ByMayor Martin J. Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius |
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Boston’s families safe, healthy, and equitably supported has been our top priority. That’s why we made the tough but necessary decision to close Boston Public Schools buildings in March. In a matter of days, we began distributing Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots to students, we set up meal sites to continue feeding tens of thousands of students and families, and we transitioned to fully remote learning. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort, and one we kept up while planning the upcoming school year. We are still facing uncertainty from coronavirus, but the values that guide us are unchanged.
I am writing this letter to call on the Hyde Square Task Force, elected officials, and our entire community to come together to find a solution to the future of the Blessed Sacrament Church. The announced decision that the church will be sold with no restrictions for luxury housing or some other use that won’t benefit the Latin Quarter will hurt both the future of our neighborhood and the legacy of a great organization that has done so much for the youth of our community. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and have lived in Jamaica Plain since 1975, raising two kids as a single mother. I have owned a business here since 1980 and participated as an active volunteer for almost 40 years in the Business Association, Main Street program, Mount Pleasant Home, Spring House, and also with the Hyde Square Task Force. My two children and three siblings were educated at Blessed Sacrament School and my children were baptized in the church, which we attended every Sunday.
The city should reopen parking on the streets abutting the Arnold Arboretum. Parking was closed on the Arborway and Bussey Street this spring reacting to and anticipating the welcome-back-to-warm-weather crowds and Lilac Sunday. Since then COVID infection rates have been dramatically reduced, and we have learned that the safest place is outside. The Arnold Arboretum is a 281-acre open space jewel in the heart of the city. Never have we needed the availability of open parks more for both our physical and mental health.
I am writing as a community leader about the recent news that Hyde Square Task Force is planning to sell Blessed Sacrament Church with no restrictions. When I moved in 1972 from Mission Hill to Forbes Street in Jamaica Plain, the Blessed Sacrament Church became my place of worship, until 2002, when the doors were closed by the Archdiocese of Boston. In 1980 I started as a community organizer to create community and engage residents, including the Latino community. We got help from Sister Virginia Mulhern and Father Donahue at Blessed Sacrament, plus Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC.) We worked together to lobby and advocate for justice and affordable housing. Blessed Sacrament Church was a center of our work for social justice.
Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a U.S. Census, counting every person living in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and five U.S. territories. This is more than just a headcount; the Census determines everything from representation in Congress, to federal funds for schools, affordable housing, infrastructure, and healthcare programs.
As Boston continues to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and work towards an equitable recovery, Federal funding will play a key role in providing relief for our small business owners, veterans, renters, our healthcare sector, and more. Much of the recovery aid that Washington will allocate is based on our population’s size determined by the Census. Filling out the 2020 Census is a great way to support healthcare workers, first responders, and other people on the front lines from the safety of your home. It will also help Boston respond to future emergencies by increasing data accuracy and federal dollars for community health centers and hospitals.