Minutes for November 2, 2005 ESNA Meeting

Boston Ballet, 5th Floor Boardroom

Presiding: John McLachlan, President

James Slaby subŐing for Secretary Heather Howland Slaby

Six neighbors attending


Susan Passoni, candidate for Boston City Councillor, District 2 in the November 8, 2005 election, spoke to ESNA. She described the socio-economic and housing diversity of District 2, of which ESNA is a part. She is a 10-year South End native, married to a 20-year South End native. Her concerns with soaring housing costs and taxes, diminishing city services, trash and groundwater problems, and the quality of public schools spurred her to run against 22-year incumbent James Kelley. She outlined her platform: tax reform to provide relief to residential homeowners through shifting of some of the burden to commerical and non-profit enterprises, and better public education, in part through the sponsorship of local higher education institutions. She concluded by urging residents to vote.


John MacLachlan echoed the get-out-and-vote sentiment, noting that low turnout like ours in the recent primary diminishes our clout and attention from legislators. He directed members to voting information on city council, state representative, and state senator on the ESNA website under the "Government Info" link on the left (http://eightstreets.tripod.com/govt.html)



John then noted that the next ESNA meeting on December 7, 2005 has a full agenda:


1) A represenative from the Groundwater Task Force will update us on their efforts to addressing the groundwater crisis.


2) A represenative from Project Place, a local non-profit organization that helps homeless people into full-time housing with support services and transitional housing, will update us on their program and their new headquarters, to be located just outside Eight Streets diagonally opposite MingŐs Supermarket at Washinton and East Berkeley Streets. Construction starts in December, 2005, with an anticipated completion in December 2005. The five-story building will offer retail space on the ground floor, three floors of offices and classrooms, and two floors with 14 units of transitional housing.


3) Darrell Settles, owner of BobŐs Southern Bistro on Columbus Avenue (formerly known as Bob the ChefŐs), will discuss his plans and solicit ESNAŐs support for a jazz club called the Chit Chat Club to open in the former Black Box Theater space in the Boston Center for the Arts. It appears that several changes from the original plan are now contemplated: it will have two floors instead of one; jazz on some nights but not every night; and a more expensive menu. Plans for closing times and a proposed patio are unknown.  John McLachlan will attempt to distribute more information in advance of the meeting as it becomes available.


4) The Friends of Ringgold Park (FoRP) are seeking input for a planned redesign of its central garden. Four proposals of different scope and cost – a tree, a fountain, grass, and a mist garden – are up for consideration, and FoRP are seeking the input of neighbors. Paper ballots with your choice can be returned to John McLachlan;


Alan Helms, acting ESNA liason to D4 community/police relations meetings, attending the November 7, 2005 meeting. He distributed copies of a summary crime report for the South End and Lower Roxbury, noting that property crimes like larceny are significantly up: residential burglary is up 36%. He advised members to make sure their locks are secure, and that alarm systems work. He related how police sergeants twice noted spikes in crime rates building where tenants donŐt know each other. Moral: get to know your neighbors.


Members related how a neighbor was mugged in daylight at the Citizens Bank ATM at Washington and Waltham Streets. John McLachlan requested that Alan inquire about homeless problems at the next meeting. Alan noted that the BPD doesnŐt respond to most homeless person complaints for lack of manpower. Public urination has become a big problem -- the pending Peters Park redesign will take this into consideration by reopening its Bradford Street entrance. Alan committed to attend NovemberŐs D4 meeting.


John McLachlan noted that the city is considering deploying a new 311 number to be called for non-emergency police services. He also shared the number 617 343-4911; cellphone users should use this to connect directly to Boston Police emergency; 911 calls from cellphones are first routed to MA State Police, adding delay in reaching the best available local responders.


Alan Helms proposed two programs: increasing ESNA meeting participation by asking members to bring two buddies, and bringing in someone from the Boston Park Department to increase awareness of tree issues. John noted that the city only employs one arborist. Members noted that streets with low-hanging, overgrown trees like Dwight Street are a public safety and pedestrian injury threat, and that reporting that streetlights are being obscured is the best strategy to get the city to come prune them more quickly.


Meeting adjourned