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Cambridge City Council Approves Flood Resilience Standards, Memorial Drive Closure Extension

Cambridge City Council approved new amendments to local flood resilience standards and continued debating the Memorial Drive closing on Monday.
Cambridge City Council approved new amendments to local flood resilience standards and continued debating the Memorial Drive closing on Monday. By Cory K. Gorczycki
By Jina H. Choe and Samuel P. Goldston, Crimson Staff Writers

Cambridge city councilors approved new amendments to local flood resilience standards and continued to debate on the weekend traffic closings on Memorial Drive at a City Council meeting Monday.

Councilors voted to adopt the flood resilience amendments proposed by the Community Development Department and Councilor Patricia M. Nolan ’80, establishing a final effective date of Sept. 1, 2023, for the new standards.

The Council also passed an amended “Policy Order 5,” which allows for the extension of the Riverbend Park traffic closure located by Harvard’s river houses.

Many Cambridge residents once again voiced conflicted opinions over the traffic closures on Memorial Drive during the public comment hearing at Monday’s meeting, two weeks after a passionate debate arose at the last council meeting over the same issue.

The closure of Memorial Drive is “incredibly important for our neighborhood and for others,” said President of the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association Suzanne P. Blier, who is also a professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies at Harvard.

In a public comment on the road closure, Kenneth E. Reeves ’72, former Cambridge mayor and city councilor, said how the Council gathers public input is “off-putting” and “not democratic.”

“We need to find a democracy where everybody is heard and that the interests of those who don’t have the majority be accommodated in some ways,” he said. “We want the mayor and the councilors to help these neighbors out to a win-win solution.”

The Memorial Drive policy order was adopted by a 7-2 vote, with Councilor E. Denise Simmons and Councilor Paul F. Toner voting against the order.

“I personally feel that I really don’t care that we’ve gotten hundreds of emails from people who live in the Greater Boston area and the Greater Cambridge area when many of the people that live right there at the site of the closure are saying that they’re having difficulties getting in and out,” Toner said.

The Council also considered environmental policy changes, progressing through agenda items that included several communications from Cambridge City Manager Yi-An Huang ’05 — including the granting of appropriations for the purchase of an all-electric “rubbish packer,” updates to an initiative transitioning city vehicles to an all-electric fleet, and a new lease on electric vehicles for the fleet.

Councilor Nolan exercised her “charter right” — a councilor’s option to postpone discussion of and decisions on a topic to a later meeting — on the subject of Cambridge’s energy transition because she said she wanted to review the policy order’s wording further.

The Council will consider this and other orders of business at its next meeting this coming Monday.

—Staff writer Jina H. Choe can be reached at

—Staff writer Samuel P. Goldston can be reached at

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