February 2014 Eight Streets Neighborhood Association Meeting
¥ Ms. Deasy said that the dates of Boston Shines have yet to be finalized – although will most likely be some time in April. ESNA hopes to use Boston Shines to organize another large clean up this spring.
As ESNA continues to expand our relationship with local businesses, we will be asking our local businesses, both storefront and individual, to come to our meetings and tell us about their business and services.
This month we start off with Don Weber, owner of Brownstone Gardens. He has been running his landscape business for 3 years now, serving both corporate clients, like the Airport Marriott, and local residents such as landscaping your brownstone or planting window boxes. Don told us about his business and took questions from the audience. Please visit his web site (www.brownstonegardensboston.com) for more information.
Special guest speakers –
District 2 Councilor and City Council President Bill Linehan
Newly elected City Councilor-at-large Michelle Wu
We are pleased that we had two city councilors join us at our meeting. Each councilor spoke about their positions at city hall and their goals for the upcoming year. Highlights include a desire to work with the Walsh administration and all the new city councilors to make government open and more efficient. Councilor Linehan is working closely with all councilors, even those who did not vote for his presidency, which is a break from the past. He sees the change in administration as an opportunity to establish a more responsive city of Boston culture. Councilor Wu (a South End resident) chairs two committees: one on Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the another on Arts & Culture. Councilor Linehan has formed a committee to look at the city charter to see if any changes can be made. A new Transportation and Infrastructure committee has also been formed to address how services and utilities best keep pace with the city boom in commercial and private construction.
Questions from residents included:
¥ What constitutes a small business, and how can we help businesses establish themselves easier so that we have fewer empty storefronts. Councilor Wu said ÔsmallÕ business is still being defined as her new committee forms. Both councilors hoped that their efforts over the coming months to streamline the permitting process, provide greater access to capital, and better coordinate city policies will make it is easier for businesses to get established and to thrive.
¥ Watson Park – how can we help moving Watson Park from a BRA owned property to a park that can be protected as open space forever. Councilor Linehan mentioned other park models where friends groups have formed, and encouraged local residents to write a letter of petition confirming that they will take responsibility for Watson ParkÕs maintenance.
¥ Liquor licenses. Both councilors provided an overview of the uneven distribution of licenses across the city as the cost of acquiring new licenses has risen to ~$400K. The State caps the number of liquor licenses and it seems unlikely that there will be any progress on this issue in the short term.
¥ Property taxes. Always a contentious issue. A discussion occurred on the high cost of property taxes and how the money is spent. Councilor Linehan is working towards a change that would allow residents who are +55 years and who have lived in their homes for +10 years to defer their property taxes until the property is sold. Another resident was adamant that the city should do more to cut spending rather than collect more taxes. Both councilors talked about the city budget, including the fact that schools represents 40% ($1 billion for 55,000 students) of the budget, with police & fire the second largest part of the budget. They also stated that State support for the cityÕs budget has been drastically reduced increasing the dependence on property taxes. There was some discussion on whether the balance of taxes between commercial and residential was right, and whether non-profits should carry some of the tax burden. Councilor Linehan stated that the Ôspend lessÕ message had been heard and that he was in favor of a professional manager being the next Schools Superintendent. Councilor Wu said she was exploring ways to use information technology to reduce spending and drive efficiencies.
Both councilors are always available if you have any questions or issues for them. Contact points for the councilors:
Committee updates included goal setting for many of the committees as well as committee reports:
Neighborhood Improvement 2014 goals:
- Work closer with Ringgold Park to organize periodic cleanups and shrub pruning
- Cleanup of Waltham/Hanson alley during Boston Shines weekend
- Mulching of trees, for both beautification, to stop trash from being piled near them, and to show that the trees are cared for
- Window box/Stoop planter competition
Business Liaison 2014 goals:
- Engage local businesses to become members of ESNA
- Invite businesses to ESNA meetings to showcase their services
- Encourage businesses to co-sponsor ESNA events (i.e. our BBQs)
Safety Committee – they will meet with Office Litto to conduct a tour of our neighborhood. Office Litto will come to the April meeting to speak about the walk-through and to make recommendations on neighborhood safety. A suggestion was made to get house numbers added to alley entrances on Waltham/Hanson as part of our planned Spring cleanup
Social Committee - 2014 goals will be reviewed at the March meeting.
Eight Streets Welcome Pack - an information pack has been developed to raise awareness of ESNA activities, and to encourage neighbors to become more active in our neighborhood association. Welcome packs have been distributed to street captains and will be available for all attendees at future meetings.
Meeting adjourned. Next meeting Wednesday, March 5th, at Boston Ballet