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Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester opens first week April

March 28, 2014 07:24 PM

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Trudy Cox, the garden’s naturalist, inspects a water barrel and begins to plan for the upcoming season.

Elnora Thompson reaches down into her seemingly empty garden bed and picks her
chamomile herbs. She rubs a few pieces in her hand and brings it to her nose.

“Doesn’t that just smell great?” Thompson exclaims as she hands it around so everyone can smell it. She takes a bundle of the herb in her hand to bring home to make tea.

Thompson is the head manager at Nightingale Community Garden, located at 512 Park St. in Dorchester, and has been growing there for about 25 years. The garden is about two acres and holds 131 plots. It officially opens for the season the first week of April.

The community garden has plots from local residents of various ethnicities, including Portuguese, Haitian, Vietnamese, Spanish, African American. There are about seven languages spoken and everybody grows things from their different cultural traditions, creating both human diversity and biodiversity.

“It’s about friendship, sharing and community,” said Thompson.

Bob Follansbee, a fourth-year community gardener and part of the Dorchester Food Co-op Community, said, “We learned five to six different things to grow that we never considered to grow. My wife used to hate okra, but if you learn how to grow and cook it correctly, it can be really good. We’ve been growing it for three years.”

The garden also has a small orchard with blueberries, strawberries, apples and huckleberries. The vines of the berries encircle the garden, bordering the fences.

“The guys are afraid to pick them because they have thorns on them,” said Thompson. “But us girls aren’t afraid.”

The berries also help prevent people from stealing, which has happened in the past.

Thompson loves to have children helping her in garden. Last summer kids helped her grow sweet potatoes and watermelon. Children come from the kindergarten class from the church across the street. An ABCD Head Start kindergarten class has its own plot.

“They run around inside of it and they trample it,” said Sharon Higgins, an ABCD kindergarten teacher who owns her own plot next to her kindergarteners. Higgins said the garden helps her children get in the dirt and learn about growing food.

There are also young people who are hired by the city of Boston who are part of a program that employs them to work in the gardens during the summer if they can’t find work elsewhere.

There are three garden plots dedicated to food that will be donated to a local food pantry. Thompson said that growing food for the pantry allows people to learn how to take care of themselves and it also serves as an outlet to help the community. Thompson said that her garden could feed up to four families.

“It feeds my family, my sisters and their families,” said Thompson. In the summer she can make a salad of lettuce and cucumbers straight out of her garden. Thompson said that having the garden helps because there isn’t a major supermarket around that isn’t a bus ride away.

Follansbee said the garden and Dorchester’s Winter Farmer’s Market serve as educational tools to teach people that they don’t always have to buy “cheap crappy food.”

“It’s an issue in our community,” said Follansbee. “People have to drive all the way to Jamaica Plain to go to Whole Foods.”

The community garden helps buffer that gap.

“It builds a bridge in food deserts in areas that wouldn’t normally have greater food access in a neighborhood,” said Dana Staley, the Boston Natural Areas Network garden outreach and engagement coordinator.

The Nightingale Community Garden is part of the Boston Natural Areas Network, which preserves and protects open space in Boston. Out of the 174 gardens in Boston they own the land for one third of them. The network helps maintain and protect the gardens and provides resources for the gardeners.

For each garden, there is a council or a group of people that help manage it. Each garden chooses what they want to grow. It can range from ornamentals to cultural food such as Vietnamese winter melons.

“We don’t tell people what to do,” said Staley. “They can do what they want as long as it’s not illegal.”

There are lots of benefits to having a community garden, Staley said. One of them is that they can bring a community together that wouldn’t normally get to know each other.

“Gardens offer a space where it’s safe, where you can get to know each other,” said Staley. “It brings a lot of pride to a neighborhood that might be dangerous or struggling.”

The gardens help people get behind it and are a tool of empowerment along with getting people to eat healthy and to exercise.

The Boston Natural Areas Network also provides compost from the city of Boston to gardeners and can provide an intensive soil study through local universities and labs.

Thompson said that the Nightingale Community Garden tested its soil at a UMass-Dartmouth for a cost $20, and while they were renovating the garden they had Boston University students make a class project out of it. That saved the community garden about $20,000. There used to be an old school where the garden is located which left a lot of lead and other heavy metals behind.

“In an urban setting, the main thing is to make sure your soil is safe,” said Follansbee. He also said that last year they refused compost from the city because it had concentrations of lead that was below the federal Food and Drug Administration safety regulation standard but higher than what they wanted.

The last Dorchester Winter Farmers Market will take place this Sunday from 12-4 p.m. at The Great Hall of the Codman Square Health Center, located at 6 Norfolk St. The Boston Natural Areas Network will be holding it’s 39th Annual Gardeners Gathering this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Northeastern Universit’s Egan Center and Shillman Hall., located at 115 Forsyth St. The Gardeners Gathering will include a speech from the mayor, educational lectures and tools to help prepare your garden for the spring.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

Video: Cub Scout programs flourish at the Mather School

March 21, 2014 12:22 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)


In Video: The Cub Scout’s Pack 11, which is based in Dorchester.


With bated breath, the young men who gathered at the Mather Elementary School’s auditorium Thursday afternoon watched Robert Cline, the cubmaster of Pack 11, demonstrate the rules of the raingutter regatta, which pits the youth head to head to see whose handmade boat is the fastest.

The youth, who range in age from 7 to 11, meet at the space often as part of the Boy Scouts of America’s ScoutReach initiative. Launched close to three years ago, the program aims to bring scouting into the city and connect the neighborhood’s young men with skills and lessons they can use their whole life.

“They give good goals, they teach respect, and they teach more than what sports teach. …They teach stuff he’s going to need on a day-to-day basis for everyday life,” said Deleeanna Beasley, whose son participates in the program. “He loves it. Everything they have to offer he’s with it, everything that they teach him he brings home.”

What Beasley’s son takes from the program is exactly what the designers behind it want to hear.

Just like with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in the suburbs, the members of Pack 11, which is based exclusively in Dorchester, go camping, participate in community based activities, and learn valuable life and wilderness skills. The urban program, however, is set up in such a way that the scouts, many of whom come from poor families, can earn their uniforms while completing merit badges and other tasks that support and promote the scouting culture.

The program has been getting results, too. The 25 Cub Scout Packs found in Boston and the surrounding urban centers have a 60-percent retention rate, just 10 percent less than their suburban counterparts.

“Nothing teaches character like the outdoors,” explained Chuck Eaton, executive director of the Boy Scouts of America Boston Minuteman Council, which oversees Pack 11. “If I’m going to learn how to cook my own meal over a fire with my buddies, we're all responsible for that. We’ll learn teamwork, how to work together safely, and we’ll learn responsibility.”

Thursday’s race was the highlight of the evening, as the youth cheered wildly for their friends. The pack has close to 65 members, many of whom hail from the Mather, which has partnered with the scouts on the program.

“We felt they would be able to help our boys learn some enriching skills outside of school,” explained Karyn Stramberg, vice principal of the Mather. “Mr. Cline has done a remarkable job bringing resources to our school and giving our students the exposure to all sorts of enriching experiences outside of the community.”

Thursday’s meeting was also a special occasion for a number of the scouts, who received their officials Cub Scout uniforms.

“We want to give them something to work toward and something to work for,” explained Cline. “We want to give them that foundation that they can build on, while also creating structure that helps their development, which is at the core of what we do.”

Cline, who has led the pack since its inception, said he’s not only seeing a change in the boys’ attitudes, but from what the school tells him, his scouts are also doing better in class.

“This unit has been heavily involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but we also just have a lot of fun activities, too,” said Cline. “The scouts have done well in our program here, and we’ve really seen them grow.”

For more information about the Boston Minuteman Council and its ScoutReach program, click here.

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E-mail Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Video: Historians celebrate Evacuation Day in Roxbury

March 18, 2014 12:43 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)


In Video: Elected officials discuss Evacuation Day.


As the sound of muskets broke the calm of the chilly spring air historians, elected officials, and local residents celebrated Evacuation Day in Roxbury Monday.

The annual event, dubbed the Evacuation Day Knox Trail Remembrance Caravan, for the past four years has toured South Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, highlighting places significant to the retreat of British solders from Boston during the Revolutionary War.

“It’s very important that we understand the history of any community we are in,” explained Representative Byron Rushing, who represents portions of Roxbury and the South End and is also the president of the Roxbury Historical Society. “If we don’t understand our history, we can’t really make judgments about our future. It is one of the resources that we need to figure out what we should be doing next.”

Under a blue sky, reenactors and historians shared with the small crowd gathered at the top of Fort Hill, the story of Evacuation Day and the significance of the area and its towering fortification. The Roxbury space was one of a number of fortifications in the city of Boston that not only provided American soldiers with the high ground, but was also a site utilized by Henry Knox, one of the heroes of the Revolution.

“We’re one of the most historic and landmarked sites during the period of the Revolution, so we’re very proud to be the third on a tour of all the sites that helped to keep the British out,” said Representative Gloria Fox, who represents portions of Roxbury and the Fenway. “People need to know how they came to live in a free and open society; it’s based on everybody’s blood, sweat, and tears.”

The tour did not just concentrate on Roxbury, but also swung by the Dorchester Heights Monument and St. Augustine Chapel in South Boston and the Shirley Eustis House in Dorchester. Although history was at the forefront Monday, the event also provided an opportunity to connect neighborhoods that at times have been at odds.

“It’s important to remember the people that came before us, but it’s also important to talk about our shared history,” explained Representative Nick Collins, who represents South Boston. “Because of some of the ups and downs over the last several decades, we get lot in the stuff that divides us and this is a great way to remind people why we need to be unified and why we are unified.”


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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Roger Clap Innovation School principal to leave post

March 17, 2014 01:12 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)


After challenging his students to read as many books as they could, Justin Vernon had to dress up like Lady Gaga to settle a bet with the students.


Justin Vernon, the principal of the Roger Clap Innovation School in Dorchester, will be stepping down from his position, he announced in a letter to parents last week.

Vernon was brought on in 2010-2011, as the school developed its Innovation Plan. Innovation schools, which are public, allow for greater flexibility in budgeting, curriculum, scheduling, and staffing. While innovation schools are overseen by the local school district, a governing board made up of staff, parents, and community members helps guide decisions.

The Clap, which is located on Harvest Street, was the first Innovation School in Boston. There are a number of Innovation Schools across the Commonwealth, with eight, including the Clap, now located in the city.

“The big thing for me, was the life and work balance,” explained Vernon, who will be leaving at the end of the school year. “I have a young family and I need to see my kids. I’ll be pursuing opportunities that will help me create that balance.”

Vernon, along with the school’s parents and staff, is credited with boosting student test scores and performance.

The school, which in 2010 was slated to be closed by Boston Public Schools, was on the lower end of school performance. When Vernon came on it was a Level 3 school, with Level 5 representing the lowest performing schools in the state. The school has since rebounded and is now a Level 1 school.

"Justin is a tremendously talented educator and we will miss him greatly. In 2010 we asked him to take on a challenge that no one in Boston had ever attempted,” said John McDonough, interim-superintendent of BPS. “He built partnerships with parents, teachers and the community and turned a school that had been slated for closure into the first Innovation school in the city.”

“Thanks to his leadership and an extraordinary team of talented teachers, today students at the Roger Clap Innovation School are demonstrating some of the best academic progress anywhere in Massachusetts,” McDonough added.

Vernon credited the school’s success to its Innovation Plan and the dedication of parents.

“We’ve worked very hard to have an academic culture here,” said Vernon. "I think we’ve done an excellent job carrying on the work that needs to be done; there’s a good foundation here.”

Although the school has made significant progress and its close to 170 students in grades K through fifth, continue to grow, Vernon said the small school still faces a number of challenges including a dilapidated school yard, shrinking budget, and a want to expand.

“There are facility concerns and in addition to that we’ve been working to improve our schoolyard,” said Vernon. “We’re also always interested in involving more parents and more people from the community.”

The school’s governing board, in partnership with BPS, will now begin the process of selecting a new principal.

“The Innovation Plan calls for the personnel subcommittee of the governing board to review candidates and make a recommendation. In a way we are very fortunate, because a lot of the times you are handed your principal,” explained Gene Gorman, a parent representative on the governing board.

Gorman said any new principal will need to meet several criteria, in addition to being able to build upon the Innovation Plan and work with the diverse population the school serves.

“It’s a tough, but really rewarding job,” said Gorman, who has two children at the school. “We’re looking for a principal who is going to be a collaborator not just with the faculty and the staff, but with the parents and the greater neighborhood.”

Gorman said that Vernon has left his mark on the school and will be missed.

“I think his tenure in a way was like a basketball coach brought on to turnaround a team,” Gorman said. “He took a school that was just OK academically and made it a high performing school in a short time and set us on the road to success.”

Although a lot has happened at the school during Vernon’s leadership, Vernon said he can easily name some his favorite moments, including visits by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Governor Deval Patrick, as well as his students successfully completion of the school’s reading challenge and the subsequent celebration.

“There has been a lot of fun stuff and we have been able to do a lot of great things together,” said Vernon. “For me it’s really about the kids and spending as much time with them as I can. It was great to see them think critically, challenge each other, and ask great questions.”

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Senator Linda Dorcena Forry dishes on St. Patrick's Day Breakfast

March 14, 2014 01:31 PM

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.


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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Video: A look at the Local 17 Sheet Metal Workers’ 'tin men' and their St. Patrick's Day Parade plans

March 13, 2014 03:03 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)


In Video: A look at the Local 17 Sheet Metal Workers’ “tin men”.


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.

For more about the South Boston St. Patrick's Day/Evacuation Day Parade, Click here. For more about the St. Patrick's Day Peace Parade, click here.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

VietAID housing project receives financial boost

March 13, 2014 02:55 PM

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(Image courtesy DND)


In Video: Tommy Butler talks about the Tommy and Eddie Butler Senior Salute.


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.

The project was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in October and was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals in December.

For a copy of the Project Notification Form click here.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

City, residents discuss sale of Maxwell Property in Uphams Corner

March 7, 2014 05:03 PM

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.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Boston Public Health Commission to host celebration of international Women’s Day in Mattapan

March 7, 2014 11:20 AM

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

12:30-3:30 p.m.


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.

Mattapan United

Association of Haitian Women in Boston

Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition

Boston Mothers Care

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Ceylon Street bridge closed by T; future unknown

March 6, 2014 01:03 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)


The current condition of the property.

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.


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(Image courtesy Google Maps)


The approximate location of the bridge.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.


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