By Adam Swift
City Councilor Lydia Edwards hit on a number of topics affecting the city, and specifically Charlestown, during a presentation to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council Tuesday night.
Edwards hit on some of the initiatives she is working on as a Counselor, including a revamp of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and charter reform. Closer to the neighborhood, Edwards addressed ongoing parking and traffic concerns and the future of the Dennis McLaughlin House at the Charlestown YMCA.
After touching on a wide range of issues over nearly 90 minutes, several CNC members thanked Edwards for addressing their concerns and representing the community.
“Charlestown is very lucky to have you as a City Councilor,” said Bill Galvin. “You are very engaged and knowledgeable about the issues.”
CNC Chairman Tom Cunha echoed those sentiments.
“We appreciate it, as usual,” he said. “You always answer the call.”
Edwards spoke about policy she has introduced to reform the ZBA to cut down on potential conflicts of interest by increasing the size and representation of the board.
Rather than the seven members currently on the ZBA, Edwards said there should be 20 members, who are randomly pulled to hear cases. She also said the board should meet more frequently, and at times more convenient to residents.
Edwards said she is also pushing for charter reform for Boston. While many cities have one document as a city charter, Edwards said Boston has a patchwork of case law, regulations, ordinances, and home rule petitions.
“We need to gather all this for the first time and say this is our charter,” said Edwards. “We should be better than a patchwork.”
Closer to home, Edwards had some good news for the CNC, telling them that the Charlestown Post Office isn’t going anywhere, thanks in large part to community activist Judy Evers.
“Judy Evers fought like hell, and the post office is staying here in Charlestown thanks to her constant phone calls,” said Edwards. “I wanted to make sure she got credit for that.”
However, as one local battle came to a happy conclusion, another one may be gearing up over the future of the Dennis McLaughlin House.
The House is part of the Families in Transition state program. Edwards echoed what James Morton, YMCA of Greater Boston CEO, stated last week about the 10 families in Charlestown at the McLaughlin House moving to the larger Families in Transition headquarters on Huntington Avenue in the coming months.
Several CNC members expressed their concern for the future of the McLaughlin House.
“I’m not sure where this came from,” said Elaine Donovan. “I’m sick of being stepped on in this community. We fought tooth and nail to have a recovery house in this community.”
She said the McLaughlin House was established to provide a recovery house where mothers suffering from drug addiction could stay with their children.
CNC member Karson Tager also asked for Edwards support in helping to bring a walk-in medical clinic to Charlestown. Tager said he believes Charlestown has enough young families to support a walk-in clinic such as a CVS Minute Clinic.
It was no surprise that traffic and parking were also issues that came up in the CNC discussion with Edwards. Edwards said she will continue to advocate for traffic safety measures in Charlestown as the city takes a larger look at traffic and parking in the entire city.
Cunha said he would like to see temporary measures in place that would help mitigate the use of Charlestown roads for people traveling through the city to and from the North Shore.
“The only issue I hear at least twice a week is about traffic, from people who couldn’t get their daughter to dance class, or couldn’t get to see their wife in the hospital,” said Cunha.
•In other business, the CNC voted 16-1 to extend CNC terms from two to three years, with Galvin casting the one dissenting vote.
The CNC also elected their officers for the coming year, with Cunha once again the chairman, Margaret Bradley the first vice chair, Tager the second vice chair, and Tera Lally the treasurer.
There was a slight hiccup selecting a secretary, but Mary Boucher stepped up to the plate and volunteered to fill that position before Cunha had to pick someone to take meeting minutes.