More than 100 neighbors turned out to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Thursday morning, May 24, for the return of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Neighborhood Coffee Hour.
Now in its 19th year, these events take place each spring and summer at public parks citywide, giving neighbors a chance to speak directly to the mayor and his staff. Guests are treated to coffee and breakfast courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as fresh fruit from Whole Foods Market, and each family in attendance receives a flowering plant grown in the city’s greenhouses as a gift from the mayor. Information is also provided on city programming sponsored by the Boston Public Library, Boston Public Schools, Boston Police Department and Boston Centers for Youth & Families.
At last week’s event in the Back Bay, Walsh discussed the return of “Open Newbury Street” on July 8, Aug. 12 and Sept. 9 – last year’s successful pilot program that jettisoned cars for the day to transform the entire width of the street from Berkeley Street to Massachusetts Avenue into a pedestrian-only walkway. “Most people like it…and it’s great for the businesses down here,” he said.
In addition, Walsh detailed how the Boylston Street Marathon Marker Project has received approvals from both the Boston Arts Commission and the Back Bay Architectural Commission to memorialize the two sites of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings with new public art, adding that the city is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the project.
This followed conversations with the Campbell, Collier, Lu and Richard families, Walsh said, and the site between Trinity Church and the Copley Branch of the Boston Public Library is also now being considered as the possible location for a “peace garden.”
Meantime, Walsh said $500,000 has been allocated in the city budget for improvements to the Boston Common, which would likely include new landscaping features designed to help curtail drug dealing and other quality-of-life issues that currently plague the park’s Tremont Street corners.
As for the Boston Transportation Department’s pedestrian-safety improvements to Beacon Street, Walsh urged those in attendance to be patient.
“It’s a pilot program, and if we don’t try something new, we’ll never know if it works,” he said, adding that a community meeting on the initiative’s progress is already planned for the fall.
On another note, Walsh applauded the decision by Hexagon Properties, helmed by Back Bay resident and philanthropist Sandy Edgerley, to carry on operating its recently acquired Algonquin Club at 217 Commonwealth Ave. “This is an opportunity to continue the existing club that’s there now, rather than find a new location,” he said.
And regarding his proposed, new Airbnb ordinance for Boston, which the City Council is currently mulling over, Walsh said, “There’s no roadmap because every city is different. We want to regulate it in a proper way and make sure it’s done right.”