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

March 17, 2015 - 2:57pm Beginning this Saturday, North Cambridge Family Opera will present Kids Court by David Bass and John Kane with choreography by Rachel Zimmerman. The story is a spoof on reality TV in which Judge Trduy gets the Hansel and Gretel case. Much hilarity ensues. There are dramatic "re-enactments" by famous celebrities, judge, jury, studio audience, security, production assistants, and, of course, the prosecution and defense teams. You will see a gingerbread house, kids in a cage, and an oven specifically designed to roast children. The show is even interrupted by commercials for products and services as ridiculous as any seen on actual television. Kids Court premiered in 2007 and you can see clips of that show at this link. If you live in Cambridge, you're bound to know someone in this show. North Cambridge Family Opera's shows are always great, and this year's casts are both sounding fantastic, and the acting will crack you right up. Don't miss it! This show, performed by two casts of kids and adults from Cambridge and other towns in the area, runs about ninety minutes and will be performed at the Peabody School at 70 Rindge Avenue, Cambridge. Show times are: Saturdays, March 21 and... read more
February 18, 2015 - 8:12pm No injuries, said a Cambridge Police Officer at Simoni Rink. Snow avalanche off the roof might have trapped some people. Everyone got out OK said the Police Officer. I was walking up Cambridge St. and the Cambridge Fire Department sent HazMat, and Special Operations trucks and extra trucks. Several ambulances were on the way. WCVB.com reports that five people were hurt and two were taken to hospitals. They were on the heavily used path along the building that leads from Gore Street to the Twin Cities Shopping Center and the Star Market. Good job by the Cambridge and Somerville emergency services! read more
February 10, 2015 - 5:31pm The photo above was taken on Webster Street. There are some nicer ones in the slide show. read more
February 8, 2015 - 9:06pm The photo above (not the video) was taken from the rear window of my home on Hurley Street. The Sullivan Courthouse still towers over East Cambridge, but if an appeal of a Special Permit issued by the Cambridge Planning Board wins, it might not stand forever. In this video, Michael Hawley explains the status of the appeals that were filed challenging the Special Permit granted by the Cambridge Planning Board last year. The building ,which has loomed over my neighborhood for forty or so years now has been mostly vacant, for several years after the Middlesex Superior Court moved out citing asbestos and other concerns about the building. The top four floors housed a holding facility of the Middlesex County Jail which was designed to hold some two hundred or so prisoners while awaiting trial. It often held more than four hundred, spurring protests and legal action. That function was finally transferred to the Billerica facility last summer, leaving the building empty and on the list of surplus state assets. The state Department of Capital Assets Management and Maintenance had made a deal to sell the property to Leggat McCall Properties. That deal left just about everyone but Governor... read more
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
September 25, 2012 - 6:22pm Today the groundbreaking ceremony for EF’s (Education First) new building on the Charles River was held in North Point Park. This was not what one usually expects of a groundbreaking. Far from a small knot of men in suits and a shiny shovel, it was a party for a thousand people. Attendees were given commemorative jackets, free beer and wine (at 11:00 am), pizza, sushi, a cold buffet, treats from a half a dozen food trucks, and a live set by Cambridge band Passion Pit. There were videos and speeches by Governor Patrick, Mayor Davis, and many more praising EF and everyone involved in getting the project permitted. That process is an interesting bit of local history. The site which abuts the park is stats land taken as part of the Big Dig and designated for development when the final plans for the crossing to Cambridge were made. The project was complicated by several factors. Special legislation was required to convey the land to EF. It is within areas covered by the state tideland law (Chapter 91), and required a license and list of public benefits. It is within Cambridge’s North Point Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning area which had to be amended to accommodate the building... read more
September 4, 2012 - 5:30pm Photo of Registry of Deeds at 208 Cambridge Street My day job is being a title examiner, so I am extremely interested in one race that has not gotten much ink (although billboards, lawn signs and mass mailings are an entirely different matter). After 24 years, the current Register of Deeds for the Southern District of Middlesex County is retiring. Six Democrats are running, and the winner of Thursday's primary will have no opposition on the ballot in November. Few people outside my line of work have any idea what the registry of deeds is and what the register does, but the records in that building are nonetheless very important; they form the basis for the title to every piece of real estate in 44 cities and towns, including Cambridge. I have a few links to candidates nights and to interviews I conducted with two of the candidates (the others have not returned my multiple phone calls and/or emails) that may help you make up your mind: http://www.newtv.org/video/decision2012/registerofdeeds/ (a candidates night sponsored by the Newton League of Women Voters at which Frank Ciano, Tom Concannon, Maria Curtatone, Tiz Doto and Maryann Heuston appeared; Robert Antonelli did not)... read more
August 15, 2012 - 5:37pm Last Saturday saw the second annual Hungry Tiger Food Festival held in Union Square, Somerville. I know this site is supposed to keep to topics within Cambridge, but “greater Cambridge” will have to be good enough here. After all, it is within walking distance for many of us, and it was way too awesome to miss. Sponsored by the Somerville Arts Council and the Boston Circus Guild, the festival featured food stands from restaurants around the square and local crafts. The Square was decorated with Japanese lanterns and parasols with a huge open mouthed tiger at the entrance. There was some very tasty spicy grilled corn on the cob, but my fave was the fare from Dosa Temple down by Market Basket. The main attraction had to wait till darkness fell. The performance of fire arts by members of the Boston Circus Guild was worth waiting a year to see. Play the slide show to see a few pictures of these spectacular performances. Some of the pics are a little fuzzy because of low light and no tripod, but I hope they will inspire you to be on the lookout for more of the same. read more
March 22, 2012 - 12:14pm I took a stroll to Northpoint Park yesterday to check on progress on the new North Bank Bridge that connects East Cambridge with Charlestown and Downtown Boston. The bicycle and pedestrian bridge which runs from Northpoint Park in Cambridge to Paul Revere Park in Charlestown is scheduled to open in June. This bridge forms another link in the network of shared use paths that line both sides of the Charles River, Boston Harbor, and eventually the Minuteman path to Concord, and the Grand Junction Path to Cambridgeport. The good folks at Friends of the Community Path in Somerville have been working hard for years to get the portion of the path from Davis Square to Northpoint designed and funded. They could use our support. How nice would it be to be able to bike from North Cambridge to East Cambridge/Kendall Sq. and Downtown without using busy streets? Pretty nice I think. The North Bank Bridge is a really interesting piece of architecture. The sinusoidal design makes for what I think is a visual delight. The attached PDF from the designer Ammann & Whitney gives a better explanation than I could of the details. Please take a look, it is a fascinating structure. Located near the... read more
February 22, 2012 - 9:23am The Cambridge City Council held a special meeting tonight, Feb 22 at City Hall to focus on the MBTA funding crisis. The location of the T's public meeting in Cambridge has been changed. MBTA officials will be at City Hall in the Sullivan Chamber Feb. 29 at 6:00 to discuss possible cutbacks. This was originally scheduled at the Citywide Senior Center at 806 Mass. Ave. and there was discussion at the Council meeting of moving it to the auditorium at the King Open School on cambridge Street to accommodate a larger crowd. This move doesn't really accomplish that, but perhaps the idea is that now it can be televised and webcast. I had to leave the meeting early to attend another meeting, so I may have missed something. Mayor Davis said in an email "With extra seating and tv monitors we can accommodate over 300 people." Wherever it is, be there. It's all about letting you have your voice heard and the more folks that show up, the stronger the message. But what should that message be. After a conversation with Senator Jehlen's chief of Staff, Bob Fitzpatrick, I think I have some idea of an approach that might work to get us over this hump and put the state’s transportation sector on... read more
February 15, 2012 - 6:14pm The City Council has called a special meeting to talk about the T funding problem in response to an order proposed by the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods and introduced in slightly modified from by Councillor Cheung The meeting will be held in the Sullivan Chamber in City Hall at 5:30 PM on Wednesday February 22 and will be televised. That is one of the actions that the Council has called for in response to the proposals for fare increases and service cut backs. They have also called for a series of meetings to be held in neighborhoods all across town to inform residents about the proposals and how we might work toward a better outcome. These meetings are yet to be scheduled. Another important meeting is coming up on February 29th, 6:00 PM at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Av. This is the MBTA’s chance to explain their fiscal quandry and their response in the form of cuts. Anyone who cares about transportation, the environment, or the economy should show up and tell them that what we need is a long term fiscal solution supported by the state legislature. Without that, the whole region will fail to thrive. Transportation For Massachusetts, a coalition of policy and... read more

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