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Uphams Corner - News Capsules 10/26/12


Uphams Corner - News Capsules
Sponsored by the Improvement Association

UCIA The following items were discussed at the October 26, 2012 Improvement Association Meeting
  1. St. Kevin’s – Engaging the residents
  2. Dorchester North burying ground / comfort station
  3. Black baseball mural
  4. Pilgrim Church 150th Celebration
  5. Fairmount BRA website
  6. Youth Representation in the Fairmount Initiative
  7. WAG no-shows
  8. Holiday planning
  9. Salsa dancing at the UC Library
  10. Annapolis Neighborhood Meeting



1 St. Kevin's – Engaging the Residents

Even though the St. Kevin’s developers are not holding additional community meeting, there is news.  The Improvement Association wants to make sure the residents are kept up-to-date on the project and they want to make sure the residents feel like there is open dialogue regarding their ideas, opinions and concerns.  So UCIA will be contacting residents who live in the immediate area to provide an update.



2 Dorchester North Burying Ground and the Comfort station

The comfort station outside the Burying Ground was a topic at the Aug 2, 2012 UCIA meeting.  Max MacCarthy at Main Street is now working with students from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  They are looking at to how improve public access to the Dorchester North burying ground.  The comfort station will be included in the initial assessment but he doesn’t know if they will be making any recommendations about it.

Shemiram Fabian felt strongly that the building must be preserved in some manner, that it adds to the character of the cemetery. Nancy will be asking Max for contact information so that we can write a letter regarding the Comfort Station and hopefully be in conversation with them about their efforts.




3 Black Baseball Mural

Robert Woodson attended the August 2, 2012 UCIA meeting to learn more about the poor condition of the black baseball mural. He has since identified a potential source of funding.

In an earlier conversation with Robert, Nancy suggested that the mural’s current location is marginal and may not be appropriate for a mural dedicated to the Negro baseball leagues. He also stated that Artists for Humanity is not invested in the existing mural. They're happy to paint whatever we request.

There are currently two sets of murals in Uphams Corner, one at the commuter rail and the other on the side of the Dorchester Bay building. Both focus on immigrant populations from Cape Verde and the islands. Given the heavily Spanish, African, Haitian and Cape Verdean population, “Black Baseball” may be a concept that has little meaning in Uphams Corner.

Suggestions have been made to replace the current mural with a "Welcome to Uphams Corner" mural.  Catherine remarked that it would be nice to know that we are in Uphams Corner by seeing a sign that says so.  Shemiram said she would like the mural to focus more on what is common to Uphams Corner rather than what defines our differences.  She would like to see a mural that is more all inclusive.

Max suggested that, if possible, Uphams Corner apply for funding for mural restoration without having to specify the mural content. Designing the mural could be part of the project. In fact, it might be appropriate for the mural to be handled within the purview of the Boston Foundation's ArtPlace program.




4 Pilgrim church 150th Anniversary

The Pilgrim Church 150th Anniversary banquet is coming up on November 24.  Uphams Corner News will be devoting an issue to Pilgrim, its history and importance within the community and its current outreach programs.





5 Fairmont BRA Website

While the BRA encourages public participation, anyone who cannot attend meetings cannot easily contribute to the community conversation.  The only way to communicate is via e-mail directly to the BRA but this does not make the comments available to the public.

Aaron previously identified this as an issue for himself and, we believe, has written a letter to the BRA.

Nancy will be writing a letter to the BRA from the Improvement Association regarding this issue.  She stated that at the last corridor wide advisory group (CAG) meeting, she spoke with the chief planner at the BRA regarding this issue.  She stated that the BRA website needs to be C2 capable, one that lets people login and make comments. This is a normal method of dialogue in today's environment. No updates from the BRA.





6 Youth Representation in the Fairmount Initiative

At the second WAG meeting, Andrea Kaiser, executive director of the Bird St Community Center, raised the issue of youth representation (a lack of it) on Fairmount advisory groups.

At the third WAG meeting, Max MacCarthy and Chris Jones, who are now the newly elected WAG co-chairs, suggested that the group might want to find ways to include the youth, either as members of the board or doing special projects that reflect their unique views of the community.





7 WAG No-Shows

Max raised the issue of WAG appointees who have never shown up at any WAG meetings. He is open to suggestions on what the group should do and is willing to accept suggestions from anyone.

This topic was raised at the last UCIA meeting and garnered significant conversation.  See the notes from that meeting for specifics.  Nancy will be sending email to Max regarding the UCIA recommendations.





8 Holiday Planning

Nancy met with Max on Oct 24 and passed on to him documents from last year’s UCIA sponsored holiday party, both in hardcopy and digital.  Two events are being planned.
  • Nov 26 - the tree lighting
  • Dec 8 (tentative) - holiday party at the Strand.

As much as possible, the planners would like to get every stakeholder in the community involved in one or both events including youth organizations, schools, nonprofits and residents including performances. 

Nancy encouraged Max to use the same model as last year for giving out gifts. Rather than looking for monetary donations to purchase gifts which then have to be wrapped, the Improvement Association asked for donations of used books and toys.  When the kids arrived, they waited in line to pick out their gift. It was a lot of fun and provided an opportunity for interaction between the child and parents as often the child wasn’t sure what to select. Nancy noted that this approach has two advantages:
  • Encourages members of the community to share
  • Is more sustainable because it generates less waste.



9 Salsa Dancing at the Library

The central library sponsored the MetaMovements Dance Company to teach Salsa seven branch libraries including the Uphams Corner library. At least 24 people participated in the event in Uphams Corner including residents, youth and librarians, and the event was fabulous.  MetaMovements first taught the eager group how to play salsa instruments, and that was followed by teaching the well-known Spanish dance, meringue.  Then a pair of dancers wowed the group with a meringue performance. 

In their blog, the dance company wrote:  Last night we had an amazing evening at the Uphams Corner Library in Dorchester, filled with children, adults and seniors, many who hadn’t taken dance or music classes before!  We had such a wonderful time. 





10 Annapolis Neighborhood Meeting


This was the first meeting of the Annapolis Neighborhood Association in over a year.  Attendance was high (approximately 50 people) because of the anger of the residents about the conditions associated with 27-37 Bakersfield St, also known as Bakersfield Arms.  In attendance was Wendy Rist, property owner, Chris English, Neighborhood Services, Peter McCarthy of Steps to Solutions, a sober house, 6-8 graduates of the sober house program and many residents.

From the Problem Properties website

Wendy TS Rist
27-37 Bakersfield Street
Dorchester
Many incidents related to drug dealing and drug overdoses of residents.

Ms. Rist read a letter to the group which attempted to show that she has always had good intentions.  Mr. McCarthy’s program was being targeted as a major cause of the problem.  According to residents, there were no problems until the sober house moved in.  Regardless of what either the group home members or the owner stated, the residents remained incensed and continued shouting and interrupting each other.

Bakersfield Arms consists of 24 units, eight of which leased by “Steps to Solutions Medical Homes,” a sober house. The remaining 15 units are rented to regular tenants, some of which are Section 8. 

According to Chris English, the Problem Properties Task Force added the property to the problem properties list after they investigated the multitude of calls (25) and determined they highly problematic including drug dealing and drug overdoses of residents.

The owner, Wendy Rist, determined that three of her tenants were the source of many of the emergency calls so they have been asked to leave.  All three tenants will be gone by the end of November. 

Posted: October 26, 2012     Nancy J Conrad


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