Boston's Neighborhood Services coordinators started conducting a 24-hour snapshot of their neighborhoods this morning at 8 a.m., to give a firsthand account of what they see and hear - and focus on the .
"Neighborhood coordinators are on call 24 hours a day. This is the first time we have done this exercise to be in the neighborhoods and engaging folks, and see life in the neighborhood," said Jay Walsh, director of the Mayor's Neighborhood Services Department. "Part of it is to experience things in a different light compared to responding to problems. This is giving them a fresh perspective and have to see what our constituents see regularly."
Pine Street Inn
In the South End, Walsh said, Hilani Morales, the new neighborhood coordinator has at least one specific assignment: "One of the things we constantly get complaints is what do folks do when they leave the Pine Street Inn. This will be an observation of what they do. We get complaints about loitering. Also public drinking and drug use in certain areas... She's (neighborhood coordinator) not there to arrest anyone, but to give a firsthand account of what she sees there. She's new, so there will be a lot of engaging (with the community)."
Walsh added that all neighborhood cordinators will be conducting a citywide streetlight survey - something that can't be done during the day.
Each coordinator created his or her own timeline of how to spend 24 hours, said Walsh. "It’s catered to observing things that they experience."
Walsh said nothing is to be staged, and used Jullieanne Doherty, the Jamaica Plain coordinator's day as an example. "She's starting with going to restaurant by herself (for breakfast), then go to a tot lot and engage with kids and parents. Then walk the business district, and introduce themselves..."
Ultimately, the coordinators will report back to Walsh and Mayor Menino to determine what's working, what's not working, problems, as well as positives in the neighborhoods.
West Roxbury's neighborhood coordinator is riding around Public Works employees in the afternoon to look at streets, sidewalks and infrastructure.
"I’ll be in the parks checking up on cleanliness, outstanding complaints (in parks), BTD (Boston Transportation Department) issues. Any city-related issue that is outstanding, I’m going to get my own two eyes on - not like I don’t already, but we're really targeting everything in 24 hours."
Tracy said he's also engaging with business owners and residents, by hitting up the three business districts: Centre Streets (and talk with business owners with Executive Director Kara O'Connor), Spring Street, and the Washington-Grove area.
Late at night, Tracy, like the rest of the neighborhood coordinators are going around with Boston Police cruisers to look at nighttime issues like premises that have had license violations for overcrowding, serving people past allowed hours, or having noise issues. Walsh and Tracy both said those issues are more pertinent to the more urban neighborhoods such as Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the Fenway.
In West Roxbury, Tracy said he and the cops will be checking up on wooded areas where teenagers tend to hang out.
North End Noise
Walsh said that the North End coordinator, Nicole Leo, will be doing her snapshot in the next two weeks (after a vacation). "In the North End, we hear people complaining not about the establishments, but about people coming home from Faneuil Hall and they’re being loud."
The 24-hour snapshot will also aide neighborhood coordinators when they work with Boston's Licensing Board. Said Walsh, "When we go to the licensing board and testify about extended hours, we need firsthand knowledge of what it’s like at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., and 3 a.m. so we can go back to licensing board with a more educated recommendation to them than previously. It’s mainly an engagement exercise, and it’s our hope that they can gain more contacts and people recognize them as the resources they are."
Said Tracy, "The end game of all this, is a liaison will write a report to the Mayor talking about what’s working, what could be improve, and this is what what we saw."
If you have a question, comment or complaint about your neighborhod call the Neighborhood Services Department at 617-635-3485 or the Mayor's 24-hour hotline at 617-635-4500.