SBNA Meeting Minutes

St. Botolph Neighborhood Association
Neighborhood Meeting Minutes
November 1, 2006

The Neighborhood Meeting of the SBNA was held at the Susan Bailis Center on Mass Ave. and St. Botolph Street at 7:30.  Vice President Chris Coffin called the meeting to order at 7:45 and thanked the Bailis Center Manager, Jeanne Fuller-Jones, for use of the room and providing refreshments to about 25 in attendance.  Jeanne invited SBNA members to contact her for use of the meeting room, which is a neighborhood resource.

Chris introduced our featured topic:

The Significance, Importance and Impact of Groundwater levels on the structural integrity of your home and neighborhood.

   Guest Speaker:  Elliott Laffer, Executive Director                   
Boston Groundwater Trust

Elliott Laffer handed out a list of frequently-asked questions and started in with a brief history of the neighborhood being part of the Shawmut Peninsula, filled land with buildings dating from about 1880.  About 800 ground-water monitoring wells are now operational after years of neglect since their installation in 1936.  The Groundwater Trust was formed in 1986 to revive and monitor these old and renewed wells.  Residents and owners can go to groundwater.org for more information. 

Elliott then presented charts to show levels of necessary ground water and the SBNA area’s mostly secure foundations.  Ground water levels to preserve building foundations are now controlled by zoning, re-charging provisions and monitoring.    The Department of Inspectional Services is another source of information about groundwater regulations for homeowners who must have permits for new construction or paving.  Elliott urged homeowners to fix cellar leaks rather than use sump pumps which would remove ground water and affect water levels around the buildings.  Downspouts should be directed into the front and back yard ground and not into the street or sewer. 

A lively discussion marked this interesting and helpful hour-long presentation.

Nancy Restuccia make two brief presentations at 9:00.  She reported that the Mass Avenue Project is coming along: stop lights, removal of the median, improved crosswalks, benches and trash cans.  The 5-year project going from Cambridge to Boston will also provide a left turn from Mass Avenue onto Huntington, thus reducing traffic on St. Botolph.  It should start around June ’08.

Nancy also reported that 99 St. Botolph Street is scheduled to begin work on this B&B by January.

Finally, she reported that plans for the Holiday Party are moving along, with the date of December 4, a Monday, pretty well set.  The Board meeting on November 15 will firm up Holiday plans with flyers going out shortly after.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
Helen Powell, Clerk

St. Botolph Neighborhood Association
Neighborhood Meeting Minutes
September 28.2006

The Annual Membership meeting was held at the Susan Bailis Center on Mass Ave and St. Botolph Streets. Nearly 30 members and guests attended.

The meeting was called to order at 7:45 by Vice President Christian Coffin after a 15 mins social gathering with refreshments. He thanked Bailis Marketing Manager Ilena Shook for providing the conference room for the meeting.  Chris reviewed the goals of the neighborhood association, including safety, preservation and community development support. He mentioned our two main events of the year, Holiday and Summer Barbeque, and the need to raise membership dues to $10 to help defray the cost of these important neighborhood-building activities.  He also explained that for reasons of simplicity/efficiency, that the dues will now run on a September-August fiscal year rather than on the date paid. 

Chris then introduced Board Members, Helen Powell, Clerk and Gary Dwyer, Treasurer. The post of President is open to an interested volunteer. Chris introduced in succession the following Committee Chairs who presented a summary of their current activities:

Committee Reports:
Claire Dargan, Membership/Communications Chair, talked about the importance of keeping accurate information about the membership, revising the website, and securing e-mail services to improve communications.

Nancy Restuccia: Events Chair, mentioned the need to get working soon on the Holiday Party, which will be a Monday or Tuesday early in December. Volunteer help with this important 100+ person event is welcome.

Gary Dwyer, Streetscape Chair, reported that the improvement project is just about finished, with Public Works finishing up replacing the old street lights. His committee works with the city on graffiti issues, street cleaning, the need for towing, etc. Two phone numbers will be put on the website: Tree Service Needs: 617-635-PARK; and the Mayor’s Office (garbage and graffiti reports) 617-635-4500.

Lee Steele, Architectural Review/Conservation Committee Member, expressed appreciation for the website improvements and invited volunteers to join in his committee work which advises residents about Landmarks and Inspectional Services help for homeowners in the St. Botolph neighborhood. He noted that ours is one of only 6 historical neighborhoods in the city and, as such, needs to comply with architectural regulations. Landmarks is the first stop in getting project advice, and Lee encouraged members to use their services.   Lee requested additional volunteers for his group and received one offer of assistance from Tara xxx.

Jean Ashland, Safety Chair, said that there is usually 2-3 crime watch meetings a year which are well attended as this is an area of concern in the neighborhood. The Boston Police cooperate in these meetings to provide updates. Communication with Claremont Neighborhood Association is also helpful for area information.

Neighborhood Development Update
Keith Beardsley, Heath Properties provided an update on the progress of the
99  St. Botolph St. Property:
The owners have finally received the building permit from the City of Boston and are in the process of interviewing contractors.  They hope to have the bidding process completed by the end of the year and have financing in place to begin work shortly after the first of the year.  They are VERY eager to begin work and look forward to working with the neighborhood.  It will be a small, 15-room boutique hotel owned and managed by experienced people. There will not be public access, however, and the dining facilities are for hotel guests only.

Special Speaker
Elizabeth Leary, from the Boston Inspectional Services Depart, 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, introduced her self, passed out pamphlets and city services fridge magnets, and reviewed the permitting process for small residential projects. She advised owners to obtain permits with the help of Landmarks and a qualified contractor as the process can be complicated due to the need to preserve our historical district. When Landmarks has reviewed the project, advice can be obtained by visiting her offices or going to their website: cityofboston.gov/ISD.   She suggested the following procedure:
•   For any exterior work, applicant should review the project with Landmarks and obtain their approval if necessary.  Landmarks will request input from SBNA Architectural Committee if warranted.  If the work is minor, it may just require administrative review.  If it is major or controversial, it may require a more lengthy and official response that includes hearings and neighborhood review.  It was stressed the importance of receiving/reviewing all exterior changes with Landmarks prior to starting work.  While some areas are not an issue (i.e.  areas not visible from public areas), they will make this judgment and it will expedite your permitting process. 
•   Take this approval to apply for either the short (minor renovation, no structural work, no changes in occupancy) or the long form (major work.)  Permits are available on line or in person at the 5th floor 1010 Mass Ave.   Short forms can be processed immediately.  Long forms may take 6 to 8 weeks.
•   ISD will submit the long form to zoning for approval as well as other reviewers.   If all in order, then the permit will be issued.  If there are problems, then the permit is rejected and applicant will receive a notice outlining the issues and how to appeal to the Zoning Board.  This can be a very lengthy process taking up to six months due to required neighborhood input. 

Special Guest
William Onuoha, our new liaison from the Mayor’s Office, introduced himself and invited members to a new home owners reception on October 3 and 903 Boylston Street, 7-8:30 p.m. Interested persons should call 617-635-4290 to say they will be attending. Will said he is the “go-to person” for our neighborhood at the Mayors office and will attend to street cleaning, towing and other issues of concern. Neighbors are reminded that street cleaning and towing are in effect April 15-November 30. He also mentioned the enforcement of fire escape inspections and fines for not hiring a private inspector to represent small buildings. Where fire escapes are shared, it is possible to share inspection services. His office can suggest the names of inspectors. Two members observed that the cross walks on Huntington Avenue have lights that are not well synched; Will said he would look into it. His direct number is 617-635-2679

Future Meetings
Chris closed the meeting by reminding people that the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 8th at 7:30 at the Bailis Center Conference Room. The topic will be ground water issues.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 sharp!

St. Botolph Neighborhood Association
Neighborhood Party

June 22, 2006
Cumberland St., 7-9 p.m.

About 80 neighbors attended the neighborhood summer "block party" this year, thanks to a social committee consisting of Board Members and volunteers who met in May to develop flyer graphics, car notices, an e-vite, a catering menu, entertainment, decorations and city permits to make this all possible. Pulled pork and chicken delivered by Redbones, buffet set up, beverages and cookies from The Hilton and additional sides and desserts on a pot luck basis made this a festive cooperative evening! Dick Kaplan's quartet from the North Shore provided lovely easy listening in the background, and festive balloons and table cloths finished the evening. Admission was $10 pp to cover catered food tables & chairs and the music. The next neighborhood party will be at holiday time, date and location to be determined. Anyone wishing to get involved should contact the Membership Chair. These two seasonal parties are important in maintaining neighborly spirit: get involved!

St. Botolph Neighborhood Association
Annual Meeting Minutes
April 20, 2006

The Annual meeting was held at the Ballis Assisted Living Center Meeting Room at 7:30 p.m.
A group of about 20 members met to elect new officers as follows:

President: Vacant
Vice President: Christian Coffin
Treasurer: Gary Dwyer
Clerk: Helen Powell

The membership thanked retired President Nancy Restuccia for 10 year’s service as President.  Nancy offered to ”mentor” succeeding officers during the time of transition.

The next meeting of the SBNA Board will be held at Helen Powell’s Saturday May 6th to discuss the summer block Party.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Helen Powell,
Clerk