Observations and takeaways in a nutshell
Nearly 200 people filled the auditorium of Excel High School aka Southie High on Monday night for a community town hall style meeting with Mayor Marty Walsh. Meeting attendees were ask to sign-in if they had a question to ask the mayor. From those registrations, people were randomly selected to ask their questions. Topics of questions were not asked during the registration process.
The evening kicked off with the head master of Excel welcoming the crowd to the high school. Chief of Staff Daniel Koh was on hand to introduce the mayor and members of the mayor’s cabinet were also on hand to help answer questions.
Spotted in the crowd were City Council President Bill Linehan, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry plus her aides Jake Bombard and Sean Pierce, Ryan Spitz from City Councilor Michael Flaherty’s office, Eric Prentis from Neighborhood Services, and State Rep. Nick Collins or possibly his twin brother Andrew Collins – we’re not sure. Also there was David Biele from Nick Collins’ office. Southie community meeting all star Bill “Touchie” McDonough was in attendence but did not get up to ask a question.
The mayor began his address to the crowd apologizing for all the snow this winter. He acknowledged that every snowflake was his fault. The crowd liked that one! He then announced that the M Street side of the beach at the Curley Rec. Center would be family friendly beginning June 20th. The cost is $5 per family for the year. He also mentioned Boston 2024 and Gate of Heaven issues right up front.
Sidewalks in Southie will also be getting repaved this month. Hence all the no parking signs and dug up concrete in some neighborhoods. The business district along East and West Broadway will also be getting power washed this month.
The question portion of the program began and covered the following topics:
- L Street Bathhouse/Curley Rec. Center – The City will be evaluating the L and renovations will take place.
- Parking – The City is working to think of creative solutions to our parking crisis. Possibility of developing the lot on West Broadway into a three-story parking garage as well as the possibility of angled parking in some areas. The City will be taking a parking inventory too.
- High taxes – City will be evaluating South Boston’s high taxes
- Bus Stops – will be staying on Broadway until September
- One-Ways – a survey will be sent out to residents about one-ways
- Internet providers – The City will be working on offering different choices not just Comcast.
- Missing basketball nets at Old Colony Housing Development – Mayor Walsh said he would take care of replacing them. UPDATE: In less than 24 hours, the basket ball hoops were installed.
- Gate of Heaven Condo project – The mayor reminded the crowd that the City does not control the land but encouraged the community to attend the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on June 23rd.
- Dog Poop – The City is working on having more receptacles and poop bag dispensers available at city parks. The mayor mentioned that his mother yelled at him about this topic.
- Boston 2024 – Southie resident Chris Hurld brings up Boston 2024 referendum. No part of the city is more impacted by the Olympics than South Boston. The mayor agreed and said Olympics need a “good majority” in referendum statewide and in Boston. He also went on to say that he will not be using public money for any cost overrun or to build stadiums for the Olympics.
- WW1 Memorial – Local Southie legend Kevin Conroy brings up the need to put the WW1 Memorial in a much more prominent location. We had no idea there was even a WW1 Memorial in Southie – it is located inside South Boston High School.
- Quality of Life issues – Joanne McDevitt, president of the City Point Neighborhood Association, brings up everything from overdevelopment, to traffic, to parking, MBTA, to public safety. The mayor agrees and says he’s working to improve those quality of life issues. He knows Southie is a special neighborhood.
- Parks and Recreation – lots of family friendly programs this summer. You can find a Summer in the Parks guide here: http://www.cityofboston.gov/Parks/
- Youth sports – Southie resident Matt Sances brought up the need for improvement in the sports facilities and programs in Boston public schools. He referenced the recent Boston Globe article – https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/05/30/john-fish-first-civic-project-has-changed-young-lives/gjnFiXkH8rt43CYAPnY1fI/story.html
- Andrew Square development – member of the Andrew Square Civic Association brings up the need for positive development in the square. One of the best quotes of the night in regards to developers plan for Andrew Square, “Build, sell, and screw.”
- Driving in Southie – A gentleman describes driving in Southie as “anarchy on the roads.” The mayor says we need to create a transportation plan as well as a traffic flow plan. He also mentions that the City’s former Bike Czar will become a chief of the streets and looking at how we can improve the streets for driving, biking and walking.
- Education – The mayor acknowledged the need for quality education offered to all neighborhoods. He also mentioned that we have a couple of dozen too many school buildings in the city.
- In addition to parking, L Street Bathhouse was the hot topic of the night. From seniors paying too much for yearly memberships brought to light be local Southie legend John Healy, to the physical condition of the Curley Rec. Center to public safety, the L was mentioned surprisingly a lot through the hour and half long meeting.
- Southie resident Tom Barrett bring up the lack of shade at the beach at L Street. We’re not sure how the mayor is supposed to resolve that issue but we suggest maybe offering Urban Sombreros for sale at the front desk.
- The conditions of the auditorium at Southie High. It was hot as blazes in that hall and most of the overheard lightbulbs were out.
- We learned that only 40 South Boston residents actually attend Excel High School (Southie High).
- Guy from Quincy that might have been a plant for Boston 2024 that did’t really have a question but just stated how great it would be to have the Olympics in Boston.
- Some people snuck up to the mic and asked questions. They were suppose to sign in and wait for their name to be called but we guess rules and order don’t apply to these people especially when they have a question for the mayor.
- Aggressive back rub – towards the end of meeting fellow CIS blogger Peter Gailunas and I were treated to a couple who were engaging in aggressive head and shoulder rubbing which bordered on inappropriate. Come on, people. You’re not in your living room!
Overall the meeting was orderly and productive. Mayor Marty Walsh did an amazing job fielding questions and directing people to the appropriate cabinet members. He was sincere and approachable and seemed to genuinely enjoy this type of forum. A woman asking a question, commended the mayor on his dedication to civic enagement with the community and we agree.
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It's good to see that Linda Dorcena Forry showed up at something in South Boston. VERY nice woman but all sizzle and no steak. There's a lot going on locally and she needs to take an interest in the town she represents.
"Parking – The City is working to think of creative solutions to our parking crisis. Possibility of developing the lot on West Broadway into a three-story parking garage as well as the possibility of angled parking in some areas. The City will be taking a parking inventory too." How about improving transit instead of inducing additional parking need?
"We learned that only 40 South Boston residents actually attend Excel High School (Southie High)." And the community thinks that a charter school at Gatey will be for Southie residents?
Intersting items in your summary. Thanks for reporting this. I'm glad I missed the massage session.
You're starting to sound like Pot Roast Head! Southie High hasn't had more than 40 Southie kids going there since busing. Smart parents send their kids to private school or charter schools. Get with the program.