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Taking sides on the override

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April 13, 2008

The campaigns for and against the town's two override questions are gathering steam. A recent kickoff party for override supporters drew more than 100 people, many of them new to local politics, according to those who attended. "This issue galvanized a lot of us," said Baker School parent Lisa Cummings, who said her school alone has a core group of 50. The campaign expects to raise and spend "in the tens of thousands," said Rebecca Stone, a school board member and a leader of the Yes for Brookline campaign in support of the tax increases. Residents on the other side of the debate have at least two groups to choose from: the Brookline Taxpayers Association, which opposes any override, and the Coalition Against Unfair Taxation, which would have supported a "maintenance effort" override of $3.6 million rather than the $5.4 million and $6.2 million requests on the May 6 ballot, according to coalition chairman Roger Blood. About 20 people turned out for a meeting on whether the coalition "should mount an energetic campaign," said Blood. He has been surprised by the number of unsolicited donations, though he does not expect his group to raise nearly as much money as the override supporters. "We will have ample funds to get our message out," he predicted.

BU assaults trigger warning
Brookline, Boston, and Boston University police last week cautioned people in the northern reaches of Brookline about evening strolls. Several BU students have reported being robbed or assaulted around Commonwealth Avenue and Crowninshield Road, Boston police said, usually very early in the morning. Police identified a male suspect as Hispanic, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, and have asked anyone witnessing suspicious behavior to call 911. Anyone with information on the recent assaults, in which a knife or box cutter was used, should call CrimeStoppers at 800-494-8977.

Construction noise blooms in the spring
It still may not feel like spring, but the season for road construction has begun. Selectmen recently approved two noise ordinance waivers, which means neighbors may need earplugs in order to sleep at night. One allows Massachusetts Water Resources Authority digging until May 20 at Brookline Avenue and Washington Street, where the agency is replacing a water main and several valves. Work is to finish by June 20. Meanwhile, Route 9 reconstruction work started last Sunday and can continue until April 29 on the current waiver. The job should be done by mid-August, according to the Aggregate Industries schedule, and further waivers could be needed if the noise is too disruptive.

Got a news item for Brookline? E-mail Andreae Downs at

Honor your favorite environmentalist
As Cambridge turns green again with the arrival of spring, the city is looking for nominations for its annual Go Green awards. The awards, which will cap the Go Green Month celebration each May, recognize local business and organizations that demonstrate environmentally sound practices. Past winners include restaurants Charlie's Kitchen and Oleana, for their composting programs that divert hundreds of pounds of food waste from landfills every year, and Zipcar, the locally founded car-sharing program that has expanded across the country. Nominations are due April 22, and the winners will be announced on May 22. Forms and details are available at the city's website,

A fashion show for all figures
Women will be the subject of a celebration at the Frisoli Youth Center on Saturday, when local teens put on a fashion show entitled "The Image of Women, the Story of Me," which will explore how the media affects body image. Padriac Farma, a show organizer, said the event seeks to promote "the idea that anyone and everyone can be beautiful, no matter their size or shape." The event includes a panel discussion on women and body image and will conclude with a "Rock your own style fashion" segment featuring designs created by the teens themselves. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the youth center on Willow Street. For more information, call 617-349-6312.

Seasonal congestion on Rindge Avenue
Rindge Avenue, a commuter-route favorite that has seen increased traffic since the closure of the Walden Street Bridge for repairs last year, is itself undergoing construction work that's expected to run until June. While work is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, both lanes of the street will be open to two-way traffic during rush hours (7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.) to limit congestion. In addition to road repaving, the project is designed to make Rindge Avenue more pedestrian-friendly by repairing and widening sidewalks.

Got a news item from Cambridge? E-mail Victoria Cheng at

Wednesdays are the new Fridays
Last week, Union Square kicked off a monthly shopping and dining event that will be known as "Second Wednesdays in Union Square." From 5 to 8 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, shops will stay open later and nightspots will open earlier in an attempt to attract more activity to the square, which has become known for its Saturday farmers market in the summer and quirky arts events. The Second Wednesday events will also feature outdoor performances, food or drink tastings, and art displays.

Patriots Day gets a traditional touch
The city's annual Patriots Day celebration, being observed this year on April 21, will feature Colonial games, songs, and music. The morning's events also include a reenactment of Paul Revere's midnight ride from Boston to Lexington via Somerville. Participants are encouraged to dress in traditional Colonial clothing, and children are invited to participate in games that will be set up in six stations. For more information, call 617-625-6600, ext. 2525. The festivities will start at 10 a.m. in Saxon J. Foss Park.

Hybrids join the Fire Department
The city has purchased four Toyota Priuses to be used by Fire Department inspectors. The hybrid cars were bought through a state-approved purchasing agreement for $22,095 each. Buying the hybrids is part the city's goal of moving toward more energy-efficient vehicles. Most of the city's fleet, including Department of Public Works vehicles, has been converted to biodiesel fuel, which reduces carbon emissions.

Got a news item from Somerville? E-mail Kristen Green at

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