For the first time in a long time, Union Park Neighborhood Association (UPNA) will be led from the heart of Union Park.
After a number of years being expertly-led by Jamie Fox, UPNA held an election this spring and Union Park resident John Schleer was brought in to succeed Fox.
It will be the first time in a while that the president has been a resident with an address that fronts Union Park.
Schleer, 31, told the Sun he is very excited to work with Jamie Fox during the transition, and it’s a transition he is making after serving two years on the Board. Ironically, it is Union Park itself that brought him closer to his neighbors, and eventually, to lead the neighborhood association.
“I grew up on the North Shore and I grew up with a yard and doing yard work,” he said. “Living in the city, you don’t have that. I needed an outlet. For most of us who live on the Park, Union Park is all of our front yards and was my outlet. We all care for it and respect it. This is a great community.”
Schleer and his wife, Emilie, live on the southern side of Union Park with their Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, with both being involved in the finance industry in Boston. They have lived on Union Park for about five years, and Schleer said it was by accident they ended up there.
Having gone to many open houses looking for a place to purchase, he said on Saturday they had been to four open houses with no luck. Taking a break, they went to the Buttery on Shawmut Avenue and spotted a ‘For Sale’ sign on Union Park. When they walked over, they happened to meet the owner, and from there everything seemed to work out.
“Finding this place was kind of kismet,” he said. “We really did stumble on to it, but we are glad we did.”
Schleer said after serving on the Board for a few years, he believed he was ready to step up and take on the new role – particularly as a person who live on the Park.
“I thought it was the right time to take on this role because there was a void, and there was a need for more leadership from people who live on the Park,” he said. “That was important to some folks. It’s kind of an optics thing. I don’t necessarily always agree with that. I think Jamie did a fantastic job of leadership for many years. I’m really here to improve things the best way we can in a collegial manner. I think people always forget that everyone on the Board and in leadership are volunteers. We all have full-time jobs and families to care for. This is an extra-curricular, but it doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously.”
The term of president runs for one year, and Schleer is committed to that with the rest of the leadership. That includes Vice President Abigail Cohen, Vice President Jamie Fox, Treasurer Jay Leopold and Secretary Christine Parker. There are also 10 other Board members as well.
He said they also have about six more active volunteers that are helping the other committees.
One of those is the Friends of Union Park, and that is led by Cohen, whom he said has done a tremendous job in sprucing up the Park and getting the trees trimmed.
The Activities Committee under Sue Ann Fox will continue to have a robust program, with Evenings on the Park scheduled for July and August. Schleer said they plan to have a casual movie in the park fundraiser in June.
Jamie Fox will continue in the leadership and will also coordinate the UPNA Card as well.
“Collectively, as a group, we’re all fighting for the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re not one voice or one person. I may have the title now, but everyone lends a strong helping hand.”
UPNA meets six times a year, four for the Board and two general meetings.