By Seth Daniel
Whether it was sailing the high seas on the Constitution, debating transportation on Rutherford Avenue or welcoming a new City Councilor, Charlestown found itself in the news a lot over the year of 2017 – which was anything but quiet.
In reviewing the news of the year, the following are some of the highlights from the Patriot Bridge.
•City Councilor Sal LaMattina shook the boat in District 1 when he announced in April that he wouldn’t seek re-election to his seat – leaving the seat open for the first time in a decade.
•That announcement spawned the political news of the year in the neighborhood, which was the race for an open Council seat. Right off the bat, two strong Charlestown candidates emerge, but are unofficially forced out of the race in a City Hall political move. However, that soon is eclipsed by a heated race between Lydia Edwards of East Boston and Stephen Passacantilli of the North End. Both candidates campaign hard in Charlestown, but Edwards pulls away at the end and wins the seat – also winning the Charlestown neighborhood. It is the first time that a minority candidate had ever won the neighborhood.
•The Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade started off with some controversy when the Parade route was shortened early in the process. That controversy remains, but overall the Parade was “Made Great Again” under the leadership of Grand Marshal Bob Beckwith and the Parade Committee under Arthur Hurley. Several new entries were added and new events were brought on to Pride Week, too. It was another successful year as the Parade continued to rebuilt its swagger from the past.
•The One Charlestown development was one of the biggest stories of the year in 2016, and in 2017 it began as a huge story as well. However, it ended up being a great mystery as developers never came back to the Town after Labor Day to present a revised plan. Inquiries from the Neighborhood Council have gone without any great response as to where the plan now stands. Earlier in the year, however, the story had great significance with many meetings, letters of opposition, and even an alternative Community Plan drawn up by a Charlestown resident.
•Charlestown welcomed in a new pot of money for the community from the Wynn Boston Harbor casino development. The money to help non-profits in Charlestown went from planning to two dispersals during 2017. The first dispersal came on May 30, with 41 non-profits getting $140,000. On Oct. 16, the second round saw 38 non-profits get $197,500.
•The neighborhood dispute of all disputes comes to an end on July 10 when the Zoning Board of Appeals approves an alternate building plan for 6 Solely St. The demolition and redevelopment of an historic home on the street drew several years of consternation between the owners and the neighbors.
•The USS Constitution is put back into the water during an exciting and precision-oriented operation by the Navy on July 23. The night-time operation drew hundreds of spectators for several hours, ending in Old Ironsides being floated out of drydock. The ship had been in drydock for repairs to the hull for nearly two years. In October, the Constitution celebrates another historic occasion, the 220th birthday of the ship, embarking on a Harbor cruise with several visitors and dignitaries.
•The Kitchen Kup lit up the first week in August once again. But alas, the Southie team took the Kup home from the Charlestown team, winning for the first time. However, already there are plans in the neighborhood to bring it back home in 2018. Founder Joe Brennan said they are already starting to plan for next year’s effort.
•The North Washington Street Bridge project goes out to bid in September. The $150 million, five-year project could begin as soon as April 2018.
•Anne Considine was fondly remembered as the “original hockey mom” during a moving ceremony at the Emmons Horrigan O’Neill Rink on Oct. 1. Hundreds of residents and family members attended for the unveiling of a banner on the hallowed west wall of the rink.
•The Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square planning process continues throughout the year, with the final meeting of the year in November. A standing-room-only meeting on May 18 revealed the City’s decision to use a hybrid plan for the corridor that incorporates smaller tunnels and surface roads as well. The plan continues to be reviewed by the City and the Town.
•Matt Grzelcyk and family celebrate the Charlestown native’s first NHL goal with the Boston Bruins over Thanksgiving break. The occurrence marked a great point of pride for the Town as well and its hockey tradition.
•Hood Park begins to re-make its site with the groundbreaking for a residential building in October, followed by an announcement in December that they hope to build a 4,000 person concert venue and parking garage on the site.