Upham's Corner Online

Uphams Corner Improvement Association Reviews First Year

UCIA logoThe September 2012 of the Uphams Corner Improvement Association was held at 6:30pm on September 27 at the Dorchester Bay building, 594Columbia Rd. 

They began by reviewing their first year - actions taken, what they have accomplished and progress made towards effecting change in the community. They agreed that giving out Beautification awards is one of the most important activities they have undertaken because of how excited the recipients seem when they receive the awards.

They also discussed the balance between positive reinforcement to promote positive change vs those elements of the community who need "to go to jail."  In particular, they reviewed the attitudes of some business owners who do nothing to help keep the sidewalk and outside of their building clean and presentable.  Should they publicize the difficulties, identifying some of the business owners?  Would that make the situation better or worse?

UCIA will continue to work with Uphams Corner News as a vehicle to publicize their efforts and to get the name of the group out there.

Much of the meeting was spent getting up-to-date on the Fairmount Initiative. Based on the ensuing conversation, UCIA decided they will be writing a letter to the BRA to express their opinions and concerns about a variety of Fairmount related topics.

A new motto was designed for the group (see above).

Following is a summary of the meeting.  Full details are included in the UCIA Detail Meeting Report

Overview of the Improvement Association
Over the last year since the group was announced in UC News, they have been maintaining a steady course - meeting, taking action, publicizing actions and putting a name (Uphams Corner Improvement Association) on what they are doing.

UCIA has initiated cleanups, participated in the 2011 DAC Open Studios, organized a holiday party, written a major report on St. Kevins for DHCD, issued awards to deserving members of the community and more.  Privately members have been cleaning and working on quality of life - noise on Monadnock and Viriginia Street, weeds in the business district, group home behaviour, community garden cleanliness (Virginia Monadnock Garden) and more.

One of the most important UCIA activities is to praise and to support - residents, businesses and other organizations. UCIA has created aesthetically beautiful awards, unique to each property, documenting what residents and other groups have done to beautify the neighborhood.  And they have given out beautification awards to the community. People are excited to receive the awards.

UCIA discussed the attitudes of some businesses who never clean the front of their property (sidewalks, weeds, trash) and will work with UC News to produce an article detailing their poor attitude.

Outstanding projects include the comfort station, St. Kevin’s,  black baseball, involvement with the Fairmount Initiative, working with Main Street and followup on the Emerald Necklace.  In addition each member has taken on other projects in the spirit of the Improvement Association that are not "official UCIA" projects.

General Topics
The group was brought up-to-date on the Boston Foundation Arts grant awarded to Uphams Corner, the Holiday Party being planned,  and Open Studios  the weekend of October 20.
UC News

UC News recently started a Community Voice initiative inviting anyone in the greater Uphams Corner area to contribute an article about "anything" that would be of interest to the community.  Thus far, two organizations have responded.

One of the UCIA members shared with the group that she used to design greeting cards.  They were so successful that Hallmark approached her for the rights to use her design.  UC News has long wanted to have a "sales" function on their website.  So these two groups are looking into the possibility of selling her cards via the Uphams Corner News website.
Fairmount WAG Meetings
An Improvement Association member who has attended most of the public Fairmount meetings gave a presentation about the Fairmount Initiative at the behest of the BRA.  They are asking that anyone attending the Fairmount meetings should reach out to the community and spread the word as to what is taking place there.  This applies to both the corridor wide meetings (CAG) and the local meetings in Uphams Corner (WAG).

Here is how the WAG meetings work. Advisory Boad members  are seated at a center table. While the presentation is given to the entire room  - to all meeting attendees - the only people allowed to ask questions until the very end of the meeting are the advisors.  The public can attend the meeting as observers and ask one question at the end. However, anyone can send the BRA co-chairs and the consultants e-mails providing comments, questions, recommendations, identifying issues - anything you would like to say about the meeting or the initiative in general.  The BRA will be incorporating these public comments into the project documentation.

Fairmount topics discussed in detail include: 

The Improvement Association agreed they would put toegether a letter to the BRA providing feedback.
Fairmount Info
Fairmount / Indigo website (BRA)
BRA Co-chair

Ines Palmarin, Co-Director
BRA Co-chair

Jeremy Rosenberger, Co-Director

Uphams Corner Infrastructure
Para Jayasinghe, P.E. Boston Department of Public Works attended both the August and September WAG meetings.  In August he announed that the City of Boston has allocated $3 million for infrastructure improvements for Uphams Corner as part of the Fairmount initiative.  The money is designed to improve the streetscape in Uphams Corner. 

UCIA had already started identifying infrastructure improvements needed in Uphams Corner.  They now have the option of completing this work, writing a report and turning it in to Public Works.  Whether this is done will depend on how much time UCIA members have to devote to this. 

Fairmount Issues
Meeting Attendance

There have been two WAG meetings, the last on September 26, 2012.  Of the 15 appointed members, two (2) have yet to attend a single meeting - Williams Funeral Home and Uphams Corner Pizza - and did not send a replacement.

According to Jeremy Rosenberger, co-chair of the Fairmount Initiative, people not showing up for volunteer group meetings like the WAG is always a problem. He noted that both absentee WAG members are representatives of the Uphams Corner business community.  "How do you find a business to replace them?" 

The Fairmount Initiative is very important to Uphams Corner with the potential of a lot of money being spent here on improvements.  Two WAG members not showing up means the advisory capacity of the group has dropped from 15 members to 13 members - actually less since some level of normal absenteeism occurs. While the consultants do most of the work, the WAG's responsibilities include advising the consultants and the BRA on their work.

UCIA feels strongly that people handpicked by Mayor Menino to be on the WAG should demonstrate commitment to Uphams Corner by attending meetings.  The longer it takes to address the issue of WAG members not participating in the community process, the more difficult it will be for new advisory group members to join the WAG effectively because it will take time to bring them up to speed. UCIA will write a letter stating their position.

How to Spell Uphams Corner

The consultant, Steve Cecil from the Cecil Group, stated they had made a decision on how to spell "Uphams Corner"  - that the apostrophe needed to be included because (after all), the neighborhood was named for Mr. Upham who had a corner store there.  Other considerations were not taken into account such as web search issues and the fact that the Boston Public Library has official decided to exclude the apostrophe.  The group agreed that this additional information could be included in the letter to the BRA.

Youth Representation

Based on comments by Andrea Kaiser, UCIA has agreed that the lack of youth representation on both the CAG and the WAG was appropriate to address in the letter to the BRA.

Posted: October 4, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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