NEWRA Opposes new Salem Street Restaurant

There was only one voting item on last week’s North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association monthly meeting agenda and a presentation by newly appointed Boston Public Works Commissioner Joanne Massaro.

Commissioner Massaro spoke for about 20 minutes and answered questions relating to her department’s responsibility, plans and goals. She noted that because of budget cuts, her department could not possibly meet all the demands and suggestions from neighborhood residents.

Trash removal, recycling, street cleaning, trash and snow removal were some of the questions residents posed to Massaro.

During the meeting two controversial subjects were discussed that need close attention before BPW attempts to implement them.

Massaro told residents that DPW is looking at year round mechanic street cleaning and two-day trash pick-up in the North End/Waterfront area. These topics have been discussed in the past at several neighborhood meetings and there has been some opposition raised. She did note that before any of these proposals are implemented several public meetings would be held.

When asked about recycling, the Commissioner claimed that a vigorous informational campaign is being planned in the near future to get more people to participate in the City’s recycling program.

Residents told the Commissioner that their sidewalks have become almost impassable with all the street furniture placed on them including benches, plants, signage boards and barrels.

One resident claimed seniors, people with children in strollers and handicapped people have to walk on the street in some cases to continue to walk. Massaro said that DPW would look into the situation.

DPW Assistant Commissioner Frank O’Brien, a regular at neighborhood meetings, joined his boss at the NEWRA meeting and participated in the question and answers for part of the meeting. O’Brien received a compliment from NEWRA President Mark Paul for his commitment to the community.

A very confusing vote that required two motions was taken on a request to open a new Salem Street restaurant. The motion was so confusing only 26 NEWRA members out of approximately 50-60 cast ballots on the request.

Several residents told the Review that they didn’t vote because they had no idea what they were voting for, or against.

The motion called for a vote to amend the applicant’s request to comply with NEWRA hours of operation policy that calls for closing hours of 11pm Sunday through Thursday and 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday.

The applicant Vincent Ferrara, a North End resident, is requesting closure hours of 12 midnight 7 days a week for a new establishment, Cafe Nuova at 76 Salem Street. The original license at this location included a 2am closure. The group voted 18-8 to support NEWRA Policy that has been in existence for years.

The second motion was to oppose Ferrara’s request based on the first motion to stand by NEWRA hours of operation policy. NEWRA voted 18-6 on the second motion which reflected the first motion.

A point of order was raised by the Review claiming that the motion was not withstanding because the applicant had publically stated he was not willing to amend his request to comply with NEWRA policy and the committee had no authority to amend his proposal.

Some residents felt that a simple motion to oppose or support Ferrara’s request based on NEWRA policy would have been less confusing and didn’t change the applicants proposal.

During the discussion on the Salem Street request, the Chairperson of a NEWRA Committee challenged the right of a non-resident to speak at a public meeting.

Obviously, she had no clue that anyone can speak at a public meeting. Her statement "He doesn’t even live here" was totally out of line and the President of NEWRA should have clarified the issue. He didn’t.

Paul reminded residents that NEWRA will hold election of officers, President, Vice President, Secretary and Sergeant of Arms on Thursday, October 14 at the group’s monthly meeting at the Nazzaro Community Center.

He noted that anyone interested in becoming a candidate or wanting to nominate a candidate should contact Victor Brogna. He also mentioned that nominations will be accepted from the floor at the public meeting.

Paul reminded residents that between September 1-7 college students will begin moving into the North End. He suggested that if any problems take place residents should call 911 immediately.

Paul also mentioned the neighborhood endeavor to keep trucks carrying hazmat cargo off neighborhood streets is ongoing. A technical study of the situation is due to be published this month, August 2010.

In addition, Paul mentioned that the Cross Street sidewalk traffic restrictions were in place and everything is working to the satisfaction of the neighborhood that expressed public safety concerns in the area.

One resident told the Review that a senior citizen was recently hit by a bicycle going the wrong way and suffered a serious hip injury. He suggested the Review remind seniors and others of the possible danger presented by inconsiderate bicycle riders and for seniors to be aware of this situation by paying attention when crossing streets.

A NEWRA ZLC Committee hand out claimed Damian Szary has withdrawn his request to develop at 76 Snow Hill Street. Apparently he and abutters could not come to an agreement.

The next NEWRA monthly meeting will be held on Thursday, September 16 at 7pm at the Nazzaro Community Center, 30 North Bennet Street.

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