Jerome Smith, Boston’s new Chief of Civic Engagement & Head of the Office of Neighborhood Services spoke to neighborhood residents at the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) meeting held on August 13, 2015. Speaking on the role of neighborhood services in the city and his role with the community, Smith spoke in detail on a wide range of pressing issues in the neighborhood.
Regardless of Airbnb, sidewalk conditions and the proposed alcohol tax increase, the biggest challenge facing Civic Engagement and Neighborhood Services, according to Smith is finding out, “How is the city communicating with residents? How do residents want to communicate with city hall?”
Speaking on the density of the North End, “the North End is what all other city neighborhoods are striving to be” in terms of balance of residential quality of life with the economic industry that attract thousands of people to the neighborhood. “The North End has an identity, it is the downtown neighborhood,” according to Smith.
Issues that were prominent from residents were the need for public restrooms among the tourism trail in the North End. Other topics that were covered include the proposal for a 2% increase on alcohol in restaurants and liquor stores in the City of Boston. Also, the lack of outreach from the city for abutters meetings and the time of the meetings being inconvenient.
One constant throughout the meeting was the concern with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and urban planning in the city of Boston.
Smith moved to Boston in 2000 at the age of 23 and started a job with the City of Boston in his current department, the department of Neighborhood Services where he worked with the South End and Bay Village neighborhoods. He then moved on to working for City Councilor Mike Ross before becoming the Chief of Staff for Senate President Therese Murray.