Host Community Advisory Committee Lacks Direction

City of Boston’s Jay Walsh and Walter Appetwhite direct the city’s Host Community Advisory Committee meeting last week at East Boston High School.

Last Tuesday, the City of Boston hosted a meeting for residents to offer ideas and opinions on how mitigation money should be spent if a resort-style casino came to Suffolk Downs in East Boston. The suggestions, explained the City of Boston’s Jay Walsh, would be passed along to the city’s Host Community Advisory Committee.

The meeting was to have a different tone than previous community meetings being hosted by Suffolk Downs where residents have expressed their support or opposition to a casino or to Suffolk Downs’ plans and design.

The intent was for the city to hear from residents, despite being for or against a casino, and get solid ideas on how mitigation money should be spent or what new programs it could fund.

However, the meeting seemed to have the same tone as previous meetings with a majority of residents stepping up to the microphone and voicing their opposition to a casino or offering up little suggestions on how mitigation should help Eastie.

The few ideas offered in regards to mitigation focused on stabilizing housing prices, support of youth programs and other minor suggestions.

Absent were big ideas like funding being directed to Main Streets or other civic groups that could use mitigation money to beautify business districts, historically renovating homes in areas like Eagle Hill or Jeffries Point or pouring money into neighborhood wide streetscape improvements.

One idea by East Boston Chamber of Commerce President Diane Modica seemed more in line with what the meeting was all about. Modica suggested the city use some of the mitigation money to help re-brand Eastie through a marketing campaign. The idea first surfaced during a meeting between the Chamber and Suffolk Downs’ COO Chip Tuttle. Modica’s idea would be to market Eastie as something more than just a casino (assuming one is approved for the neighborhood) but a place that is full of culture, beautiful parks and great dining.

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