Mayor Walsh made a special appearance at the Bay Village Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 3, providing information to the community and addressing their comments and concerns about various happenings in the neighborhood. Walsh said he’d like to start stopping by more civic meetings to have these kinds of conversations with neighborhoods throughout the city.
“I think there are some incredible things happening right now in our city,” Walsh told Bay Village. He said the population of the city grows about 10,000 people a year, and jobs have grown by about 20,000 per year.
Walsh jumped around through many different aspects of the city during his talk, from how to get families to stay in the city to needing more federal investment for housing, infrastructure, and climate resiliency. “We haven’t had federal investment in a while,” he said.
He also talked about master planning in Boston. Walsh said he looks across “all different gamuts” when thinking about planning for the future of the city. “I look at how are we servicing older Bostonians, how are we servicing our young people, how are we servicing the growth of our city, how are we making sure that we continue to stay diverse in the city, how do we make sure that our police department is safe, how do we make sure that our parks are accessible and clean, how do we make sure that our basic city services are delivered,” he said.
After his brief presentation, Walsh took questions from the community. BVNA Vice President Sarah Herlihy made a comment to the Mayor regarding the neighborhood’s stance on development projects. “We’re a small neighborhood, we’re historic,” she said. “I think there are some changes coming up where we might have to take a little bit of a stronger stance and kind of draw a line somewhere.” She told Walsh that the community had been repeatedly pushed, and has advocated for projects in the past, and as these new development projects that are on the horizon come to fruition, she wants him to remember that Bay Village is not NIMBY.
“We’re reasonable, and when we come to you for an issue and for help on something, it’s not because we always say no, it’s because it’s a really important issue to us,” Herlihy said.
“And that’s your job,” Walsh responded. He said the best development is one where everyone is on the same page and the developer is able to understand and respect the community in order to reach a resolution. He said that the upcoming Motor Mart project will be a conversation between all parties. “We’re going to sit and listen,” he said.
Another topic of discussion was rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, which the community thinks is out of control with lots of empty cars driving around. Mayor Walsh said that to try and reduce the number of cars on the road, new housing developments in the downtown area will have fewer and fewer parking spots. He said that he is pushing for regulation on Lyft and Uber, but “we have zero regulatory authority,” and have to go back to the legislature in order to get anything changed. This is a priority for the coming year, he said.
Another Bay Village member brought up the large number of car break-ins and vehicle violence in Bay Village, and told the Mayor that there are absolutely no cameras in the neighborhood to catch these kinds of acts.
Mayor Walsh said that he can’t speak to the cameras, but he told the neighborhood not to leave anything visible in their cars, and that they can start a crime watch with the police. He used this opportunity to talk about homeless people on the streets and addicts. He said they are working with places like the Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House to help people on the streets. He agreed with the community that the Downtown Crossing area needs “a little more attention” when it comes to the homeless population.
Walsh added that they are also going to think about lighting in the Boston Common, as there are sections of the park that are extremely dark at night. Over the years, the tree canopy has thickened and lights are not adequately placed throughout the Common. “We have to think about how we move things around in there,” he said.
After Walsh’s presentation, the BVNA updated those in attendance about the status of the Licensing and Planning projects in the neighborhood. Some of them include:
- 212 Stuart St., which will be moving to the Bay Village Historic District Commission on Dec. 11; they will receive $250,000 in mitigation over a number of years
- Representatives from the Erbaluce building project will be at the licensing/planning meeting on Dec. 17; developers are still planning on having a restaurant on the first floor even though Erbaluce is not returning
- The Motor Mart project is moving forward
- The lodging house at 119 Berkeley St. have not moved forward with their increase in capacity; BVNA voted to oppose the increase
- The Isabella Street church project will also be returning to the licensing/planning meeting on Dec. 17 for an update on the proposal