Hello Members and Friends of Egleston Square Neighborhood Association,
Here are notes from our December and January meetings and other updates:
- Police Report
- Taylor Cain, Boston Housing Innovation Lab – discussing Egleston Library Study
- Community Choice Electricity – It’s a good thing! Discussion with Terry Mason from Boston Climate Action Network
- KG Collective Retail Marijuana Proposal at 1589 Columbus Ave
- Glines Ave. vacant lots for possible community garden
- Other Updates
Officer Jones reviewed the recent crime statistics for. One statistic we discussed was the drop in the number of arrests across the city over the past year. Officer Jones suggested this was partly due to Covid, partly because the Courts have been closed, and also because the police are moving away from arresting for addiction-related behavior, and instead linking people to services. He noted a recent pattern in Jamaica Plain of theft of parts from Prius cars, and urged Prius owners to be alert. There has also been a recent pattern of fraud related to Social Security scams; people should be alert.
Marie from Union Ave gave a shout out to E-13 officers for their quick action during the recent, tragic, early-morning fire on that street in which one person died. Officers noticed the fire, called in the Fire Dept., and rousted neighbors from their homes. As a result, the fire was contained and more tragedy was prevented. Thank you, E-13 officers.
Taylor Cain, Boston Housing Innovation Lab – discussing Egleston Library Study
Taylor Cain, Director of Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab, gave an overview of Housing with Public Assets, the idea behind adding housing to the Egleston Square Branch Library.
The Innovation Lab’s mission is to “create space to imagine and test ideas that promote inclusive, resilient, and life affirming residential environments in the city of Boston.” One idea the Lab has been working on is Housing on Public Assets: adding housing to City-owned facilities like libraries, fire stations, and community centers. The Lab looked at projects in other cities, ran surveys, and developed guidelines to target potential locations. A target location is a place where affordable housing is near good transit access, where the project fits the neighborhood vision, and where the lot size is big enough to allow the project to be financially feasible.
The Egleston Square Branch Library is being considered for Housing on Public Assets. The library needs to be renovated, and the Boston Public Library has begun a Study to plan for the renovation and explore how affordable housing could be added.
Some comments from ESNA members included requests to preserve the gardens on the site, to include an early childhood focus in library stock and services, and to limit parking so as not to lose any of the Library’s green space.
The next public meeting for the Library renovation is Wednesday, 1/20, 6:30 pm. (see upcoming events below)
Community Choice Electricity – It’s a good thing! Discussion with Terry Mason
Terry Mason is a neighbor and member of Boston Climate Action Network; she is an enthusiastic supporter of Boston’s Community Choice Electricity and gave us an overview of this new program. Community Choice Electricity allows the City to purchase electricity in bulk from renewable sources at a price close to what we pay now; this supports the trend away from carbon-based fuels to renewable sources. From the customer’s perspective, everything looks the same – electricity will be provided by Eversource and customer bills will look the same. The difference is that Eversource will be getting about 1/3 of its electricity from renewable sources for Boston customers.
The cost of electricity is as close as possible to what Eversource regularly charges – the aim is to make purchasing renewable energy accessible to all income levels. People are automatically enrolled in the program – no action needs to be taken unless you want to opt out, or unless you want to buy 100% of your electricity from renewable sources for a cost that is a bit higher.
For more info:
Retail Marijuana Proposal
On 12/10/20, ESNA held a well-attended online meeting with Michael Pires and Marcus Johnson of the KG Collective. Some points that came up at the meeting:
– KG operates two accessories/apparel/smoke shops, called Kush Groove Shop, that do not sell cannabis; the shop in Mission Hill has been open for 5 years, the shop in Central Square, Cambridge opened over the past year.
– KG is applying for licenses to sell marijuana in Brockton and Cambridge, as well as in Egleston.
– The security on site will include 2 security guards, 24-hr. indoor/outdoor surveillance, and secure storage of product. No youth are allowed to enter; all who enter must be over 21 years of age, and provide identification.
– Queuing outside the building is reduced because there is space to wait inside; KG will have an accessories shop inside where people can wait. They also expect that customers will pre-order for pickup, which will reduce wait times. The State is also expected to approve home delivery soon.
– Parking is not yet settled. There are a few spots on the side of the building, and very limited on-street parking. KG is exploring the possibility of renting parking at nearby businesses, and of using a designated commercial loading zone in front of a nearby business.
– KG will give the building a complete facelift; windows will be replaced and frosted or covered with art; they will make the entrance handicapped accessible
– Signage will be discreet
– KG has experience with hiring a diverse staff. They plan to hire locally.
– Some people welcome the idea of a marijuana business, some people feel it would exacerbate the addiction problems so familiar to residents of the Egleston area.
At our January meeting, we talked about next steps so that ESNA can decide whether to approve or oppose or choose some other opinion. Here is a summary of some of the issues/questions raised by neighbors:
– impact on current addiction-related issues in the Square
– what does the host agreement cover
– impact on nearby Horizons for Homeless daycare
– logistics of traffic and parking
– will this business be a good neighbor
– how the social, medical, and housing agencies in the neighborhood feel this will affect their programs
We hope to schedule a follow-up community conversation with KG Collective soon.
Glines Ave vacant lots
Tony raised the issue of the two long-vacant, city-owned lots on Glines Ave. at School St. He is interested in seeing this become a community garden, and will be looking into Boston’s Grassroots Program, which helps neighbors develop a community garden. Thanks to Rachel Nagin of Councilor Essaibi-George’s office for pointing us towards the Grassroots Program. If you are interested in participating, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Gray, candidate for At-Large Boston City Councilor, introduced himself at our December meeting.
Lawson Park Friends Group held a Hot Cocoa and Cookie pop-up on 12/19 to celebrate the holiday lights installed at the Park this winter, thanks to community donations. Refreshments were donated by Ula’s Café.
COGDesign has prepared a several design ideas for Dixwell and Lawson Parks, and will be scheduling community review soon.
ESNA monthly meeting – online, first Monday of the month, 6:30 pm. See ESNA Facebook page for the link
Egleston Square Branch Library Study – Public Meeting #2, online Wednesday, January 20, 6:30 pm. https://www.bpl.org/egleston-square-project/
Plan JP/Rox Update and Conversation with Boston Planning & Development Agency – online Thursday, January 21, 6:00 pm. For link see Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council website http://www.jpnc.org/
ESNA Housing Committee – Proposal for 176 School St., online Monday, January 11, 6:30 pm. See ESNA Facebook page for the link