As part of his Monday’s with the Mayor community forum series, Mayor Martin Walsh’s first stop on the citywide tour was at East Boston High School. With the city’s top brass in attendance, Walsh was on the hot seat for over an hour and held his own fielding questions from Eastie residents on topics such as crime, housing, traffic, youth programs and city services.
Most came out of the meeting agreeing that Walsh did a good job and while the answers he gave may not have been what some wanted to hear Monday night it was refreshing for those in the audience to hear honest answers from the city’s chief executive.
For example, in one exchange between the Mayor and a representative of Vida Urbana (City Life), Walsh said he applauds their advocacy on behalf of displaced tenants, those being driven out of the neighborhood due to rising rental costs and gentrification but cautioned on making neighborhoods too much of one or the other.
Walsh said there needs to be a balance in every neighborhood between market rate housing, affordable housing and low income subsidized housing. He commented that his administration is trying to find that balance but said what many neighborhoods lack is workforce housing. This housing, according to the Mayor, is somewhere in between high-end market rate housing in the city and affordable housing. These residents, like those being displaced by skyrocketing rents and a hot real estate market in neighborhoods like Eastie are also felling the brunt of gentrification. In other words, they are the residents that don’t qualify for affordable housing but whose salaries as professionals, laborers or city workers (teachers, firefighters or police officers) can’t afford the rent the market is demanding.
Walsh also had another exchange with a woman who worried about the lack of programs for young adults ages 13 and older. While she worried of her own son’s future once he hits that age Walsh listed numerous programs the city offers for teens as well as improvements to sporting facilities like East Boston Stadium and American Legion Playground. While Walsh said his administration is looking to add more programs that keep kids safe and healthy and off the streets like more summer jobs and sports programs the city can only do so much.
“We can only do so much. We can not watch every kid in every neighborhood from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. that is not our job,” Walsh said to applause, insinuating that parents need to step up and be partners in the endeavor of keeping kids safe and out of trouble. “What we can do is create the opportunities for kids and teens.”
Walsh also touched upon the commitments the city is making as part of the last budget approved by the City Council.
According to Walsh, the BCYF Paris Street Community Center has received $10 million for interior facility repairs and renovations include upgrades of all mechanical systems and boilers; window and exterior door replacements; athletic facility improvements and teledata upgrades; and new furniture and equipment. The Paris Street Playground will get $850,000 for major park renovation including drainage; fencing and wall repairs; and new
landscaping, play structure, and safety surfacing.
The East Boston Greenway will get $1.27 million for design and construction for the final segment of the greenway.
The city will spend $75,000 for a Police Station Study to develop a building program and assess siting options in conjunction with the
possible development of a City-owned property on East Eagle Street. The city will spend $5.4 million for an East Eagle Street Site acquisition and remediation, design and construction for a combined
municipal facility that will include a new police station, ambulance garage, and public works yard as well as the creation of additional open space.
Mayor Martin Walsh fields questions from East Boston residents during his Monday’s with the Mayor Forum at East Boston High School this week.
Residents approach the microphone to ask direct question to Mayor Martin Walsh.