Councilor Edwards Looking to Focus on Local Issues in 2020

Councilor Lydia Edwards has a lot of overarching, citywide – even statewide – goals for the new year, but she said by and large her office sees this as a year to focus locally.

“We see this as a year to take care of our local issues,” she said. “A lot of people will be focusing on the presidential election, but let’s be clear, that person won’t affect how people are served by their local government. No matter who is president, I am responsible for ensuring that my district has safe, clean and equitable neighborhoods.”

On the local slate, Edwards said one of her top priorities in Charlestown would be to look at parking reform. Already, she is filing a hearing order to look at a new parking ordinance in the City. In Charlestown, she said she wants the neighborhood to come together to look at different parking schemes, and perhaps, meter parking.

“I want us to think about how we will re-designate parking in our neighborhoods,” she said. “We need to think about angle parking, visitor parking. A lot of neighborhoods do not have meters and certain businesses are looking for meter parking to make sure spots turn over. A lot of neighbors are also looking for night enforcement and not day enforcement.”

In Charlestown particularly, Edwards said there might be a lot of places where angle parking makes sense – though certainly not everywhere.

“Angled parking is something I have been looking at and could work well on some corridors,” she said. “It may not work here, but people can think about angle parking and I want to look at as many solutions as we can for parking.”

She said a second priority in Charlestown will be to advocate for education, particularly with the changes slated for the Edwards Middle School reconfiguration.

“I want to make sure we continue to advocate for the public schools and in the reconfiguration of the Edwards School and that Charlestown gets the seats it needs,” she said. “We see the Edwards School as an opportunity to serve our local schools and potentially an opportunity for K0 and K1 or to retrofit the Edwards for elementary seats.”

On the Bunker Hill Development, Edwards said she hopes that people will wait for the plan to be filed before making decisions or weighing in heavily.

“We want to make sure the plan is fully submitted and vetted,” she said. “We have learned a lot about this at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. The best thing to do is wait for the plan to come in and then break it down.”

However, she said she stands firmly against the current plan to have buildings made up entirely of only public housing or affordable housing in the mixed-income campus. She referred to it as economic segregation and iterated she is against it.

“I expect a solution to that,” she said. “I do not want any economic segregation on site. I’ve been clear on that.”

A larger issue for citywide consumption is reforming the City Charter – which is otherwise the City’s mission statement and ground rules.

Edwards said she was shocked to learn there really isn’t a City Charter, and she said that makes it hard for residents to understand how government is chartered to work.

“We do not have a complete Charter,” she said. “It’s combination of court decisions, regulations from departments and offices, ordinances and Home Rule Petitions. It’s not written down anywhere in one document. I’m calling for it to be written down in one plan with the ability to amend it.”

Without that document, she said it is hard for residents to advocate for structural changes to the government, such as an elected School Committee, the budget process, term limits, or recalling the City Council/Mayor.

All in all, she said it will be a busy year and she wants it to be a year to focus on District 1 and block out the many distractions that will come.

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