On September 6th, 2017 a message dropped from a Boston.gov email account announcing a “Farewell to Mattapan-Dorchester and the Haitian Community.” Buried in the message (in the very last paragraph, in fact), was a a cryptic mention that there would “also be updates regarding Mattapan Square…and the addition of a new tattoo parlor.”
This struck me as curious, since I already had an entry in my calendar, by then, to attend a hearing of the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals about a tattoo parlor slated to go into the building next door to where I live.
The Zoning Board’s hearing notice had arrived in snail mail weeks before. It confirmed what prior to then, was only rumor. So I resolved to go and lodge a formal protest– yes, about associated public health and safety hazards that would result; but especially about the lack of public process related the proposed change of “business uses” at 438 River Street in Mattapan, MA.
When the time came, I listened intently as Ruth Georges–out-going Boston Neighborhood Liaison, assured the Zoning Board of Appeals that all public process requirements had been fulfilled, and so asked the Zoning Board to advance the petitioner’s appeal.
And while it is true that a “community meeting” was held to address the requirement that there be a public process, was it all just ‘for show?’ A pretense? A sham?
Because no one in ‘our neck of the woods’ received notice about this “community meeting”–not even those who live across the street or even right next door. No surprise, then that only six people attended, four of whom were aides to elected representatives.
Here and now–a mere seventeen days later–Ms. Georges is apparently signaling that the event held on the 20th at Mildred Ave. Community Center, the event she was promoting as her “farewell party” on the 20th, fulfills the public process requirement to install a tattoo parlor and day care center at the corner of River Street and Riverbank Place.
All of which raises one key question: why is the City’s Office of Neighborhood Services more interested in so aggressively advancing this particular business proposal than in facilitating a public process aimed a community ‘buy-in.’ It is all very curious.
One thing is clear, however: this topic will surface again.