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Elected Officials Discuss North End Projects; Homelessness in the Neighborhood; Cocktails To-Go; Police Reform Legislation

The North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) and North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) hosted a virtual joint meeting to hear updates from local elected officials. Follow along with the video or find it summarized below.

Councilor Lydia Edwards (District 1) provided updates about North End improvements that were included in the City’s FY21 budget and other important information for the neighborhood.

  • Foster Street parking lot was included in the budget to be repaved.
  • The new captain for District A-1, Robert Ciccolo, was announced this week.
  • Councilor Edwards urged residents to continue filing complaints regarding Airbnbs in the North End. The City has invested additional resources in addressing the concerns of Airbnbs throughout Boston.
  • She discussed her reasoning behind voting for the FY21 budget, stating she didn’t feel it was right to further negotiate the budget when the funds needed for her district were there. She recently proposed a charter amendment to the City Council that would give councilors equal budgetary power. If approved, voters will be able to vote on the amendment in the 2021 election.
  • Alongside Councilor Michelle Wu (At-Large) and Julia Mejia (At-Large), Councilor Edwards has proposed a system that would provide an unarmed community response system for non-violent emergencies and serve as an alternative to 911.
  • A resident brought up an apparent disparity between restaurants’ allotted outdoor spaces. Councilor Edwards stated that the program was rushed out to save the industry and will therefore be subjected to “growing pains” for some time.
  • Another resident suggested posting additional signage around the North End to remind visitors that masks are required in public. Councilor Edwards agreed it was an excellent suggestion that she would look into more.
  • The Harbor Garage redevelopment project recently started back up. Developers are expected to submit their proposal soon. Councilor Edwards stated she was cautiously waiting on that, expressing concerns about the project’s transparency.

Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George (At-Large) asked residents to call 311 or Pine Street Inn to acquire services for the homeless in the neighborhood. During the pandemic, several colleges in the area provided their dormitories as housing to allow the homeless to socially distance. Pine Street Inn recently signed a new lease which will allow them to begin housing the individuals currently staying in the Suffolk University dorms.

Senator Joe Boncore provided updates on Massachusetts’s budget and recent legislature passed by the Senate.

  • Senator Boncore stated that the Commonwealth has not submitted its budget yet. He expressed that officials are waiting to receive further information regarding potential funding assistance from the federal government. Typically, the State’s budget would have been submitted by late June or early May. Senator Boncore said that there is still “very much unknown” in the budgeting process due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Officials are continuing to work on identifying problems for restaurants, healthcare workers, and small businesses and homeowners as a result of COVID-19. They are seeking to extend unemployment benefits and resolve pending unemployment claims.
  • Vote by mail was passed into law in July, allowing voters to mail in their ballots instead of visiting in-person polls.
  • Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill allowing restaurants to serve cocktails to-go. This legislature aimed at providing relief to an industry where 75% are predicted to go out of business due to the pandemic.
  • The Senate recently passed the transportation bond bill, allowing for a $3.4 billion investment in connecting the blue and red lines. The bill also aims at addressing traffic congestion by investing in bottleneck reduction programs. It requires ride-share apps such as Lyft and Uber to provide more data to officials. $3M was secured to go toward restructuring and remodeling State Street around the Greenway. The bill will also assist the MBTA, which has lost revenue from the downturn in ridership.
  • Reform, Shift, and Build Act was passed to increase police accountability and shift the department’s focus toward dismantling systemic racism. However, the legislature does not end qualified immunity. Instead, it clarifies and rebalances it by limiting qualified immunity in some cases.
  • Governor Baker recently extended the State’s foreclosure and eviction moratorium through October 17th, 2020.
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6 Replies to “Elected Officials Discuss North End Projects; Homelessness in the Neighborhood; Cocktails To-Go; Police Reform Legislation

  1. Councilor Edwards, Thank you! Mike Bonetti shared with me the good news that the city has agreed to re-pave the Foster St. Park (now used as a parking lot) and to keep it clean. This is something my now deceased parents had pleaded for with the city for many, many years as their kitchen windows looked out on the property. You have addressed this problem, long overdue, where all your predecessors have failed. My parents are looking down from heaven and smiling. I can’t thank you enough.
    Peter Petrigno

  2. By repaving Foster Street Playground, the city is tacitly (or directly per Councilor Edward’s statement) complicit with the misuse of of that land as a parking lot.

    It’s owned by the parks department and the city has an obligation to maintain it as an open recreation area.

    I challenge Mr. Petrigno and the rest of us to fight for the proper restoration of this park to open recreation area. The same type of recreation area that Mr. Petrigno enjoyed as a child. Don’t settle for it to just be repaved and handed back over to be misused as car storage.

    1. Adam, You are absolutely correct; the Foster St. Park is still under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Department. Ideally, it should be restored to its original purpose, rather than being used as a parking lot, as it has been for many years. For my family, this has been nearly a 40 year struggle with the city, to no avail. During this time the city completely neglected the property and it fell to vandalism, filth, and disrepair. Cars eventually took over where play equipment once stood. Meanwhile the demographics of the area changed and today there are very few children, especially compared to when I played there. Still, restoring it to a park, similar to the redevelopment of the Charter St. Park, would create a lovely spot for residents to enjoy. Of historical interest, a portion of the land was once owned by Paul Revere and was the site of his famous foundry. That being said, restoring it to a park would displace about 15 cars in a neighborhood where parking is already impossible to find.
      So yes, I would prefer a park rather than a parking lot but after fighting city hall for early 40 years, I’ll take what I can get. Re-surfacing it and keeping it clean is a vast improvement to its current condition. However, I would not oppose a neighborhood effort to restore the Foster St. Park accordingly. It should be noted that Councilor Edwards is the first to give consideration to the area, rather than the runaround we got for years. For this I am very thankful.

  3. Repaving doesn’t sound much like a park or recreational area. When I was young there were swings, a grass area, a few benches etc. Why not add a basketball hoop?
    I never heard of a park being all cement. It still sounds like a parking lot.

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