What’s Happening on Main Streets

The fences came down, revealing trees nut-browned,

Thy trucks have soon gone, all she lacks is renowned.

Why have I succumbed to the joys of composing (bad) poetry? I’m delighted to have witnessed the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Thea and James M. Stoneman Centennial Park at Brigham Circle on Sept. 22,  and a return to normalcy.

The honored benefactors of this extensive reconstruction joined with Brigham and Women’s Hospital President Dr. Betsy Nabel to open the verdant entry plaza, which sits atop some 400 new underground parking spaces.

Legendary hospital patron Jack Connors served as emcee and acknowledged the historic improvements to community relations with the many neighborhood civic leaders in attendance. The Chief of Boston Health and Human Services, Felix Arroyo, speaking on behalf of Mayor Walsh, kept the audience laughing by describing tales of working nights inside Brigham and Women’s as a security guard when he was a college student.

Two Brigham employees who went above and beyond during the difficult construction process in responding to neighborhood issues deserve approbation. John McGonagle and project director Joe O’Farrell were always responsive and professional over the past two years, dealing with any and all problems affecting residents and merchants. Special acknowledgement goes to the dozens of small businesses who suffered with the resulting decrease in business that occurred with a wall of construction limiting access to many in the LMA who shop in Brigham Circle. I hope their collective sacrifice is now worth it that a glorious new park provides a welcoming entrance rivaling the look one would find in the Back Bay. If the Boston Public Garden neighbors find that one of their swans has wondered away, don’t be surprised if you see them searching around Francis Street.

Mark your calendars this coming Nov. 19 for Mission Hill Main Street’s Savor the Flavor gala. That Wednesday night will feature Mission Hill’s various dining establishments trying to outdo each other for bragging rights about their signature recipe. The Mission Church Parish Center from 7 until 9 p.m. will be the site of this year’s soiree. Judging by the response to the previous two Savor events, this should be the social event of the year. Stay tuned for more details in next month’s column. If you wish to participate or volunteer, just leave a message at 617-427-7399 and we’ll get back to you.

The response to New England Baptist Hospital’s generous $2 coupons to both Farmer’s Markets has been over the top! A dramatic increase in purchases occurred due to Baptist’s neighborhood largesse and confirms the wisdom of the Mission Hill Main Street’s board of director’s decision when they bestowed their first ever Cherished Neighborhood Asset Award to Hospital President Trish Hannon. Both Baptist VP Maureen Mulkerrin and Community Relations Director Christine Dwyer exhibit hearts of gold and empathize with those in need, and are beloved in Mission Hill as well.

The City Hall To Go truck is scheduled to be in Mission Hill at the Oct. 23 Farmers Market at Brigham Circle and on Oct. 29 at Sheehy Park next to the library. Danielle Valle-Fitzgerald from the Mayor’s Office will be there on both days in the big red van from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. to handle any and all matters related to City of Boston services. Danielle is great at solving problems, and you can save the cost of car fare to City Hall in Government Center.

The longstanding Mission Hill Crime Committee returned from its summer break to a lively and sometimes heated conference on Sept. 25 about the excessive partying by student residents since the return to school. This year’s Move-In Days have been widely acknowledged as the best ever. Nevertheless, the neighborhood buzz has been increasing about the attitude and conduct by large groups of students this semester, who seem less considerate of others than those in years past. Mary Todd and moderator Toni Komst maintained audience decorum (no pitchforks and tar buckets yet!), and remarks by neighborhood stalwarts Mitch Hilton, Eric Alden and Dave Welch were right on the mark.

I always enjoy attending Crime Committee and Community Alliance meetings. There is no better place to gauge the tenor of a community than these.

On Sept. 24, WCVB’s award-winning “Chronicle” program described Mission Hill as a hot “Happening Hood” Boston destination. We knew it anyway. This nifty story featured former City Councilor and current Boston Globe columnist Michael Ross giving the lowdown on Tobin gym basketball with John Jackson. (I was amazed to see that Michael inherited his dad’s distinctive walking style). Father Ray Collins described some highlights on the church and surrounding neighborhood with some nice camera work, and a tour of the EnVision Hotel was given. Things in our ’hood are happening.

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

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