Friday, May 25, 2007

State of the Allston-Brighton Neighborhood: "Turmoil"

The Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation held its annual meeting (for 2006), which was a public event titled, "The State of the Neighborhood."

When the U.S. President gives his State of the Union speech, there is usually a line like: "Today I report to you that the State of the Union is strong." The final adjective is typically a positive one, but may vary from year-to-year.

Outgoing Allston-Brighton District City Councilor Jerry McDermott addressed the attendees at the ABCDC event by offering a less rosy adjective for the State of the Allston-Brighton Neighborhood: "turmoil." He immediately added a positive spin, however, by saying that, for the A-B community, "when the chips are down, they are at their best."

"The universities did something they didn't intend to," McDermott continued, "they got strangers [in the community] talking to each other. Some of the powers-that-be are a little nervous about that."

There was criticism from both the audience and the speakers about the problems faced by institutional expansion in Allston-Brighton. At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo called for structural changes at the City level: "We need a planning department. We are the only city in the country that doesn't have a planning department... The people should have a say in planning."

Arroyo is working on passing an ordinance to create such a department, and claims a total of five of the thirteen councilors are already on-board. He advised the crowd as to the importance of city planning and institutional development: "You are about to have an election. I think that is a key question about who you are going to vote for City Councilor.

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