Liveblog: Public Works Subcommittee, 3/8/2010

6.02: There are a lot of people here tonight (I’d say at least 50).
My guess is that most people [a group of neighbors] are here for sewers.
One gentleman wanted to speak for the group as a whole, to say that they want an extension.  (And — if sewers are installed — they don’t want to pay for them.)

6.05: There are so many people here that they need to share agendas.

6.07: The city clerk just said there will likely be another 30 people here.

6.10: Jeremy and I are now upstairs.

6.19: OK — we’re called to order.
There’s a couple above us with a “Clancy: Where’s Our Representation” sign.

6.20: Starting at agenda item 6 (Private Street: Beaver Brook Pkwy)
6.21: Denied (9 opposed – 3 in favor)

6.22: Zoar Street; estimated cost $150/foot (same as Beaver Brook Pkwy)
(Payment plans are up to 20 years at 5% interest, according to Clancy)

6.23: discussion with a Zoar corner lot owner about abatements, etc.  Interesting only to people who live on private streets (like me).

Item 7:

6.24: No one here for Eames Street.  Fairly steep graded, poor condition, city in favor because of that & water quality issues.  Approved.

6.26: Myrick Avenue.  6 to 3; heard this in September.  City has improved sewer on the street.  Approved.

6.27: Corrine: Joe Pleshette, at 20 Simone Street, in favor.  His driveway is on that side. 
Moylan: timeline is dependent on funding.  Four years out, however they will make a strong push in this year’s capital budget to shorten that timeframe.  If that works, 2-3 years.

6.28: Michael Zohrs (sp?) has a question about the timing.  I didn’t get it.

Approved.

6.29: Now the meat of this meeting: Sewers!

Moylan: proposal is to put sewer in Millbury Street from Blackstone River Road to Cliff Street (#153?).  From 1255.

All the nays are from 1255 on.

Clancy: If we amended it from its current location to Cliff Street, would there be any opposition? (1085-1255) 5 in favor, and 2 after that.

Amend Millbury Street only to Cliff.

6.33: Leland Street; this could be sewered with the portion of Millbury Street selected.

6:34: St. Anthony.  Moylan: concede that most of the people on St. Anthony are opposed to it.  Would mention a couple of things: cost of putting in sewers not going to be any less expensive than it is today; second, drainage will also be put in.  Not only sanitary sewers but a street that can drain properly.  You need to be mindful of septic systems, that they can fail, and that when they do fail, it’s costly.  If you sell a house, a septic system older than 3 years needs to be inspected and certified that it meets State Title 5.

Moylan: We’re here to give you information, not to twist arms or make you do something you don’t want to do.  He feels compelled to tell people that.  Life will go on for us if we don’t put in sewers on St. Anthony Street, but who knows when they’ll be able to get back to it.

6.37: Clancy: If Millbury Street has sewers, there’s an option for Cliff eventually and that section of Oakland Heights.  Granite Street will not be done.

Without St. Anthony Street, Granite Street will not get done.  Nor the imrpovements to Granite Street.
Clancy: you need to know that there are limited opportunities, and those won’t come back in the near future for those kinds of improvements.
We understand that people want to be left alone, but that’s something that the people in the area have made a choice on.

6.40: Question about Leland Street.  Clancy says it’s only for one home.  The gentleman talking wants sewerage.  Engineers say that that might be possible, but it’s going through someone else’s property and would need to be arranged with a private homeowner.

St. Louis was denied, because it was overwhelmingly against (6 opposed, 1 in favor).  (I don’t remember this being discussed, but maybe it was when WordPress was refreshing…)

St. Anthony – Denied

Winnipeg is the last street: Approved.

Questions about stimulus money and whether it was used for infrastructure.  Moylan: for Canal District, wastewater; water and sewer projects went through a program for which we did not submit projects because it was before stimulus was discussed.  This year, we’ve submitted a number of projects.

6.45: 5A: remove Everett Street from City Map.  Recommended to approve by the Planning Board, administration recommends deny.  (Joel Fontaine speaking.)  Administration concerned about removing parking for residents; city owns parcel of land at corner of William and Linden.  In theory, residents of 9-11 William Street would be parking on this land; it’s been an ongoing issue. 

Clancy asks if we can put signs up for no parking.

Fontaine: dumpsters on the property for 9-11 William Street.  We’ve had a series of problems with it.

6.49: Represents owners of 5 William Street (?)  Parcels 32 and 33.  A direct abutter.  They opposed it at Planning Board.  They would lose their frontage.

6.50: No one here in favor.  Denied.

6.51: WalMart Way…Mark Donahue on behalf of Madison Group (?).  They’re doing this in order to get signage on a state highway, but it needs to be a public way in order to do that.

Motion to approve with conditions laid out by public works…approved.

6.53: Now we’re on to abatements…I’ll let you know if anything interesting comes up.

6.56: And more abatements…

6.57: 2d: No grounds for an abatement!  Motion denied.  Finally, some interest.

6.58: Street Resurfacing on Monticello; they can’t pave on the private part of this. 

Petty: check that Dellawanda (public portion) is sanded in the winter.

Approve 1a-1d.

1e: they should talk with their district councilor (Eddy) to get that done; it’s on the DPW list.  It needs to be funded and chosen.

John Mooshian speaks further about the dangerous conditions on his street.  The street is not level and the water goes down to Flagg Street, and there’s ice in places.

Curb replacements because of winter storm damage has been out of the budget two years, according to Moylan.

Toomey: if this was done by a contractor, don’t they carry insurance?

7.03: Moylan: you have to prove it, and it’s very difficult.  The contractor will say, of course, that they didn’t do it.

Another resident of Hillcrest says that the end of her driveway gets so icy she can’t get in it.

A third resident of Hillcrest (#99) says that the drainage pipe is exposed.  Her daughter would like to play outside, but there’s a lot of dirty water.

7.05: On to sidewalk repairs…

3a-3c approved

3d: Clancy got a very nice email from the gentleman (who was a “comedian” last time); he will let this petition be withdrawn

3e – didn’t catch it

3f: will put it on the drainage list to add a catchbasin.  Residents say that’s good.  There’s zero funding for drainage, so it will be at least FY2011.

Residents: what about wall that washed away?

Moylan: this is a private street.  One of the solutions is private street betterment, etc.

Resident says city took their property for drainage.  Forty years ago.  That’s before Clancy was in office!

7.09: Chicopee Street was approved for private street conversion, so that should help as well.

3g: DPW does not recommend.

Marilyn  — gets the runoff from across the way.  It runs right through her property, in two channels.  Problem is that it’s a private street.   What really would need to happen is 40-45 feet of frontage to be paved in front of her house, but she can’t afford it.

Clancy says she could petition the Council to get the front part of her street made a public way.

Withdrawn.

(That was actually a nice, helpful moment!)

7.14: 3h: Chester Street.  DPW recommends deny because private property.  Joyce LaBonte says that the brook is no more than a trickle.  Over the last five years, sewer runoff is unbelievable and has eroded the bank.  Without the stormwater, the brook is not a problem.

Question about whether it’s the brook or the stormwater.  She feels the problem is not the neighbor’s, but the city’s.

Moylan says it wasn’t clear what the desire was.  It’s not public property and the city has no legal standing in the brook.  However, he could offer a suggestion: for a review of ways in which they can mitigate the flow and discuss it with the committee.

(It’s getting heated in here.)

She says DPW has put stones in there in the past, but the flow is so heavy.  Moylan says they will make more recommendations.

7.18: 3i: Hamilton: DPW recommends denial.  Groundwater issue.  They’ve ordered the abutter to remove drainpipe going onto the sidewalk.  It’s not something they can fix.  Moylan says that it’s like the old Millbury Street.  There’s water coming out of the wall, but there’s no easy fix.  The abutter has done the best he can to fix.

Toomey: could a catchbasin be put there?
Moylan: the real problem is that it crosses the sidewalk and a catchbasin won’t help that problem.  In this case, it won’t work.  “Someone would fall in it.”  (I think he’s talking about me!)

7.22: 3i denied.

3j: Sharon — withdrawn

7.25: sorry — we walked back downstairs now that it’s cleared out.

3l: Those were some happy people!!

3m: guardrails…$100k…appreciation about some Cliff Street guardrail.  There’s actually some laughter!

7.28: 3n: snowban violators accounting system: file.

4a-4e: transmitting information about runoff issues, etc.  File 4e and 4a and 4b.

7.29: Clancy: do we have to build $2million plant to appease EPA?

Moylan: by virtue of existing improvements at Upper Blackstone, sewer rate will go up at least 19 cents, not including anything else.  You can see from the graph how all other costs have remained flat over 7 years.

(Clancy: Except Halley’s Comet — that’s the EPA)

Clancy also read the As You See It.  Moylan and Clancy wish Dianne Williamson would write about it.  (Toomey nominates Jeremy Shulkin.)

Moylan: it’s an uphill fight through EPA appeal process.  If we got denied, it would not be surprising.  We would need to build $200million in improvements (additional facilities, etc., to remove phosphorus and nitrogen.)

We can go to court if appeal is denied (1st Circuit Court of Appeals).

Clancy really wants this to go to the Supreme Court.

7.33: We’ll continue to pay off original stuff until 2024.  Clancy makes a campaign promise that he won’t be here then.  (Let’s hope I’m not, either!)

Moylan: there will be other factors to an increase in sewer rate, but primary reason is Upper Blackstone.  Biggest one facing us is stormwater permit.  Compliance (estimated in 1998) will be $1.2 billion.  Moylan thinks there will be a resurrection of that permit.  It will be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Moylan: there are technologies where you can take stormwater and treat it (with plants or a wet area/rain garden where phosphorus is taken out).  330 outfalls that go into water resources that are considered impaired.  Two concerns would be phosphorus and (coliform) bacteria.

Clancy: Rain Gardens: sounds tropical

Moylan offers him a pina colada.

(This is better than Jay Leno!)

7.37: Toomey: is there anything residents can do to abate phosphorus? 

Moylan: use natural fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers.

Toomey: can we enact a ban on phosphorus fertilizers?

Moylan: would suggest public education.  Bans are difficult because tough to enforce.  Public education to appeal in ways that people can protect their lawn and to do it in an environmentally positive way.

Toomey: rain barrels?

Moylan: they get a grant to partially offset the cost of rain barrels (for past 2-3 years).  People purchase at a cost partially subsidized by DEP.  Currently, we’re out of rain barrels.

Clancy wants a councilor’s name put on the barrel.

Moylan wants to know which side…

7.41: Clancy will keep this on the agenda

Streetscape in the Canal District: final plans are being submitted to DOT in the next week or two.

Latest date for advertising is May 15.

City responsible for advertising. 

Clancy feels this is not a realistic schedule.

There are some relatively new sidewalks that will be replaced because of the junctions of curbs, putting in banding, etc.

7.43: They’re keeping it on the table.

Clancy recommends an open mic.  I concur, but we adjourn.

No more public works hearings until May.

Timeframe for sewer in Millbury Street, Winnipeg area; next year at the latest, according to Moylan..

Library Funding Cuts

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to post, but there are some significant cuts scheduled for both state aid to public libraries and state aid to regional libraries.  You can read more about that here and find out about ways to contact various government officials if you’re so inclined.

The Friends of CMRLS and Friends of WMRLS have chartered a bus to Boston for the MLA/MSLA Library Legislative Day on Tuesday, March 9 (tomorrow).  Pick up spot is at CMRLS HQ, Shrewsbury at 9:15 am.  See the CMRLS website for more information.

Parking Fine Revenue, Part One

(This is Part One, because I haven’t done a lot of research.  I’ll do more when I have some time and/or the city website is cooperating.)

Jeff asked how many years’ worth of unpaid fines make up the $4.7 million in unpaid parking fines.

Well, I don’t know how to get real financial figures for the city.  Or, perhaps I do, but every time I look at the city website on the weekend, when I actually have some time to read these sorts of things, I get error messages when I try to open anything in the journal documentation.  (I also remember reading that the city gets about $100,000 in fines for people who park in handicapped spots without a permit; I’ll link to that when I can find it.)

If we’re looking at budgeted figures, though, the City Manager has a website called Budget Central.  If you look at the FY2011 and five year fiscal forecast (11MB pdf), here are the figures for Fines & Forefeits (p. 11):
FY10 estimate: $3.4 million
FY11 projected: $3.25 million

Now, it’s unclear how much of that is parking fines (or, really, if that even includes parking fines).  (But I think it’s interesting to compare the above to Charges Trash: $3.75 million.)

Updated, March 8, 8:46am, now that I’m actually awake: If you look at the CAFR for June 30, 2009 (7MB pdf), page 97, you will find that for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, the city received $2,034,567 in parking fines.  Also, note under expenditures, page 102, under the intergovernmental category, that Registry parking ticket surcharge was $494,720 in expense.  Not sure what that’s all about; perhaps what we pay back to the Registry if they collect some of the fee when someone tries to register a vechicle with outstanding parking tickets? 

But here are the questions:

1) How much do people pay in parking fines a year?  (Answer, as of 8:46am: $2 million-ish.)

2) How much of those fines are going to the collection agency?

3) How much of that fine amount is penalties, late fees, etc., and how much of it is the original fine amount?

4) How often do we inform the RMV about late parking fines, and how many people are paying up when they have to renew a registration?  What’s the lag time at the Registry?  Can this stuff just get tacked on when someone has to pay his excise tax?