Mayor Martin Walsh has reinstated the weekend in the South End.
About two years ago, a huge swath of Saturday and Sunday peacefulness came over the South End as weekend construction activity – except in the case of an extreme emergency – came to a halt per a new policy from the Inspectional Services Department (ISD).
It was the most widely cheered policy change among Southenders in years.
However, over the past year that peace accord has withered as new, larger construction and utility projects have sought and been granted work permits. While work on brownstones and other neighborhood projects largely were still stopped, the larger projects – which have far larger impacts – were getting a pass.
One of the biggest examples was the Harrison Albany Block project, where Saturday – and even Sunday – work has been granted on a number of different occasions in the early stages of construction.
Other major examples included projects at 88 and 46 Wareham St., as well as a utility project on Albany Street that was supposed to be seeking a 24-hour work permit.
“What this has done is make the South End into a 24/77 work zone for construction,” said Steve Fox, moderator of the South End Forum.
The changes did not go unnoticed in the neighborhoods, and several South End association meetings addressed the Saturday work on large projects. Most notably, some neighbors spoke up at the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) a couple months ago about the Harrison Albany Block’s numerous weekend permits.
On Monday, however, with some hard work from members of the Forum and South End Liaison Faisa Sharif, Mayor Walsh implemented a new two-tier review of any after-hours and weekend construction permits for the South End.
The two-tiers would have threshold reasons for public safety or emergency situations – even for large projects.
Fox said that, effective immediately, the City will no longer grant any weekend or after-hours work permits that are not deemed an emergency following careful vetting of each request by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
When ISD receives any request for after-hours permits, the Office of Neighborhood Services will ensure that it is strictly to address an emergency or public safety need and will loop in the South End community prior to granting the permit.
“We are enormously grateful that the Mayor has taken this action without delay to address the growing concerns of across the entirety of our neighborhood,” said Fox.
Already, Union Park Co-Presidents Svetla Tzenova and Jamie Fox have sounded off in appreciation for the decision – as they were facing some onerous utility projects that would have lasted all summer and most weekends.
“The UPNA Board also expresses it appreciation to our Faisa Sharif, our liaison in the Mayor’s Office, and to Steve Fox and other members of the South End Forum for their efforts in the matter,” they said. “We hope you will enjoy the upcoming warmer weekends without excessive noise from construction.”