What’s Happening on Main Streets

Photo by Richard Rouse Sanitation workers provided by Northeastern University clean up trash on St. Alphonsus Street on Move-In Day Sept. 1.

Mission Hill’s version of the D-Day invasion occurs every Sept. 1 with the return of the students. Each year, Move-in Day appears to be getting better as municipal officials and college representatives work together to pre-plan and organize the onslaught as best they can.

This year, a cadre of Boston Police officers routed the traffic flow at the intersections and discouraged those “I’ll just be a second,” double- and triple-parking attempters. Several seasoned landlords hired cleaning and moving crews to supplement the scores of volunteers from the schools tasked with aiding the movers. Private rubbish haulers were observed with burly men wearing DayGlo shirts adorned with the Northeastern logo, tossing abandoned furnishings and trash into their hoppers. City inspectors were everywhere, citation books in hand, while university administrators patrolled the sidewalks. Mission Hill Main Streets worked in advance with merchants to reschedule their deliveries to lessen the traffic woes. Storefronts sported all manner of welcome greetings to entice new patrons.          I observed the 6-foot-5-inch Boston Police Sgt. Richard Driscoll greeting U-Haul drivers with a friendly welcome and a stern warning that revelry and misbehavior will not be tolerated. Driscoll told me that B-2 Police Capt. John Davin instructed his officers to deliver this message to every renter personally with particular reminders to the parents that there will be swift and severe reaction to any foolishness. Several longtime residents extended handshakes and smiles while reminding these young people that they are joining a long-established neighborhood of families, and, as in the neighborhoods where they reside with their parents, they will not allow the area to turn into an off-campus amusement park.

Many Mission Hill merchants do their spring cleaning in the autumn due to the influx of student business being such a major part of their commercial cycle. City Councilor Michael Ross was observed visiting stores and their owners with a Boston Globe reporter and photographer for an upcoming feature about our “hidden gem” of a Hub neighborhood. It’s nice to see the major daily waking up to what the Gazette and Mission Hill-billies have known forever.

Volunteer Ideas

The return of the students has prompted renewed interest in the colleges to engage their students in volunteer civic projects. With Jill Harkin at Mass Pharmacy, John Tobin at Northeastern, Bruce Smith at Harvard School of Public Health, Ceci Mendez at MassArt and Joe Boston at Wentworth, there are lots of groups looking to do worthwhile projects to improve the area. Don’t be shy. If you have an idea, call us at Mission Hill Main Streets (617-427-7399). Speaking of Wentworth, we bid a fond farewell and best wishes to Joe’s assistant director and Mission Hill favorite, Christiana Fischer, who was recently married and moved on to another post after three years of dedicated service.

Art on the Way

Keep your eyes open for a new season of community art exhibits at the old Sparr’s Drugstore at 635 Huntington at the corner of Longwood. The artist space in the windows of the building now owned by Harvard School of Public Health is a collaborative with MassArt and Mission Hill Main Streets aptly called Sparring Partners. A dramatic series of presentations featuring our local talent arranged by the always amazing Alison Pultinas, as well as Peter Muise and Elena White of MassArt, will be on display over the coming year.

Penguin likes it hot

This neighborhood is renowned for supporting charitable endeavors, but one recent event deserves a special note. Pam from Penguin Pizza took the ball and ran for a touchdown with the recent Death Valley Beach Party charity event. She and Dermot Doyne transformed the restaurant with a sand-covered floor, pool, palm trees, surfboards, beach chairs and bathing suits to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. All of this was done to support local hero and Penguin regular Steve Berube’s  bicycle trek across 105 miles of Death Valley, Calif. (the hottest place in North America) on Oct. 15. All of the proceeds will be used to help find a cure for diabetes.  Penguin will still accept donations if you wish to help Steve and his ride.

The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets.

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