Letters to the Editor

Destined to Fail

To the Editor,   

The St. Francis/POUA withdrew its Article 80 Large Project Waiver Request for the Helm Project on the eve of the October 24 public hearing.  Hopefully, St. Francis/POUA has acknowledged that its Helm project, the proposed conversion of the Constitution Inn to housing for the formerly homeless, requires the input and acceptance of the greater Charlestown Community for any likelihood of success. The tone-deaf waiver request by St. Francis/POUA and its blatant effort to silence community voices while fast tracking the Helm has generated bad feelings.  The Charlestown community is angry and distrustful of St. Francis/POUA and the Helm Project. To gain any hope of acceptance, St. Francis and POUA must now make extraordinary efforts to provide the Charlestown Community with full, fair, transparent public hearings on the Helm Project so that all questions are answered and all concerns are addressed.

The Helm Project as proposed at the CNC meeting must not proceed. It is not fair to the proposed occupants. St. Francis/POUA have no plan to fulfill the occupants’ basic needs on premises. St. Francis/POUA will not offer wrap-around service. The occupants will be left to fend for themselves for daily needs in a Charlestown Community, the Navy Yard, with no grocery stores, pharmacies or health care services.  How will the occupant get food, health care, transportation or work? Occupants cannot be expected to remain in their studio/room with no food, no kitchen, no transportation and nothing to do. It is a prescription for failure.

The Helm plans for 12 employees total for ‘concierge and maintenance services’ 24/7, a social worker and an employment counselor. With an admitted occupancy of 158, the staffing ratio is 27 to 1.  Hotels/motels, without food service, have more staff. St. Francis/POUA is not fair to the Helm occupants.

The Navy Yard has no jobs or 24/7 public transportation to arrive at a job. The bus and ferry service  are from 6 am to 8pm. How can occupants be expected to seek and stay employed without transportation?

Who are these occupants? St. Francis/POUA admits they are mostly men and probably ex-convicts.  St. Francis/POUA says it will screen out sex offenders but not felons or violent offenders. Most are not employed; there will be no drug or alcohol screening or rules.

The Charlestown Navy Yard has day care facilities, playgrounds and child care spaces. It has a large elderly population.  If St. Francis/POUA refuses to screen out ex-convict, it puts our children and elders at risk.

The Helm destines the occupants to failure.  At St. Francis Headquarters, it has a full kitchen, medical, social work, employment and other services and housing for 40 occupants. Even with the services on premises. St. Francis has not rehabilitated these occupants with jobs (not transients) to live independently in the community. St. Francis/POUA also house the formerly homeless across from St. Francis but the services, food, medical, social work and employment are available at St. Francis. 

The Helm will provide ‘a roof over the head’ (basic shelter), without the services to meet its occupants needs. How will Helm occupants make a successful transition to and become a part of the fabric of a community if St. Francis has failed this mission with full services in place at its Headquarters? 

St. Francis/POUA Proposal fails its occupants by insufficient services and the children and elderly of the Charlestown Community. 

Our Public Officials must demand the BPDA cease this process and immediately demand that the Constitution Inn be advertised for public bid to uphold its obligation to the taxpayers to get the highest and best use of this valuable property.  Public officials must demand that the welfare of the Charlestown Community and taxpayers come first.  The Charlestown Community deserves an open transparent and public process.  As a ‘good neighbor’, St. Francis/POUA must listen to the Charlestown Community. If it persists in this folly, St. Francis/POUA must house these occupants with food, pharmacy, medical, social work and employment services and public transportation which are the needs of daily life.

The Helm places the lives of the occupants at risk and the Charlestown Community at risk; both are destined to fail.  The Helm Project is bad for the occupants and for the Charlestown Community; both deserve better.

Rosemary A. Macero

Charlestown resident

Precinct 2 Representative to CNC

Homeless Individuals Need Our Help

To the Editor,

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

Over the past few weeks, there have been several meetings, private gatherings, letters, and comments about the proposed transition of the Constitution Inn into an affordable housing project and its impact on the Navy Yard. I just want to focus on one key component that is critical to the entire project: the homeless individuals that need our help. As I loudly and vociferously heard at the initial CNC meeting, the Navy Yard residents called them “those people”. I would rather call them our fellow human beings who have come on “tough times” and need our help.

I speak somewhat from experience, not that I was homeless, but because I have volunteered for over 25 years at the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston opened since the early 70’s. And I want to make two points: one about the individuals who are in need; and the other about the buildings that provides that need.

 When I first started volunteering at the shelter, I did not understand who were these individuals that lined up each day – day and night, to find shelter from the elements of summer and winter. Once I got over the fear of being in the shelter and knowing the staff and the guests (those who need help), I began to speak with the guests, hear their stories, and come to know them in a unique way. I realized they were just like you and me, trying to live a decent life and have a place to call “home”; but they had experienced a “life changing event” which dramatically changed how they lived. It might have been an accident, getting involved in drugs, a sudden illness, or the death of a loved one; the list goes on.  Every day events happen in our local community where people’s lives are changed, and without the support system of family, friends, and maybe faith to move through that challenge, they then feel abandoned, lost, and out of sync with society as they knew it. And that’s where the shelters come in.

Local shelters known as the Pine Street Inn or St. Francis House, along with many others, provide the umbrella to help them to keep them safe (with food, medical care and maybe a cot). And hopefully, with patience, guidance, prayer, and determination, that change takes place. It is the goal of the shelter staff that these individuals will be able to reconnect with society and become a productive part of that society.

And that’s where the affordable housing process, such as the Constitution Inn, comes in. I’m not going to discuss all the logistics, rules and regulations, the number of men vs. women etc. Those issues will be discussed over the next few weeks through the city of Boston venting process, but I want to point out that the temporary affordable housing is not a shelter. It is a home; it will be their home.

As they go through an extensive application process, with CORI checks and behavioral and medical screening done by professionals, qualified individuals will be selected to begin a new journey. Obviously, there will be some miscues, but in today’s world that’s called life, as we never know what life will bring us. But the bottom line is we need to provide individuals with an opportunity to have a home, where they can get up when they want, eat what they wish, and be independent which is not true in a shelter. In a shelter there are strict rules:  they get up at a certain time, eat, shower, told when to go to bed on a cot, and when they can reenter the shelter after a day on the street. And that’s why many individuals do not go to shelters and are homeless and live “on the street”.

So, we are in a dilemma. How do we help people that don’t want help and help those that do want help? We, as a society, need to do the best we can to love our neighbors because as the Golden Rule says, “Treat others just as you want to be treated”.  

In conclusion, some of us might be one step away from being homeless. Today things may be good but who knows what tomorrow will bring. The guests who are supported by the shelters of Pine Street and St. Francis House didn’t plan on being homeless; it was not their goal in life, life happened and now they need help. They need our help. We should be open to their needs and help them. There is an English proverb that states “there but the grace of God, go I”. What does that really mean? We have been blessed to have a home to live in, food on the table, and be able to do what we want to do. What would we do if all that changed, and we needed help? What would we do then? 

Michael W. Kelleher III

Thank you, Doug

To the Editor,

Halloween in Charlestown is legendary. After visiting on Halloween almost 20 years ago, we chose to move here to raise our family. This Halloween we want to give a big thank you to Doug MacDonald for making Halloween (and Christmas!) so special with the giant inflatable characters in the Training Field. Doug has been doing this for over a decade and from all accounts, this year’s assortment was his finest assembly yet. The children absolutely love the inflatables and watching their awe as they walk through is magical. Thank you Doug, for all that you do for Charlestown. You’re truly a Townie’s Townie and we are lucky to have you.

Julie Hall

We are Thankful

To the Editor,

The 37th Annual Monument Square Halloween Parade & Trick or Treat was a safe, fun and memorable holiday for all of Charlestown. We are blessed by the generosity of our neighbors.  We are thankful for all who made this event a great success, and for all who participated.  We are grateful to live in Charlestown, this historic community that we call “home” with the support of friends.

Thank You!

National Park Service, Superintendent Michael Creasey

NPS Supervisory Ranger Ethan Beeler

US Representative Ayanna Pressley

City of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

City of Boston Police

City of Boston Transportation

City of Boston Special Events

Bunker Hill College President Dr. Pam Y. Eddinger

New England Development/ Bunker Hill Mall

Frank Celeste


Bunker Hill Associates

Diversified Auto

Charlestown Civic Association

Charlestown Marina

Charlestown Mothers Association

Coray Thibaut de Maisieres

Peabody Properties

Friends of Charlestown Navy Yard

Boston Portfolio Properties

George Georges

Logan Condo Association

Tony Barrie Marching Band

Love Dog Band

Whole Foods



Charlestown Dogs

Cambridge Savings Bank

Christ Church

E Inc and Dr Ricky Stern

Ryan Murphy, DJ

The Bubble Guy, James Dichter

Paul Revere, Michael LePage

Jen & Paul Hughes

Students of the MGH Institute of Health Professions and Elissa Ladd

James Duane, The Monument Square Wizard

Michelle Duane

Jaye Hefner

Joann Grigoli

David Harvey

Lucia Grigoli

Jay Farraher

Mary Hayes

Mary Byrne

Deb Goush

Susan Roche

Rosemary Kverick/ Mother Goose

Ed Katz

Larry Rinaldi

Arthur Colpack

Tom Mosel

Molly Nolan

Tom Fortier

Duncan Donahue

Brendan Hughes

Arthur Hurley

Jane Gricciy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.