The Gateway Cities Journal
News and information for leaders who care about Gateway Cities


The "Active Streets" Bill will make Gateway Cities more walkable, bikeable, and healthier


Massachusetts's Gateway Cities were built on a pedestrian scale, but over the years, as car travel took over, streets became less and less inviting for walkers and bicyclists. An unintended consequence of this change has been skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. In response, the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) and the Act FRESH Campaign want to help cities make it much easier, safer, and more inviting for residents and visitors to walk and bike.


An Act Relative to Active Streets and Healthy Communities (S.68/H.3091), sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) and Representative Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) would establish a statewide, opt-in program to encourage communities-with funding and technical assistance-to increase the number of their local streets that are inviting and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.


Some Massachusetts communities (Cambridge, Plymouth) already have the type of Active Streets (aka Complete Streets) policies that this legislation would support in place. Several others (Fitchburg, Lowell, and North Adams) are trying to create them. The Active Streets bill would help more Gateway Cities assemble planning resources to make their communities more walkable and bikeable. 


To raise awareness about the Active Street bill, as well as pending legislation to reform the state's zoning law, Partners HealthCare has teamed up with MPHA, Act FRESH and other partners to host Healthy By Design: Planning & Development for Vibrant Communities at the State House on October 9th. This session will feature Mark Fenton, an internationally renowned and highly entertaining expert on the topic. We welcome Gateway City leaders to join us for this free event and learn more about how you can help support this important effort. 

- Andrea Freedman

Deputy Field Director

Massachusetts Public Health Association




The Worcester Redevelopment Authority will develop an urban renewal plan for the city with the help of a consultant. The plan will focus on the 30-acre downtown Theatre District.


The MIDAS Collaborative announces a new program to provide low-income families across the state with financial information and assistance. These services will be funded with proceeds from the Attorney General's foreclosure settlement.




Five years after receiving the state's application, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the South Coast rail route through Stoughton's Hockomock Swamp on Monday, with some conditions.



The Lawrence school system is showing strong gains after one year of state receivership. Watch this CommonWealth video interview with Jeff Riley, the state-appointed receiver, about the district's MCAS results.


After a week of bad news regarding performance, New Bedford's education system, School Committee members urged the community to rally around the city's schools, with one member calling on New Bedford High alumni to form an association to help the school, which the state declared underperforming on Friday. On a brighter note, Thomas G. Davis, co-founder of the South Coast Educational Improvement Foundation, applauded the Carlos Pacheco Elementary School for being the top performing school in New Bedford for the third year in a row.


Representative Aaron Vega, D-Holyoke, voiced his support for changing the school calendar and extending the school day as strategies that could improve educational achievement.


Governor Deval Patrick visited Matthew J. Kuss Middle School in Fall River to congratulate the school on improving from a Level 4 designated school to a Level 1, Herald News reports.




The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center awarded a $20,000 grant to the Scibelli Enterprise Center in Springfield to cultivate green energy business.




Rep. Marcos Devers, a Lawrence mayoral candidate who pledged to back the candidate who made it into the final against Lantigua, backpedals, the Eagle-Tribune reportsThe pledge was adopted by all the mayoral candidates, including Devers, who attended the debate on September 9th hosted by CommonWealth magazine and the Eagle-Tribune


If history is any judge, Brockton mayoral candidate Bill Carpenter has his work cut out for him to beat first place preliminary election winner, mayor Linda Balzotti, the Enterprise reports.


Roads, streetlights, public safety, and local business are all quoted to be major issues in the Fitchburg City Council race, the Sentinel & Enterprise reports.




Razed three-deckers leave unsightly gaps in some of Worcester's neighborhoods. Lots sit vacant, too small for new houses under existing zoning rules. But the door is open to discussion. A local developer's proposal to the Planning Board to lower the lot-size requirements was turned down last week, members saying the rule change as proposed was too broad.




A study by the state Council on Compulsive Gambling finds that Worcester County residents are most likely to be pathological gamblers while those in Norfolk County are the least likely, and men between the ages of 24 and 34 are most at risk to develop gambling problems.


Leominster voters approve a slots casino by a margin of 5,235 to 3,206, the Telegram and Gazette reports. Here is the Globe account of the referendum.




MassCREATIVE kicks-off a campaign to increase state support for the cultural facilities fund.




The Massachusetts Bar Foundation announced they are giving $241,500 in grants to local agencies, including those in HolyokeSpringfield, and Westfield, that will help people who cannot afford civil legal representation.


Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials will join forces with social service agencies and others in an effort to keep high-risk offenders from returning to jail once they are released, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.




The Springfield Republican highlighted two out of the seven Gateway Cities Innovation Awards winners who will be honored for their contribution to their communities by MassINC on November 12th.  




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