Upham's Corner Online

Sleep Walking our Way through Upham's Corner

Posted: January 5, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Broken curb on Columbia Rd

"Sleep walking" is a perfect way to describe
what often happens here in Upham's Corner.

At the end of the walk, we go "back to sleep" and

in the morning, we remember nothing.

Who is keeping track?

Since August 2010, there have been multiple infrastructure reports and neighborhood walk-throughs in Upham's Corner and many before even that.  In 2011 alone there were four neighborhood walks.

  • Some progress has been made as a result of the June SNI walk. 
  • Several issues highlighted in UC News have been resolved.
But the neighborhood still looks pretty much the same.  The December 22 SNI walk-through generated a list of the "same old same old" as if nothing ever changes.
The problem is this:  If no one (including UC News) is assigned or takes the time to follow up on the issues identified, then it was almost a complete waste of time.

What worked in the June SNI walk?  Both the Police and ISD (Latifa Ziyad) took special interest in helping out with problems identified.  Latifa attended several SNI meetings and the BPD always attend.  What could be taken care of quickly was.  What was left behind were the problems that needed a "manager," someone to follow up on a regular basis.  That's what is missing in Upham's Corner.

Photo shows broken curb along Columbia Rd -
Same as identified in the 2/16/11 Neighborhood Services walk-through - no change.

There are a couple "improvement groups" operating close by that we might emulate or "walk" off with an idea or two: 
  • the city sponsored NRT or Neighborhood Response Team and
  • the Upham's Corner Improvement Association. 
Neighborhood Response Teams
Upham's Corner Improvment Association (UCIA)

Project Pride HouseUCIA is a small group of residents who identify issues (generally related to cleanliness) and take action.  Thus far, they have cleaned out tree pits on Dudley Street, cleaned up debris and trash in front of the old convent on Bird Street and arranged to have an empty city-owned lot on Davern Ave cleaned out. 

They are moving towards a "Pledge of Cleanliness" concept.  Awareness is important.  Establishing relationships with residents and businesses.  Getting everyone on the same page to support a "clean Upham's Corner." 

Promises May Mean Nothing

Promises or commitments are just that.  Someone has to monitor to make sure the promises are being kept.  Otherwise, improvements are ephemeral and superficial and the shine will dull back to what it was before.

Photo shows Project Pride house on Humphreys Street identified in the 6/21/11 SNI neighborhood walk.  Nothing has changed. 

The bottom line is this:  Talk is cheap.  The only way to make a difference is to take action - judicious action.

Taking action by yourself can be frustrating  If you don't know how to "navigate" City of Boston resources, then accomplishing your goal could take a lot of time.  If you are patient and willing to learn, then eventually you will get good at identifying who / what is the best way to approach solving a particular problem.

The Neighborhood Response Team approach works because all the necessary parties come to the table at the same time: 
  • Elected officials
  • Transportation
  • Inspection
  • Police
  • Public Works
  • Neighborhood Services
The UCIA approach works because it emphasizes volunteers doing the work rather than "pushing" the task off to someone else.

In both cases, "tracking" problems is paramount.  Both the Grove Hall and Dudley Square NRT's have individuals whose job assignments include problem tracking. 

No matter how committed or energetic or motivated the people, at the end of the day, all volunteers go to sleep and probably do not continue their efforts during the night by sleepwalking through Upham's Corner.  In the morning when the new day dawns, today's new issues take precedence and push yesterday's off the desk and under the rug unless, of course, your job is to track them. 

So we can have all the walks and meetings we want.  No progress will be made unless someone is identified to follow up:
  1. What are the issues?
  2. Who has agreed to work on resolving the issue?
  3. What is the due date?
  4. When is our next "day of action"?
Following is a list of documents available through Upham's Corner News regarding Upham's Corner neighborhood issues. 
  • Prb - Problem identification
  • Wlk - Neighborhood walk-through
  • Prm - Promise to take action
  • Act - Action taken
Each item is linked back to its article in UC News.

Prb Wlk Prm


Grove Hall NRT meeting


SNI Neighborhood Walk
(details below)



Igreja Universal to add Security Fence


Paraiso Restaurant Pledges to Support the Community

Pedestrian Safety in Upham's Corner


UCIA Sponsors Business District Cleanup


Rep. Henriquez holds MBTA Walk-Through in North Dorchester
(details below)



SNI Neighborhood Walk
(details below)


St. Mary's Digs in & Repairs Collapsing Wall

Pigeon Droppings at Madrag's - Update:  They're Gone

Pigeon Droppings at Madrags


Letter to Paul Roiff February 28, 2011 #2



Neighborhood Services Walk-through
(details below)


Letter to Paul Roiff January 28, 2011


Capt Davin describing the Dudley Square NRT and its effectiveness

SNI Meeting encouraging attendance instead of action


Snow removal issues


Strand Theatre Sidewalk Repair 11/29/10 to 12/2/10

Trip Hazard Repair at Cushing Ave and Columbia Road

This repair has already started falling apart.

Business owner helps clean up the alleys

The newest Igreja Universal pastor seems to be taking better care of the church alley

"T" rider caught using the alley to urinate in public

10/5/2010 v/

Hotspots blighting the Business Community

Neighborhood Services Walk-Through

Flavio Daveiga along with representatives from Public Works, Main Street and Upham's Corner News focused on the business district infrastructure condition.

The group began with talking about the conditions and the past.
  • The 2007 Public Infrastructure Deficit Report created by Upham's Corner Main Street and submitted to the City of Boston.  Nothing was ever done because of city budget restrictions
  • Main Street had really nice signs designed for Upham's Corner, but they were never installed
  • The group discussed how "unfriendly" the streetscape is that characterizes Upham's Corner (aka "ugly")
After touring some of the Upham's Corner Business District, the group agreed to convene again in 3-4 weeks.  Tim McCarthy committed to following up on Public Works issues after the snow melts.  Since many of the issues identified belong to Inspectional Services, they will be invited to the next walk through. 

Note:The 3-4 weeks came and went and no subsequent walk through was ever held.

SNI - Neighborhood Walk-Through

Starting out at The City School, approximately 30 people including police officers, inspectional services, elected officials and
neighborhood residents participated in the SNI sponsored neighborhood walk.

Types of issues identified:
  • abandoned and decrepit housing
  • housing in need of repair violating building code
  • property storing excess trash
  • property overgrown with weeds
  • at least four sets of group garages with a history of problems
  • graffiti on buildings
  • streets in need of sweeping with trash along the curbs
  • notorious problem properties with a history of police activity
Since the walk, some progress has been made but not much. 
  • The problem "drug" house on Groom Street is still occupied though many tenants have been moved out 
  • Overgrown weeds are gone, many because they died
  • Humphreys and Hillsboro Streets still need repaving
  • The Project Pride house is still in the same decrepit condition
  • Some properties with accumulated trash are in better condition
Rep. Henriquez holds MBTA Walk-Through in North Dorchester

Rep. Henriquez sponsored an MBTA Walk-Through in North Dorchester. Their goals were to discuss transit related issues raised by constituents and engage in a visioning process focused on the changing neighborhood conditions along Dudley St and Quincy St. 

The walk generated an extensive list of issues associated with MBTA property including inadequate lighting and blindspots, overgrown weeds, a bridge needing maintenance and painting, new street furniture never located in Upham's Corner, unsafe chain-link gates and more.

NOTHING ever came out of this walk-through.

At one point, Danielson Tavares, aide to Rep. Henriquez, said they were on top of the "list" and working with the "T" to get the problems taken care of.  However, recently, he said there were so many personnel changes at the "T" that follow-through was difficult. 

Upham's Corner SNI Neighborhood Walk Through 12/22/2011

The Uphams Corner SNI led neighborhood walk on 12/22/2011 began at The City School a little after one o'clock and the showing was impressive – SNI, DSNI, Main Street, BPD, Upham's Corner News, businesses and a dozen or so area residents. Missing were city organizations that typically attend such events - ISD, BTD and Neighborhood Services. The route consisted of the business district and the streets that had been covered on the June SNI walk (Humphreys, Groom, Eastman, Wendover, Belden).

At the June 28 SNI meeting, the group agreed to hold walks quarterly and focus on different neighborhoods within Upham's Corner each time.  That schedule seems to have slipped to once every six months.

What came out of the walk were many of the same issues that have come out of all such walks over the last few years – a story of neglect by the City and by residents alike.
  • Street cleaning - why is scheduled street cleaning in effect in some areas but not in others?
  • Loose bricks - the dangers of loose bricks - one had been thrown through the window of the Laundromat on Columbia Rd
  • Sidewalk repairs - one person wanted the brick sidewalks replaced with concrete;  another wanted the bricks retained and repaired
  • Graffiti - at the back of the alley belonging to Igreja Universal (has been there for years)
  • Drugs – one resident pointed out two houses where he believes drug dealing is active (no proof)
  • Trash – along Virginia Street at the back of L&M Bargain – business owner does not take care of his property
  • Abandoned cars - one resident pointed to an area that he says is a frequent site for abandoned cars (no proof)
  • Streets in need of repair

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