Meetings and Minutes
St. Botolph Neighborhood Association
Annual Meeting Minutes
August 30th, 2018
Scott Mustard, Jason Tack, Rebecca Forkner
The neighborhood meeting was held at 70 St. Botolph Street and had about 60 attendees. Scott Mustard called the meeting to order at 5:35pm, welcomed everyone and continued with an update on the agenda.
New elections were postponed until a time when full board membership is present.
A financial update will be sent out by email.
Captain Sweeney, attended by Sergeant Freeman, reviewed neighborhood safety. He reported that is has been a very good year for the police force in their efforts to keep crime low, and that this neighborhood is very safe. There are two active investigations for which details are still undisclosed. Other closed case crimes include a scooter stolen with use of a pellet gun, several house breaks, several car breaks, package thefts, and suspicious activity in alleyways.
Neighbors voiced concerns about homeless people sleeping around the neighborhood, marijuana smoke coming in through windows, cars speeding in the neighborhood, drug use, threatening activity occurring around the 7-Eleven store, and trucks blocking crosswalks at the St. Botolph/W. Newton intersection.
Cpt. Sweeney reiterated that the police department documents and follows up on every encounter they have and every report they receive. Some non-arrestable misdemeanors (such as marijuana smoke) may receive less priority in any given moment due to focus on more serious crimes, but all calls are followed up on. Cpt. Sweeney stressed:
- Do not hesitate to call 911 for any and all concerns
- Do not use 311 for emergencies
- Do not leave visible items (including bags) in vehicles
- Do not leave vehicle doors unlocked
- Private video cameras can help police find suspects
- Make sure contractors are reputable
- For concerns along the South West Corridor Park, call State Police
Scott thanked Cpt. Sweeney for his presence at the meeting and mentioned that he has been instrumental in keeping our neighborhood safe and communicating quickly and efficiently with the SBNA board.
Scott introduced Meghan Kenney with McDermott, Quilty and Miller, who is representing Jaho’s application for a cordials license. Jaho’s is a fast, casual coffee roaster and wine bar with snacks, and is located at 116 Huntington Avenue (corner of Shaws). They currently have a beer and wine license. Seating capacity is estimated at 60-70. No valet, open 6:30am - 2am.
Item 5 - Upcoming Elections
US Congressman Mike Capuano for the Seventh Congressional District of Massachusetts
Scott introduced members of Rep. Capuano’s campaign, his son Mike and daughter-in-law Elizabeth. Mike shared that Representative Capuano is productive and progressive, and has received accolades from a number of area organizations. He was first elected in 1998. Members of the audience asked questions about the housing and finance committee, his goals after the election, and his opinion on term limits. Mike shared that Rep. Capuano is on the housing committee and plans for more changes, specifically expanding opportunities for affordable housing.
Jon Santiago, running for State Representative for the 9th Suffolk District Seat
Scott introduced Jon Santiago. Jon grew up in Roxbury, served with the Peace Corps, and graduated from Yale Medical School. Across that time he developed a passion for public service. He is currently an ER physician at Boston Medical Center, where he experiences on a daily basis the opioid crisis and worsening gentrification. Jon shared his endorsements by the Boston Globe, the Boston Guardian, and the South End News, sharing that he would be an engaged and bold representative. Members of the audience had questions about a local Ebola research facility and Byron Rushing’s strengths/weaknesses.
Byron Rushing, State Representative for 9th Suffolk District Seat
Scott introduced Byron Rushing. Byron has lived in the south end throughout his career. Byron shared his love for this neighborhood, particularly in its various types of diversity. He stated his priorities include civil and human rights, permanent affordable housing and ongoing diversity representation in this neighborhood, and health disparities. Over the years he has fought for GLBTQ rights and worked on an important bill on drug treatment, in which drug addiction is treated as a health problem, not a criminal problem. Audience members had questions about improving communication with his office and health disparity problems.
Senator Will Brownsberger, State Senator 2nd Suffolk & Middlesex District Scott introduced Will Brownsberger. Will has been state senator for seven years and spend five years prior in the house of representatives. He shared that he is ‘extremely accessible’ via willbrownsberger.com. He shared that his past work and priorities include 1. climate change that specifically affects this region and spoke of pushing for a carbon tax; 2. criminal justice reform that helps people put their lives in order rather than focus solely on punishment; 3. equality for marriage, particularly since national trends are currently a threat; 4. improving public transportation - roads, bikes, pedestrian routes; 5. education funding. Audience members asked questions about exhaust issues with the MBTA and making it easier for businesses to grow in Boston. William stated that he is pushing for electric trains, which would eliminate exhaust issues, and that he passed legislation recently to limit non-competition agreements that limit business growth. He spoke again about improving transportation and housing to support growing businesses, and encouraging businesses in biotech and clean energy.
Scott introduced Yissel Guerrero, who is Mayor Walsh’s liaison for Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, and Mission Hill. Yissel shared that she enjoys working with this neighborhood because the problems we bring up are either simple to solve or engaging to solve. She mentioned efforts to rebuild the Long Island Bridge, which will house a comprehensive, long-term recovery campus. Efforts are underway to garner neighbor support. For more information contact Yissel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audience member Q&A follows.
- The fire between Durham alley and Cumberland alley was addressed, in which fire vehicles were unable to quickly reach the house due to cars blocking the alley. Yissel shared that cars parked in private alleys are untouchable by public services, even in the case of an emergency. Audience member Ron shared that abutters can agree to deem an alley an “emergency fire lane,” in which case cars parked there during an emergency can be towed.
- In the case of noise early in the morning, Yissel shared that her office can call to ask people to wait until 8am, but cannot enforce that legally if they are on private property. Scott added that it is legal for construction crews to begin work at 7am.
- Regarding reckless driving on St. Botolph, Yissel shared that she will have an engineer come out to do an inspection of the area and make recommendations to reduce speeding. Ron added that a sign was removed during construction that stated “no trucks or buses” on St. Botolph. Yissel said she would work to have to put back up. Diane suggested opening the left turn light again on Huntington Ave.
- Regarding truck unloading at the intersection outside the 7-Eleven, Scott shared an idea generated by Claire Dargan: since loading zone signs are not being issued by the city any more, would putting up a “food truck” sign in place of the existing “commercial parking” signs help with deliveries at 7-Eleven? Yissel said she would look into it.
- Regarding illegal parking along yellow lines (intended for medical and medical assist vehicles) in front of 70 St. Botolph, in which a number of residents have been negatively affected, Yissel said to take pictures of the cars at fault and send them to 311.
- Tony raised concern of cars on Cumberland failing to yield at the red light/crosswalk at Huntington. Yissel added to concerns about traffic on St. Botolph.
Midtown Hotel redevelopment. Scott has met with a number of developers bidding on the project. Bids are due at the end of Sept. Only rentals will be available. Building will be no more than 145 feet (14 floors) from ground up, but can descend down as well. Sq ft. unknown. Scott shared with bidders his preferences, including an open plan, fair amount of low income housing available and/or job retraining/education space available/preschool or afternoon care available.
Will set up email at email@example.com for ongoing questions/comments. Ron recommended new sewer lines, "no resident parking", and a solution for storm runoff. Bob recommended a loading dock for trash to cut down on traffic. Concerns were voiced about shadows cast by a new, higher building.
Scott reiterated that Christian Science has been a wonderful partner across years, with a strong interest in our input. He recommended continuing to work together with them to reach mutual goals or compromises.
Tony stated the predicted completion of the Christian Science Plaza is Nov. 2019.
Scott introduced Aaron Donohue at the YMCA Huntington Ave. Aaron reminded audience members that it is never too late to be a YMCA member! There is currently a huge membership campaign underway: joiner fee is waived + two hours of free training sessions. There are 60+ new programs including field trips, classes, tai chi, and more. Reciprocity with any other YMCA across the city and nation. Fee is the lowest of any gym in the city. $45/month for individuals over 65. Aaron stressed that anyone who needs additional assistance should come and meet with him and he will come up with a rate that works.
Ian wondered whether the recent redevelopment at the YMCA can be used to guide our interactions with the redevelopment at Midtown? Aaron said he would be happy to talk to anybody throughout the project.
Scott reiterated that YMCA programs are really key to having healthy families and communities. Check out their programs online. http://ymcaboston.org/huntington
Other miscellaneous items
Please send questions or comments regarding the addition at 175 St. Botolph St. to firstname.lastname@example.org. The site is seeking a letter of support for work from the SBNA and member concerns will be important.
Audience member Ian wondered about resolution regarding the property at 116 St. Botolph. Scott shared he had not received word.
Scott shared that work on La Colombe coffee house (being built at the corner of St. Botolph and W. Newton across from the 7-Eleven) is moving forward. Scott has asked the builders for a checklist to be posted on the doors so neighbors can see progress as it occurs.
Scott shared the concern of one SBNA member that by-laws are not being adhered to strictly. Scott shared the opinion of the board that the by-laws be revisited for amendment (vis-a-vis membership vote) so that they best fit the needs of the community and the board.
Audience member Jewel as well as Rebecca and Scott reiterated for all the above issues: Many hands make for light work. If something bothers you or inspires you, reach out, get involved, let your voice be heard. Only through the efforts of many of us will significant change come about.