1065 Tremont St. project

As I read the news story on the proposed 28 residential units on a proposed six-story building at 1065 Tremont Street in Lower Roxbury, I thought the concerns of current residents must be taken into consideration. As for the siting of the four affordable housing units to be provided by the developer, I think it needs to be on site.

Lower Roxbury as of late has been back in the news as developers start viewing this once vibrant neighborhood for a re-birth. Fears of gentrification are real. For those folks who were never displaced over the decades, this new housing boom could either be the best thing going or a nightmare for all currently residing in this area of Lower Roxbury near  Melnea Cass Boulevard.

Recently not far away on Washington and Newcomb streets, another developer has proposed another new housing proposal for my old childhood development. Unlike other neighborhoods, few residents would be getting displaced since all the neighborhood displacement took place over 40 years ago when my community was all but completely razed.

I can only hope that any new housing in this area of the city be a vibrant mixture of race and class like it once was back into the ‘50s and early ‘60s when this place was left for dead by everyone except those still trapped there.

I remember what Lower Roxbury once looked like when it was alive and well. I remember its destruction by  wrecking ball. I can still dream of newer and better days, can’t I?

Sal Giarratani

East Boston resident

Funding for Jackson Square rec center needed

We are two youth from Hyde Square Task Force and we are writing to remind readers of a major issue. Sixteen years ago, the Jackson Recreation Center was promised for youth in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, but that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Currently, Urban Edge has developed a plan for this $21 million facility that will have ice on one level and indoor turf on the other. But there is one problem that we still need to resolve: only about half of the funds have been raised.

This center would not only serve the youth and families of Jackson Square, but it would also bring economic vitality to the area. There are countless numbers of people that walk up and down Centre Street which would be near the recreation center. Research has shown that recreation centers in urban areas increase the level of economic benefits. Even though the center may cost a lot to build, money would come back into the community and benefit not only the residents, but the business owners as well.

With all the construction going on in Boston right now, we should be able to get this center built. As of the spring of 2016, $7 billion of construction investment was underway in Boston. The Jackson Recreation Center needs $10 million more to be built– that is just a tiny fraction of the current cost of construction going on now in Boston. It is expected by 2030 that the city of Boston’s population will grow dramatically from 667,000 to 723,000 and the City has a goal of 50,000 new units of housing. What about investing in recreation for current and future youth so that this growing population will have a healthy lifestyle?

Mabel Gondres and Lorrie Pearson

Hyde Square Task Force Youth Leaders

Open letter to local state Rep. Sanchez

At a recent town hall meeting in Mission Hill I felt let down by your refusal to advocate for reform of the Massachusetts penal system.

I would like you to know my experience with formerly incarcerated people who are making the transition to life in the community. I am a retired resident of Jamaica Plain who, for more than a year, has been volunteering with the New Start Project (located at the Haymarket People’s Fund on Seaverns Street). I have seen the enormous difference a few key interventions can make. Many young men who are incarcerated for a non-violent crime learn from their mistakes and want to turn their life around when they leave prison. One man I met was convicted of a petty crime when he was 19 years old. Upon release he was bewildered and disorganized. He hardly knew where to begin because he had little life experience to aid him in establishing a positive lifestyle. He had no family to take him in. Not knowing how else to survive, he probably would have reverted to criminal behaviors. What made the difference in his destiny was the weekly Empowerment program at New Start plus the opportunity to learn concrete skills such as writing a resume and presenting himself at job interviews.

The Massachusetts penal system does not provide any re-entry services at the time inmates are released. I hope, Rep. Sanchez, that you agree that this omission should be corrected. The economic advantages to the Commonwealth are obvious. A re-entry support program would cost far less than re-imprisonment.

I encourage you to support the criminal justice reforms being debated at the State House.

Bill Himelhoch

Jamaica Plain resident

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