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Boston Main Streets Foundation names recipients of Innovation and Impact Grants

February 28, 2014 11:21 AM

The Boston Main Streets Foundation recently named the recipients of its Innovation and Impact Grants.

The grants, which will support initiatives in seven Main Streets Districts, reflect the Boston Main Streets Foundation’s push for more direct funding of proposals that seek to stimulate growth and participation in Boston’s commercial districts, according to a statement from the organization.

“We’re funding a range of innovative projects through this initiative with the Boston Main Streets Foundation,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “This is a public-private partnership that really works; our Main Streets districts can enhance what makes them unique and support their business owners.”

Partially funded through federal dollars administered by the city of Boston, Main Street groups work to revitalize commercial districts in Boston’s neighborhoods. Founded in 1995, there are currently 20 Main Street Districts city-wide.

Ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, the grants support a variety of new programs and initiatives including cellphone apps, street pole banners, and farmers’ markets.

“These grants can have a profound impact,” Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development, said in a statement. “Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a graduation of an ESL Business English Class that was funded in the first round. Business owners from Hyde Jackson and Egleston Square Main Streets collaborated to make their idea a reality, partnering with their local YMCA. It was a wonderful proposal, and one I’m sure will have far-reaching effects.”

The Mattapan Square Main Streets, the city’s newest Main Street organization, received $3,000 to support a series of local business fairs dubbed “Think Big!” The program aims to provide business owners with the tools and know-how to expand their reach.

The Roslindale Village Main Streets, the city’s oldest Main Street District, received $5,000 to develop an app that encourages and rewards customers for shopping local.

The Allston Village Main Streets received $5,000 to support the completion of a mural.

The Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, which recently named a new executive director, received $5,000 to develop a logo and banners to help brand the shopping district that straddles the Roxbury/Dorchester border.

The Uphams Corner Main Street received $5,000 for planters that will be painted by local artists and adopted by local businesses, to help support the neighborhood’s push for more green space and public art.

The Hyde Park Main Streets received $5,000 for banners and branding and the West Roxbury Main Streets received $4,600 to expand its farmers’ market.

“We sincerely congratulate these winners for their thoughtful proposals, and the hard work that they’re doing every day to improve their local Boston Main Streets District,” Joel Sklar, president of the Boston Main Streets Foundation, said in a statement. “I know that I speak for the rest of the Board when I say that I’m looking forward to seeing these innovative and impactful proposals become reality to the benefit of Boston's small businesses and neighborhoods.”

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

Three charged with cocaine possession in Braintree

February 27, 2014 12:31 PM

Three people from Boston were arrested on Tuesday afternoon after police allegedly found cocaine during a traffic stop.

Police said when Drug Unit detectives stopped the car, officers found a quantity of cocaine hidden on one of the suspects.

Stephanie J. Suazo, 18, of Mattapan; Eddie Lara, 19, of Roslindale; and Giovanni Bautista, 20, of Dorchester were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substances Act.

Bautista was also charged with operating after his license was revoked and multiple warrants for larceny and traffic offenses.

MBTA to bring countdown clock system to bus stations

February 6, 2014 11:19 AM

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(MBTA)

The MBTA plans to soon install countdown clocks at a number of bus stations throughout its system to notify riders when the next bus on each route will leave that station, the agency announced today.

The bus way at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain will be the first bus location to get the electronic message boards, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith.

Signs are also planned in bus ways at Dudley Square and Ruggles stations, she said. Eight other stations have been "tentatively" chosen to receive the signs: Harvard Square; Haymarket, Ashmont; Kenmore; Maverick, Wonderland, Jackson Square, and Central Square.

The signs should be operational by summer, Smith said.

The signs, using real-time bus tracking data, will provide information about when each route serving that station is next expected to depart. The signs will feature both visual and audio messages.

The project is funded through federal stimulus money, and each sign costs about $50,000, a price tag that includes the display, hardware, software, installation, maintenance and a push-button activated sound system so that people with visual impairments can access the information on the sign, she said.

Most stations will have one sign each. Dudley, because of its size, will have two, she said.

"I've often said our buses are the work horses of our system, serving more than 375,000 people on a typical weekday," T general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. "The countdown signs at our busiest bus stops will provide customers with information that will make their public transit experience easier and more convenient."

Last week, the T completed an 18-month-long project to activate a total of 314 countdown clocks at all 53 subway stations on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, which officials said made the T one of the first transit agencies in the country to equip all heavy rail stations with train-arrival information.

Officials said the signs have been popular and well-received by riders, and since they were introduced in the summer of 2012 the agency said it has made regular improvements based on rider feedback, including making the signs more accurate and easier to see.

The T said it expects to introduce the countdown clock system to the Green Line by the end of this year. The light rail line is undergoing work to upgrade its less-sophisticated train tracking system with GPS and sensor technology to allow for countdown clock capability.

The agency has also said technology upgrades on the Green Line will allow smartphone-carrying riders to be able to track in real-time the whereabouts and expected arrival of the line's trains by 2015.

Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue have been tracked by mobile applications since the fall of 2010, when the agency made real-time train location data on those lines available to private software developers, who have created numerous smartphone applications. The T made real-time data on bus locations available to software developers in fall of 2009.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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(MBTA)

BPS teachers achieve National Board certification

February 3, 2014 11:45 AM

Twenty-two Boston Public Schools teachers recently achieved National Board certification, the highest credential in the profession.

“This is a great accomplishment that reflects a lot of hard work that represents both personal achievement and a focus on bringing the best teaching methods to the classroom for the benefit of our students,” John McDonough, interim superintendent for BPS, said in a statement. “As a district, we always strive for this goal. It brings reality to our commitment to have great teachers in every classroom every day."

The 22 educators, the largest group in the 10-year history of the BPS-BTU National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Candidate Support Program, will join the approximately 80 other BPS teachers that have already been certified.

“We congratulate our National Board Certified Teachers on this tremendous accomplishment and honor,” Ross Wilson, assistant superintendent of the Office of Educator Effectiveness, said in a statement. “We know that teachers are the most important factor in a student's education. The National Board process is rigorous and represents the highest level of achievement. These teachers serve as an example of the great educators in the Boston Public Schools.”

The certification process includes a performance-based assessment that takes between one to three years to complete. As part of the process the educators also build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching.

Boston Public Schools National Board Certified Teachers Class of 2013:

Scott Balicki - Boston Latin School
Elvira DeLuca - Boston Latin Academy
Mary Dibinga – Boston Latin Academy
Jennifer Dines – Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School
Frances Farrell – Fenway High School, Boston Academy
Sheila Hanson-Fazzolari – James Otis School
Donna Flaherty – Boston Latin Academy
Arielle Freeman – Boston Community Leadership Academy
Alison Galanter – Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Jeffrey Isen – Boston Latin Academy
Seneca King – Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Kristen Toher Leathers – Brighton High School
Miranda Lutyens – Boston Latin Academy
Robin Mankel – Brighton High School
Kathleen Markiewicz – Boston Latin School
Lillie Marshall – Boston Latin Academy
Julian McNeil – Boston Latin Academy
Elizabeth Rooney – Fenway High School
Amy Shapiro – Boston Community Leadership Academy
Allyson Via – Boston Latin Academy
Debra Watson – Mildred Ave. K-8 School
Clara Webb – Boston Latin School

Recertification

Karene-Sean Hines – Timilty Middle School

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


20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses awarded in Mass.

January 31, 2014 12:24 PM

State health officials Friday released the names of companies that will receive the first 20 licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.

In Middlesex County, licenses will go to facilities slated for Lowell, Ayer, Newton, and Cambridge. In Norfolk County, the locations are in Brookline and Quincy. In Suffolk County, two are slated in Boston.

In Plymouth county, licenses will go to facilities slated for Plymouth and Brockton. And in Worcester County, the locations are in Milford and Worcester. In Essex County, they are slated in Salem and Haverhill.

Here are the others: Mashpee and Dennis in Barnstable County; Taunton and Fairhaven in Bristol County; Holyoke in Hampden County; and Northampton in Hampshire County.

Counties without a selected dispensary include Berkshire, Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket.


Boston named third best US city for public transit

January 28, 2014 05:08 PM

This one's a surprise: Boston--and by extension, its pride and joy of a transit system--was ranked the third best US city for public transportation by Walk Score.

To assemble the ranking, Walk Score calculated the Transit Score of 316 cities and nearly 7,000 neighborhoods. Boston scored a 75, falling behind New York (81) and San Francisco (80.)

Transit Scores were based on the average resident's access to public transit in the city, using a population-weighted methodology. Only cities with more than 500,000 people were included in the top list.

Walk Score said the ranking favored Northeast cities "with established subway systems."

In other MBTA news, the Green Line is delayed.

What does a snow emergency mean?

January 21, 2014 03:14 PM


CoUrbanize Blog mapped out where to (and where not to) park your car during snow emergencies in the Boston area.

It's snowing or about to snow, and suddenly the announcements start coming. Public schools are closed. Meetings cancelled. A snow emergency and parking ban declared. But what does that mean?

Here's the short answer: A snow emergency is the term for the active response plan of a municipality or county during a snow storm. In Massachusetts, more often than not it is used to indicate weather-related parking bans.

During snow emergencies, parking is restricted on certain streets in Boston-area cities. If you are parked on one of those streets and fail to move your car by the appointed time, it most likely will be ticketed or towed.

But like many things in Eastern Massachusetts, the details vary by municipality. Here's a look at some of the area's most populous cities' policies.

Boston:

In Boston, only major thoroughfares (Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, Newbury Street, etc.) are affected by a snow emergency's parking ban. Your definition of "major arterial" may differ from the city's, so visit the city's map or list by neighborhood before stashing your car during a storm.

If you need a place to park in Boston during the storm, the city offers discounted parking at several parking lots and garages to cars with resident parking stickers. The hitch: you must move your car within two hours of the snow emergency being lifted.

Cambridge

Cambridge will tag and tow your car if it's parked on certain streets during a snow emergency. The city has 82 streets with parking bans--some affect the whole street, others one side. Look for signs indicating whether there's a no parking ban during a snow emergency.

Some of Cambridge's snow emergency signs may be folded, showing no message when closed and the message "Tow Zone, No Parking until Further Notice, Narrow Roadway" when open. These streets may not follow the declared snow emergency hours; if the sign is open, the parking ban persists.

Like Boston, Cambridge offers parking garages for those stranded by the snow emergency. Five parking facilities--Galleria Mall, First Street Garage, Green Street Garage, 52 Oxford Garage, and 65 Waverly Street--offer free parking starting at 6 p.m. if the snow emergency is called overnight. Vehicles must have a resident parking sticker.

Somerville:

Somerville declares snow emergencies when four or more inches of snow are predicted. Residents have four hours after the snow emergency is called to move their cars to the odd-numbered side of the street. After that, the city begins ticketing and towing offending cars.

If you can't find a spot on the odd-numbered side of your street, spots at schools, municipal buildings and municipal public parking lots are available (see map.) Once the snow emergency is lifted, vehicles must be retrieved within two hours.

How to find out about snow emergencies:

On your mobile phone: Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville offer emergency email and text alerts.

On social media: Follow your city's Twitter accounts.



On your city's website: Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville

From the media: Boston.com will have updated storm coverage, including snow emergency declarations. For school cancellations, go here.

Pazzo Books to soon close brick-and-mortar store in West Roxbury

January 14, 2014 12:10 PM

It’s the final chapter for Pazzo Books – sort of.

After 11 years of selling used, rare and out-of-print books, first in Roslindale and then in West Roxbury, Tom Nealon says his shop will soon close for good. But he will continue selling his collection online, at fairs and by appointment.

“I am sorry, relieved, exhausted, and melancholy,” Nealon wrote in a message on his business’ website, which was previously reported on by local news blog Universal Hub.

The store on Centre Street in West Roxbury will close in late March, he said. Starting Feb. 1, he will hold a “50-percent off sale” and will offer “even deeper discounts” leading up to the shutdown.

“While the rare books side of the business has thrived … the rest of the business has continued to be challenging,” Nealon wrote. “When it came time to renew my lease, I just couldn’t pull the trigger and after much deliberation, decided that shuttering the shop was the best thing to do.”

“The brick and mortar side of the business hasn’t ever, in 11 years, really made sense from a financial point of view, but lately it has been harder to source the sort of good stock that used to wander in the door,” he added. “I had a second kid this year, and e-books have hurt some of the high turnover sections like mysteries.”

“I also wanted to get out before I got weird or bitter – I’ve seen a lot of people get really angry and depressed about being forced to close their shop, and I wanted to do it while business, overall, was good, and I could do it on my terms,” continued Nealon.

He said his favorite part of the business has been: “The people, for sure – the people that I met through the store have been life alteringly great.”

“Many, many of my favorite people in the world I met through the book store – it has been a terrific thing, the smartest thing I’ve ever done (which friends will tell you is a low bar, but still). But, lovely as Pazzo’s customers are, there just aren’t enough of them.”

He said he wouldn’t rule out opening a book shop again someday.

Nealon wrote that his daughter wants him to reopen once she’s old enough to work there.

“I’d love to be doing well enough and be refreshed enough in a few years to do it again. I like that my daughter got to grow up for a bit in a bookstore – it would be cool if my son could as well,” he said. “The book business is going through an interesting time but I think the next several years should offer some clarity.”

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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Street closures, parking bans planned in Boston for New Year's Eve

December 26, 2013 11:16 AM


Street closures are marked in red. Parking bans from Dec. 27 to Jan. 1 are colored in black. Jan. 1 parking bans are indicated in purple.

Some Boston streets will be closed to traffic -- and parking will be banned on others -- New Year’s Eve for the city’s annual First Night festivities.

City officials said they encourage people traveling in and around the city to use public transit, including the MBTA, which will offer free rides after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, as well as some extra service.

The following streets will be closed to vehicles:

  • Boylston Street, from Massachusetts Avenue to Tremont Street, from 4 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 31
  • Charles Street, from Park Plaza to Beacon Street, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 31
  • Dartmouth Street, from St. James Avenue to Boylston Street, from 12 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 2 a.m. on Jan. 1
  • Atlantic Avenue, from Milk Street to Cross Street, from 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1

Parking bans will be in effect from Friday, Dec. 27 through Wednesday, Jan. 1 at the following locations, which will be marked with “Tow Zone No Stopping” signs:

  • Boylston Street, Copley Square side, from opposite #585 to opposite #575
  • Blagden Street, Copley Square Library side, at the first two parking meters adjacent to Dartmouth Street.

Parking bans will be in effect on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at the following locations, which will be marked with “Tow Zone No Stopping” signs:

  • Arlington Street, both sides, from Beacon Street to Boylston Street
  • Atlantic Avenue, east side, from East India Row to Commercial Street, and west side, from Commercial Wharf to Cross Street
  • Beacon Street, Public Garden side, from Charles Street to Arlington Street, and, both sides, from Charles Street to Walnut Street
  • Berkeley Street, both sides, from Boylston Street to Newbury Street
  • Boylston Street, both sides, from Dalton Street to Arlington Street, north side, Public Garden side, from Arlington Street to Charles Street, and, both sides, from Charles Street to Tremont Street. (*Note the Friday through Wednesday restriction for a portion of Boylston Street as well.)
  • Cambridge Street, both sides, from Court Street to Sudbury Street
  • Central Street, both sides, from Old Atlantic Avenue to the Dead End
  • Charles Street, Public Garden side, from Boylston Street to Beacon Street
  • Clarendon Street, both sides, from Newbury Street to Boylston Street
  • Court Street, both sides, from Washington Street to Cambridge Street
  • Cross Street, both sides, from Atlantic Avenue to Hanover Street
  • Dartmouth Street, both sides, from Boylston Street to Newbury Street
  • Exeter Street, both sides, from Newbury Street to Boylston Street
  • Fairfield Street, both sides, from Boylston Street to Newbury Street
  • Gloucester Street, both sides, from Newbury Street to Boylston Street
  • Hereford Street, both sides, from Boylston Street to Newbury Street
  • Milk Street, both sides, from J.F.F. Surface Road to Old Atlantic Avenue
  • Old Atlantic Avenue, both sides, from Milk Street to State Street
  • Surface Road, both sides, from Sudbury Street to State Street

For a list of MBTA-related changes on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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Free rides after 8 p.m., extra service on MBTA for New Year's Eve

December 26, 2013 10:48 AM

The MBTA said it will continue its annual tradition of offering free rides after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, while boosting service on its subway and commuter rail lines to accommodate people traveling to celebrate First Night.

On New Year’s Eve, the T's Green, Red, Orange, and Blue lines will operate on modified weekday schedules with extra trains running at “rush-hour levels of service” from about 3 p.m. until 2 a.m., officials announced.

The T’s commuter rail lines will also run on modified weekday schedules with additional service, including a number of lines that will see extra outbound service and some delayed outbound departures between midnight and 2 a.m., officials said.

To see a detailed list of extra commuter rail service and delayed departure times, click here.

Meanwhile, the T’s Silver Line, buses, trackless trolleys, express bus routes and boats will run on regular weekday schedules on New Year’s Eve, officials said.

The T’s paratransit service, the RIDE, will run on a regular weekday schedule with extended hours until 2:30 a.m.

On New Year’s Day, the four subway lines will run on Sunday schedules as will the Silver Line, the RIDE, the commuter rail and buses, meaning some commuter rail and bus lines will not operate, officials said.

For a detailed list of subway and bus routes that will not run on New Year’s Day, click here.

The T will not run boat service on New Year’s Day.

City officials have encouraged people traveling in and around Boston on New Year's Eve to ride public transit, including the T. A number of streets will be closed to traffic, while parking will be banned on others. For a detailed list, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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For the latest updates about your community, follow some of our local neighborhood, city and town Twitter accounts, here.

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