City Councilor Lydia Edwards stopped by the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA) May meeting on Monday night to give her legislative updates to residents.
Edwards started off briefing residents on projects already in the pipeline that should be wrapping up soon and other projects that are in the works.
She pointed to projects like Noyes Park, which should be completed in June, as well as the city’s plan to add programming to the Greenway Caboose located near Marginal Street. Edwards said the city should be sending out requests for that project in July.
On the Caboose Project Edwards said she and the community have been calling for reactiving that space as a gateway to Eastie’s Greenway system and connector for residents to the Greenway. Some ideas are a coffee shop or food pop-ups that can serve as an anchor business or attraction inside the Greenway.
Edwards touched upon City Councilor Michelle Wu’s controversial plan to charge a fee for residential permit parking stickers in Eastie and citywide.
Edwards said that in her opinion the conversation needs to be ‘bigger’ than whether or not to charge a fee.
“We really need to take a look at it at the neighborhood level and plan for parking,” she said. “Not enough to talk about fee or no fee. We currently don’t know how many parking spaces there are in Boston and we are giving out parking permits at an unlimited amount. We have a finite resource (street parking) and we are giving it away for free and that is not sustainable.”
Edwards said where and how parking should be planned in the city should come from the neighborhood and its residents.
Another parking reform Edwards talked about was visitors passes for neighborhood parking–something that is done in other cities like Washington, D.C. In D.C. those visiting family members or friends must fill out a form at a local police station and pay for a visitors placard for the duration of their staying.
Edwards said after some advocacy from residents and her office Eastie will have an additional ‘Hokie’ that will help the one hokie currently on staff clean the streets of the neighborhood this summer.
“We have only one Hokie right now cleaning all of East Boston,” she said. “And that’s a lot for anyone. So we are definitely getting one additional worker this summer to help out, which is just what we needed.”
Edwards said she also calling for a reorganization of Eastie schools as it pertains to busing. Edwards explained that she would like to see a pilot program here were elementary schools go from K-6 grade and the high school converts to a 7-12 school model. “There are not enough middle school seats for East Boston students,” said Edwards. “I propose that we actually stop busing our middle school children over to the Edwards School in Charlestown and have them stay in East Boston. This would involve all of East Boston schools going to 6th grade and the high school going 7 to 12 grade. This would solve out middle school issue here. They have a baby boom going on now in Charlestown and don’t have enough K1 and K-0 seats. Charlestown residents want that space but 80 percent of the kids attending the Edwards are East Boston students. This plan would keep East Boston kids here and allow Charlestown to expand the Edwards to accomodate for the lack of seats. It would also save public schools $400,000 in busing costs.”