News Briefs

March 30, 2018
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JOHN HANCOCK IS COMING BACK

John Hancock insurance company announced this past Tuesday that they are moving back to the Back Bay.

According to the Boston Globe, they will relocate more than 1,000 employees from its headquarters in the Seaport District to two properties it owns in the Back Bay, including the longtime Hancock building on Berkeley Street with its distinctive weather beacon.

The goes against the trend for the booming Seaport District, which is gaining, not losing, big employers. Hancock moved its headquarters to the Seaport in 2005, and was one of the first major companies to set down stakes in the neighborhood, which was at the time mostly parking lots.

Throughout this time, Hancock has maintained a presence in the Back Bay, where it has about 2,200 employees but is not longer affiliated with the city’s tallest building, the glass skyscraper that bore the company’s name for decades. Now, the former Hancock Tower is known as 200 Clarendon.

A Hancock spokesperson told the Boston Globe that the move will not be accompanied by a cut in the workforce. The company has a total of 1.2 million square feet of office space at 200 Berkeley St. and 197 Clarendon St., enough to accommodate the workers from the Seaport.

UPGRADES COMING TO KENMORE INTERSECTION

Boston University is proposing to add a cement concrete sidewalk expansion at the intersection of Bay State Road and Charlesgate West.

This expansion, which is designed to accommodate safety and pedestrian improvements to the three-way intersection at Bay State Road, Beacon Street, and Charlesgate West, and will add three accessible ramps with detectable warning panels, new granite curb, a new street light, relocated traffic mast arm and equipment, and new pedestrian crosswalks.

These sidewalk upgrades will come after the reopening of the Myles Standish Hall, which has been under construction over the past few years. A new stand alone sign with ‘Boston University’ will sit in the middle of the new plaza.

These improvements have been designed to meet all City of Boston standards and have been approved by the Public Improvement Commission (PIC). They are still awaiting approval by the Bay State Road Back

WSANA NOT EXCITED ABOUT MARIJUANA

The Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) discussed the idea of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana dispensaries in the neighborhood at its meeting Tuesday night, and most agreed that they don’t believe it will be good for the neighborhood.

Worcester Square has been the epicenter of the opiate crisis in the Mass/Cass area, and many in the group on Tuesday felt it would only add to the crisis that exists on the streets right now.

“It’s more a question of the neighborhood being in such bad shape and we have so much here already,” said President George Stergios. “If we didn’t have all these problems here, I don’t think I would be against this so much.”

Robert George said the situation in the South End is different than it might be in the suburbs, where people could struggle with their addictions in their home. Here, though, that happens on the streets.

“Here, we have a lot of people in the streets running around with no place to go,” he said. “It will just be more visible to us than it would be in the suburbs or somewhere else.”

Bob Minnocchi said he is in favor of a moratorium on all social services within a one-mile radius of Boston Medical Center. That would include not only marijuana outlets, but also all other services.

“We’ve been trying for a long time about a moratorium on any new social services in the South End,” he said. “I think it could work if all the neighborhood associations would be unified. It wouldn’t mean they are barred, but they would have another hoop to jump through. They would have to come to the association. We’re just getting barraged now. Every time we look away, something else pops up. I think a moratorium is a direction we should go.”

The discussion was sparked by the proposal on Tremont Street by Compassionate Organics, but was an overall discussion of how the WSANA would handle any such proposals in the near future.

•In other WSANA news, it was reported that the Subway franchise on Harrison Avenue is closing and is up for sale. The space is a commercial condo, so it is not rented. The 1,800 sq. ft. space is being courted by some in the neighborhood for a coffee shop. Word on the street was that the owners are asking well over $1 million for the space.

•There was discussion about the granting of Saturday work permits for the Harrison Albany Project on East Canton Street. Suffolk Construction was granted a permit to work last Saturday, and they have worked on some other Saturdays since starting construction last fall. Saturday work permits in the South End are granted on a week to week basis from Commissioner Buddy Christopher.

Many in the neighborhood said they do not want more Saturday work from such a large project with such large equipment, noting that it certainly couldn’t be an emergency situation.

“I don’t think they should be working every Saturday; people need a break,” said one neighbor.

IBEW LOCAL 103 and MP BOSTON RECORD

An innovative partnership between a leading labor union and a major Boston developer has led a record-breaking number of people of color and women to apply for this year’s apprenticeship class in the electrical workers union. IBEW Local 103 and MP Boston backed the initiative that led to the record-breaking results.

On the heels of what Local 103 and MP Boston officials have dubbed their “Opportunity Campaign,” the union’s 2018 apprentice program attracted 687 total applicants who live in the City of Boston. That’s a 95 percent overall increase from 352 city residents who applied the year before.

MP Boston is planning to develop the next iconic building of the Boston skyline at the site of the former Winthrop Square garage, generating hundreds of construction jobs for area residents and millions in revenue for city services.

Many members of this year’s apprenticeship class will spend the next two years training in order to fill jobs created by the 691-foot Winthrop Square tower project. Those who don’t end up deploying to the Winthrop Square project will nonetheless benefit from the acquisition of trade with the potential to power a lifelong career with family-sustaining wages, benefits, and retirement security.

Through a partnership with Wentworth Institute of Technology, applicants who are accepted into the program will also be eligible to receive a free college education.

BOSTON STRONG BLOOD DRIVE

The American Red Cross will join community leaders to mark the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings and to pay tribute to the strength and resilience shown by so many with a blood drive on April 15 from 9 to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton St.

INK UNDERGROUND TO GET AWARD

WalkBoston will award those involved with the InkUnderground park below the Expressway with one of their Golden Shoe awards at the organization’s annual gala on March 29.

Those involved with the award will include National Development, MassDOT and Kristin Phelan of KP Strategies.

SOUTH END MAN GETS JAIL TIME FOR ATTACK

A South End man has been sentenced to prison Wednesday after he admitted to his role in a 2017 robbery and near-fatal stabbing.

Davongie Stone, 21, pleaded guilty to charges of armed assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert Tochka sentenced him to seven years in state prison to be followed by three years of probation during which time Stone is ordered to undergo mental health treatment.

Had the case proceeded to trial, Assistant District Attorney David McGowan of the DA’s Senior Trial Unit would have presented evidence and testimony to prove that Stone and a second man followed, attacked, and robbed the victim as he walked alone in the area of Washington and Winter streets at approximately 12:40 a.m. on Sept. 3.  Public safety cameras captured the two men assault the victim and reach at the area of his waist as he lay on the ground.  The men then began to walk away, but Stone returned and continued his assault on the victim.

During the attack, the victim suffered life-threatening stab wounds to the chest and other injuries and was rushed to Tufts Medical Center.

Witnesses were able to provide responding Boston Police information about the assailant’s path of flight, leading them to Downtown Crossing MBTA station.  Additional public safety cameras at the station captured Stone as he jumped over a fare gate.  As he did so, prosecutors would have proved, he left a handprint on the metal surface on each side of the gate.  Boston Police criminalists were able to lift the assailant’s handprints from the surfaces and subsequently match them to fingerprints taken from Stone during a prior arrest.

EASTER EGG HUNTS

•The 11th Annual Friends of the South End Library Easter Egg Hunt will take place on Sunday April 1 from 11 to 1p.m. In reality, it will be over by 11:03 a.m. as the crowd of children that breaks through the fence at 11:00a.m. sharp is primed for the hunt. There will be more than 1,500 eggs filled with chocolate eggs, pies and knock-knock jokes, and delicious baked goods, coffee and lemonade.

•Join us to welcome spring with Ringgold Park’s annual Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 1 at 10a.m. sharp. Please bring your own baskets for children to collect candy-filled eggs. The park will be divided into sections by age. Kids will also have a chance to shake hands with a life-size bunny.

SOUTH END DATES

•The second community meeting on Peter’s Park will take place at Project Place, 1145 Washington Street on Monday, April 2 at 6:30p.m. Come share what you would like to see for improvements to Peters Park.

•Exchange South End Impact Advisory Group meeting will take place on Thursday, March 29 at the Flower Exchange, 540 Albany Street, from 6 to 8p.m. Another meeting will follow at the same time and place on April 9.

•Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) will host a social with the Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association on April 17, at Southern Proper at 7p.m.

•Join the Boston Transportation Department to discuss transportation safety improvements for Tremont St. from Melnea Cass Blvd to Herald St on Thursday, April 12 from 6 to 8p.m. at Castle Square Community Center located at 464 Tremont Street, 2nd floor.

BACK BAY HAPPENINGS

•Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Licensing and Building Use Committee will meet on Monday, April 2 at 7p.m. at the Lenox Hotel.

•NABB’s architecture committee will meet on Tuesday, April 3 at the New England College of Optometry, 424 Beacon Street at 6:30p.m.

•NABB’s Green Committee will meet on Wednesday, April 11 at The Learning Project, located at 107 Marlborough Street at 5:30p.m.

FENWAY TIMES

•The Fenway Civic Association is partnering with Northeastern University for their annual neighborhood spring clean up event on Sunday, April 8. The clean-up will take place from 10-12p.m. with a celebration following from 12 -1 p.m. at Mission Bar and Grill. Sign up in advance at tiny url.com/neighborhoodcleanup2018.

•The Fenway Garden Society invites you to their First Annual Volunteer Sign Up Plot Renewal and Seed Swap on Saturday, April 7 from 2 to 5p.m. at the Lansdowne Pub at 9 Lansdowne Street, Fenway.

•The Fenway Garden Society Annual Spring meeting will take place at Fenway Health, 1340 Boylston Street. Coffee Hour will take place 9-10a.m. with meeting following from 10 to 11a.m.

•A public meeting on 560-574 Commonwealth Avenue/ 645-665 Beacon Street (Kenmore Hotels) will take place on Monday, April 9 from 6 to 8p.m. at 565 Commonwealth Ave, room 101.

MASSPORT AIRPLANE NOISE COMPLAINT LINE

Residents who are being disturbed by airplane noise are encouraged to call the MassPort Noise Hotline 24 hours a day. The phone number is (617) 561-3333.

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