History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alvah's near Kittredge Square

The question has been circulating on the neighborhood listserv during the past week.  What do you think about a "small neighborhood business, cooperatively owned by its employees, that serves up quality coffee and curated baked goods in a friendly and beautiful setting"?

About two dozen responses have come back so far.  Every single one of them positive.  The only hint otherwise was the mention of the existing coffee house, Hafun Cafe, in Dudley, where Chuck Turner's District 7 offices used to be at the corner of Shawmut and Malcolm X Blvd.  The actual address is 51 Roxbury Street.  See this brief blog entry.

Kudos are due to Alvah's working group for reaching out to the community with their thoughtfully posed question.

Photo credit Luigi Giovanetti

Friday, February 10, 2012

Less than careful commuter parking on Centre St

Ticketed and hooked within fifteen minutes.
We've stumbled upon imminent disaster before and persuaded the BTD to hold off towing a neighbor's car until we've been able to bang on their door to alert them to the impending tow.  Usually the tow operator has shown patience and been willing to wait a couple of minutes before hooking the vehicle.

Somehow we didn't feel quite the same compassion to the random commuter owner of this automobile, who wedged his full-sized vehicle into a half-sized spot.

We don't have strong opinions about how severely parking violations should be treated on Centre Street, but we were astounded at how little time elapsed between this car being spotted, being ticketed, and being towed.  About a quarter of an hour from beginning to end.

The towing section of the BTD website tells this:  "Vehicles towed for illegal parking are subject to a $90.00 tow fee.  In addition, there is a storage fee of $3.00/hour up to $15.00/day. Payment may be made by cash, Master Card, VISA, ATM card, or debit card."  That, plus the $100 for the ticket, sets the penalty at $193 minimum.  Ouch.  Tic-toc.  The tow lot closes at 10:30 p.m.

The 47 bus out of Dudley is the closest bus.  Not a pleasant walk.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Semper Fi! no more: Changes in Kittredge Square

From Semper Fi! to more sedate
It's with mixed feeling that we see the work being done at the corner of Highland and Millmont streets adjacent to Alvah Kittredge Park.  The scarlet and gold house always brought to mind the last lines of the last stanza of the Marine Hymn:  If the Army and the Navy / Ever look on Heaven’s scenes / They will find the streets are guarded / By The United States Marines.

Google Street View still shows the house in its former Marine Corps-colors glory.

Meanwhile up the street, the park itself is still in a stage of upheaval.  Check out Iseut's blog post to read about Chris McCarthy's work to gain funding for this restoration.  She also has pre-construction pictures.
Alvah Kittredge Square's second rebuild in 30 years
The Powahouse foundation has been poured.  Hopefully, there'll still be art for the Powahouse.  The neighborhood listserve tells that thieves coveting construction materials at the site were scared away Sunday last by the developer.  Yet again, Iseut's blog is always a good read:  Here are two posts on the Powahouse, one from June 2011, with a graphic of the design and another one from the previous year.
Poured foundation for the development at Kittredge Square
And, the director of Historic Boston thanks watchful neighbors and the BPD for preventing dumping at the rear of Alvah's house.  We are so happy that Historic Boston has taken responsibility for redeveloping the house after so many years of neglect.

The still derelict fa├žade of the Kittredge House
In this post (with pics), Iseut writes about Historic Boston, Inc. turning the Kittredge House into condos.  In an apparent dig at the Centre Street neighbors' implacable opposition to Darryl Settles's plan for a bar/restaurant (for example), Iseut writes that "Many of us still haven't given up on the restaurant idea".  Having just now heard about the idea, we'll remain agnostic about it until we learn more.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No Saturday mail delivery? No Friday delivery, either

The loading doc of the Stull & Lee Roxbury post office
 For years mail delivery at our residence has been a lick and a promise on Friday—a single piece at best.  Then Saturday would be the bonus day.  Apparently the balance of Friday's mail and all of Saturday's mail would be delivered on Saturday.

We always attributed this to the Monday-to-Friday mail carrier wanting to work a easy, half day before lighting off for the weekend, sticking it to the Saturday carrier.  This nuisance, stacked next to the plague of misdelivered mail (wrong number, wrong street name, sometime both) seemed small beer for life in Roxbury.

But then, the post office sorting  got way better, so that it is rare for us to get mail that is not ours.  However, now, the delivery on both Friday and Saturday is scant to non-existent.  The bonus day is Monday.  It seems this might be a staffing decision at a higher level, with money being saved by whacking delivery or sorting staff for these two days.

Again, this seems a small nuisance compared to the larger tribulations of urban living, but we can't help feeling that the USPS is sticking it to Roxbury.  When the rest of the country goes to five day delivery, will Roxbury get only four days?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clean streets IV

About two years ago we whined about the disgusting mess on the odd-numbered side of Roxbury Street between Eliot Square and Gardner Street.

To be fair we ought to commend whomever has been keeping that stretch of commuter parking free of trash and litter.  Walking by the other day, this is what we found.
No trash, no build up of leaves; but, rather a reasonably clean sidewalk and gutter.  To whomever is tending to this part of Roxbury Street we say, Thank you!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Local business spills over onto local streets

Phillips Auto Service from February 2010
 A local Budget truck rental operation seasonally spills over its parking operation onto the already parked-up streets.  The lot itself can accommodate about a half-dozen panel trucks.

 But recently, we've noticed a more chronic appropriation of scarce on-street parking to support this small business.  Frequently one or more Budget trucks are parked directly in front of the operation.

Sometimes a truck is parked on Centre Street between Cedar and New Heath Street, sometime on Marcella Street near the curve leading down to Centre Street.  Perhaps this is on-street parking by renters, but we're thinking its unlikely for a renter to pay the rental fee while leaving the truck parked in the same location for several days.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A new blog about Fort Hill/Highland Park, Roxbury

Please, please check out this relatively new blog—first posts appeared last September.

It is awesome.

But, don't flit over there like a hummingbird, expecting to slurp up a quick post or two.  Make a cup of hot chocolate, burrow into your favorite warm chair, and expect to stay a while.

The range of topics and the detail of the writing is fascinating.

From redirects to beer and Mel Lyman and to recent census data  to authored articles on the Athenaeum the blogger has command of a vast range of historical resources and the wit to write well about what he finds.

We've stashed a link on the left under Fort Hill Blogs so we see when there is a new post.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Arthur's house gets new siding

After flapping in the breeze for the last year or two, the Tyvek home wrap on Arthur's house is getting some siding.  Earlier this week the workers put up the decorative, external window frames, which gave us hope that this persistent Centre Street eyesore would finally start to look like housing, blending better into the neighborhood street-scape.

Evidently, the new owners of Arthur's house have been slowly investing in the community by rebuilding the house a little at a time, as they had the capital.  We appreciate the investment, but it has been a long time in coming.

We are also liking the color.
Here is the unsided, northeast face of Arthur's house.  You can see the EasyGuard brand home wrap on this face (Tyvek on the other side) and the new three-window dormer on the third floor.  It's odd that all the old windows in the house were removed and replaced with much smaller windows and it's unfortunate that this side of the house lost most of its windows in the rebuild.  We're sure the house will be much tighter, warmer, and cheaper-to-heat.

Why do we call it Arthur's House, even though it's also been Terry's house and Richard's house and some despicable and soul-less bank's house before these new owners took over?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Appallingly underfunded MBTA buses and trains

It is no secret that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority consistently has been deferring maintenance and capital investment.  Any rider who walks from Fort Hill, down Gardner Street, to wait for a train at the Roxbury Crossing Orange Line stop can see this.

We will leave it to others to comment on the whys and wherefores of this neglect and disinvestment (Universal Hub post).  Suffice it to say that this neighborhood in particular, and Roxbury in general, have suffered over the years.

It is not an issue of suburbs versus the urban core.  It is not that commuter rail has received substantial investment over the years (e.g., the Greenbush Line or the new Wonderland parking facility in Revere), while the last significant investment in the urban core was the realignment of train service from Washington Street to the Southwest Corridor in the '80s (the South Station to airport link and Haymarket to Lechemere Green Line upgrade, notwithstanding).

The issue is that the Massachusetts General Court has kicked the can down the road.  Having saddled the mass transit budget with groaning debt from public roads investment, having worked a compromise by which a portion of the state sales tax is devoted to the MBTA, the legislature seems to have thought its work was done.

Now comes a $161MM annual operating deficit and talks of savage service reductions and equally savage fair increases.  (Read all about the MBTA's side of the story here.)

This must stop.  The legislature must act to reverse the trend of neglect and disinvestment.

The legislature must hear from its constituents that service reductions and rate increases are folly. 

Legislators must hear from us.  It is not enough that we attend the public hearing at Roxbury Community College on Tuesday, 19 January, at 6 p.m., but we must also contact our legislators directly by phone and by email.  Our legislators must hear from us that they cannot sit back and watch as our public mass transit system sinks into decay.

Here are links for contacting the representative and the state senator for Fort Hill.

Rep. Gloria L. Fox, Seventh Suffolk
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Second Suffolk

Do not neglect to contact the Leadership of the House and Senate.

Pres. Therese Murray, President of the Senate.
Speaker Robert J. DeLeo, Speaker of the House

Elected by your representative and state senator, they are answerable to us to.