Mark Jaquith

Cambridge Massachusetts
Member, Ward One Democratic Committee, East Cambridge Planning Team and Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods. 35 year Cambridge resident, 29 year East Cambridge resident. Big issues: Environment, quality of life, open space, arts, good government.
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Mark Jaquith

Recently posted by Mark Jaquith

June 19, 2014 - 3:05pm On June 18th the Cambridge Public works department held a public meeting on Harvard Square improvements in the second floor of Starbucks located in the old Wursthaus space at 1380 Mass. Ave. The first few minutes of the meeting were used to update folks about several construction projects that we are or will be seeing soon. These include Cambridge Common and Flagstaff Park, the Cambridge Street tunnel, the Anderson Bridge, Mason Street, and Mount auburn Street between JFK and Holyoke Street. The main thrust of the meeting was to let people know about the public Toilet to be installed in the tyrannic island known as MacArthur Park roughly between Johnson Gate (to Harvard Yard) and First Parish Church. This first use will be a test project to determine functionality, durability, maintenance needs, and cost. This has been a long time coming and will be in place by next summer. If things go better than expected, installation could be complete by fall of this year. The unit chosen is called the Portland Loo. This article on the Atlantic’s CITYLAB page will give some good background on the loo and this page on the City of Portland (OR) Environmental Services site has all the specs. I’... read more
June 18, 2014 - 11:25pm One of the things that I like about living in East Cambridge is my proximity to the boat launch on the Broad Canal. On Tuesday afternoon I put my kayak on top of my car and was on the water in fifteen minutes. From there I paddled around the Vellucci Fountain in the Lechmere Canal and then through the old locks and North Point Park to the Millers River. The underside of the Zakim Bridge, and all of the other structures and amenities make it one of my favorite places to photograph. The fragile bits of life that survive beneath and/or next to close to twenty lanes of highway and ramps are an inspiration too. Some good restoration planting has been done on the banks of the Millers, but more could be done. The fact that there is life below and beside about twenty lanes of highways and ramps, a commuter rail hub, and a cement plant is an inspiration. If you click the search tab above and enter Millers River, you will find a half dozen or so other bits I’ve done mentioning the Millers If you are interested. read more
June 15, 2014 - 1:37pm I lost a friend a couple of weeks ago, and only just found out on Thursday. Just about anyone who has spent a quantity of quality time in Harvard Square over the last forty years probably knew Kenny Hill, AKA Skip. When I came to Cambridge in 1975 to work for The Coffee Connection, I came to love the People on the streets that made the place special. Between the street vendors, buskers and characters, the scene was just the thing to continue the education of a recently transplanted High School graduate such as myself. One of the people who stood out in that crowd was Kenny. I first noticed him as the one who would be marching down the street regaling the world on subjects religious, literary, historical, and sometimes quite beyond my grasp. He was sometimes known as Out To Lunch. I gradually got to know Kenny better and learned that when he was not at his most ebullient, he was one of the smartest and most decent people I’d ever known. I was at work one day and a woman was reading some mystery novel in the shop and Kenny looked at it and said “Oh, I only read those in French”. That’s when I began to know just how deep his waters ran. One of his brothers said that Kenny taught... read more
December 3, 2013 - 10:45pm I spent most of Tuesday as an official observer of the City Council vote recount. Back in the day, as they say, this is the way all the votes were counted. By hand while being observed by volunteers from the various campaigns and members of the public. I’ve heard stories about the hand count since I came to Cambridge in the 1970’s. It was always described as sort of the socio-political event of the year, almost a big party. The atmosphere in the room at eh Moore Youth Center was not what I would call a party. It was quite congenial, but the staff and observers were not as relaxed as they might have been if this were still the common practice. The Election Commission members were not as quick they might have been with answers to procedural questions, and many observers, including me, were learning as they worked. While we waited for instruction the common questions were “What are they doing now?” and What’s the delay?” The answers were generally “Matching number one vote totals to the machine tally.” and “Waiting for all the groups of counters to get finished.” The procedures are all quite clearly laid out in the instructions provided by the Election Commission, but in the middle... read more
November 28, 2013 - 12:37am The City Council vote recount will begin on Monday December Second at 8:30 am at the Moore Youth Center located at 12 Gilmore Street. The recount was called for by Councillor vanBeuzecom who came in tenth, leaving her just shy of re-election, according to the official result announced last week. Coming in just thirteen votes behind first time candidate Dennis Carlone, and fourteen votes behind newcomer Nadeem Mazen. There is some irony in the fact that this trio of candidates probably align more closely on many issues than any other group I could put together. I would like to see all three with their names on desks in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. Alas, two out of three is probably the best I’m going to get. If you supported any of these candidates, they could really use your help as an official observer during this recount. It is projected to last more than ten days, and as many as twenty seven counting tables may be in use at once. I’ve heard many people say that we shouldn’t have a recount for reasons such as expense, satisfaction with the results, and the belief that an accurate count has already been done. Regardless, Councillor vanBeuzekom is well within her rights... read more
October 26, 2013 - 12:34pm One million pounds of food. That’s the number that stuck with me after attending Food for Free’s fundraiser Party Under the Harvest Moon. I learned lots of numbers about Cambridge’s premier provider of food to those in need. What does a million pounds of food even look like? If it were apples at forty lbs. per case, they would stack over five and a half miles high. If laid end to end on Mass. Ave. starting on the Cambridge end of the Harvard Bridge they would almost reach Lexington center. That’s how much food they provided in a year. Twenty five thousand people are fed over the course of a month. Eighty three agencies and programs, in Cambridge and nearby cities receive high quality food. All this food comes from about seventy five sources including, farms (including their own farm, Field of Greens), orchards, farmers’ markets, bakeries, retailers, wholesalers and the Greater Boston Food Bank. Much is donated, but most is rescued. Nearly forty percent of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away. Food for Free “rescues” most of that. Overstocks and products nearing their expiration dates that would otherwise be discarded are redirected to people who need it. About fifteen... read more
October 16, 2013 - 8:39am Three City Council candidates, all challengers, have just done something that we haven’t seen in Cambridge for a long time. They have allied into a slate. Calling their group the “Clean Slate”, Dennis Carlone, Nadeem Mazen, and Janneke House will be working together to get themselves elected in November. Progressives in Cambridge have a history of this strategy. The Cambridge Civic Association is remembered for always endorsing a slate of candidates advocating rent control when that was legal, and other issues. According to an article in Cambridge Day, the last time we saw this was in 1994. A slate can be an effective way of getting one or more of the members elected. It gets attention for one thing. It brings their common ideas into focus. It brings synergy to their campaigns, all for one and one for all. I heard rumors of this last week at a house (no pun intended) party for this trio in East Cambridge. It was interesting hearing them talk to us on issues such as urban planning, effective and inclusive governance, dog parks, the environment, and community benefits from development. While they did not always agree on all points, it was clear that they have good ideas, good... read more
July 17, 2013 - 3:23pm On June 19th, 2013, A group of Cambridge residents submitted a petition to the City Council to amend the zoning ordinance to insure that new large buildings and some major rehabs meet so-called “net zero” energy use criteria. This would mean that qualifying developments would use a combination of conservation, on site sustainable generation and purchase of “green” energy or renewable energy tax credits. Compliance reports are also required. On July 14th the Cambridge Chronicle published a “Right View” column by Peter Wilson in opposition of the petition. I am compelled to offer what I think of a more “Correct View” Writing on another 90 plus degree day makes me think that this net zero energy thing might be a pretty good idea. Of course we've always had heat waves, but every week or so you can read another article reporting the hottest seasonal temperatures ever recorded somewhere. Mr. Wilson seems to think that everything is fine and that being "paternal", i.e. doing something that may actually have the desired effect, is the real evil. That is a pretty silly argument. We do these things all the time and like the results just fine. Seatbelts, fire codes, traffic regulations, and... read more
February 9, 2013 - 10:11am It's a fun and safe day so far. Thanks to my neighbor Peter Vellucci who cleared the whole block with his snow blower. read more
January 23, 2013 - 6:36am Public open space is always in short supply in a city as dense as Cambridge.To build an urban environment worth living in, parks and places to freely gather are one essential component. To insure that this happens in a reasonable way we have zoning and planning. In Cambridge, zoning is very often written by developers to enhance the value of their property.Providing open space is at odds with that goal and is generally minimized. There are exceptions, notably Alexandria’s provision of two plus acres and the funds for its improvement. The city rarely adds to its inventory of open space. Parks and other city owned property do not generate real estate taxes and are near the bottom of the list when it comes to acquisition and improvements. They cost the city money. As anyone who pays attention to the goings on at City Hall knows, the top priority is keeping the city’s bond rating at triple-A. So, what do you do if your neighborhood wants a new park? While I’m sure there are many answers, some of us in East Cambridge have found one way to make it happen. When of Lyme Properties bought land east of Third Street that would eventually become Cambridge Research Park, residents began... read more

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