The following response is from the Executive Committee of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) regarding the proposal to unify the two groups by members of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC).
The March 11 proposal published by the members of the North End Neighborhood Council missed an important point. NEWNC contends in its nostalgia-filled manifesto that the North End Waterfront Residents Association (NEWRA) exists only because of a favor to a 90’s era Boston politician. The fact is that NEWRA exists and enjoys a robust community membership because NEWNC no longer functions as a body representing the people of the North End and Waterfront. And their manifesto could not illustrate this point more clearly.
Structured much like the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay or the Beacon Hill Civic Association, NEWRA has served our community for 20 years. We have represented North End and Waterfront residents during debates on the 55-foot height limit, the liquor license cap, the Eliot School expansion, and many other topics. NEWRA is run as an open, transparent organization and has open meetings each month to discuss and vote on a variety of topics which affect our residents and community. Like the Back Bay and Beacon Hill associations, we provide input to the City on liquor licensing and zoning. We are proud that we’ve been able to create this type of public forum around these topics.
While taking sole credit for practically every positive policy affecting the North End, NEWNC simultaneously criticizes NEWRA for advocating “changes to the neighborhood process that would further burden petitioners and abutters alike”. But further examination of this “burden” shines a light on an ongoing problem at NEWNC. Several months back, a liquor license petitioner was unable to convince the NEWRA open meeting to support a new all-alcohol license in the North End. NEWRA issued a non-support letter. That petitioner then found a loophole which allowed him to sell his current beer and wine license and then buy an all-alcohol one, without any community review. The “burden” that NEWRA is asking for is, simply, to close that loophole. We are baffled as to why NEWNC opposes this fix.
To the members of our community, NEWRA does not intend to go anywhere. We believe the need for a strong residents association is greater than ever, especially considering the uptick in major construction projects near the North End as well as our highest-in-the-city concentration of liquor licenses. We invite all area residents to come to one of our open meetings and see for themselves.
NEWNC no longer serves the community effectively, as is evidenced by this and many other examples. When a body like NEWNC no longer has the self-awareness to know when its position is in conflict with its constituency, or worse, is mired in obvious conflict-of-interest – well – it’s time for that body to hang up the cleats, rather than trying to trip the other better players. We hope that Mayor Walsh considers this as he decides what to do with NEWNC and other less productive neighborhood councils.
The North End Waterfront Residents Association