Maura In The News

City's going to pot: Convention prep skips holes in neighborhoods
By Elisabeth J. Beardsley - Boston Herald
Sunday, July 18, 2004

The pothole plague has been lifted like a miracle from the areas around the Democratic National Convention site, but outlying neighborhoods are complaining that Boston's DNC beautification is passing them by.

With indignation growing over the haves and have-nots of a sudden spurt of street repairs, more than 1,200 Boston residents have signed petitions in the last two months, demanding the release of pent-up roadwork money.

The petitions have been flying off their stack on the front counter at Jamaica Plain's Classic Cleaners, whose owner Michael Pavone became galvanized after city officials turned a deaf ear on his pleas to fix a sinkhole in front of his Roslindale home.

``I would assume the downtown or wherever the DNC is going to be is going to look pretty good,'' Pavone said. ``What makes us that are outside the city - Roslindale, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Mattapan - any different? We're the ones that have paid for all this.''

City Councilor Maura Hennigan has been blanketing the city with petitions, asking Mayor Thomas M. Menino to release $22 million she says has accrued in a city account intended for permanent repairs and fueled by deposits from private entities that tear up streets.

Menino aides insisted the outlying neighborhoods aren't being left out in the cold - only that convention-centric work had to be done early due to Secret Service security demands.

Two months ago, the administration unveiled plans to spent $12.8 million on 175 citywide road and sidewalk repairs by November. Of the total, $2.7 million is being spent on the area around the FleetCenter.

``It might seem as if that area is getting more attention, but the public works effort is going to continue throughout the whole summer,'' said Menino spokesman Seth Gitell.

Even with the singular focus on prettying up the convention areas, some spots still seem to have fallen through the cracks.

Witness the 16-inch-diameter, 3-inch-deep pothole in the sidewalk in front of Caffe Dello Sport on Hanover Street - practically shouting distance from the FleetCenter.

Worried that folks with walkers or wheelchairs will hurt themselves trying to get into his establishment, owner Michael Spencer has repeatedly mixed his own concrete and patched the giant hole himself - including just last week, despite repeated pleas over a dozen years for the city to do something about it.

``They repaired every sidewalk in the North End in certain areas adjacent to me, but didn't touch me,'' Spencer said. ``Especially with the convention coming into town, you figure they'd come out and do it.''

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