November 2020 Meeting Minutes

Hello Members and Friends of Egleston Square Neighborhood Association,

Here are notes from our October and November meetings and other updates:

  • Boston Healthcare for the Homeless – new clinic at 1785 Columbus
  • Urban Edge – Urban Edge Strategic Plan with Adina Astor
  • Robert Lawson Park Friends Group Receives Crime Watch Group of the Year Award
  • Egleston Square Redesign – Boston Transportation Dept.
  • Egleston Square Branch Library Renovation/Rebuild
  • Proposal for Marijuana Store
  • Housing Committee – 3305 Washington St.
  • Other Updates

New clinic proposal by Boston Health Care for Homeless

Barry Bock and Georgia Thomas, from Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), attended our October meeting to talk about their plans for a clinic at 1785 Columbus Ave., and to seek ESNA’s support.  For 35 years, BHCHP’s mission has been to provide health care for homeless individuals and families.  Its main location is in the South End; it also operates at sites across the City and has a large street presence.  BHCHP would like to operate a small clinic in the same building as Horizons for Homeless Children.  The clinic will serve the families of the 200-250 children attending Horizons, and will provide a place for their families to come even after families are no longer homeless.  The clinic will be about 2600 sq. ft., and will include five exam/therapy rooms, a small waiting room, and some shared space.  BHCHP requires a zoning variance to open a clinic at this location.  ESNA agreed to support the clinic, and issued a letter of support regarding the zoning variance.

Urban Edge Strategic Plan

Adina Astor, consultant to Urban Edge, attended our October meeting.  She told us Urban Edge began a planning process this past summer, and was reaching out to various community groups to get input.  She led a discussion on these 3 questions:

  • What do you like most about this neighborhood?
  • What are the top issues the neighborhood is facing? What would it take to address these issues?
  • What issues are you and people you know facing right now? With COVID and the slowdown in the economy, what will be the most important challenges or needs over the next 6-12 months?

Some of the things we discussed included:

– Need for families, especially intergenerational families, to develop financial and computer literacy

– How we can preserve ‘naturally affordable housing’ in the 1-6 family houses; we see individual homeowners selling properties that then get converted to higher density, much more expensive rental or condo housing

– Following up on the goals and ideas of the Egleston Public Health and Safety Summit

– Continuing the discussion about systemic racism raised in the “Call It Out” series

– Importance of open space, especially with Covid

– Need for affordable commercial space

– Need to replace trees lost to development

Robert Lawson Park Friends Group Receives Crime Watch Group of the Year Award

On October 9, Magda Drici and the Robert Lawson Park Friends Group received awards as Boston Police Department E-13 Crime Watch Group of the Year.   Accepting the awards were  Magda Drici and Erika Lawson.  The new head of E-13, Captain Gaughan, presented the awards.

Here are some of the words from the award ceremony: 

“For 3 years, Ms. Drici has led a wide variety of volunteer efforts to improve the quality of life for her neighbors in greater Egleston Square….This beautiful park and garden are today a welcome improvement to this busy commercial district, and never would have happened without Magda Drici…..The improvements to Lawson Park have made the area more visible, attractive, and positive for everyone involved.”

“The Robert Lawson Park Friends Group has served the residents and businesses of Egleston Square for almost three years….Their efforts began in 2017 with calls to beautify and improve the neglected lot at the intersection of Washington St., Atherton St., and Columbus Ave….The Friends Group began a determined effort to transform this lot into a permanent Boston park and …has helped lead the  way to a better quality of life for all of their neighbors.”

Congratulations, Magda and the Robert Lawson Park Friends Group!

Egleston Square Redesign

In October and November, Boston Transportation Department, with their partner Kittleson Associates, held several neighborhood meetings regarding safety improvements in the Egleston Square area (see map below).  Their meetings highlighted data from the target area on pedestrian use, street crossing counts, bicycle counts, and crashes. 

Improvements that will come out of the Redesign will focus on:

  • Pedestrian crossings
  • Bike facilities
  • Traffic calming
  • ADA (handicap) compliance
  • Enhanced wayfinding & signage
  • Signal timing
  • Bus priority

The meeting video and meeting presentation is online at

Egleston Square Redesign area

Egleston Square Branch Library Renovation/Rebuild

On October 29, the Boston Public Library and the City of Boston held a public meeting to talk about plans to renovate and add housing to the Egleston Square Branch Library.  Project Manager Maureen Anderson from the Boston Public Facilities Department led the discussion.  Library renovation has 3 phases: a programming study, design, and construction.  The programming study will evaluate the existing building, consider the library needs, and explore combining housing with the library.

The idea for mixing housing with the library came from Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab.  Taylor Cain, Lab Director, will attend ESNA’s December meeting to discuss this project.

See project website

See Richard Heath’s article in the 11/12/20 Boston Bulletin for additional info

Proposal for Marijuana Store

The owners of Kush Groove in Mission Hill, Michael Pires and Marcus Johnson, are applying for a zoning variance to operate an adult retail cannabis shop at 1589 Columbus Ave, at the corner of Amory St. and Columbus Ave.

To learn more about the licensing process for marijuana shops, we invited two members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) to attend our November meeting – Kevin Rainsford and Michael Reiskind.  Both Kevin and Michael have closely followed the cannabis store permitting process in Jamaica Plain, as two other groups are seeking permission to sell retail marijuana in Jamaica Plain – one at Forest Hills and one in Hyde Square.

Kevin and Michael told us that the City’s Inspectional Services Department and the Boston Cannabis Board each have to give approval, and that both of these approval processes run at the same time.  In general, the steps are:  Cannabis Board votes, a host agreement is prepared, then the Zoning Board of Appeals votes.  Cannabis shops are subject to State as well as City approvals, similar to that required for liquor sales, but are more onerous.  The State requires a host agreement between the City and the shop.  There are rules about the distance shops must be from each other; there are definitions of minority ownership and preferences. We were told the community process is not quite defined, that it is open, and that we can have input into how it should proceed. 

Lindsey Santana, the Jamaica Plain liaison from Boston’s Office of Neighborhood Services, said she will be asking the owners to talk with community groups in Jamaica Plain and in Roxbury.

On November 17, there was an abutters’ meeting with the owners.  For information, see Richard Heath’s article in the 11/26/20 Boston Bulletin at

Since that meeting, one of the owners, Mike Pires, has reached out to schedule a meeting with ESNA.  We look forward to scheduling a meeting in December.

Housing Committee

The Housing Committee sent a letter of support for the revised development plan for 3305 Washington St. (corner of Ophir and Washington St.) to the JPNC Zoning Committee.  The architect will share on-going development of the project design with the Housing Committee.

The Housing Committee also began a discussion of construction mitigation with Ocean Luo, the Jamaica Plain planner for the Boston Planning and Development Agency.  With so much new construction in the area, currently and planned for the near future, it’s important to establish ways that help reduce the impact of parking, noise, drilling, rodent control, and street closures on neighbors.  The Committee sent Mr. Luo a letter outlining some suggestions.

Other Updates

COGDesign is preparing draft plans for Dixwell and Lawson Parks, based on survey feedback.  We should be seeing those plans soon.

Lawson Park Friends Group and ESNA began a GoFundMe for wrapping four trees in Lawson Park with holiday lighting.  We have reached our goal for this ambitious project, thanks to generous contributions from many community members.  The lights are on, they look beautiful, and they will remain on to brighten our dark winter nights until the end of February.  Come and take a look!

Do you live near the small pocket park at the intersection of Amory St. and Dimock St.?  There is some funding available to bring some improvements to that site.  If you are interested in learning more about these efforts and have an interest in helping redesign this park, please contact

Next ESNA monthly meeting – online 12/7, 6:30 pm

Zoom link
or by phone 1-646-558-8656 
Meeting ID:  871 7830 1539 
Password: 139842