What’s Happening on Main Streets

August 8, 2014
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While lolling through those lazy hazy days of summer, I’d like to remind readers that our two Mission Hill Farmers Markets have been in full swing since June, and the fresh Massachusetts grown fresh fruit and plump produce is looking mighty prime.

The markets were started years ago by Main Streets. We now partner with the Mission Hill Health Movement with a simple, two-fold goal; to provide healthy farm-fresh food to the community and to increase local shopping and foot traffic in our business district.

On Tuesdays, the market is located at the Roxbury Crossing MBTA station, and on Thursdays at the monument in Brigham Circle. On both days, set-up occurs around noon and they stay open until twilight. We take SNAP/EBT cards and we also offer Boston Bounty Bucks at a match of up to $10 on EBT purchases. In other words, you can receive $20 worth of items when making a $10 purchase with your EBT card.

In the interest of promoting good nutrition to all and being a fantastic neighborhood institution, New England Baptist Hospital recently stepped up and is offering a $2 coupon to any shopper at our markets. This came about through the intercession of Baptist community relations director Christine Dwyer, who knows that top-quality ripe fruit and veggies aren’t cheap, so she approached her bosses at the hospital to see if they could help and came up with this excellent program for their neighbors. For instance, if you come to the market and feel the urge to bring a big bag of juicy peaches or a bucket of ripe berries home for the kids, and it costs 5 bucks, you can get a coupon and it will only cost you $3. You become an instant hero! This is a very good deal and we applaud New England Baptist for their generosity and corporate citizenship

By the way, over the next few weeks, if you visit the Baptist, keep your eye out for the huge Mission Hill Raffle Basket. Take a chance to win local gift cards and prizes while supporting the annual Arthritis Foundation Walk in September. This is a special charity that NEBH supports and the hospital is always a great neighbor to this community.

The late Congressman Joe Moakley used to claim to be a devoted birdwatcher. If you knew Joe, you couldn’t help scratching your head, because it really didn’t fit with his demeanor. (Joe, an outstanding boxer and son of a Southie barkeep, dropped out of high school and lied about his age to enlist in the Navy during WWII.) The longtime Democratic pol would wink and say, “My favorite bird is the crane,” and would point at construction cranes and talk about them being the truest indicators of a healthy economy. Mission Hill is humming with several exciting projects and I truly smile watching the construction crews excavating the site where Arnie Pressman’s Clutchworks shop once stood. I loved Arnie—he was a great guy and a genuine community character—but I hated the look of his greasy, run-down, old yellow brick supermarket building. The 66-unit apartment development with retail on the streetscape being built by the Jason Savage/Mitch Wilson partnership will truly enliven and beautify that area of Tremont Street, and I can’t wait to see it done.

Another project nearing completion over the next few months is the Brigham and Women’s Hospital underground garage in Brigham Circle. This construction of over 400 underground parking spaces and a lush open-space colonnade called the Stoneman Centennial Park has been extremely disruptive to local businesses, auto and pedestrian traffic in Brigham Circle. However, the suffering will soon be at an end and a grand promenade of lawn, flowers and trees will showcase the countenance of the hospital and the community at large. People are already referring to it as “Brigham Green,” and it is sure to enhance the area for decades to come. On a personal note, I have truly grown to admire some of the small storekeepers for their adaptability, patience, and vision in dealing with all of the hiccups that popped up during this project. No project of this scale is ever easy and it has been real challenge to many. I applaud everyone involved for their class and common sense.

Finally, I was speaking with Mayor Walsh recently and he wanted me to extend his appreciation to all the businesses and institutions that made an effort to employ a local kid with a summer job. The City keeps statistics on these things and he told me that Mission Hill and the LMA have really come through and it is noticed and appreciated. Each time I speak with him, I’m further impressed with how well Marty Walsh has adapted to his new role. I think he will be a great mayor for Boston.

The writer is executive director of Mission Hill Main Street.

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