The annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast on Sunday is one of the year's biggest political events in Boston and an opportunity for politicians to poke fun at their colleagues and themselves. State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry will host the event for the first time this year. Boston.com caught up with the senator to ask what she’s excited for and what the audience can expect at this year’s breakfast.
(To read more about Dorcena Forry's plans for the breakfast, click here.)
Q. When did you start preparing for the breakfast?
A. We started in earnest back in November, but really, as soon as I was elected we started thinking about it. The last month or so has been getting increasingly intense.
Q. How many breakfasts have you attended?
A. I've been to the breakfast many times prior to my election in 2005 and I’ve attended ever since.
Q. What are you most nervous about?
A. I'm nervous, but very excited. I guess I am most focused on making sure we get to all of the dignitaries who need mic time. We have a great line-up and 1-2 special surprise guests planned, so it's a tight program.
Q. What will be different this year, how will we know this is a LDF event?
A. I don't think anyone will confuse me with Bill Linehan— or any other previous host for that matter! But, I think in some ways they will recognize key elements— songs, local references and the focus, of course, on Irish and Irish-American culture.
Q. What are some jokes you have planned for the audience this year? Who has the best jokes?
A. I'm the host, so of course, I have the best jokes. If anyone tells you otherwise, let me know and I'll find them a choice seat — on the sidewalk.
Q. How do you plan to bridge the gap between generations and cultures in the audience?
A. That comes naturally to this event— everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day and my hosting is just the next step in that concept. I think younger folks will relate because we'll have some components that are new both visually and using social media. #stpatricksbreakfast
Q. Who are your favorite performers at the breakfast?
A. The Dropkick Murphys will be amazing— they have a great performance planned.
Q. What's the most unusual thing you've seen happen at one of these?
A. Whatever Bill Weld was doing last year —um, that was pretty unusual.
Q. What’s your favorite menu item at the breakfast?
A. Bill Linehan. No wait: Charlie Baker.
Q. What’s your favorite part about St. Patrick’s Day?
A. When it's over. (Laughing.) I really do love the songs and I love when everyone in the hall sings along. We'll have the lyrics printed and on the screen and I want to hear them singing at home too.
Q. What Irish traits/traditions have you picked up/learned since you married an Irish-America?
A. The Irish know how to have a good time — even in difficult moments. Wakes, funerals, political roasts. Never easy, but it's easier when you can try to focus on the good times. The Irish are experts are that. But, really, in most ways us Haitians and Irish have a lot in common: Both are countries that were once colonized/enslaved; both freed themselves through revolutions; both have Catholicism as their main religion. And the people— they are both great people who've made giant contributions to this country. I think it's a natural pairing.
Q. Over the years has the St. Patrick’s Day crowd changed?
A. Yes, the breakfast crowd has become more diverse. Jack Hart and Steve Lynch made great strides over the last decade-and-a-half by opening up the venue — and bringing in folks from surrounding neighborhoods. There's people from all walks of life at the breakfast.
Q. Did you attend the parade and breakfast growing up?
A. I never went until I was "in politics" in the 1990s. But I was aware of it. My pastor growing up in Dorchester was a South Boston native with a great sense of humor. My husband, Bill, grew up going to the breakfast. His father and his family would go to it as far back as the 1960s.
Q. Could a breakfast like this happen anywhere but South Boston?
A. Sure, but it would be lame. This event has the benefit of a regional audience and 70 years of tradition. It's the marquee event of its kind.
Q. What is it like to have a room full of South Boston/Dorchester residents getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day?
A. Yeah, well, we try not to mix those two groups up too much. Just kidding! It’s going to be nice to have the entire district represented, let’s not forget Mattapan and Hyde Park.
Q. Recommended St. Patrick’s Day beverages?
Sam Adams is one of our sponsors, so definitely a cold Sam Adams lager is on my dance card. My husband sticks to the Guinness.
Q. Anyone you want to thank?
A. I want to thank all of the amazing volunteers— there's more than 100 of them so far— who'll be there on March 16 to help run the event. I created a foundation— the First Suffolk Partnership— to raise funds to pay for the breakfast. It's a huge undertaking. My father-in-law Ed Forry and Jean-Robert Durocher, my brother-in-law, have been awesome in helping to navigate through the details. Finally, I want to thank Sean Pierce from my office and my whole team Tracey Ragland-Kelley, Marie Gay, Janice Blemur and Maggie Scott.
Video: A look at the Local 17 Sheet Metal Workers’ 'tin men' and their St. Patrick's Day Parade plans
(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)
They won’t be clad in green, but rather dressed in metal, and for anyone who has watched the St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade in South Boston, they’ve probably seen the Local 17 Sheet Metal Workers and their unique costumes.
Every year volunteers from the Dorchester-based union, dress in 30-pound suits of metal and walk the parade route, throwing candy to kids and high-fiving spectators along the way.
“It’s about involvement and letting the neighbors and the community know who we are and what we do,” explained Jonathan Marks, president of Local 17. “We’re not just about installing HVAC, but we’re also trying to help out where ever we can.”
The six men who will be marching, in addition to those who will be supporting them and manning the union’s float, will be up bright and early Sunday, adding the finishing touches to their suits as they prepare for the long and sometimes cold trek through South Boston.
“The hardest part is putting on the suits,” said Michael Howard, 48, a six-year veteran of the parade. “You can’t really bend over too well in the suit, so it’s hard to hand out candy, but the kids love it.”
The union and its “tin men,” have been marching in the parade since at least 1998, according to Marks. Each suit is handmade and takes close to three days to complete.
“It’s great to be out there. Being of Irish heritage there’s a lot of pride for me and seeing the kids smile and throwing them beads is a great thing,” said Michael Burns, 36, who will march in the parade for his third time this year.
Although it’s an opportunity for the union and its members to introduce parade goers to what they do, Marks said it’s a pretty fun time as well.
“It’s a great feeling being out there and having people cheer for the ‘tin men,’” said Marks. “They may not know what we do, but it’s a great feeling.”
Anthony Franceschini, 41, who has marched in the parade the past two years, said it’s the only way to go.
“It’s a great time…the best way to be at the parade, is to be in the parade,” he said.
(Image courtesy DND)
A VietAID led housing development on Washington Street, recently received a financial boost from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation.
The private-public community development finance institution provided VietAID, a Fields Corner-based community development non-profit, with a $600,000 predevelopment loan to support its Upper Washington/Four Corners Project.
“The Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Dorchester each have a range of very distinct affordable housing challenges,” Roger Herzog, executive director of Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, said in a statement. “Given the growing needs of each of these communities, CEDAC is proud to partner with organizations with proven track records to improve and create more high quality housing options for lower income residents and those in need.”
The $10-million project, which is expected to break ground in late-2014, will construct two buildings for commercial space and 35 residential units.
The first building, located at 331 Washington St., will be three stories and house 13 of the units, in addition to 675-square-feet of ground floor retail space.
The second building, located at 324 Washington St., will be four stories and house 22 units and 2,000-square-feet of ground floor retail space.
The units will include four one-bedroom residences, 21 two-bedroom residences, and 10 three-bedroom residences. Nine of the units are expected to be set aside for formerly homeless families.
The project will also include 15 parking spaces at 331 Washington St. and 10 spaces at 324 Washington St.
Overall 10 separate parcels will be used for the project, with a total project area of approximately 30,400 square-feet. The project will also utilize a former auto body site, which was purchased by VietAID with a $450,000 acquisition loan provided by the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation.
For a copy of the Project Notification Form click here.
After residents pushed the city to abandon its plan to use the East Cottage Street parcel in Uphams Corner, dubbed the Maxwell Property, for a Public Works storage yard, the Department of Neighborhood Development has moved forward with its plan to sell the property.
DND officials were in Dorchester Thursday night, to unveil the draft Requests for Proposals developed for the property. The RFP is DND’s standard process for selling public property. The document, which is publicly advertised, is a guideline for potential developers, laying out what the community would like to see at the sprawling property.
“The development proposals [RFP] were developed based on feedback we got at two community meetings in the fall and by the Uphams Corner Working Advisory Group,” explained Chris Rooney, a project manager for DND.
Owned and managed by the city of Boston, the property, which is bound by East Cottage Street, the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, and Hillsboro Street, was once home to the Maxwell Box Company, but the city took control of it in 2010 after years of tax disputes with the owner.
The parcel is approximately 120,000 square-feet and a dilapidated warehouse currently resides on it. Both were assessed in 2013 for a combined $1.9 million.
Although it is not set in stone, the city will likely demolish the decaying building prior to it being sold.
“It’s a much more attractive site without the building, but we’re still working on the numbers,” said Rooney.
The draft RFP presented Thursday, called for proposals that are, “contextual with the existing neighborhood in terms of height, scale, massing, construction materials, and visual appearance.”
Other caveats in the RFP included the developer working with the community, following the Boston Residents Job Policy, and creating open space that could be utilized by the surrounding community.
In addition to guidelines about the shape and size of potential projects, the RFP also provided guidance on what the community would like to see the property used for.
Mixed-use development was at the top, in addition to housing and possible light industrial use.
Although most of the 30 or so residents at Thursday’s meeting were supportive of potential mixed-use or residential projects at the site, some were hesitant about light industrial.
“I was concerned about the statement that it could go 100 percent light industrial,” said Susan Capachione, an area resident.
“My concern is the light industrial,” said Emma Montgomery. “To us this is a neighborhood and we certainly don’t want to see the wrong type of industry.”
Rooney stressed that any potential project would need the support of the community to be built.
“One of the things we heard was that job creation is important to the community,” said Rooney. “She [Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development] felt strongly that because of its size, where it sits in zoning, and what we heard from the community, that it could be used for job creation.”
Some in attendance also called on DND to promote the parcel’s connections to the nearby Uphams Corner MBTA Station.
“I’d like to see an emphasis on projects that reflect transit oriented development,” commented Nancy Conrad, an area resident.
Overall the majority of the audience seemed ready to get the project started sooner than later.
“It’s [the property] unique because of its size,” explained Max MacCarthy, executive director of the Uphams Corner Main Streets, a business development non-profit. “It has a lot of potential to provide a lot of jobs or housing and could have a transformative effect on the community.”
The RFP will likely be on the market for 90 days, according to DND officials.
For more information about the project, visit DND’s project page.
The following was submitted by the Boston Public Health Commission
In observance of International Women’s Day, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Resilient Sisterhood Project, the Association of Haitian Women in Boston, and their partners will host a screening of the short film 'When the Bough Breaks,' from the acclaimed series Unnatural Causes. When the Bough Breaks takes a critical look at how racism intersects with health, wealth, and education and challenges us to work towards more equitable health outcomes for women of color and their babies.
Following the screening, Dr. Yvonne Gomez-Carrion will lead a panel discussion with health experts and community leaders to reflect on ways of solving the health inequities facing women in Boston and around the country. Participating organizations will have informational tables with resources at the event.
WHEN: Saturday, March 8
WHERE: Boston Public Library – Mattapan Branch
1350 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan
WHO: Dr. Yvonne Gomez-Carrion, OB/GYN at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center,
Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School
Boston Public Health Commission
Resilient Sisterhood Project
Brookview House, Inc.
Association of Haitian Women in Boston
Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition
Boston Mothers Care
(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)
The rusting bridge that carries foot traffic over the Fairmount Commuter Rail tracks from Ceylon Street/Alexander Street to Bird Street, has been closed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, due to unsafe conditions at the property.
“The MBTA’s safety department deemed the Ceylon Street bridge unsafe, mainly due to issues with the support structure and it was immediately ordered closed,” said a spokesperson for the T, which manages the property. “No decisions on the future of the bridge have been made at this time. Currently, customers may utilize an accessible crossing within a very short distance of the bridge.”
Although the move by the T is welcome news — neighborhood activist have complained about its condition for some time — its future is still unknown.
Activists have said that the bridge is an important connection for residents trying to access the various schools, community centers, and commercial districts in the area.
City Councilor Tito Jackson, who represents the area, said he is staying on top of the situation and the T’s decision was the right one.
“The T is doing the right thing by securing the bridge because it was unsafe,” said Jackson. “Now the conversation really turned to one of finances.”
Jackson added that while the future of the bridge may be unknown, it provides an opportunity to have broader discussions about the neighborhood’s infrastructure and priorities.
“We need to make an assessment and prioritize the needs in the community,” said Jackson. “I think there’s a large conversation that should be had relative to planning, so we can assess where those connections should be.”
For a video about the bridge’s condition, click here.
(Image courtesy Google Maps)
The following was submitted by the Whittier Street Health Center
Whittier Street Health Center’s FREE Community Flu Vaccination Clinics
Saturday, March 8, 2014
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
1290 Tremont St. Boston.
Get your free flu vaccination this Saturday! Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury is offering free flu vaccinations Saturday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 2nd floor in the Community Education Room, 1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury. The free clinics are sponsored by the Boston Public Health Commission and Whittier Street Health Center. For questions, call (617) 427-1000 or visit www.wshc.org.
Get your free flu vaccination at Whittier Street Health Center this Saturday, March 8th from 10 to 2 p.m., at 1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury. For more information, visit www.wshc.org.
The Department of Neighborhood Development is moving forward with its efforts to develop middle-income housing in Dorchester’s Four Corners neighborhood.
DND officials were in the community Tuesday night, to introduce the developer tentatively designated by the city to construct housing on three parcels located on Rosseter Street and Mount Bowdoin Terrace.
The parcels, which are currently owned by the city, were put up for sale as part of DND’s Middle Income Housing Initiative. The city-wide program seeks to increase housing for Boston’s middle-class, put vacant properties to use, and provide business for small developers and builders. The parcels are expected to be sold to the developer at a reduced cost.
“One of our key goals with the initiative is to build housing and bring small contractors into the business,” explained Bob Jones, a representative from DND.
Because the lots, which combined total approximately 20,100 square-feet, are publicly owned, a Request for Proposal was issued for the property. The RFP, which is publicly advertised, is DND’s standard process for selling property. Two applications were received for the parcels.
In addition to the RFP issued for the Rosseter Street/Mount Bowdoin Terrace parcels, a separate RFP was issued for parcels on Mount Bowdoin Terrace and Mallon Road. Only one application was received for those parcels and it was rejected by DND because it didn’t meet the criteria laid out in the RFP, according to Jones.
Both RFPs were issued May 22, 2013.
DND will, however, be moving forward with the project proposed for Rosseter Street/Mount Bowdoin Terrace.
Adnan Salam, a Dorchester resident, has been tentatively designated the developer of the parcels. In addition to having a plan that conforms to the guidelines set in the RFP, Salam also owns a parcel that divides the DND property, allowing him to build a more complete project.
Salam proposed building four duplexes on the four parcels, three of which are currently owned by DND. The units would be three-bedroom residences, with an off-street parking space included with each unit. Each building, which would be two-stories, would include a back yard, side yard, and small front yard. The units are proposed to be approximately 1,500 square-feet and are estimated to run between $250,000 to $300,000, according to Salam.
Although Salam’s estimated $1.2-million project must still be approved by the community and DND, shovels could be in the ground by early-Summer, with construction expected to last six to eight months.
At Tuesday’s community meeting, the project was warmly received, with residents providing a number of suggestions including expanding green space and ensuring the construction jobs go to local residents.
“I know a lot of us are very concerned about the type of materials that will be used,” said Irish DuPont, an area resident. “Some of the new buildings look good, but after a few years they really don’t.”
A number of others echoed DuPont’s concerns, calling for developers to work harder to reflect the historic architecture in the neighborhood.
While Tuesday’s meeting was a major step forward for the project, it will not be the last meeting about the proposal. Salam and his team are expected to take the conceptual designs shown Tuesday and create a more concrete design, which will be shared with residents.
(Image courtesy DND.)
Evelyn Darling has stepped down from her position as executive director of the Fields Corner Main Street, to take a position with Viet-AID, which is also based in Fields Corner.
Darling had been with the business development non-profit since 2005.
“I wanted to grow my career and have more opportunities,” said Darling, who will be Viet-AID’s new community and real estate development organizer.
Partially funded through federal dollars administered by the city of Boston, Main Street groups work to revitalize commercial districts in Boston neighborhoods. There are 20 Main Street Districts city-wide.
Darling will be temporarily replaced by Rosanne Foley, a member of the organization’s Advisory Committee, who has also worked with the Uphams Corner Main Streets. Eventually a new executive director will be hired.
“Evelyn put a tremendous amount of effort into building relationships on behalf of the betterment of Fields Corner,” said Lee Adelson, president of the group’s board. “We want to continue what Evelyn has done during her tenure and build on that.”
Adelson said the group hopes to have a new director in place within 60 days.
“We want someone who has the big picture in mind, is detailed oriented, and has an understanding of what the community wants,” said Adelson.
Although Darling will not be leaving the neighborhood, Adelson and other members of the board, said she will be missed.
“She was a one woman dynamo that handled every task that came across her desk while at the same time building strong and lasting relationships with the Fields Corner neighborhood businesses,” said Ed Geary Jr., vice president of the board. “There are touches of her tireless work everywhere within the business district.”
Looking forward, Darling said the neighborhood faces a number of challenges, but that she is confident the organization and community is up for it.
“I think the board and I have put together a strong platform so the new person can grow the organization,” said Darling. “I know there’s a lot that needs to be done with promotion and building a permanent presence online. We’ve done a lot to enhance the community and now it’s time to promote it.”
Reflection on her almost decade of service to the neighborhood, Darling said a number of accomplishments were made, including bringing bigger projects to the neighborhood.
“When I came on there wasn’t a director for almost three years and they hadn’t done many big projects,” said Darling. “We started to engage the business and build upon that; one of first successes was seeing the post office and eventually the whole building renovated.”
Dorchester Day, the annual day of celebration for Boston’s largest neighborhood, may be months away, but organizers and residents are already gearing up for the festivities.
The Dorchester Day Parade Committee recently unveiled the theme of its annual essay contest.
This year, 6th through 8th grade students are invited to write a 500 to 600 word essay on how to make Dorchester a better place for young people to live, learn, and play. Students are also asked to provide three actions steps for how Mayor Martin J. Walsh can improve the community.
Entries must be postmarked by March 20 and the winners will be announced March 27.
More information and a copy of the entry form can be found here.
For a look at last year’s parade, click here.