In a letter to the Boston Globe, North End Chamber of Commerce (NECC) President, Joanne Prevost Anzalone, responded to the recent Globe article, “A Culture Clash in the North End,” republished here with the author’s permission.
Let’s work together in the North End, October 9, 2009
Re: “A Culture Clash in North End” by Jenna Russell
The North End has a vital business community. We have been fortunate to ward off the fate of other business districts in the declining economy. Many of the noise problems the article described that face the North End are being caused by unruly tenants who are new to the area and must become accustomed to what we expect in terms of their behavior.
The Boston Police, in cooperation with the neighborhood and local colleges, have stepped up enforcement and will issue fines to tenants and landlords if nothing is done to stop the problem.
For the most part, the North End restaurants do not have bars or entertainment licenses. Patrons enjoy food and drink in sit-down restaurants. The hours of operation have been vetted by neighborhood groups and approved by the city licensing authorities.
Most of our restaurants close before 11 p.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. weekends. They are managed by owners who stay on the premises until closing and closely monitor patrons’ behavior.
We are one community. We have problems, as any mixed residential and business neighborhood would have. However, we have always been able to work together to solve them. Let’s form one committee composed of residents and business owners to make the North End a better place for all.
Joanne Prevost Anzalone, President
North End Chamber of Commerce
3 Replies to “Chamber of Commerce President Responds to Globe Article”
Ms. Anzalone is mistaken when she says that there aren’t very many "bars" in North End restaurants. Numerous restaurants have a "bar" or a "lounge" (as the owners like
to call them.) It seems that more restaurants have a bar than don’t have one—and at least one has a bar despite a "no bar" condition on an alcohol license (which it might or might not even have.)
Ms. Anzalone’s assertion that the hours of operation have been "vetted by neighborhood groups," is misleading. She must be thinking of just the Chamber. I think NEWRA’s, and possibly NEWNC’s, good neighborhood policies include an 11 PM weekday closing and a midnight closing over the weekend. Both NEWRA and NEWNC have opposed extensions of closing times after midnight.
Ms. Anzalone would like to blame the late night noise on "Unruly tenants who are new to the area." While this might be some of the problem, this certainly isn’t the only source of late night noise. The late night unruly behavior is also not just a result of spillover from the Bulfinch Trianlge or Quincy Market, either.
As I stated in an different post, there are lots of "happy" restaurant patrons who are middle-aged. They eat at a restaurant here, have a few (or more) glasses and leave talking very loudly, singing, laughing, etc. Of course, many others come here because of the North End’s reputation as a "party" neighborhood—a reputation promoted by many restaurants on their web sites.
The noise is cumulative and has a multiplier effect. The more restaurants/bars/lounges, the more patrons, and the more "happy" or "drunk" people making noise on the streets. The later they can stay open, the later this "happy" noise happens.
Fewer late night establishments would help maintain the quality of life in this residential neighborhood. More police enforcement would help as well–but, it won’t happen on a continuing basis. Of course, the push to control unruly students and their parties should continue.
The alcohol cap should be lowered, and hours should be rolled back. Why should the North End have the highest density of licenses in all of Boston? The neighborhood doesn’t need a dozen restaurants open after midnight to satisfy public need.
Perhaps, the restaurants should be required to hire detail officers between the hours of 10 PM and 3 AM. The less of a party atmosphere here, the less people will be inclined to party. We will once again have our neighborhood back–a vibrant community of residents, restaurants, cafes, and other retail businesses–where seniors and others can sleep, and people can raise their children.
NECC President, Joanne Provost Anzalone’s "Let’s Work Together in the North End" letter to the Globe might have rung with more sincerity had the Chamber of Commerce at a recent meeting not given several members a platform to launch attacks on the residents association and actually strategize how NEWRA could be marginalized from future participation in the city’s zoning and license application process. Incalculable damage is done to the reputation of the organization when former or current officers and directors commandeer a community meeting like schoolyard bullies with their abrasive taunts and sneering criticism. It is legitimate to ask just exactly how has Ms. Anzalone used her office to detoxify such a corrosive atmosphere when incivility finds its way on to a night’s agenda.
Having one board comprised of both businesses (e.g. restaurant owners) and residents won’t protect the quality of residential life in the North End. Fifteen years ago, prior to the formation of the Residents’ Association, there was such a board here. It was the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), and Chamber president Joanne Anzalone was its president for many years.
Residents became increasingly dismayed by its ignoring their concerns, and its votes to support any alcohol license, 2 AM hour closings, and zoning changes from retail to restaurant. Hundreds of residents got together and formed the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA), a democratic association that any resident could join. Several years later, NEWNC itself changed its by-laws, to restrict its elected members to residents only.
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