By Seth Daniel
What was once a disappointing split between the Old Dover Neighborhood Association and the New York Streets area has now become a marriage renegotiated.
Old Dover President Ken Smith and New York Streets Neighborhood Association (NYSNA) board member Jefferson Macklin appeared before a crowded meeting on Tuesday night, Jan. 16, and shared that Old Dover will re-affiliate and absorb the New York Streets area once again. In what was billed as a test run for 2018, New York Streets would become more of a group that meets quarterly and tries to build itself up to potentially one day become an official neighborhood association. Meanwhile, residents on both sides of East Berkeley Street would be members and would be represented by Old Dover once again.
New York Streets Neighborhood Association formed in the winter of 2016 against the wishes of many in Old Dover.
“We have so much of the same interests and concerns,” said Smith. “We have so much in common. We talked and wondered if we should have to have two different associations. As the same time, there is uniqueness on both sides of Berkeley. We’re joining in commonality. We’re excited about the re-affiliation.”
Macklin, who operates Bar Mezzana, said the New York group needs time to mature and build critical mass, which it doesn’t have now.
“For 2018, we see a lot of reason to join the Old Dover,” he said. “There are a lot of the same issues and many of the same developers come before us and there’s little reason to duplicate that. We, as an emerging neighborhood, are trying to build the infrastructure and get going , but you guys run a great meeting. We would like to seek re-affiliation with you.”
Said Smith, “We honor it and endorse it.”
Many in the audience were confused as to why the NYSNA would continue, while still also becoming part of Old Dover.
Macklin said they want to continue building the group, and meet four times a year – perhaps to discuss more detailed information. If the Association eventually establishes itself, it could move to become an association of its own again. However, if the re-affiliation with Old Dover works out in 2018, they might simply continue to stay with Old Dover.
Board member Arthur Coe said it is important to note that Old Dover had a meeting with Ink Block developer Ted Tye, who told them he wanted nothing to do with any neighborhood association.
“The developer made it quite clear he wants nothing to do with a neighborhood association of any kind,” said Coe. “That’s important because of the potential conflicts…In my mind, that’s a good thing and it’s not in a developer’s best interest. There is strength in numbers. The City loves that we are divided and there are multiple neighborhood associations in the South End. The Back Bay is very powerful because they have one neighborhood association…We all have the same thing in mind. There are many things happening and it’s very important that we are all one together.”
Still, there was some unfinished business in the meeting regarding the past.
Mario Nicosia, of GTI Properties, contended that the NYSNA had been invented by developers on the other side of East Berkeley Street in order to avoid having to come before the neighborhood.
Smith said that’s been discussed, and Old Dover is ready to move on.
“That did happen and whatever did happen then, we as a board believe to make it water under the bridge,” he said.
Most seemed to agree.
The final piece of the puzzle will be to re-brand the Association by potentially re-naming it.
That has been discussed in previous meetings late last year, and the opinions are very strong on either side. The idea would be to potentially incorporate a name that also gives some homage to the history of Old Dover and also a nod to the emerging New York Streets area as well.
Founder Duggan Hill said he hopes that some form of ‘Old Dover’ stays because that name has a lot of history behind it and some power in relation to conveying what has been done there.
Smith said the results of that survey of neighbors will be revealed at the March or April meeting when they will unveil the top three suggestions and, maybe, take a vote.