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Boston mayor's neighborhood liaisons hit pavement for 24 hours straight

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  July 19, 2012 04:45 PM

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The city’s neighborhood liaisons, who provide a link between Boston’s communities and the mayor’s office, are spending 24 hours straight between Thursday and Friday touring the streets of the areas they represent.

The 14 or so liaisons will be collecting data about each neighborhood, based on observations and what people in the community tell them is working and what is not, city officials said.

The information will be relayed back to leaders at City Hall, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

“The mayor wants to get a really good idea of what’s going on in the neighborhoods,” said Angela Holm, the city’s neighborhood liaison for Allston Brighton. “The mayor said he wanted more information and wanted to try something new and innovative to get a look at the quality of life in the neighborhoods.”

Holm said the effort also aims to raise awareness about the presence and role the various liaisons, or neighborhood coordinators, have to the city’s constituents.

“I want people to know we’re here,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know. So many people just aren’t aware we’re here and available.”

Holm spoke by phone while having lunch at Boston Kabob in Allston Village midday Thursday. She was five hours into a workday that began at Jim’s Deli in Brighton, where she said she spoke with people stopping in for breakfast, including local residents, firefighters, and construction workers.

From there, she said she visited park-goers at Joyce Playground. She toured the Allston streets of Gardner, Ashford and Pratt, a section of the neighborhood with a dense student population that is commonly called “the GAP” and has experienced problems in recent years including vandalism, arson, graffiti, rodent infestations, nuisance complaints and irresponsible landlord practices.

Later Thursday, she said her fairly flexible schedule included plans to walk through other known problem areas, stop by a concert at Ringer Park, visit education programs for children, have dinner at an event at the Oak Square YMCA, attend a Little League game, and tour some housing developments.

From midnight to 4 a.m. Friday, she said she is scheduled to ride around with police from District-14 as they respond to whatever calls come in during that time.

That will probably include stops outside bars and those visits will likely occur at around 2 a.m., as the establishments start to empty. She said nightlife issues will be a particular focus of her report back to the mayor.

By 8 a.m. Friday morning, she said she plans to wrap up her triple work shift after visiting some active construction sites.

Along the 24-hour nonstop effort, she said she is handing out her business card and writing down what local residents and business owners tell her about the neighborhood.

When she saw a pothole, broken street light or graffiti, she wrote down where it was so the city’s public works department can add it to its list of needed repairs. She said that among the more notable things she saw was that the house on Linden Street that burned in January is “still a mess.”

Once Holm ends her ongoing campaign Friday morning, she’ll have the rest of the day off to sleep.

“It’s part of the job of being in constituent services,” she said when asked about the grueling schedule. “We’re dedicated.”

For more information and to contact a neighborhood liaison, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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