District 2 Councilor Ed Flynn made was at the Union Park Neighborhood Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 27.
Hot topics discussed included the airplane noise issues, graffiti, small cell antennas and what is being done for animals being electrocuted by exposed wires.
“I have some concerns over the electricity running though the streets,” said Cynthia White. “After the recent storms and the wear and tear on Boston’s infrastructure, there is electricity jumping around. These are dogs being hurt, but it could easily be kids getting hurt, too.”
This past year a dog was shocked on the sidewalk along Southhampton Street in the South End, and another dog was electrocuted on Castle Island in South Boston. Flynn said that during the second incident, the owner who tried to help his dog also got a shock.
Flynn said he filed for a hearing order to discuss stray voltage wires in the City of Boston with the Boston City Council. He brought the matter up at this week’s Boston City Council hearing on March 28.
“We need to identify what is happening and what steps need to be taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Flynn. “We also need to do more PSA (public service announcements) on ways to prevent this.”
Flynn said Boston contains older electrical cabinets and during the winter months, the ground in the vicinity of this infrastructure can become saturated and mixed with salt used to help clear the city’s roads and sidewalks.
The combination of saturated ground and salt can corrode wiring and grounding lugs to present conditions where tragic events like these can occur.
Flynn looks forward to having a conversation with the Public Works and Transportation departments to figure out both short term and long-term steps to fix this issue in the future.
“Investing money into infrastructure will be expensive, but I definitely want to bring this to the attention of the public,” said Flynn.
South End resident Jeffrey Gates also raised his concerns over small cell antennas (the light poles that are repurposed with antennas to extend data coverage) that are popping up in the South End.
He expressed concerns that not only is Verizon Wireless coming in and repurposing the poles but, other wireless companies also will have to come in if they want to extend to 5G coverage in the area. He worries that soon every pole in the South End will be repurposed.
In addition, the wireless companies seem to be bypassing community meetings. A recent example is when Verizon Wireless went to the South End Landmarks Commission, but was turned down until they went back to the community to have a meeting.
“I’m hoping the city makes sure the process includes the neighborhoods,” said Gates. “At first, they’re not obtrusive, but once they start buying them all up, they will be.”
Flynn said he would continue to look into the problem surrounding the public process.
UPNA and the Rutland Square Neighborhood Association are raising funds to put pedestrian lights along Tremont Street.
Currently UPNA has raised $6,000 towards the cause and Rutland Square has raised $2,500. More fundraising is coming this spring.
The pilot project will place pedestrian lights at key intersections along Tremont Street. When a pedestrian activates the light, it signals to drivers that someone is trying to cross, without having the pedestrian walk out into traffic in order to make eye contact with the driver.
“The walker pushes the button and the flashing beacon signals to drivers that someone wants to cross the road,” said Fox. “If it does work, hopefully it will be used across the South End.”
Residents said they wished that there was more traffic enforcement in the area, saying drivers can get away with anything from speeding to double-parking.
Flynn said that the city does need more police officers on the street patrolling, but due to staffing problems at the Boston Police Department there just isn’t enough police officers to do traffic enforcement and answer to more pressing problems.
Logan Flight Pass Issue
Another issue that has come in the South End is airplane traffic, particularly in the early morning hours according to residents. State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz filed legislation that recently passed the House that would give Boston a new member on the Massport Citizen Advisory Committee.
The Massport CAC meets regularly and has an executive director, all in an effort to bring complaints and concerns directly to Logan officials and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – who work with and attend the CAC meetings. There are six appointees on that CAC from Boston, all appointed by the mayor, but none are currently from the South End.
Fox said the South End Forum is currently on the lookout for someone who they would like to nominate to that spot, once it gets passed by the senate and is signed by the governor.
Councilor Flynn said there is still work to be done on this matter. He recently sent a letter in support of having someone from the South End represented on this committee.
“My son is a airplane pilot, but I can’t even get him to change his route,” joked Fox. “But there will be a spot for the South End so if you feel like you want to participate and have the knowledge and background let us know.”
A couple of years ago the UPNA was considering expanding along Malden Street, but had fears that the new Girard Building if incorporated would take over the entire neighborhood organization.
This is why at this meeting the UPNA passed a new bylaw stating, “Be it resolved that the number of UPNA board members from the same building shall be limited to two.”
Fox said that UPNA has plans to reach out to the building and others who live down the street to see if there is any interest of joining.
A resident of the Girard building said she really hopes they do because they could really benefit from the influence of being part of a neighborhood association.
“There are huge opioid, trash and speeding problems in the area,” said Cynthia White. “It would be great to get this formalized.”
This is the only block in the South End without a neighborhood association representing it.