CITY OF WORCESTER

Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment Committee Meeting

Monday, April 24, 2023

Esther Howland (South) Chamber

Convened: 6:00 P.M.

Adjourned: 7:52 P.M.


Mayor
Joseph M. Petty

 

www.worcesterma.gov

 

Clerk of the City Council
Nikolin Vangjeli

Committee Members

Chairperson Etel Haxhiaj
Vice Chairperson Kathleen M Toomey
Councilor George J Russell
 

City Hall - 455 Main Street Worcester, Massachusetts


Present Were:Chairperson Councilor Etel Haxhiaj Councilor Kathleen M. Toomey Councilor George J. Russell
 
Also:Regional Director of Verizon Ellen Cummings Blackstone Watershed Collaborative Program Manager Stefanie Covino Chief Information Officer Michael Hamel Chief Sustainability Officer John Odell Deputy City Clerk Stephen A.J. Pottle, clerk
 
1.

Virtual Attendee Call-In Information

1a.

Pursuant to Chapter 20 of the Acts of 2021 and in order to ensure active, public engagement, the City of Worcester currently allows for both in-person and remote participation at all City Council and Standing Committee meetings. To partake in the meeting, you may attend the meeting in-person within the meeting location, follow the below link to join via Zoom or dial the direct line as indicated.

Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment Committee Zoom Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/94166600916
Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment Committee Zoom Phone Number: (929) 205 6099
Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment Committee Zoom Access Code: 941 6660 0916

Attachments
2.

Approval of the Minutes

2a.

Order - That the City Council Standing Committee of Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment hereby approves the minutes of the Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment Committee meeting of September 12, 2022.

View Agenda

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj read the item and moved for a roll call vote to adopt the item. Order adopted on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

3.

Communication of the City Manager

3a.

Transmitting informational communication relative to the recently completed Heat Risk Assessment. # 9.33A CM February 28, 2023

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj read the item and recognized the Chief Sustainability Officer, who provided an overview of the process for procuring a consultant to complete a Heat Risk Assessment, which reviewed heat exposure, heat sensitivity and the cityís adaptive capability relative to dealing with heat.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj discussed the neighborhoods that do not have enough trees, which is a factor in creating areas that are most impacted by heat, hospitalizations associated with heat stroke, the impact of environmental justice, and the recommendations from the Heat Assessment that are tied to the Urban Forestry Tree Plan with the Chief Sustainability Officer.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Toomey, who discussed whether the City has reviewed tax incentives for creating green roofs in the City, the hanging of canopies to shield individuals from the sun and creating cooling stations in the City with the Chief Sustainability Officer.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Russell, who brought forth the following Chairmanís Order: Request City Manager provide a list of trees planted for Arbor Day as it relates to the areas of the city discussed in the Heat Risk Assessment.

Councilor Russell then discussed planting and removing of trees in the Vernon Hill neighborhood.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Toomey, who discussed the spread of root systems of trees.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj discussed the importance of planting of native trees with the Chief Sustainability Officer.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj brought forth the following two (2) Chairmanís Orders: 1) Request City Manager provide City Council with a report concerning the cost, sources of fundings, and timeline for implementing recommendations 1, 3, and 4 of Heat Risk Assessment, which pertain to increasing the total tree canopy across the city by 30,000 to 35,000 trees, assessing the number and siting of cooling centers for extreme heat events and establishing a citywide heat surveillance system; and 2) Request City Manager coordinate with the appropriate representatives from Eversource to ensure any trees planted in the city do not interfere with existing gas lines or cause gas leaks.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized the following speakers:
1. Tracy OíConnell-Novick, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item
2. Paul Matthews, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj then brought forth the following Chairmanís Order: Request City Manager provide the Superintendent of Public Schools with a copy of the Heat Risk Assessment for the purposes of review by the School Committee.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be placed on file.

Recommend File on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

Chairman's Orders

Request City Manager provide City Council with a report concerning the cost, sources of fundings, and timeline for implementing recommendations 1, 3, and 4 of Heat Risk Assessment, which pertain to increasing the total tree canopy across the city by 30,000 to 35,000 trees, assessing the number and siting of cooling centers for extreme heat events and establishing a citywide heat surveillance system.

Request City Manager coordinate with the appropriate representatives from Eversource to ensure any trees planted in the city do not interfere with existing gas lines or cause gas leaks.

Request City Manager provide the Superintendent of Public Schools with a copy of the Heat Risk Assessment for the purposes of review by the School Committee.

4.

Miscellaneous Items

4a.

Chairman's Order from the Committee on Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment - Request Standing Committee on Urban Technologies, Innovation and Environment hold a meeting with the Worcester Municipal Broadband Task Force and representatives from Verizon and/or any other service providers to discuss the cityís plans concerning building infrastructure relative to municipal broadband. # 11l CC September 20, 2022

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj read the item and recognized the Regional Director of Verizon, who discussed the work being done by Verizon as it relates to building their fiber-optic network in the city, as well as the companyís decision to not pursue a cable franchise in the city.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed why no cable-related services were available through Verizon, when fixed wireless service will become available in the city and the appropriateness of using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies for upgrades as it relates to broadband services with the Regional Director of Verizon and Chief Information Officer.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Toomey, who discussed the rate of technological growth in the city.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized the following speaker:
1. Cecilia Doucette, Ashland resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item
2. School Committee Member Tracy OíConnell-Novick, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item
3. Paul Matthews, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item
4. Ed McKeon, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item
5. Guillermo Creamer, Jr., Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor nor opposed to the item

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj discussed the creation of the Worcester Municipal Broadband Taskforce, as well as the potential for creating a Master Plan around the creation of a municipal broadband network with the Chief Information Officer.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Toomey, who discussed partnering with local colleges and universities as it relates to expanding broadband networks in the city with the Chief Information Officer.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj brought forth the following two Chairmanís Orders 1) Request City Manager procure a feasibility study on municipal broadband to serve as a blueprint for a municipal broadband master plan that will include policies, designs, and financial plans the City can pursue. 2) Request City Manager apply for the Municipal Digital Planning Program in an effort to develop data concerning digital equity gaps in the city, as well as to develop a roadmap to bridge the digital divide.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be placed on file.

Recommend File on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

Chairman's Orders

Request City Manager procure a feasibility study on municipal broadband to serve as a blueprint for a municipal broadband master plan that will include policies, designs, and financial plans the City can pursue.

Request City Manager apply for the Municipal Digital Planning Program in an effort to develop data concerning digital equity gaps in the city, as well as to develop a roadmap to bridge the digital divide.

4b.

Resolution of Councilor Etel Haxhiaj - That the City Council of the City of Worcester does hereby support the Blackstone River Watershed Needs Assessment Report and the Blackstone Watershed Collaborative, appreciates the efforts of all the groups involved in its creation and continued maintenance, and intends to include these priority actions into local municipal goals, as relevant, such as open space and climate resiliency planning. # 14a CC September 20, 2022

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj read the item and recognized the Blackstone Watershed Collaborative Program Manager, who provided a presentation relative to supporting the Blackstone River Watershed Needs Assessment Report and Blackstone Watershed Collaborative.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Russell, who brought forth the following Chairmanís Order: Request City Manager request City Solicitor review the Blackstone Watershed Collaborative Resolution to determine whether there are any conflicts between the resolution and any current zoning laws or regulations.

Councilor Russell then discussed the Blackstone Watershed Collaborativeís affiliation with Clark University and the potential of removing dams.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj recognized Councilor Toomey, who discussed the environmental impacts that have occurred to the Blackstone River.

Chairperson Councilor Haxhiaj moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be approved.

Recommend Approval on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

Chairman's Orders

Request City Manager request City Solicitor review the Blackstone Watershed Collaborative Resolution to determine whether there are any conflicts between the resolution and any current zoning laws or regulations.