Neighborhood Meeting Minutes – November 14, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
The meeting was held at the Susan Bailis Center, Mass Avenue & St. Botolph Street. A duo from New England Conservatory (NEC) played while members arrived and chatted from 7:30-7:45.
Chris Coffin called the meeting to order at 7:45, thanked the violin/viola duo who then left for another “gig”. He introduced and thanked board members, and reminded people we are a volunteer organization. Help is always needed, and new officers requested for our April elections: President and Vice President.
Wreath Sale, December 1, 9-noon, 7-11 corner.
Holiday Party, December 12, 7-9 p.m. 3rd Floor Atrium, The Marriott, $10 Members, $15 non members, includes one glass of wine and finger food.
Raffle Efforts to raise money for the Big Belly trash bins. Details about specific prizes are to be posted on the bulletin board. Sales at the Sale and Party should be brisk to take advantage of the short time frame.
Trash IssuesChris reported that trash issues seem to have settled down. He clarified the fact that the SBNA was not at all involved in the wave of city trash ticketing, and believes that residents are now clear about trash regulations and in compliance. Flyers about trash should go up from time to time to remind residents, especially newcomers and students in the Fall.
99 St. Botolph StreetChris reported that the 99 St. Botolph Street project is finally back in construction with a new contractor who seems to be taking full advantage of the warmer weather to try to get the building enclosed for the winter.
Neighborhood InquiriesA few neighborhood residents mentioned personal or other-group interests that the SBNA should know about. They were able to get resolution from helpful members in attendance.
Chris introduced three Guest Speakers:
Chris introduced three speakers:
Ellen Pfeiffer (and Marian Alper), PR for New England Conservatory
Jeff Doggett, PR for Northeastern
Peter Mitchell, resident
New England Conservatory: solace, stimulation, exhilaration!
Ellen Pfeiffer brought a large assortment of NEC brochures and information about courses and free concerts for SBNA members to take advantage of. The following facts about NEC were of interest to the audience. Founded in 1867, oldest independent conservatory in the country (Boston Conservatory was founded the same year with a focus on music, theatre and dance, a slightly different “market”)
750 Students, an additional 1400 in the Preparatory Program and 250 in Continuing Education. 225 Faculty members. Outreach Programs affect 15,000 people. 600 free concerts a year available to ALL in the neighborhood: for solace, stimulation, exhilaration. Jordan Hall, where most of the concerts take place is one of the finest acoustic spaces in the country, second only to Symphony Hall. Opera performances twice a year at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, owned by Emerson College on Tremont Street.
Of special interest are the First Monday Concerts: October, November and December; March, April and May. Top faculty and students perform at these superb free concerts started by faculty cellist and former President of NEC, Larry Lesser.
Ellen urged members to take advantage of NEC as a great community resource.
Northeastern University: an urban campus oasis Jeff Doggett talked about the transformation of Northeastern that many in the neighborhood may not know about. In the 70’s and 80’s, Northeastern was the largest institution in the country with 40,000 students, open enrollment, and no endowment. There was high faculty turn over and a number of undeveloped properties were just dormant parking lots.
In 1992 there was a crisis in this out-of-control institution, and it’s ability to survive was in question. A new president overhauled the university, and today it has a more manageable enrollment of 15,000. There are 31,000 applications for 2800 freshman slots, an admission rate of roughly 9%, one of the most competitive in the country. About 7% of the freshman class is from Boston itself. Beyond the previous teaching-only mission, there are now extensive research facilities and a popular internship program at Northeastern.
St. Anne’s Church, long neglected has recently been bought by Northeastern and is now used for services and concerts, There were a variety of questions from the audience about dorms, acquisition of apartment buildings, and regulations regarding them and their development.
Peter Mitchell, Resident Historian Peter Mitchell introduced himself as a neighborhood resident since the early 80’s. He has seen many changes and observed that both Northeastern and New England Conservatory have played a major role in the history of the St. Botolph area. He quizzed the audience and found people evenly divided as to whether were Back Bay, South End or “Other.” He suggested we are “Other” a separate and distinct neighborhood of its own.
St. Botolph was a 7th Century Monk in East Anglia, England, whose name was contracted by early Puritan settlers from the label, St. Botolph’s town, to become Boston.
In 1948 Secretary of Transportation William Calahan had a highway plan that would have meant running Interstate 95 right through the city. Boston narrowly escaped being cut in half by Interstate 95, which now circles Boston, thanks to the efforts of Governor Frank Sargent.
Also important to our neighborhood was taking the Orange Line underground and creating another lovely city park, The Southwest Corridor Park.
Peter mentioned the School House, where he lives, the more recent St. Botolph Restaurant, the Y school and other local landmarks. He brought an aerial photo of our neighborhood, which can be obtained from Aerial Photos International, 617-762-9400. The photo shows our neighborhood surrounded by railroad yards, and without trees during its early development, which was the last section of the South End to be built. A development company bought property, constructed buildings and then auctioned them off. It started off as a working class area with many rooming houses.
The neighborhood has had many local personalities including Martin Luther King, Peter Sellers, Winslow Homer, and our own, infamous Max Trager, long-time treasurer of the SBCC, the St. Botolph Citizen’s Committee, now the SBNA, our neighborhood association.
Chris closed the meeting at 9:15.
Respectfully submitted, Helen Powell, Clerk
Read our current and past meeting minutes here.