St. Botolph Neighborhood Association

Neighborhood Meeting Minutes

March 18, 2009, 7:15 p.m.
Susan Bailis Center

President Dan Munson opened the meeting by introducing Community Relations Officer,
Sargent Kevin Powers, from District 4, Boston Police Department.

Sargent Powers explained the role of his Community Service Office: to follow-up prolonged situations, monitor quality of life,  record gang violence patterns, help residents to navigate the system.  He reports that crime prevention in the city has been going “fairly well,” though it is hard to say what will happen in the warmer weather, further into the recession and unemployment.  At times like this, there can be an increase in drug related activities, too.

Helen Powell said she would post Street Safe Guidelines on the SBNA website, and Sargent Powers said that there will be a 1.5 hour Street Wise Course held at the Boston Public Library April 29th at 6:00 in the McKim Building, Orientation Room.  All are welcome to attend.

There was discussion about preventive programs for teens, and the role of youth services.    District 4 has weekly Community Stat. meetings to discuss trends and solutions and stay on top of the small percentage of people who commit the majority of crimes.

Breaking and entering is the biggest problem in our area: homes and cars.  He reminded residents to secure windows, including lose air conditioners, fire escapes and front doors.  He said to report ANY suspicious activity.  Keep personal car items out of sight.  Picking up litter, maintaining buildings, yards and sidewalks, and removing graffiti promptly will help keep the neighborhood look cared for and lived in.  Noisy parties near schools can be reported by calling 911.

President Dan Munson thanked Sargent Powers and made a few remarks regarding the work of the current SBNA board and the energizing effect of the 116 Huntington Project several years ago, raising interest in the neighborhood by old and new residents. 

Sonia Chang-Diaz, our newly elected State Representative,was the second, featured speaker this evening.  She handed out a current report of committee work and legislation she has filed, such as transportation reform, budget limitations, foreclosure crisis, court reform, tourism, elder affairs, etc.  There was discussion about the SWCPark and how, due to neglect by her predecessor, funding for basics has shrunk, so that 2008 is not a fair baseline of expenditure and services, and that 2007 is more realistic baseline for what the neighborhood needs.   She said she would look into basics such as lighting.

There was also discussion about raising the activity and entrepreneurial energy of Columbus Avenue, further preventing crime with increased street life.  Also discussion about government salaries, the visibility of a few ineffective state employees vs. the work ethic of the majority of state employees.

There was a lively discussion, a good exchange between Sonia and the residents, including park volunteer thanks and encouragement, and a reminder that the Spring Clean up is April 24th, with a rain date of the 25th,  Representative Diaz encouraged input to her website, soniachangdiaz.com.  The meeting adjourned at 9:15.

Respectfully Submitted,
Helen Powell, Clerk

 

Neighborhood Meeting Minutes

January 28, 2009, 7:15 p.m.
Susan Bailis Center

About 16 people attended this snowy, wintery, wet-weather evening meeting, despite winter storm warnings,  A second e-blast was sent just before the meeting to alert people that the meeting was still on.  The meeting was held in the general lounge area, not the meeting room, so that chairs had to be set up as people arrived.  The meeting room is no longer available, only the lounge.

President Dan Munson introduced the Guest Speaker, Emily Wolf, Preservation Planner and representative from the Landmarks District Commission
She mentioned key historical points in the Commission, whose formation in 1982 marked recognition of the importance of preserving and protecting the exterior façade—“whatever is visible from a public way”—of the 12 block Botolph area containing 216 properties.  Because of the variety of 1881-1902 late Victorian and other-style buildings, the Commission works with resident representatives to the Commission in helping maintain the value of this architecturally complex district.

The Commission sets aside the 3rd Tuesday, 4 p.m., of each month for possible live, scheduled reviews of permit applications from our district.  There are two basic types of approvals:
• Administrative Approval, which is simple and relatively quick, and…
• Full Landmarks Review for more complicated applications involving changes or modifications.
Landmarks approval is necessary in order to get any building permit in our district.

Residents are encouraged to call Landmarks with any simple questions, before costly planning, to see if their basic concept is valid.  Should an application be incomplete or need additional explanation, it might be “denied without prejudice,” and invited to reapply.

Former Landmarks representatives Duane LeFevre and Lee Steele both observed how helpful Landmarks can be in providing resource ideas, such as, how to find ironmongers, research windows, etc.  It is important to remember that, while we want our historic and “significant” district to remain true to its heritage, architecture is a living and evolving art, and modern materials and touches are occasionally valid on historic buildings.  The St. Botolph Inn is a case in point.

Several residents inquired about the somewhat grey area of what is “visible from a public way” when referring to the current Corridor, which was not really, originally, a public way.  It appears that it is now considered a public way, and Landmarks monitors architectural activities facing the corridor as if it is a street in our neighborhood.  Those attending asked Ms. Wolf for clarification, which she said she would provide.

There was also discussion of enforcement.  What if a project starts without a building permit, or in clear violation of such a permit, or in clear violation of building codes?  Ms. Wolf said they do not have the staff to monitor the many neighborhoods and suggested the St. Botolph area be self monitoring and call or contact her office with any concerns: 617-635-2519, emily.wolf@cityofboston.gov.

At the close of the meeting, Lee Steele reported that, due to the economic slow down, some projects like the Neiman Marcus tower at Copley, might stall, or others, like the extensive Christian Science reflecting pool area, might be transformed, totally changed from its original purpose.

President Dan Munson closed the meeting by adding that it is his goal to get much of this kind of information on the website so we can all share information about our neighborhood.

The meeting adjourned at 9 pm.

Respectfully Submitted,
Helen Powell, Clerk