News Briefs

YWCA TO BE BOUTIQUE HOTEL

The old YWCA building at 40 Berkeley Street in the Ellis neighborhood has been proposed to become a 164-room hotel geared to the younger set who prefer lower rates and fewer amenities.

Mount Vernon Company has proposed to turn the former YMCA and hostel into the Revolution Hotel. Beyond the hipster hotel will be a revamp of the old courtyard to include and indoor-outdoor restaurant, as well as a co-working office space in the basement that will become a bar at night.

Mount Vernon projected the average room rates to be $150 per night.

LIBERTY GROUP MARIJUANA PROPOSAL BEFORE GROUPS

The Liberty Compassionate Group – a medical/recreational marijuana dispensary company – will make its first South End presentation to the South End Forum Opiate Working Group and the Blackstone/Franklin Neighborhood Association on Sept. 18 at regular meetings.

Liberty has been said to already have a dispensary license in Taunton, and would hope to transfer that license to 591 Albany St. in the South End. The proposal has been bantered about for the last several months between neighbors, and was discussed at the July Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) meeting.

The proposal would actually stand in opposition to the proposal on Tremont Street by Compassionate Organics, as the half-mile radius rule would block out one or the other.

Some in the community have stated that they prefer the site on Albany Street, and the ownership is apparently speaking with major property owners like Leggat McCall and Exchange South End already. The substance of the proposal has yet to be heard.

SOUTH END FORUM TO FEATURE MAYOR WALSH

Mayor Martin Walsh has been confirmed to make his annual appearance at the South End Forum on Tuesday, Sept 11, in the South End Library.

Mayor Walsh makes an annual trek to the Forum each year for a presentation and a Q&A session. This year he’ll do that on Sept. 11, said Moderator Steve Fox.

The topic du jour will likely be the opiate crisis and the City’s response to what has been described as a disastrous summer on the Mass/Cass corridor. The Mayor’s full cabinet will be in attendance as well.

Meanwhile, new Police Commissioner Willie Gross will be at the Forum to meet and greet neighbors in attendance. Gross has been a friend of the Forum for several years.

Another piece that is still up in the air is whether or not KB Ventures will be able to come and present their plans to the Forum for the Alexandra Hotel. KB has met with neighbors and with the South End Landmarks, but has not yet appeared at the forum since coming on the scene in July.

BACK BAY HAPPENINGS

  • The Friends of the Public Garden are looking for champion volunteer weeders to help maintain the beautiful Boylston Street border and the Beacon Street border in the Public Garden. ‘You supply the enthusiasm, we supply the gloves, kneepads, and some brief instructions on weed identification!’ Volunteers meet up on alternating Thursdays.

SOUTH END DATES

  • Stoop Night in Chester Square. The Chester Square Neighbors will have their second Stoop Night of August tonight, Aug. 28, at 537 Massachusetts Ave., 6-7 p.m.
  • The next UPNA General Meeting, open to all in the neighborhood, will be held on Wednesday, October 3, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Community Music Center of Boston, 537 Tremont St.

Details on the agenda will follow in a few weeks, but it will include these items:

*Consideration of the proposed development project for 24 Union Park

*Discussion of the proposal to open a medical marijuana facility close to our neighborhood

*A presentation and update on the development at the site of the former Flower Exchange on Albany Street

*A ‘State of the Park’ discussion regarding the care and maintenance of Union Park.

  • The quarterly South End Forum will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. in the South End Library.
  • The Eight Streets Neighborhood Association will have its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, in Project Place, 6:30 p.m. The agenda is still TBA.
  • The East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) will have its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. in Project Place.
  • The Ellis South End Neighborhood Association Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at One Chandler Street.

FENWAY TIMES

  • New summer hours for Fenway Community Center. Monday through Saturday open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, also open 5-8 p.m. Close Sunday.
  • Upcoming Red Sox Home Games:

The final Fenway Concert will be Pearl Jam on Sept. 2 and 4. The Red Sox home games this week include:  The Red Sox will be on the road until Friday Sept. 7.

  • Upcoming Fenway Park Events: Saturday, Nov. 10, and Sunday, Nov. 11 —Spartan Race, 10,000 expected, times TBA

Saturday, Nov. 17 —“The Game” Harvard v. Yale, 35,000 expected, noon – 3:30 p.m.

  • Join us in The Victory Gardens for our annual harvest festival, “Fensfest” on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Celebrate with food, music, raffles and lots of fun stuff. Learn about butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

Are you a City of Boston resident and interested in joining our waitlist for a garden plot of your own? If so, send an e-mail to [email protected] with your name, preferred contact e-mail, phone number, and waitlist request.

FLYNN, BAKER CALL FOR 20MPH

Last week, Boston City Councilors Ed Flynn and Frank Baker called for a hearing to examine the merits of lowering the speed limit in the City of Boston to 20 mph, unless otherwise posted, as well as a discussion of other traffic calming measures to improve road safety for all. The speed limit in the city was most recently lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph on January 9, 2017 as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative. The order has been sent to the Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation.

“In the final analysis, Councilor Baker and I want to open up this dialogue to ensure we are doing all we can to try to save lives and realize Vision Zero. We believe that infrastructure changes, like speed humps and raised crosswalks, are necessary for traffic calming; however, a combination of these physical changes and a lower speed limit will improve public safety for all “ said Flynn. “Data from the city’s website and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently indicated that the chances of a serious or fatal crash at 30 mph is 50 percent, while at 20 mph the chances significantly drop to 18 percent. We thank Mayor Walsh and his staff for their strong leadership on Vision Zero and efforts to make Boston safer for all.”

Councilor Baker said, “We were already successful in lowering the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on public ways subject to the control of the city.  One of my top constituent complaints is the need for lower speed limits, more enforcement, and various traffic calming measures, like raised crosswalks, speed humps, narrowing traffic lanes, and bump-outs.  As elected officials in the City of Boston, we need to help eliminate traffic fatalities on our city’s streets.  Further lowering of the street speed limit is an important step in the right direction.”

SEPT. 11 DAY OF REMEMBRANCE BLOOD DRIVE AT FENWAY PARK

Members of the public are invited to honor those lost in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by giving blood at the annual Day of Remembrance blood drive at Fenway Park, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, from 5:30 to 10:30 a.m.

All presenting donors will receive a free T-shirt, a cup of Legal Sea Food clam chowder, a discounted tour of Fenway Park and the chance to take pictures with the World Series trophies. The first 100 donors will also receive a commemorative pin.

“Within hours of the first plane striking the World Trade Center, the Red Cross was there,” said Holly Grant, Chief Executive Officer of the Red Cross of Massachusetts. “By donating blood at this drive, you honor not just those who gave their lives, but those who spent weeks caring for the first responders and reuniting loved ones.”

Since this blood drive began in 2002, more than 11,000 blood donations have been collected. The event is also supported by the Honorable Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the City of Boston, Boston Police, Boston Fire, Boston Emergency Medical Services and Legal Sea Foods.

NEW ARTS DIRECTOR FOR THE CITY

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Wednesday the appointment of Kara Elliott-Ortega as chief of arts and culture for the City of Boston. Elliott-Ortega most recently served as interim chief of arts and culture and, prior, worked as the director of planning and policy in the arts cabinet for three years, playing a leadership role in the development and implementation of Boston Creates, the City’s cultural plan.
As leader of the City’s Arts and Culture cabinet, Elliott-Ortega will work to create a vehicle through which the city can increase diversity and inclusion in the arts, seek grants and sponsorship opportunities, and secure funding and support for Boston’s arts community. In addition, she will continuing to lead the implementation of action items identified in Boston Creates.
“The City of Boston has made significant strides toward accomplishing the goals outlined in Boston Creates and enhancing Boston’s arts sector,” said Elliott-Ortega. “I have enjoyed witnessing Boston evolve into a municipal arts leader, and am very excited to continue to accomplish the City’s vision for arts and culture.”
As chief, Elliott-Ortega will oversee the staff of the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, the Boston Art Commission, Boston Cultural Council and the Strand Theatre. It is the primary responsibility of the office to support and grow the arts in Boston across all artistic disciplines, from theater to dance, to the visual arts to public art.

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