Community Featured Meetings

Bricco Suites, MBTA Service Reductions, and Public Safety at Residents Meeting

The North End Waterfront/Residents’ Association (NEWRA) held its November meeting on Thursday, November 12th via Zoom.

Public Safety Update:

Boston Police A-1 Captain Robert Ciccolo provided a brief update, stating that the past 30 days have been largely uneventful in the North End, featuring a decrease in activity of approximately 20-25% overall in the district aside from an uptick in domestic incidents.

When asked why there has been a noticeable decrease in police detail on construction projects, Captain Ciccolo cited the decision to focus on providing sufficient staffing for security around the election.

For the latest crime reports, click here.

Bricco Suites:

NEWRA recently learned from the Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations that four ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) petitions were filed for 24 residential units belonging to the Bricco Suites in addition to a hearing held on November 10th. Bricco Suites are spread across four buildings at Mechanics Way, off Hanover Street in Boston’s North End.

The petitions requested conversion of the units into executive suites. All the applications were denied by the ZBA.

NEWRA wrote a letter seeking deferrment of such appeals to allow for community review and discussion. In his report, NEWRA member Dave Kubiak identified several areas of concern regarding the proposed unit conversions including a potential precedent being set, a lack of clarity on operational use, and public safety in terms of inspection requirements and license conditions. Kubiak expects additional appeals to be filed.

MBTA Service Reductions:

MBTA Community Liaison Team Makayla Comas delivered a briefing on the recently proposed Forging Ahead initiative.

According to Comas, the austerity measures taken by the MBTA are designed to address the potential $577 million shortfall by 2022 unless it receives assistance from the Federal government – and would include curtailing commuter-rail schedules, shutting subways early, eliminating bus routes and suspending all ferry service. Officials estimate that $142 million could be saved by the summer of 2022.

Route and Service Changes Affecting the Downtown/North End:

  • Green E Line proposed to be shortened along with 43, 434, 352 and 501 bus lines
  • Ferry Service being suspended entirely (including Charlestown ferry)

Commuter Rail:

  • Stopping all service after 9PM, all weekend service
  • Decreasing weekday peak service and reducing midday service
  • Reducing trains from 505 to 430, closing 6 out of 141 stops.

Rapid Transit:

  • Stopping all service after midnight but with no change to start of service.
  • Reducing frequency by 20% across all lines, though this may vary line by line and according to time of day affecting ridership patterns.
  • Stopping the E line service at Brigham Circle, diverting E line riders (at 5 stops along 0.8 miles) to Route 39.

Buses:

  • Stopping all service after midnight.
  • Reducing frequency on both essential and non-essential routes, with a 5% reduction for essential routes on average system-wide and 20% for non-essential routes.
  • 14 out of 169 MBTA routes are being proposed for consolidation, 5 to be shortened and 25 will be eliminated.

NEWRA members expressed significant concerns regarding the service reductions. Notable issues raised included the timing of implementation, putting more cars on the road, difficulties for the winter commuters and potential social distancing issues caused by overcrowding on platforms.

Virtual public meetings are being held, with a session devoted to Boston and Milton set to take place on November 14th. The public comment period will close on December 4, 2020.

Other Business:

BWSC (Boston Water and Sewer Commission) representatives were unable to join this months’ meeting but have committed to attending NEWRA’s December session.

Another joint NEWNC/NEWRA meeting is currently in the works and will likely occur before Christmas, consisting of an end-of-year wrapup.

Meeting Video:

View the November 2020 NEWRA meeting video in full at this link.
Passcode: R8S9U@Tu 

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