State Senator Anthony Petruccelli talks to the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park.
State Senator Anthony Petruccelli talks to the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park.

State Senator Anthony Petruccelli visited the volunteers of the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park at this week’s meeting. With the State budget under pressure, the Senator thanked the members for their efforts to look after the flagship park. Over the last few years, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has lost over 30% of its funding including 80 park workers as a result of budget cuts. In such an environment, the Senator noted that volunteer efforts make a big difference.

Petruccelli has served as state Senator for the First Suffolk Middlesex District since July 2007. His district includes Beacon Hill, Cambridge, East Boston, North End, Revere and Winthrop. He is Senate Chair on the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture which overseas the DCR and MWRA. Regarding the recent water pipe break, the Senator said that his committee will hold hearings to investigate the situation. He generally believes the repair costs should be borne by the contractor(s) instead of the taxpayer.

Senator Petruccelli took questions on a number of issues:

Hazardous Material Trucks – The Senator supports the City of Boston’s request for an extension of its daytime ban so that a safety study can be completed. His office has been receiving letters from North End/Waterfront residents.

Shadow Bill – The Senator is co-sponsor of a bill to protect certain parks, including Christopher Columbus Park, from the shadows of development caused by excessively tall buildings. A hearing was held last December on the bill. Presently, the State Senate is working with House representatives to bring it to the floor this session.

Green Ticket Ordinance  – The Senator was asked why the Green Ticket Ordnance is working better in East Boston than in the North End. Petruccelli said that both neighborhoods still have significant trash issues and he expects the green tickets to become more effective once the fines are added to property owner tax bills.

Casinos in Massachusetts – Petruccelli supports expanded gambling in the Commonwealth, primarily to create jobs. He prefers resort casinos over slots at racetracks. The current Senate bill supports three resorts while the House bill also supports slots at racetracks. In the Senator’s district, Suffolk Downs has a “financial marriage” with Wonderland. A casino resort is possible at Suffolk Downs which he indicated would help fund needed infrastructure improvements on that side of the tunnel. A resort at Suffolk Downs would employ approximately 2,500 people. The Senator said a reconciled casino bill is possible in this legislative session.

In answer to a question, the Senator said he does grocery shopping at the Stop & Shop in Revere, but loves the cold cuts at the Salumeria on Richmond Street in the North End.

3829669-7312454-thumbnailAfter thanking Senator Petruccelli for his visit, President Joanne Hayes-Rines moved on to other FOCCP business. A membership report noted 169 members in good standing with over $9,000 of membership dues collected this year to date. The big annual gala is scheduled for November 19th at the Marriott Long Wharf.

President Joanne Hayes-Rines noted that some newly planted trees in the park are not doing well and replacements are planned after talking with the contractor. A water table test has been recommended. The six trees cost $37,000.

The horticulture team has been working in the Rose Garden which is having a banner year. (See these pictures.) The group will be trying a donated organic fertilizer on an experimental basis, that is not harmful to children or animals. Currently, no fertilizer is being used.

FOCCP executives took time to recognize the contributions of Joan, who voluntarily cleans the park several mornings during the week. Joan noted the park is missing a few trash barrels.

The lights on the trellis are nearing the end of their life. FOCCP members are researching alternatives to replace them and working with the city. Notably, the wisteria is growing on the trellis which will make installation more labor-intensive.

Several white lights are missing throughout the park with the FOCCP counting 49 out of a total 158 safety lights that are dark. FOCCP will work with the city to replace the bulbs. Certain areas of the park were noted to be very dark at night, such as the promenade on the harbor side.

The BRA has taken on replacing the Ferry sign which is now temporarily identified with banners. The signs are expected to match those on the nearby Chart House.

The newly ratified by-laws are posted on www.foccp.org along with the posting of the group’s new officers.

Upcoming celebratory events in the park (see the Calendar):

  • Navy Band – June 26th
  • Columbus Day – October 2010
  • 10th Anniversary of FOCCP – July 2011

The next FOCCP meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 13th, 6:30 pm at the Mariner’s House in North Square. An announcement was made that the August meeting will be held on a Monday (August 9th) instead of Tuesday to avoid conflict with a concert in the park.

More information on the Friends of Christopher Columbus Park can be found at www.foccp.org.

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