More than 100 people filled the cafeteria at the Tynan School in Southie to discuss the proposed Starbucks at the corner of L and Broadway on Monday evening. Neighborhood Coordinator for the mayor’s office of neighborhood service, John Allison was on hand as moderator.
Starbucks was also on hand with two attorneys and two managers/community outreach. Irene (community outreach) from Starbucks presented to the crowd. She stated that they were at the meeting to address concerns and questions. She spoke about how Starbucks could basically be customized to fit community needs. She said is should be a positive addition to the community and couldn’t wait to be part of the neighborhood. The issues from the last community meeting were also addressed like trash, traffic and public safety.
The floor was then opened up to questions/concerns. Southie resident, Julie Galgay kicked off the concerns with fear of public safety at the intersection, traffic, and the lack of support Starbucks would give local organizations and charities. She also listed the lack of time between community meeting and hearing on Wednesday to address the issues.
Starbucks stated they have been meeting with our local elected officials since the last meeting to address concerns about traffic, trash and public safety.
Ryan Miller – who started the pro Starbucks petition – was up next. He stated that there are double parking and traffic issues all over South Boston , not just this intersection. He believes that is an issue for enforcement not Starbucks. He thinks Starbucks will be a great addition to the neighborhood since we lack a coffee shop with later hours and fast wifi.
Joanne McDevitt from East Broadway also brought up the issue of traffic, public safety, and congestion with all the buses. She believes adding a Starbucks to that corner will just magnify the issues. Southie resident Rich Evans from the Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association said they were in support of the Starbucks and thinks the issues that Joanne brought up are not a businesses issues but the City of Boston’s issues.
Timmy Foley – attorney for Starbucks – states that maybe the traffic issues should be a separate meeting held by the City of Boston. Another Southie resident sited the Harvard Study that showed that a Starbucks in the neighborhood helps the community.
One resident who lives directly next to the proposed Starbuck is in support of it. He stated it’s always a bad idea when neighborhoods stop businesses from coming into town.
South End resident who lives directly next to a Starbucks for 17 years shares her experience with the coffee chain as a neighbor. “In 17 years, I’ve only had 4 or 5 issues and Starbucks always quickly addressed them.” She also went on to say they are great neighbors.
The topic of Mom and Pop shops being put out of business was brought up. One resident concerned that the chain will affect small independent coffee shops. She went on to say that those small businesses are the ones that support South Boston sports organizations, charities and local non-profits. She is concerned that Starbucks will not support those organizations and will impact the businesses that do support those local organizations.
Starbucks stated that it will work with these local organizations and support them in any way they can. This issues is brought up over and over again in different shapes and forms with always the same answer. “Yes, we will support local organizations, charities and sports in South Boston.”
Southie resident and owner of Mutts in the City, Sean Quirk mentions that he already has met with the local manager of the potential Starbucks at L and Broadway and the South Boston Mom’s Club.
One resident asks for a show of hands for support of Starbucks. John Allison quickly puts the kibosh on that and says it’s not a good judge of true support or opposition.
The meeting then quickly wrapped up. A hearing for the common victualler license will be held on Wednesday, August 17th at 10am. Meeting adjourned. Residents then gathered in groups and threw shade at the other side. All in all this meeting was very civil and Starbucks seems sincere in their promise to work closely with the neighborhood and will work hard to be a good neighbor.
We shall see, Southie. But if I were a betting gal, I’d say the City of Boston will most likely approve the cv license.