Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
About three dozen supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the Boston Public Garden recently to mark the ninth anniversary of its legalization in Massachusetts.
The Commonwealth issued the first marriage licenses for same-sex couples on May 17, 2004, following a landmark decision by the Supreme Judicial Court the previous November that found that same-sex couples had the right to marry.
Present at the celebration were Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff, a Newton couple that participated as plaintiffs in that case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, and wed on the first day it was legal.
“We thought our commitment was as good a model of a committed, loving relationship as you’d likely find in any community, straight or gay,” said Brodoff, 61, of their decision to participate in the Goodrich case.
“It’s just thrilling every year when this time comes around, not just as an anniversary for our marriage but what a spectacular day it was for Massachusetts and all its citizens,” she said.
Wade, 64, said she’s not bothered if same-sex marriage has become so commonplace in Massachusetts that residents don’t always stop to appreciate the historic struggle that made it possible.
“It’s great if people take it for granted,” said Wade. “I think there’s a place for appreciating the enormous accomplishment of getting this right, but ultimately that’s what you want.”
Wade and Brodoff recently celebrated Mother’s Day together, having dinner out with their 24-year-old daughter, Kate Wade-Brodoff. They said the one downside to having two mothers is that the adult child has two people deserving special treatment on the holiday.
Massachusetts was the first state in the country to legally recognize marriages between gay couples and remained the only state to do so until Connecticut became the second in 2008.
Just two days before Thursday’s celebration, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill legalizing gay marriage in that state, making it the 12th where same-sex couples can marry. It is also legal in Washington, D.C.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino had been scheduled to speak at the event, but was unable to attend. Instead, Jullieanne Doherty, who serves as the mayor’s liaison to Jamaica Plain as well as liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, read a statement from Menino.
In the statement, Menino referred to a pair of cases currently under review by the US Supreme Court: one concerns the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, while the other reviews the legality of Proposition 8, the referendum that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
“It has the chance — and I would say the obligation — to end the discrimination still faced by millions of gay and lesbian couples who simply want to marry the person they love,” Menino said of the court in his statement.
The mayor went on to say that he’d like to invite the justices of the court to Boston to see what is different now. “All that has changed is that Massachusetts now treats all loving couples and their families equally under the law,” he said.
Michael Kelley and Ricardo Rodriguez, both 42, were married seven years ago at a park in the South End. The couple said that they initially had some anxiety about having such a public ceremony, fearing some people might see it and react negatively.
They need not have worried.
“Residents started running out of their houses to scream and yell and throw flowers,” Kelley said.
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
Mayor Thomas M. Menino outlined a five-year capital plan today aimed at improving educational opportunities across the city, enhancing public facilities, and increasing accessibility for people with disabilities.
Menino submitted the $1.8 billion capital blueprint to the City Council in early April, along with a $2.6 billion budget plan for the next fiscal year. The council is required to hold its first vote on the capital plan, which calls for the city to borrow $177 million in the next fiscal year, by June 5.
In a speech outside the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Menino provided details about the plan. It includes 341 projects over five years, with $214 million worth of projects this year alone. It would create about 450 construction jobs this year, he said.
Menino said the plan includes $20.5 million to transform the former Mitt Romney campaign headquarters at 585 Commercial St. in the North End into a new K-8 school.
“Imagine Mitt Romney thinking about [how] he’s getting involved in public education,” Menino quipped. “Maybe he’ll send some money to pay for it.”
The plan also includes:
-- Several West Roxbury projects: $11 million in improvements at Millennium Park; a $6.5 million overhaul of playing fields at West Roxbury High School; and $3.75 million for the Draper Pool.
-- $18.6 million to expand the Eliot K-8 Innovation School in the North End.
-- $10.2 million for street improvements in Uphams Corner and East Boston’s Central Square.
-- $16 million to replace granite with glass at the Central Library’s Johnson Building and build new areas inside for children and teenagers.
As powerful winds blew off the Mystic River, buffeting about 50 officials, hospital staff, and reporters, Menino highlighted a project that would turn an adjacent vacant lot into a playground accessible to children with physical limitations.
Proclaiming the waterfront area a “spectacular site,” he asked, “And you know what’s going to be even more spectacular, as we go forward over the next several months? Seeing children with disabilities play on the state-of-the-art playground right behind me.
"Watching people recover from health challenges here and build up strength to walk along the HarborWalk. Seeing families and their kids exercise and have fun along the harbor,” he said.
Menino thanked the staff of the new Spaulding facility, which opened late last month and included survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing among its first patients. He said he hoped to see the park completed by November, allowing him to attend its ribbon-cutting while still in office until January.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.
(Boston Redevelopment Authority)
The city’s redevelopment authority board has unanimously approved a developer’s plan to build a 104-unit apartment building in Allston.
The site is along the same block of Brainerd Road where the company opened a 100-unit apartment building last summer and is preparing to soon finish construction on another 79-unit complex.
About half of the units will be studios and the rest be one-bedroom apartments, the company’s founder and chairman Bruce Percelay said recently. City officials said 14 of the buildings units will be designated as affordable housing. Percelay said there would also be a roof-top fitness center that connects to an outdoor roof patio.
City officials said work on the building is scheduled to begin this year and would take about 16 months to finish. It is estimated the project will create 260 construction jobs.
The developer will also provide $100,000 in community benefits, as well as new streetlights, sidewalks, landscaped areas, trees, and improvements to pedestrian connections between Brainerd Road and Commonwealth Avenue, the Boston Redevelopment Authority said.
The building will span two parcels at 75 Brainerd and 10 Redford, which together comprise just over a half acre. The properties have housed a single-story warehouse building, which was recently razed, and an auto repair shop, which will soon be torn down.
State records show the developer bought the Brainerd Road property for $2.5 million in July 2012. Percelay declined previously to say how much the company will spend to buy the Redford Street property.
The proposed building will join a two-block area that the prominent Back Bay-based real estate company recently dubbed the “Green District.”
The company has taken an environmentally-friendly focus at several apartment buildings it owns and leases there, including at two new developments one of which achieved LEED Silver status and the other LEED Gold.
Percelay has said the proposed project at 75 Brainerd Road hopes to achieve the highest energy efficient rating of LEED Platinum.
To do that, he said previously that the design for the building would include electric car charging stations, purified water dispensers on each floor to promote less bottled water use, access to a nearby Hubway station, European-style appliances that are smaller and more efficient, super-insulated windows and a white reflective roof. The building would be constructed primarily with recycled materials.
Last summer, the company completed a year-long, $23 million project to build a 100-unit apartment building on abutting property at 65 Brainerd Road.
The five-story, 135,000 square-foot building called the Element includes 101 parking spaces in a ground-level garage. The company razed single-story auto repair garages to develop the site, which is about four-fifths of an acre.
As tenants began moving into that building, the Mount Vernon Company began work on another $14.5 million project to build a 79-unit apartment building across the street at 60-66 Brainerd Road.
The four-story, 83,500 square foot building called the Edge is scheduled to open to tenants this summer. It will include 79 parking spaces, some in a garage below the building, others in a lot behind it.
The company razed an about one-and-a-half-story warehouse building to develop the 1.2-acre site. About two-thirds of the property is in Allston; the rest is in Brookline.
The Mount Vernon Company bought the 60-66 Brainerd Road site for $3.25 million in March 2011, and purchased the 65 Brainerd Road for $4.65 million in December 2010, state records show.
Within the so-called Green District, the company owns other properties that it has planned to undergo environmentally-friendly renovations and other changes, including 80 apartments at 1298-1302 Commonwealth Ave.; 83 units at 74-86 Brainerd Road and 20 units at 8 Griggs St. and a retail strip at 1304-1312 Commonwealth Ave.
E-mail Matt Rocheleau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the latest Allston-Brighton updates:
Follow @YourAllstonBri on Twitter, here.
And connect via Facebook by clicking the "Like" button on the top right hand corner of the Allston-Brighton homepage, here.
The MBTA says riders will soon be able to receive faster, more reliable, and more informative alerts, via text and e-mail, notifying them about service delays and disruptions and planned changes.
The revamped “T-Alerts” notification system will launch June 4.
Riders can register for the new service today at www.mbta.com.
The more than 50,000 subscribers of the existing “T-Alerts” system must sign up for the new system to continue to receive alerts. The old system, which launched in 2007, will be discontinued.
The T plans to remind current subscribers that they should sign up for the new system by sending them alerts starting Friday.
Under the new system, alerts will continue to be posted to the T’s website, “with visual enhancements made to page layout and format for clarity, ease-of-use, and reader-friendliness,” the public transit agency said in a statement Thursday.
Text message and e-mail alerts will have more “reliable delivery times” through a new partnership between the T and GovDelivery, a digital communication management company.
“Service alerts and notifications will be clearer and more detailed with additional information regarding specific trip times, service schedule changes, and distinct directional, branch, and station communications,” the statement said.
Like the old system, the new T-Alerts allows riders to tailor which alerts they receive. Riders can choose to be sent alerts about a mix of subway, commuter rail, and boat lines, bus routes and elevators and escalators within the system.
Customizing is easier under the new system and allows some additional flexibility when signing up, including letting customers pick certain times of the day for when they want to receive alerts, T spokeswoman Kelly Smith said.
T officials also hope the new notification system will pave the way for third-party software developers to create new smartphone applications and websites around the “T-Alerts” system, Smith said.
Such apps could allow riders even more options for customizing how they receive alerts, she said.
Smith said the T will make new tools available to third-party developers later this month.
“Based on past experience we expect to see some innovative, useful and interesting applications of that information on smartphone apps and websites,” she said in an e-mail.
The new “T-Alerts” system “is built around data structures that enable sharing, encouraging innovative third-party development,” the T’s statement said. “It uses emerging standards introduced by Google in 2011.”
Developers interested in creating software applications around “T-Alerts,” can visit developer.mbta.com.
E-mail Matt Rocheleau at email@example.com.
For more news and stories about the MBTA, follow @LifeontheMBTA on Twitter, here.
For the latest updates about your community, follow some of our local neighborhood, city and town Twitter accounts, here.
The city has selected three sites that will be home to Boston’s first ever parklets.
Each of the miniature parks will use temporary platforms to convert two on-street parking spaces into mini curbside public parks open during spring, summer and fall. The parklets will be dismantled and stored during winter.
Officials expect to install the first three parklets in late summer or early fall, which will mark the debut of the “boston.Parklets” program that the city hopes to expand to more locations as soon as next spring.
The three sites chosen so far are: at 174 Harvard Ave. in Allston; at 351 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain; and at 1524 Tremont St. in Mission Hill, said Vineet Gupta, director of policy and planning for the Boston Transportation Department. Officials are exploring several sites for a possible fourth parklet.
They will each be about the same length as two parking spaces, roughly 40 feet long, and about 7 feet wide, which, for safety purposes, is slightly narrower than the parking spaces' width.
Designs for the parklets have not been finalized, but each will feature some seating and some more open areas, he said.
Generally, parklets are built to allow for a mixture of benches, chairs, tables, landscaping and bike parking. Other cities, like San Francisco and New York, have launched similar programs.
Each of the first three parklets in Boston will be different from one another, so officials can experiment with a few designs and so that each parklet fits with its surroundings, said Gupta.
The parklets in Mission Hill and JP will be designed by Boston-based Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture. The Allston parklet will be designed by Interboro Partners, a New York City-based planning firm that Gupta said has some local ties.
He said the city was drawn to each site because they are each within busy business districts that already draw a large number of pedestrians.
“The idea is to create some interest and activity on the sidewalk,” he said. “The purpose of these parklets are to make them a community amenity. We want to make sure they will be welcomed and used.”
The sites were also chosen because at each spot the city, which will pay to design and install the parklets, has found at least one neighboring business that has volunteered help monitor the day-to-day upkeep of the parklets.
“The idea being that there is someone that is the eyes and ears for each of these parklets and takes on some basic maintenance responsibilities such as cleaning it at the end of the day,” Gupta said.
The “parklet partner” for the Allston site is @Union Café. In Jamaica Plain, Tacos el Charro and Sonia’s Bridal will be co-“parklet partners.” The Mission Hill parklet will be monitored by Mike’s Donuts and Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta Express.
The partners do not get any special rights to their respective parklets. The parklets are open to the public, just like other city parks.
Table service, advertising or selling products on the parklets is prohibited.
The parklets will be set up and taken down each year on a schedule similar to the Hubway bike share system, disappearing around late November and returning in early April.
Gupta said earlier proposals to install parklets in more residential areas drew some criticism from car owners worried about losing parking. But, in commercial districts, the idea has been well received, he said.
“We worked with local merchants to make sure they’re comfortable with the loss of parking in the area, and for the most part they felt this will create more street activity will help business and will be a benefit for the community and for residents,” he said by phone Wednesday.
“In these three districts [chosen so far], they are all small business districts,” he added. “In the communities surrounding the business districts, we haven’t really heard any complaints from residents, and there’s been support from neighborhood groups.”
He said city officials have held community meetings about the parklets planned for JP and Mission Hill and that a community meeting for Allston residents was scheduled for Wednesday night.
Gupta said he expects the program will grow. But after this year, the city is going to stop funding new parklets, which the Globe has reported will cost about $12,000 each on average.
Design, installation and maintenance of parklets in Boston will be paid for by private business and other organizations, which will first have to get city approval before setting one up.
“We are kind of catalyst for what we hope is a citywide program,” he said. “We are putting an idea out and installing it on the street and we’d like to see what the response is. We don’t know how many locations might emerge next year.”
Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
The YMCA of Greater Boston is encouraging teens to get active this summer, offering free memberships at all 13 branches around the city, it announced Wednesday.
Young people 13 to 17 are eligible for the free access, offered as a part of the Y’s Get Summer program. The program seeks to engage students while school is out through arts, college admission tutoring, community service projects, dances, field trips, leadership programs, literacy, nutrition classes, sports, and other activities.
“The YMCA of Greater Boston is the place for teens to turn to for academic assistance, employment, life skills advancement and healthy fun,” Kevin Washington, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Boston, said in a statement. “It’s our goal to make every teen feel welcome and know that we want them at our branches and we want them to succeed.”
Last year 5,655 teens used the program to get free memberships, the YMCA said. The offer includes branches in Brighton, Charlestown, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, the Fenway, Hyde Park, Needham, Reading, Roxbury, Waltham, West Roxbury, and Woburn.
Teens can enroll at any branch location by bringing their valid state or student identification or having a parent present. A summer membership will give them access to all member privileges, including group exercise classes, workout equipment, pools, teen center activities and special teen programs. The free memberships will extend from June 29 to Sept. 2.
June 28 will be the final school day for 2012 – 2013 in Boston Public Schools. The 2013 – 2014 school year will begin on Sept. 4 for grades 1 – 12 and on Sept. 9 for kindergarten students in Boston Public Schools.
Correction: Due to an error in a statement provided by the YMCA, this article originally stated that free memberships would extend from June 22 to Sept. 7.
State to vote on plan for 'Boston Landing' commuter rail station near New Balance project in Brighton
A key state Transportation Department panel voted unanimously Tuesday to support a plan for new commuter rail station in Brighton, which New Balance would pay to construct and to operate for at least the first decade after the station opens.
The station would sit next to an area where the shoe company is building a massive, $500 million development project.The station proposal was approved by the finance committee of the state agency's board of directors. It is scheduled to be considered for final approval by the entire Transportation Department board on Wednesday, May 22.
The station would be called “Boston Landing.” New Balance officials have said previously they hope it would open in 2014, which would make it the first completed component of the company’s large development.
The station would include a single platform, centered between the eastbound and westbound tracks of the Framingham-Worcester line, said Mark Boyle, the MBTA’s assistant general manager for development.
The conceptual plan envisions that riders would be able to access the station directly from Guest Street and Everett Street, Boyle said. The station would feature elevators and ramps to comply with accessibility standards.FULL ENTRY
Unused or expired medication can be disposed of at newly-installed kiosks in each of the 11 district police stations in Boston, city health officials said in a recent announcement.
The MedReturn Drug Collection kiosks are free, safe, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, officials said. No questions will be asked of people who use the kiosks.
The kiosks were installed through a partnership between the Boston Police Department, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, which bought for the kiosks.
“Unused or expired medication can pose a risk to children, family members, and the environment,” the city’s public health commission said in a statement. “It can also be misused or abused, leading to serious complications, overdose, even death.”
The health commission said that the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives.
To learn more about how to properly use the kiosks and for an interactive map of kiosk locations, visit www.bphc.org/DrugTakeBack.