as Cambridge’s deputy city clerk and a discussion of the appropropriate level of fluoridation in Cambridge’s water supply. Leland Cheung, a city councillor currently running for state lieutenant governor, was the lone absence at the meeting.

The bicycle counter, an interface that will display the number of cyclists and pedestrians that have passed by a certain location that day or that year, would further the City of Cambridge’s efforts to support bicycling, according to Iram Farooq, a member of the Cambridge community development department. The counter will be placed on a highly frequented street, she said during the meeting, suggesting Mass. Ave. as a potential location.

For Cambridge City Councillor Craig A. Kelley, who said he strongly supports bicycling, the measure is a step—not the finish line—in Cambridge’s pursuit of a truly bicycle-friendly city.

"If we are going to say bicycling is an answer to the congestion again and again and again, then we have to put serious meat behind this," Kelley said, adding that "one [bicycle counter] isn't enough."

The council spent a significant amount of time discussing the possibility of purchasing a large portion of the Silver Maple Forest, which includes portions of Cambridge, Arlington, and Belmont, in order to further protect Cambridge’s watershed. However, Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi said that because much of the land is located outside of Cambridge, he was unsure of whether Cambridge could purchase it.

Speculating that purchasing the land would be a “long, drawn out, very convoluted process," Rossi added that, "Whether we wanted to buy it or not, it's not for sale."

City Councillor Marc C. McGovern noted that all of the forest within Cambridge borders has already been put under protection, and that Cambridge has done its part. Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan said that although he is concerned about climate change, he is also concerned that preservation may negatively affect local residents.

“We need to look into our commitment to affordable housing and prioritize residents,” Benzan said.

The meeting’s agenda included a list of applications, such as a request from Mike’s Pastries to put out a hanging sign at their planned Harvard Square property at 11 Dunster St. The Department of Public Works approved the application.

—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.

—Staff writer Tyler S. Olkowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @OlkowskiTyler.

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