Fenway residents packed into the Riley Seminar Room at the Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate another year of achievements, and the election of new board of the Fenway Civic Association during the 56th Annual Meeting last week.
The Fenway Association has been working to build a safe, clean and beautiful Fenway since 1961. This past year, members have worked to review licensing and development projects coming to the neighborhood, advocated on behalf of Boston parks and open spaces and hosted numerous events from the annual tree lighting to yoga at Symphony Park.
“I want to thank you all who served on the board this year,” said President Tim Horn. “You all did a great job. Thank you for making the time to make it to all the hearings and meetings we have to take part in.”
The biggest change this year was opening up our board meetings to the public. This allowed anyone in the Fenway to participate in pressing problems such as traffic, safety and new development. It also allowed more engagement with the community and shared their numerous volunteer opportunities.
The meeting also had a number of guest speakers including elected officials and the newly appointed Community Preservation Director for the City of Boston Christine Poff.
State Representative Byron Rushing said he is always happy to work with members of the Fenway Civic Association to continue the tradition of advocacy and community preservation.
Rushing had just come from a meeting at the State House where they renewed the Housing Bond Bill, which ensures the continuation of the Commonwealth’s affordable housing programs, most of which will run out of funding within the next year without new legislative authorization.
This legislation authorizes $1.4 billion for affordable housing production and preservation over five years throughout the state.
“Affordable housing is key for working class people and crucial for the people who already live here,” said Rushing. “It is a great win for us.”
In addition, Rushing said he is working with the city and state transportation departments to change the name of Yawkey Way.
“As soon as the street name is changed, the Yawkey Commuter Rail Station will be changed too,” said Rushing.
City Councilor Josh Zakim said he understands how important it is to keep and preserve affordable housing in the Fenway. This year, Zakim said he would be working with the Mayor to tackle the issues surrounding the short-term rentals in the city.
“It is a step in the right direction to maintain our neighborhoods,” said Zakim. “It is really important as these things come up – I urge you all to participate in that.”
State representative Chynah Tyler reflected back on her first term in the neighborhood, where she took some walking tours and got the funding to make brand new sidewalks along the Department of Conservation and Recreation paths.
“I like to think as myself as an everyday representative,” said Tyler. “I work for issues that effects everyday people.”
State Senator Will Brownsberger said that he is always happy to work with members of the Fenway Civic Association to take on neighborhood problems.
“I am very pleased to be included in solving problems whether they are big or small,” said Brownsberger. “From parking to Charlesgate Park to dog parks – you guys have always stepped up to the challenge to tackle neighborhood issues from transportation to flooding.”
This year, the Fenway Civic Association plans on continuing their hard work and even adding a new event – Porchfest, a music event that features different bands along porches and public spaces in the neighborhood.
But one major problem the Fenway Civic Association wants to tackle stood out amongst the rest according to President Horn.
“I think the number one problem in this neighborhood is addiction and homelessness,” said Horn. “In the Back Bay Fens and in the reeds [behind the Fenway Victory Gardens] there are hundreds of camps. Its freezing outside and people are still living in the Fens – it’s outrageous.”
Horn hopes to work with elected officials and residents to start figuring out a solution to this pressing problem.
“It’s dangerous for those who live there and its dangerous for the residents of Fenway who can’t enjoy their park,” said Horn.
The Fenway Community Association Board for 2018 includes:
Tim Horn, President
Matthew Brooks, Vice President
Sheri Olans Wright, second president
Karen Wolff, Treasurer
Alex Sawzynec, Assistant Secretary
Kyle Bertoli, Secretary
Dee Kumar, First Assistant Secretary
John Bookston, Second Assistant Secretary