What’s Happening on Main Streets

September 7, 2012
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By Richard Rouse/Special to the Gazette

September brings not only a change in the weather, but a sense of rebirth with the return of students and others to Mission Hill. Like the swallows to Capistrano, U-Haul vans and overstuffed autos descend upon the Hill while City inspectors, trash removers, police officers, college administrators and business owners try to bring order to the annual chaos and a welcoming hand to the new arrivals. Congratulations and thank you to all those who helped to make Move-In Day on Sept. 1 more orderly and efficient.

Labor Day weekend in most neighborhoods looks like the neutron bomb was unleashed, eliminating all the people and leaving the structures intact. Mission Hill was abuzz last Friday evening with the loading of vehicles and piling unwanted debris to the trash. The street scene was alive with the heavy tread of footsteps of people lugging bureaus and mattresses down stairways and the whirr of vacuums wafting from open apartment windows of vacating tenants. The sultry Saturday featured moms and dads helping their offspring unload boxes and bed frames. Mission Hill merchants were everywhere, letting the newcomers know about their shops and specials. Young people on Rollerblades greeted newcomers and distributed this year’s Mission Hill Main Streets promotional discount circular. Merchants such as Michel Soltani of Mission Bar, Otto Hernandez of Montecristo and Maria Weinograd from Mike’s Donuts were observed handing out chilled water bottles throughout the neighborhood to newcomers and volunteers, helping to add to the festive feel of Move-In Day.

The Tremont Street parklet that the City proposes to unveil next spring across from Sheehy Park should generate a boost for local business if the response is anything like what occurred in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. These cities report overwhelming responses to these clever mini-park-like patios temporarily erected over deck-style platforms at curb height, extending the length of a couple of parking spots. Picture yourself savoring a sinfully delicious honey dip and cup of coffee from Mike’s Donuts with friends some radiant morning. Or perhaps a juicy hot Buffalo calzone from Crispy Dough or a Lilly’s Pasta cajun chicken and shrimp lunch with your co-workers. Situated across from the majestic Mission basilica and the handsome public library, this project promises to complement the facade of one of the prettiest commercial rows found anywhere. Later on, for a Caribbean-style treat, you could enjoy one of smiling Al’s mouth-watering subs from Wan’s Deli at one of the parklet garden tables or a tangy chicken burrito from Chacho’s. My prediction is that there will be lines forming to enjoy what this area of Mission Hill has to offer.

Will Rogers once said, “You can’t legislate intelligence and common sense into people.” Enforcing existing laws certainly helps. Bravo to Boston Police Capt. John Davin and his officers for the crackdown this summer on Huntington Avenue drivers ignoring basic courtesy to commuters boarding and exiting the Green Line trolleys. On the Wednesday before Labor Day, the BPD cited 183 drivers for blocking City intersections on Mission Hill. This intelligent effort, called “Don’t Block the Box,” was spurred by our friends, the traffic planners at MASCO, Boston Traffic Department and Boston’s finest. Nothing gets my blood boiling more than seeing a wailing ambulance attempting to deliver a patient to the emergency room stymied by some inconsiderate joker jockeying for a 30-second advantage.

The Mission Hill Healthy Food Festival spearheaded by Maggie Cohn at the Health Movement is shaping into quite an event on Sat., Sept. 22at Sheehy Park.  An impressive array of invited participants and sponsors will be promoting healthy eating, fitness and self-improvement, while having fun! That Saturday, local food establishments such as Flann O’Brien’s, Mama’s Place, Lilly’s Pasta Express, Wok N Talk, Penguin, Montecristo, Mission Bar and Green T Coffee Shop will be joining our Farmer’s Market  vendors (MacArthur’s Farm and Gary’s Too Farmstand) to prepare samples of healthy eating items free to the public. These “healthy choices” are proof that food that is “good for you can taste good too,” and will become featured menu items at these participating Mission Hill Main Streets establishments.

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

Karen Hale of Vermont takes a break while helping daughter and Massachusetts College of Art and Design student Morgan Hale move in on Calumet Street on Move-In Day, Sept. 1. (Photo by Richard Rouse)

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