North End Regional Review, September 1, 2015-- Dear Editor,
I'd like to take this opportunity to voice my concerns about the subject proposal. I am a long time resident of the North End. I live here, I work here, I have devoted countless hours volunteering in many different capacities to help make and keep the North End the wonderful, vibrant neighborhood that it is today. I'm proud to call it home, and I can't think of another place in the world where I'd rather live. And I can say with complete confidence, that a majority of people here feel the same way.
But because of its unique charm and desirability, the North End must constantly deal with developmental pressures that seek to capitalize and exploit it. But it's the same old story, isn't it? These same forces that want to profit from its vibrancy and charm, can also be its undoing, by changing the very essence of the neighborhood.
I'm afraid that's what we have here with this proposal. It's the mixture of old and new that makes Boston such an amazing place to be. And nowhere is this juxtaposition perfected any better than in the North End. I disagree with the developer's description of the area as "dilapidated." Admittedly, it could use some historical restoration, but it is historically accurate in its present state. Would you pave over cobblestones because they're bumpy or hard to plow? Would you braze the crack on the Liberty Bell? Would you glue the nose back on the Sphinx? For those of us who understand and appreciate the historical integrity of our city, this development would cheapen it, despite the architect's attempt to make it look like it belongs here.
Whether Boston needs another hotel, shouldn't be the issue here. It's whether the North End needs it. Our neighborhood shoulders a disproportionate burden of Boston's tourism, generating millions of dollars of revenue to the City and the Commonwealth. It can be quite overcrowded at times. The city being as small as it is, hotel proximity is really not a factor. There are various other areas in the city that would benefit from this kind of project. When you intend to put a substantial development in an area where there literally isn't even land, I think you are trying to squeeze too many sardines in the can.
We've been through the Big Dig with the associated congestion, noise, rats, and other disruptions to our daily lives. Obviously, a project like this would cause similar issues. It's easy to write this off as temporary problems. But there are children who grew up here who have known nothing different. This is a neighborhood after all. Every time a project like this happens, we lose a piece of it.
- The North End Union (on Parameter St.) which was a day care center, job assistance for local youth, and fuel assistance for the elderly. It also offered classes in computer, cooking and drama.
- The Christopher Columbus Center (on Prince St.) which held functions such as christenings, showers, teen dances, fundraisers, basketball leagues, and after school programs.
- Two schools (Michelangelo and Christopher Columbus)
It's easy to view the North End as a collection of world class restaurants, a cultural center and tourist destination for people all over the world. But please, look deeper. It's a community, a neighborhood... our neighborhood.
Anne Devlin Tagliaferro
This Letter to the Editor also appeared in the Boston Post-Gazette.