Four brightly colored wooden benches designed and painted by Egleston Square YMCA teens under the direction of artist Sydmarie Arroyo were delivered to the Waldren Road sitting park during the Love Your Block Day on May 21. Urban Edge and the Eglston Square YMCA received a $1,170 grant last January from the Love Your Block program administered through the Mayors Office of Neighborhood Services. Residents from Wardman Apartments -- owned by Urban Edge and managed under its contract with WinnResidential -- helped write the grant and planned the improvements with Urban Edge community organizer Nicole Chandler in March and April. Sydmarie Arroyo and the Eglston YMCA presented draft ideas to the Wardman residents on March 18, designed and painted the benches -- each one featuring a black artist such as Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill and Prince -- at the YMCA thoughout April and early May. A dilapidated fifth bench already on site was repaired by WinnResidential maintenance men on Saturday and a new undisclosed design begun that afternoon with neighborhood youngsters joining in with paint rollers.
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing and Community Development Committee unanimously rejected the proposed 44-unit 3353 Washington St. rental development at its meeting last week. The opposition point of view was summed up succinctly by committee member Pam Bender: "You are doing the bare minimum" for affordable housing and community benefits, she told developer Boston Community Ventures. The May 10 meeting followed a contentious Small Project Review public meeting April 28 sponsored by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) at which neighbors expressed little love for the project, which would be located at the corner of Washington and Green streets across from the E-13 district police station. The JPNC may register its own vote on the project at its meeting Tuesday, May 24.
On a sun-flooded morning, hundreds of families from Bromley Heath apartments sat in overflow chairs in a crowded tent to listen as Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Housing Authority William McGonagle renamed the development Mildred C. Hailey Apartments. Joining them was Anna Mae Cole, a friend and comrade in arms for over 60 years and former chair of the Bromley Heath Tenant Management Corporation that Mrs. Hailey (and yes she was always Mrs. Hailey) directed for 40 years. Mrs. Hailey died of cancer at the age of 82 on Nov. 18, 2015 . Walsh remembered her memorial service: "At the end Billy [McGonagle] came up to me and said, "I've never asked you for anything but I'd like to ask you to name Bromley Heath after Mildred Hailey."
About 700 people flew kites, rode bikes, danced, played steel drums, picnicked and just plain hung out at the Playstead in Franklin Park during the annual Kite Festival, held on a perfect spring day Saturday, May 14. An institution since 1968, the festival for 20 years was a family event so enormous that it stretched across the entire park, and would close the park to all through traffic that day. After the golf course was refurbished in 1990, the Kite Festival was banished and languished for years, but it has made a comeback the past five years thanks to Discover Roxbury and The Franklin Park Coalition, in cooperation with the the Boston Parks Department. This year's Kite Festival was the largest since its reboot in 2011. Among the highlights was the presence of DJ Jammin Joe Johnson, formerly a popular jock on the old radio station WILD -- which co-hosted the old Kite Festival with the Parks Department and broadcast live from Franklin Park all that day -- who livened up the crowd with the island sounds of the band Tempo International.
Plan B went into full effect at the 6th Plan JP/Rox workshop last Wednesday as 50 protesters marched into the room clapping. Just as the emcee, Senior Planner Marie Mercurio, was concluding her opening remarks, the protesters grabbed what they called "the people's mic" to "fight not for profit but for the community." For over an hour, "Keep it 100% for Egleston," a well-organized and well-rehearsed group, listed its demands to stop the Boston Redevelopment Authority-sponsored Plan JP/Rox for three months. Plan JP/Rox is a once-in-a-generation rezoning process for the whole Washington Street and Columbus Avenue corridors in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. The protest group, which is comprised both young people as well as adults, alternated speakers using a call-and-response format.