Letters to the Editor

Thank you, Quinn Scholarship Committee

To the Editor,

I would like to thank the Lieutenant Michael P. Quinn Scholarship Committee for selecting me as this year’s recipient. Men and women who give their lives in protection of our freedom should never be forgotten. It is a testament to Lieutenant Quinn that his friends and the Committee members have continuously, since 1970, honored his name and service. Their faithful perseverance in honoring Lt. Quinn is proof that true friendship never wavers. I hope to demonstrate to the Committee my worthiness of the Lt. Michael P. Quinn scholarship during my years at Northeastern University, but also in my service to the Charlestown community and as a loyal friend. I am honored to have been chosen. Please know that this money will be a great help to my family in paying my tuition.

 With gratitude,

Elle M. Woods

Helping Hands for Harvest on Vine

To the Editor,

It’s sad to know that food insecurity is a real issue in our wonderful neighborhood of Charlestown.  We have a special obligation as our town is home to the Bunker Hill Housing Development which is the largest affordable housing development in New England.  Charlestown also welcomes new residents from many different foreign countries that need a helping hand in getting settled while recent food inflation is making access to healthy food even more of a critical need.

Thankfully, there is a local organization that works tirelessly to help provide food products and other necessities for those in need.  The Harvest on Vine Food Pantry, under the tireless efforts of Mr. Tom MacDonald and volunteers, assists over 500 families each month with a variety of healthy food options, this is an increase of 100% since this time last year.

Inspiration for broader community support of Harvest on Vine started in 2019 when a long- time resident of Parris Landing asked if families would bring canned goods and cereals to the Annual Monument Square Halloween Parade, a well -attended event for families and children from all of Charlestown and other neighborhoods.  This forward- thinking resident set up a table and was delighted with the considerable amount of food donations and financial contributions that were collected that day.

The following year, the Annual Monument Square Halloween Parade was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.  Diane Valle, Chair of the Halloween celebration asked the community to convert what would be spent on candy and costumes to donations to Harvest on Vine.  Charlestown residents rose to the challenge and contributed $15,000 to help feed hundreds of families.

While the Halloween tradition is now back on track, additional community events have showcased Harvest on Vine as part of their festivities by hosting tables and soliciting monetary donations and canned goods.  The recent Pier 5 Association Earth Day celebration and the Navy Yard Garden and Art Association and Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard Summer Solstice together collected about $1,500 in donations. Beside the much needed-proceeds, awareness was heightened as to the level of need that persists so close by in our little community.  It makes these gatherings take on even more meaning when there is such an element of giving back to the community that gives us so much.

Going above and beyond, one of the attendees at the Summer Solstice gathering offered to do a laundry a day for those struggling with laundry issues and she will try to create a team of people willing to help and step in to provide this necessity chore. In addition, there is an on- going effort to provide household necessities such as sheets and shower curtains.

To contribute to Harvest on Vine or to volunteer your time, please visit their website at [email protected],org. or call Tom McDonald 617.990.7314.

Thank you for reading and have a safe summer.

Diane Valle and Ann Kelleher

Set the record straight

To the Editor,

Let’s set the record straight about the status of funding for the Peace Park (see letter to editor June 23, from Alice Lahnstein).

YES, of the $500,000 Community Preservation Act (CPA) grant to the Peace Park creation, $166,666.67 was disbursed to the Charlestown Preservation Society, the fiscal agent for the project.

Of this first disbursement, $15,000 was spent on landscape design, shared last fall. The balance sits in a dedicated account at the TCB bank and is subject to audits and regular expenditure reporting to the City of Boston and its Community Preservation Act staff.

The Charlestown Coalition and Turn It Around youth group have continued to adorn the park with modest seasonal plantings dedicated to the lives lost by community violence and addiction using money raised by the group by GoFundMe.

Yes, The Peace Park still iIs threatened with the loss of CPA funding.

Yes, you can help, the message to the attached names is simple.

Please break MassDOT’s deadlock, so an inclusive community driven, City funded Peace Park project, honoring those who were victims of community violence and overdose to foster community unity and collective healing, can arise from an underused, careworn cement lot.

Please direct your concerns to MassDOT, the legal owners of the parcel of land. After failing to move forward with the process to lease the land to the Friends of the Peace Park for 15 years as agreed to by MassDOT Undersecretary and Chief Strategy Officer Scott Bosworth as a requirement of the Community Preservation Act, our elected officials tried to secure a transfer of the land to the City of Boston Parks Department, but MassDOT never moved forward with the required “canvassing” process. MassDOT personnel refused to continue normal project engineering review with the Friends of the Peace Park’s working committee and its landscape architect, and Rep. Dan Ryan’s conversations with MassDOT ended in essential stalemate.

CPA funded grants have timelines. While a Chapter Act may be our only path forward, they very often take years in the legislature, this timeframe does not work within the requirements of the CPA grant program, and we risk non-compliance and the recall of funds. The only acceptable way to move forward is for MassDOT to abide by its agreement with the Charlestown Coalition and Charlestown Preservation Society for the creation of a new Peace Park. 

Please Contact

Jonathan Gulliver, Highway Commissioner.

857 368 4636

Jamey Tessler, Secretary and CEO of Transportation

857 368 4636

Kristen Pennucci, Communications, MassDOT

857-368-8500

Jacquelyn Goddard, Communications, MassDOT

[email protected]

Scott Bosworth, MassDOT

[email protected]

Governor Charlie Baker’s Office of Constituent Services

Michael Vazquez, Director of Community Affairs

Grace Headrick, Director of Constituent Services

Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St., Office of the Governor, Room 280, Boston, MA 02133

Thank you for reading.

Friends of the Peace Park

Audit Rebuttal

To the Editor,

Last week I read a misinformed letter to the editor asking for an audit of Peace Park accounting.  It immediately veered into grandstanding.  A classic what-aboutism argument by someone who lacks almost any modicum of investigative initiative except that which supports her own narrative.  The author could have answered her own question by reaching out to anyone in the Charlestown Coalition.  Afterall, the email was contained in the article. Instead, she chose to submit an inflammatory, reckless hit piece that discredited herself.  Also, it’s very disappointing that the author would pit two worthy projects against each other.  She should redirect her frustration to those responsible for letting her down instead of another non-profit looking to improve the community. 

The author is also factually wrong.  To date, of the $500,000 allocated by the CPA, only $15,000 has been spent.  The entirety of which has been on hiring a reputable architect after carefully reviewing several proposals from different firms with similar proposed fees.  Architects are responsible for site analysis, schematic design/development, permitting, bidding, and construction administration.  They follow a project from start to finish and it’s not cheap (especially in a city like Boston).  This is a far cry from the “few painted pebbles” she belittled. 

The author next refers to Peace Park as a “dead slab” of concrete, never containing “a human body” and wonders “why was so much money appropriated?”  Frankly, the answer is contained within the question posed.  I agree with her, the park requires a complete overhaul to realize it’s full potential – which cost money. Money to reimagine and activate the space.  Funds for seating, lighting, drainage, and paving.  Money to replace the concrete with trees, shrubs, and flowers.  This of course would require irrigation for the vegetation to flourish.  But the author is already well-aware of the hardship of watering plants without the help of irrigation, so safe to say, we agree on this one.

The call to action by the supporters of Peace Park in the 16 June 2022 Patriot Bridge was to get a land quibble between MassDOT and the city resolved allowing the project to move forward.  Breaking an impasse so contracts can go out to bid and begin construction.  I hope the author reaches out to the Charlestown Coalition so she can start to understand the process and all the hard work being done by staff and volunteers.  The door is always open.

By the way, I support what the author is doing with her organization and wish her the best.  Just not at the expense of others.

The views expressed above are my own.

James Medeiros

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