Mayor Thomas Menino used a breakfast gathering of the North End Chamber of Commerce (NECC) to propose a new initiative to close Hanover Street to traffic on certain weekends or one day per week, such as Saturdays. Labor Day weekend was suggested by the Mayor as a slow weekend in the City and/or during the feast weekends when the street is already partially closed. The Mayor offered support from the Department of Public Works and other city agencies to keep the street clean, remove garbage and encourage the pedestrian-only concept. Business leaders in attendance generally supported the idea. The Chamber will start a committee to work with the City and further research the initiative.
Joie Anzalone, NECC President, organized and moderated the gathering of over 40 NECC members held at Cafe Pompeii on Hanover Street on Wednesday, June 29th. Attendees enjoyed a gourmet breakfast with mimosas, followed by pastries. In addition to Mayor Menino’s appearance as guest speaker, also attending the breakfast were State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz and City Councilor Sal LaMattina.
The Mayor noted the importance of small businesses in the city. Complementing the core North End restaurants and cafes, he is further encouraged by the opening of several apparel and jewelry stores in the neighborhood. He believes that a more pedestrian-friendly Hanover Street would benefit these types of businesses.
Regarding development, the Mayor said he was against building skyscrapers in and around the North End and Waterfront areas, referring to his opposition to Don Chiofaro’s proposed 600’ towers on the Harbor Garage site. He noted the burgeoning success of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in attracting more people and opening the city to the North End. In this period of cutbacks in the City’s budget, he would like to see more lending by the banks and noted the success of green technology businesses in areas such as Fort Point channel. He noted that the City is focused on the South Boston Waterfront as the primary growth area for housing and commercial development in the years ahead.
Joie Anzalone announced that the Hanover Street building formerly occupied by D’Palma’s Restaurant has been sold. After a franchise for a Dunkin’ Donuts fell through, a photography studio is now expected to open there soon.
Both Menino and Anzalone emphasized the importance of keeping the neighborhood clean. Chamber member Chris Young works with the Clean Streets Committee on behalf of the NECC. Recently, the NECC has provided smoke pots, trash tip magnets and doggie bags to the neighborhood. Menino cited the expected improvements since the passing of the Green Ticket ordinance that adds trash violation fines to property owner’s tax bills. He was disappointed when a visitor recently complained about overflowing street barrels. Menino emphasized the City’s commitment to emptying the barrels and having a Green Machine in the neighborhood every night. The Mayor also said he would look into street light problems on Salem Street, an issue raised by one business owner.
Mayor Menino also took the opportunity to publicly oppose the hazardous cargo trucks in the North End, specifically on Commercial Street. Joie Anzalone thanked the business owners for putting signs in their windows and raising awareness of this serious issue. She noted the goal is to eventually stop the hazmat trucks from coming through any of the North End streets. A compromise agreement was recently struck between the City, State and Federal agencies along with the truckers that encourages the use of Cross Street until a safety study is completed this Fall. (See HazMat Trucks Return to North End.)