The Bay Village Neighborhood Association (BVNA) held its annual meeting virtually via Zoom on October 28. The organization typically has its annual meeting at the Revere Hotel, where neighbors can mingle with each other while enjoying drinks and appetizers, but because of the pandemic, the festivities had to be moved online.
Bay Village neighbors will still given the opportunity to converse with one another as well as elected officials during virtual breakout groups before the program began.
BVNA president Bethany Patten provided remarks at the start of the hearing.
“This has been a tough year,” she said, with the organization having to cancel or modify many of its plans for the year, including the first ever Casino Night fundraiser as well as big park cleanup days, among other things.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Boston’s smallest neighborhood. “It was a really wonderful time to see the neighborhood come together,” Patten said.
State Senator Joe Boncore, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, as well as City Councilors Annissa Essaibi-George, Ed Flynn, Michael Flaherty, and Michelle Wu tuned into the call to make re-marks to the neighborhood.
“It’s been a difficult time and the City and the Commonwealth have faced difficult challenges since COVID-19 hit,” Boncore said. He said that the legislature was able to “expand social safety net resources” as well as expand access to unemployment benefits to restaurant workers and 1099 workers, among others.
He said that when the legislature passes the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, they are looking to “put community first.”
As the chair of the transportation committee, Boncore said he is working to get agreement on the transportation bond bill in both chambers. He’s also still working on the Red/Blue line con-nector on the MBTA as well as traffic and congestion on roads. Additionally, the proposed transportation bill includes “investments to improve the experience for bikers and pedestri-ans,” Boncore said.
Michlewitz, who has been the state rep for Bay Village for 11 years, said that “it has been a very difficult time for a lot of folks and being in state government has been no different,” as un-expected challenges have had to be worked around.
He said that “police reform is at the top of the list” in “reaction to the George Floyd murder” and the he is “very confident that we are going to get something done before the end of the year.”
He also talked about election reform, including vote by mail and expanded access to ballot boxes. He said that the large turnout of mail in voting for the primary “shows that it works and that we should continue to expand that access to the ballot box as best we can.”
Councilor Michael Flaherty, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on the Community Preservation Act, said that the City is “moving forward with another round of funding,” and that 131 projects have received a total of $67 million so far from three rounds. Bay Village has yet to be a recipient of CPA funding.
Councilor Wu, who is running for mayor, offered some comments related to the pandemic.
“We are nowhere near close to the end of this pandemic,” she said. She said that the City is “not seeing the same precautions” when it comes to businesses and the economy. She also mentioned her newly released food justice agenda for the City, which she said includes an “in-terconnectedness of how we should be structuring our economy.”
“I’m really concerned about school reopening and what’s happening to our young people right now,” Wu said. She said that the City has “not been able to create safe ways for schools to open.”
Councilor Essaibi-George mentioned that the Council recently passed an ordinance that re-quires all pharmacies to take back sharps, which she said will “help a little with the needle problem across the city.” Sharps can be returned to any pharmacy at no cost.
Councilor Ed Flynn said that he is working hard to support “our immigrant neighbors.”
He said that “language access is something I focus a lot on,” and “we focus a lot of our time and attention policy-wise making sure our immigrant neighbors are treated with respect at City Hall and the City and that persons of color are heard.”
After remarks from elected officials, BVNA committees gave brief updates on the past year.
Aoife Austin said that “the parks definitely have been getting a little more use with COVID,” and she reported that “for the most part, they’ve been keeping it pretty clean.”
“It was an interesting year on the safety side,” reported Danny Moll. He said that “throughout the year, we remain the safest neighborhood in Boston.” He also reported that the BVNA’s long-awaited desire for security cameras in the neighborhood will be fulfilled, as bids for the cameras have been put out.
“Right now, it’s in the city’s hands to approve, and once they do that…it will come back to us,” he said. “We’re off to the races on that front.”
LICENSING AND PLANNING
Tom Perkins, who will be the new BVNA president, talked about the COVID-19 issues that arose from the opening of Nusr-Et Boston on Arlington St. in mid-September. He thanked Councilor Flynn and Faisa Sharif from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services for their work on the issues, which he said have “quieted down a lot.”
The project at 212 Stuart Street has begun, Perkins said, adding that meetings on the Motor Mart garage happened before the pandemic hit. He also said that some of the mitigation funds from this project will go towards the security cameras for the neighborhood.
He said the BVNA is in support of the proposed townhouses on Edgerly Place, and that the project proposed for the Isabella St. church has yet a new developer.
“Carlisle Capital, who had met with us twice to review a proposal, have elected not to follow up,” he said. However, KEMS Corp., another developer, presented a proposal to the BVNA on November 2.
Nancy Morrisroe said that as the Bay Village representative for the Association of Downtown Civic Organizations, she has reported a list of short term rentals that are not following proper guidelines. She also said that they are working on “preventing the influx of electronic bill-boards,” as there is currently one proposed for the corner of Beach St. and Harrison Ave. in Chinatown. She said that she is “concerned that this is going to set a precedent.”
The BVNA then elected its 2020-2021 Executive Committee, which includes Tom Perkins as President and Bethany Patten as Vice President.
For more information about the BVNA and its various meetings, visit bayvillage.net.