The Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) held its monthly meeting at the Knights of Columbus on June 4. On the agenda were presentations from Kaira Fox of the Office of Public Services and Community Outreach, Alice Brown of Boston Harbor Now, and State Rep. Dan Ryan, who talked about what’’s going on at the State House.
Kaira Fox talked to the CNC about her plan to revamp the City Hall to Go truck, which comes to Boston neighborhoods and provides basic city services, such as resident parking stickers and dog licenses. In Charlestown, The City Hall to Go truck typically comes to Thompson Square. Fox said she would like to make changes that would incorporate some evening hours, as the truck currently only comes during the day when many people are at work. She also suggested that the truck be available to come to neighborhood events, as a way to engage the community with city services.
Fox said she doesn’t think she will make any “significant changes” until the fall, and she is looking for suggestions from the community about what they’d like to see from the truck. She said that the basic services it currently provides will not be taken away, but rather built upon.
State Rep. Dan Ryan provided an update about what he’s working on, as well as took questions from the council. “It’s very important for people to organize, communicate, and talk to us,” Ryan said. “The more we hear from people, the stronger our case is when we’re fighting for resources.”
Ryan said that “we see and feel effects of national politics in the state house and the city,” but he thinks Massachusetts is doing a good job, and the governor’s office and staff is “extremely easy to work with.”
On the topic of the opioid crisis, Ryan said the second version of the opioid bill was passed, making Narcan more available to sheriff’s offices. The bill is more comprehensive as well, Ryan said. He said he brings a lot of “street knowledge” and “neighborhood knowledge” to this topic, as he was on the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition.
Traffic issues were no stranger to the conversation, especially as the Encore Boston Harbor opening date looms. Ryan said that people need to be aware of different changes going on throughout the neighborhood, as there are a lot of improvement projects going on at the same time. He said to call 311 or his office when encountering traffic issues.
Issues with rideshare services like Uber and Lyft go hand-in-hand with the traffic problem, and Ryan said that while state legislators are trying to remedy the problems, “legislation moves slow,” and they cannot keep up with the rapidly changing technology of these services. “We got around to doing a bill last session and it was already out of date, problems we were anticipating and working on had already changed,” Ryan said.
Solutions like designated rideshare pickup and drop-off areas, such as what is being done at Logan Airport and at Encore Boston Harbor, will help to alleviate some of the issues caused by drivers driving around waiting for a ride. In these places, they have to remain in a specific area, similar to a taxi stand, while they wait for passengers.
After Ryan’s presentation, Tom Cunha gave an update about the Medford-Bunker Hill connector streets committee. He said that the committee met with eight to ten people from those streets, where they discussed the kinds of changes people are looking for. He said the city provided several options, none of which the committee “fell in love with.”
“We are trying to engage the people who are mostly affected by it—people who live on those streets,” he said. He said they want to ask the city if certain signage can be put up on the streets saying that during certain hours, people cannot go up certain streets in the area.
“This will be an ongoing committee,” Cunha said. There will be no meetings in June or July, but he hopes the committee will meet three or four more times before bringing the issue before the whole council. “It’s a major change,” he said.