After seven years of presidency, Michael Nichols has stepped down from the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association (ACNA) and opened it up for new leadership to guide the small advocacy group forward.
ACNA met for the first time this year on Tuesday, April 17, with their newly elected board to select a new president, Dolores Boogdanian, Vice President Katherine Greenough, Treasurer David Lapidus and Clerk Kerry Ruckman.
“It’s hard, especially in the middle of everyone’s life to do neighborhood things, and I will need everyone’s support in order to do it well,” said Boogdanian. “I think we can do it.”
Now, entering its new chapter the board quickly got to discussing major topics of concern in the neighborhood.
First up, was an update on the Audubon Circle redesign and figuring out who the new contact person will be. The former sub-committee no longer has any members on the ACNA board and needs to be re-formed.
As construction picks up again in its final phase, the board decided it would be best to re-establish a point person in case an issue comes up. The board will wait untill next month’s hearing to create a new subcommittee.
The reconstruction of the traffic circle that will include safer crosswalks, better traffic signalization, new bike lanes, plazas on the four corners with planters and seating. It also will include new, green infrastructure with rain gardens, about 50 street trees and magnolias.
“Assuming things go smoothly from now on, I don’t think we will run into disruptive issues,” said Greenough. “Hopefully, there won’t be more surprises with the traffic and bicycle lanes.”
Once construction is done, Greenough said she has some major concerns on who is going to pay for the upkeep and maintenance – especially with the water gardens. As it stands now, the ACNA would have legal duty to pay for the upkeep but, the board is working to transfer that responsibility to the City.
“That’s a lot for a small all-volunteer board to take on,” said Greenough.
Next on the agenda was an update on the 839 Beacon St. development.
At the site now sits a large hole where a depilated building used to sit. The future project will include a five-story, rental apartment building with retail at the first floor and 30 parking spaces.
Greenough said that the project is at least a year behind, which could lead the developers to want to do inexpensive fixes.
Her hope was to re-establish a subcommittee to keep a watchful eye out but, the board decided it was best to keep the two current members who will send out notifications such as road closures or traffic restrictions.
Since the building is under construction, the board didn’t think the neighborhood had much leverage against the developers to ask for mitigation or improvements to the surrounding area.
Previously, members of ACNA had bad experiences with the developers 12 Miner Realty Inc., a family enterprise owned by the Fong family of Toronto, Canada. Residents are concerned that after it is all done, they will be stuck living with a new building they are not happy with.
“Since we’re going to live with it, we need to discuss it,” said Greenough.
Boogdanian said when future projects and developments come into the neighborhood that they make sure to include everyone who will be affected by it, not just what the ACNA board thinks.
“We are here to represent everyone in Audubon Circle,” said Boogdanian. “What do the neighbors and residents think?”
The meeting ended with a brief discussion on how the proposed Kenmore Square hotels will affect the neighborhood. The two new hotels will be placed at the gateway to the neighborhood from the Boston side. An upcoming public meeting, they hope, will answer to some of their concerns.