Four days after being nominated by President-Elect Joe Biden to serve as United States Secretary of Labor in the new administration’s cabinet, Mayor Martin Walsh delivered his final State of the City address as Mayor of Boston.
Walsh delivered his address virtually from the new Nubian Square Library in Roxbury and reflected on the work of his administration over the last seven years, the City’s collective accomplishments, and the vital work that will continue to expand equity and opportunity in Boston during these uncertain times.
One accomplishment Walsh touched upon and was proud to share was the city’s development of the first ever Senior Center in East Boston.
In the fall, city officials released a set of artist renderings for the first time that depicts what Eastie’s first ever Senior Center will look like once construction is completed.
Construction on the future senior center began over the summer at the former Bremen Street branch of the Boston Public Library across from Orient Heights MBTA station.
Throughout August and September, interior demolition took place, and construction started on. Construction work on the senior center will include accessibility upgrades, new HVAC systems, new elevator, window replacements, landscaping, new utilities, new bathrooms, new kitchen, sprinkler system and roof replacement.
The renderings released by the city for the first time show the all glass, 850 square foot addition that will house the senior center’s main entrance, lobby, elevator and stairwell. The renderings also show the outdoor terrace that is part of the design.
“I’m proud to see construction is underway on the new senior center in Orient Heights, East Boston,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “In Boston, we are dedicated to making investments that directly benefit in our communities, and this senior center will be vital to increasing services for our older Bostonians.”
Investments from Massport, through a mitigation struck with the Logan Impact Advisory Committee (LIAG), will help support the programming and operational needs of the newly-renovated center once construction is complete.
The City’s current budget for the design and construction is $5.43 million and the estimated completion date is fall 2021.
Also in his speech Walsh recognized the health care workers, essential workers, first responders, community partners, residents, small businesses, elected officials, and everyone who contributed to Boston’s COVID-19 response.
Walsh’s speech opened with a short-form documentary highlighting the resilience and strength of Boston’s communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must keep drawing on our strength — and on each other. Recovery won’t be easy. The virus will be with us for much of the year. The economic impacts will continue as well,” said Walsh. “There will be more hard decisions to make. Whatever happens, I know one thing: Boston will stay true to our values. We believe in keeping each other safe. We believe in caring for those who are vulnerable. We believe justice and opportunity are for everyone.”
Walsh began his State of the City speech by paying tribute to the 1,060 Bostonians lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and encouraged anyone feeling overwhelmed to reach out to the City through 311, which is able to connect residents to relief resources, mental health counseling, and recovery services. He also discussed the ways that Boston’s public servants have risen to the occasion this year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has focused on the most vulnerable communities. Mayor Walsh created a COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force to close racial and ethnic health disparities, and the City provided over six million meals to children, families, veterans, and seniors. Boston Public Schools distributed 40,000 laptops to students, and Boston provided permanent rental vouchers to over 1,000 families with children at risk of homelessness.
At the start of the pandemic, Walsh created the Boston Resiliency Fund. The Fund has raised $34.1 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in Eastie and across the city. Of that, $30.3 million has already supported 366 nonprofits and more than 250,000 Boston families.
Through the work of the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston’s community health centers like East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, the City of Boston continues making COVID-19 testing available for Bostonians, including at free, mobile testing sites.
“We may be hurting, but the state of our city is resilient; the state of our city is united; the state of our city is hopeful; and the state of our city is deep-down Boston strong.” said Walsh.
During his speech, Walsh highlighted the importance of economic recovery in Boston as the City looks forward to helping businesses rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.
For seven years, the Walsh Administration fostered one of the most dynamic and resilient economies in the world. In 2020, despite the pandemic, the City of Boston approved $8.5 billion of new investments, creating a potential for 35,000 new jobs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has provided a total of $26 million in grants, fee waivers and other resources to 4,000 small businesses. The City will continue working with business owners to build back restaurants and bars, stores and salons, gyms and art studios that make Boston’s neighborhoods special, along with the hotels, museums, and theaters that highlight Boston’s diverse communities and cultures and bring visitors to the city.
“I want to say a word to small business owners, You are the soul of our economy, and you sacrificed so much for the safety of our city. I will never forget it,” said Walsh
Walsh also dedicated his speech to Boston and the nation’s urgent work to recognize and dismantle systemic racism. In 2020, Walsh declared racism a public health crisis, and began work on a Health Equity plan to end disparities. Boston shifted millions of dollars from the Boston Police Department overtime budget into programs for youth, trauma recovery services, and mental health, and reorganized the City government, appointing Boston’s first-ever Chief of Equity. Mayor Walsh signed historic police reforms, led by the Boston Police Reform Task Force. The result is a new model for oversight and accountability.
“The pandemic made it clear: a community crisis demands a community-wide response. So I’m asking all of us to accept this responsibility as our own — and commit to fighting racism. It’s our deepest moral obligation. And it’s our greatest opportunity for growth,” said Walsh.
Walsh concluded, “I am confident that the operations of City government — including our COVID response — will continue smoothly. And I want you to know: the work we have done together for the past seven years has prepared Boston to build back stronger than ever.”