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Message from the City Manager

Thursday, July 14, 2022

A strength of this City is how departments, leadership, and staff work collaboratively with our elected officials. City staff at all levels work diligently to accomplish the policies established by the City Council and provide the day-to-day services that are important to our community.

As City Manager, I have sought ways to improve our operations, customer service, and outreach while building upon the many initiatives underway in the City. We know that inequity and unequal access to services and opportunities are rooted in historical factors that include systemic racism and other forms of oppression. Since becoming City Manager, my team and I have created and expanded City initiatives that intentionally focus our learning, development, and leadership programs on anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this Annual Report, you will learn about the many accomplishments achieved over the past fiscal year, and you will see how our City programs are focusing on supporting and improving the quality of life for our residents, the economic vitality of the City, and our commitment to equity and inclusion for all. In addition, we have diligently worked to expand our use of data and evidence in decision making, and our efforts were recognized in FY22 by our receiving a What Works Cities Gold Certification, the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance.

After 47 years of service with the City, with the last 5½ as City Manager, this is my last Annual Report submission. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished over the years, and I believe our efforts reflect the values and priorities of our community.

During my tenure, I introduced property taxes as a funding source for affordable housing. In FY19, in response to stated City Council goals, I made a commitment to double the amount of funding to support affordable housing within 3-5 years, which we were able to accomplish within two years as part of the FY21 Budget. The FY23 Budget includes an unprecedented $38.1 million in anticipated funding for affordable housing, an increase of 179% from the FY19 amount ($13.6 million).

In FY22, we also funded $15 million specifically to help preserve the affordability of over 500 units of housing at Fresh Pond Apartments.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with Cambridge Public Health Department, Police Department, Public Works Department, and Department of Human Service Programs to quickly plan, build, and open a temporary emergency homeless shelter and quarantine facility at War Memorial Recreation Center. The emergency shelter has since evolved into the City’s Transition Wellness Center for unhoused residents and is now located at Spaulding Hospital at 1575 Cambridge Street. Additionally, the City provided free and easily accessible COVID-19 PCR testing to the public, held COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics, and distributed over 80,000 rapid antigen tests and 60,000 high-quality masks during FY22.

Building on our long-term commitment to creating high-quality open spaces for all residents, we purchased four acres of open space from Buckingham Browne and Nichols School at 185 Larch Road. Additional open spaces include the new Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. Park in East Cambridge, the renovated Glacken Field and Playground, and the Louis A. DePasquale Universal Design Playground at Danehy Park – a first-of-its-kind in Cambridge.

Construction began on the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools Complex in FY22. Together with the King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex and the Martin Luther King Jr. and Putnam Avenue Upper School Complex, these new school projects will total over $500 million in City-funded investment in education.

These capital investments are in addition to work on our comprehensive municipal building projects, including: City Hall improvements, the Foundry Building, Department of Public Works complex improvements, Fire Station renovations, including Fire Headquarters, and Library improvements and expansion.

We continued to invest in environmental initiatives and infrastructure, including municipal building sustainability and improvement projects; water and sewer system upgrades; an expanded tree canopy; major transportation corridor and street safety improvements; and implementation of the Bicycle Network Plan.

During FY22, we recommended to the City Council the creation of a new Community Safety Department, which will coordinate community-driven solutions to enhance safety in the community with key services and programs targeted at our most vulnerable populations. This new department will focus on delivering behavioral health crisis response services while promoting violence prevention and intervention.

By maintaining the City’s unique and notable distinction of achieving AAA bond ratings from each of the major credit rating agencies, we have remained in a strong position to continue to support major new initiatives and investments now and into the future.

As I conclude, I want to recognize what I believe is this City’s greatest asset – our incredible workforce. From our laborers to our administrators, each employee provides excellent service to our community, and their passion and dedication to public service are second to none. The past two years have clearly demonstrated that every City employee plays an essential role in our ability to carry out our goals and positively impact our residents’ lives. I am forever grateful to our current employees and those I have had the privilege to work with over my career.

Thank you, again, for placing your trust and confidence in me to lead this great City, and I hope that you will take the time to read about the remarkable work we’ve accomplished in FY22.

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