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NEWS IN BRIEF

A path taken

Construction of a long-dreamed-about bike path across the Mystic River at the Amelia Earhart Dam is under way. The path -- or at least the beginning of it -- will be created thanks to $250,000 allocated as part of a settlement between the state and Exelon Mystic LLC, an Everett power plant found liable for air-quality violations. "It will help make the path more viable because it will actually lead somewhere," said Mark Horan, Mayor Joseph Curtatone's spokesperson. While there is a path that leads close to Assembly Square, there is currently no access across the river in that area. "Getting across the river is a crucial step," said Tuck O'Brien, a planner with Somerville's Office of Housing and Community Development. O'Brien said advocacy groups and local organizations are working toward a long-term goal of connecting various pedestrian and biking paths around the region. Horan added that the path across the Mystic will help to open up the access to Assembly Square while making it a more attractive destination. Horan said it is unclear when the project will begin.

Emergency tune-in

Following his controversial handling of the first snowstorm of his administration, Mayor Joseph Curtatone has made changes regarding notification about snow emergencies and procedures. At the end of January, residents woke up to parking tickets and towed cars -- a result of disobeying snow emergency restrictions imposed for a storm that never showed. The associated fines were later revoked. Since then, Curtatone has set up a snow hot line, 617-628-SNOW, for residents to call to check whether there is a snow emergency or whether the city is anticipating instituting one. "This is a way of making it easier for residents to be informed," said Mark Horan, the mayor's spokesman. Horan also said residents can get e-mail snow emergency alerts. Those interested in signing up may send an e-mail to snowalert-join@lists.somerville.ma.us or go through the city's website at www.ci.somerville.ma.us. Horan said residents will have four hours to move vehicles once an emergency is in place. Emergency information will continue to be broadcast on Channel 16 as well.

Purchasing chief

Elizabeth Hayward has been hired away from her position as deputy general counsel with the Commonwealth's Office of the Inspector General to take over as the city's new Purchasing Department director. Mark Horan, the mayor's spokesman, said it's a coup for the city to recruit someone from the state's anti-corruption office. It's a move Mayor Joseph Curtatone has said will help to create more fair competition with regard to citywide contracts. Horan said Hayward's office will be charged with reviewing more contracts than in the past. "The intent is to start to push more things through the purchasing office to make sure the city gets the best service for the best price." Horan said there are many contracts -- snow plowing and towing included -- that have not been aggressively reviewed or put out to bid for years.

BRIDGET SAMBURG

Got a news item from Somerville? E-mail Bridget Samburg at BSamburg@comcast.net.

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