The Bay Village Neighborhood Association (BVNA) held its annual meeting on October 24 at the Revere Hotel, where members gathered for drinks and appetizers and to listen to what the organization has accomplished over the past year.
BVNA President Bethany Patten kicked off the program by saying that the BVNA has been “grappling with big questions” over the past year, such as addressing the housing crisis and transportation issues in the neighborhood and across the city. “We’re lucky to have the support of both the community and the policy makers,” Patten said. “We’re grateful that this community is so active.”
Updates from BVNA Committees were given, starting with Danny Moll from Safety. Moll said that Bay Village saw another year of decreasing crimes, and continues to be “one of the leading safest parts of Boston.” The crimes that remain were “crimes of convenience,” like car break-ins or package thefts, he said. He said he hopes that developments in the area will help fund as a community benefit the security cameras the neighborhood has been trying to install for a while.
He said that he would like to thank Captain Fong, Sgt. Moy, and the rest of the A-1 BPD team, who have been partners in “pinpointing some of the hotspots” in the neighborhood and added police watches when the neighborhood has asked. Additionally, Moll said that nearly all of the graffiti in Bay Village has been wiped out, and they are starting a pilot program called Bay Village Watch, which is a tool for people to send in issues that are seen throughout the neighborhood if they do not want to contact 311 directly.
Ben Beck from Licensing and Planning said that Bay Village is “one of the hottest neighborhoods” in the city right now, and is drawing in a lot of people and a lot of developers. “We’re making sure that we’re not surrounded by megastructures and overcrowding,” he said of the Licensing and Planning Committee’s job. He talked about some of the development projects that the BVNA heard throughout the year. The Isabella Street church project did not go forward, as the developers withdrew their proposal. Beck said that that particular project was not well received by the neighborhood anyway.
The project at 67-69 Church St. is currently in the demolition process, he said, and the height variance has been reduced from what they originally proposed. “I think it will be a really great addition to the streetscape,” Beck said. The groundbreaking for 212 Stuart St. will be “any day now,” and the units at 108-110 Arlington Street are almost complete and are being sold now.
Nancy Morrisroe from City Services talked about some of the city issues that the committee has been working on. She said that a contractor has been selected for the crosswalk on Arlington St. “This is going to be a super duper crosswalk,” she said, and will include pedestrian flashing lights to make it much safer for people to cross the street.
People in Bay Village are not fans of the new trash collection time. “The trash schedule is a disaster,” Morrisroe said, adding that none of the neighbors were consulted about the change. She urged residents to put out their trash as late as possible the night before if it absolutely cannot be put out before 6 a.m. on trash day.
Morrisroe is also part of the Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations (ADCO), and gave an update on the short term rental regulation, which is something the organization has been invested in. She said that Airbnb settled with the city in August, so starting this December, every short term rental has to be registered with the city. She said to call 311 if there is any suspicion of illegal Airbnbs in the neighborhood, and that eventually there will be a space in the 311 app to report such properties. “We need the neighbors to be as vigilant as you can,” she said. She added that Chief of Housing Sheila Dillion said that at least 1,500 new apartments will go back on the market after the registration process goes into effect.
Lastly, BVNA members heard from State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, a representative from City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George’s office, and Alejandra St. Guillen, who is running for City Council At-Large.
Michlewitz talked about the education reform that was passed last week, which he said is the first time the formula has changed in 26 years. He said the reimbursement for charter schools will change, as well as some other formulas that have been a focus for a while. “We have a huge achievement gap in the Commonwealth,” he said. “We pride ourselves on education.”
He said that the budget that was passed this July was his first as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He said they put in “monumental” money for education, as well as “historic amounts” of money for homelessness and housing. “We have great shelters in my district,” he said, adding that the individual shelter line item was fully funded in the budget as well.
“We’re putting an extensive amount of money into public housing,” Michlewitz said. He said there are infrastructure issues with public housing across the board, and money needs to be dedicated to fix the problems. He also said that whenever talking about a particular housing development project it is important that there is onsite affordability.
Additionally, there will be increased Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding due to the increase in fees at the Registry of Deeds. The money from that will go directly into CPA funding, he said. He has a coffee hour scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Berkeley Perk cafe in the South End. He also encouraged people to email him with any concerns that he may be able to create legislation from. “I’m there to be your voice and to work on behalf of you,” he said.
A representative from Annissa Essaibi-George’s office talked about some things that the councilor has been working on, including working to make sure schools are fully funded by the budget. Every BPS school now has a full-time nurse, and Essaibi-George is continuing to work on increasing mental health professionals throughout the schools as well. She is also working on increasing access to affordable units throughout the city as well as artist live/work spaces, “addressing the most vulnerable populations in this housing crisis,” the representative said.
Alejandra St. Guillen said that she grew up in Mission Hill, and was a Boston Public Schools graduate. She was a public school teacher and served as the Director of Immigrant Advancement for the City of Boston. She said in her time in that position, she realized “just how critical municipal government was.” She said that if elected, she is “excited about joining a council that already has a lot of strong women.” She also asked everyone to get out and vote on Nov. 5.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I think there’s a real opportunity in the city to shape the type of city we want to be for generations to come.”