District One City Councilor Lydia Edwards, representing the North End, East Boston, and Charlestown, highlighted accomplishments from the past year and shared her top priorities moving forward at the January North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) meeting.
Watch the full video above or jump to points of interest with this timeline.
(00:36) The snow angel program has kicked off for the 2020 winter season. Volunteers are matched with elderly or disabled residents to help with clearing the snow in front of their homes.
(1:41) Councilor Edwards touches on a few projects that were finished in the neighborhood last year. The repaving of Hanover Street was completed. The curb outside of Bova’s Bakery on the corner of Salem and Prince Streets has been lowered. Sidewalk bricks are being repaired.
(2:50) Winter coffee hours with the councilor will be scheduled soon for residents to come out to share their thoughts and concerns in person.
(4:04) Councilor Edwards gives an update on the home-rule petition for easement for electricity lines on the John Hancock House. This petition was passed by the City Council because, even though the petitioners did not come before the community, the council feels they have learned their lesson and that there is income to be earned from these easements. Any income the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) gets from those easements is to go to the North End community for resiliency.
Upcoming legislative agenda items:
- (5:33) Reform for the Zoning Board of Appeal. Councilor Edwards filed this reform last year and will file it again this week to overhaul the zoning board. Edwards would like to relook at the seats on the board. She points out that there is no one representing environmental or historical perspectives, as well as no one required to know zoning law. There are also no term limits or conflict of interest rules. Edwards is calling for a functional ZBA that doesn’t rubber stamp everything that comes along so that residents will trust growth again.
- (7:20) Parking Reform – the question of, not only charging residents for parking passes, but also looking at the charges for metered parking, overnight parking, and visitor passes.
- (8:23) PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) Program: The PILOT program applies to non-profits such as institutions and hospitals who do not pay property taxes. Since 2012, the vast majority of these institutions have not paid their committed amount. Councilor Edwards would like to see these PILOT program participants held accountable.
- (9:27) Call for a Charter Reform: On Wednesday, January 15, Councilor Edwards will introduce her call to reform the City’s charter. The current charter is scattered over several different documents. Edwards wants to look at if the needs and wants of the City’s residents are really being met.
Questions begin at 11:11.
(11:11) NEWNC President Roman asked if there are any specific changes Councilor Edwards is hoping to make to the charter. Edwards mentioned that the school committee is one. Right now the City Council has no control over who is nominated to the school committee. Edwards would like a hybrid form where academic experts are appointed and other individuals are voted onto the committee.
(11:55) Roman also asked about the public trash barrels on the streets in the North End, mentioning that it often feels there aren’t enough. Councilor Edwards said she will continue to ask for this as part of the budget.
(14:55) An attendee asked if the ground structure is being considered when new high-rises are being built. Councilor Edwards said she works closely with the Groundwater Commission to be sure the water table and pilings are being monitored. NEWNC Vice President John Pregmon referenced a presentation made by the Groundwater Trust to NEWNC in 2018 that explains how they monitor the city’s groundwater levels. Watch that presentation here.
Councilor Edwards reminded attendees they can always contact her North End liaison Michael Bonetti or her Chief of Staff Gabriela Coletta. Edwards also spoke at the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) December meeting. Watch that video here.