What’s Happening on Main Streets

By Richard Rouse

Special to the Gazette

On Feb. 16, Mission Hill Main Streets held its annual meeting and election of officers in a festive atmosphere, complete with an exquisite repast of Matt Postal’s best dishes from his Lilly’s Pasta Express. I suspect that he was attempting to wow everyone in attendance into voting Lilly’s as “Business of the Year” for another year!

Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s greatest asset, John McGonagle, will return to the board for another term, providing his seasoned wisdom along with the always upbeat owner of Montecristo’s Mexican Grill, Otto Hernandez. Mission Hill Number 1 booster Toni Komst was reelected to another three-year term, bringing her energy, creativity and can-do attitude to her duties with the board. Two new members were chosen who are certain to bring their positive passion for the neighborhood as well. Retired Boston City Hall star Mary Yeaton was introduced by former board Chairman Bruce Smith, and Randy Shipp was presented by his neighbor Gar Chiang. Congratulations to all.

At last month’s neighborhood Crime Committee meeting, it was announced that their longstanding co-founder and neighborhood icon Mary Todd was selected as the Mission Hill Main Streets “2012 Volunteer of the Year.”

Whenever reporters and newcomers wish to learn what Mission Hill is all about they are invariably directed to visit Mike’s Donuts. For 41 years, Maria and Bruce Weinograd have been lovingly operating this neighborhood institution and were chosen as “2012 Business of the Year.” As one of the founders of Main Streets, no one is more deserving of this distinction than the selfless Maria. These selections were received with a standing ovation.

Our neighborhood civic association, the Community Alliance of Mission Hill, will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Warm-Up celebration on Thurs., March 15 at 7 p.m. at The Crossing, which is sure to be a must-attend social event. Rich Johnson, Jessica Casey, Jim Burke and the other alliance leaders selflessly commit hundreds of hours each year as watchdogs to make sure that this area maintains the beautiful character we all appreciate. Sharon Driscoll, owner of The Crossing, guarantees the night will be full of Irish hospitality, with many merchants donating raffle items and goodies for the evening.

In 2010, Mission Hill Main Streets held a competition for high school artists in conjunction with MassArt and the Artists for Humanity Program to design three distinctive bicycle racks, which sit in Brigham Circle. One design, resembling a Master Lock, was so well received that the commissioners of the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund commissioned the creation of three additional racks for Mission Hill, which will be installed soon in other spots in the neighborhood. I just received word that the Browne Fund is so pleased with this program, which employs  Boston teenage artists to construct the racks, that over the next 18 months a series of new bike racks will be fabricated and will include the Hyde/Jackson Square and Jamaica Plain Centre/South Main Streets districts.

Readers of this column sometimes ask me, “What is Main Streets?”  Mission Hill Main Streets is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose board consists of unpaid volunteers who are business owners, neighborhood residents, institutional representatives and community leaders. Our mission is to enhance and strengthen the Mission Hill business district and continue to make it a thriving center of commerce.

We focus on working together with our neighbors to promote, strengthen and beautify the neighborhood commercial area. We receive wonderful assistance from the Boston Main Streets organization and the City’s Office of Business Development, and our communication with these departments has proven critical to our success. Our community partners in the various joint projects are dedicated to the betterment of Mission Hill, and we are grateful to them for assisting us and including us in their worthwhile efforts. The volunteers from the colleges, hospitals, churches, businesses and the community in the various service days have truly made a difference. Our elected officials, notably Mayor Thomas Menino, City Councilor Michael Ross and state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, have been stalwart supporters of our efforts and are a credit to the ideals of public service.

Our corporate buddy, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is always front and center for us since the inception of Main Streets, and our corporate sponsor, New Boston Funds, has assisted us generously through the Boston Main Streets Foundation. Mission Hill is the finest neighborhood in Boston and its future looks even brighter. Our doors are always open to new ideas, volunteers and sponsors. If you wish to support Mission Hill Main Streets in any of these areas, please contact us at 617-427-7399.

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

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