Sunday, November 22, 2015

Letter: Gove Street Citizens Association a long established group

Long time East Boston activist Mary Ellen Welch defends the Gove Street Citizens Association in a letter to the editor.

The GSCA is a strong neighborhood group. 
This letter is sent to correct misinformation in an article in the last issue about the Gove Street Citizens Association.  The article describes the Association as “a sort of splinter group of the Jeffries Pont Neighborhood Association.” This is not true.
The Gove Street Citizens Association operated for 35 years as a strong, effective neighborhood group representing the Mount Carmel area.  The GSCA worked very hard on many issues over the years. It organized residents about the issue of a third harbor tunnel when the route was along the railroad right of way and then at the foot of Jeffries Point through the Jeffries cove. Working with the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association the groups lobbied the Governor and other state officials to have the tunnel surface on the airport.
The Gove Street Association worked for many years   on airport impact issues like noise and air pollution. The group lobbied at City Hall and at the State House to get the airport to implement noise abatement techniques and soundproofing of homes and schools.  All the while the GSCA worked together with other neighborhood groups making the neighborhood voice a stronger one.
Both of these neighborhood groups worked with the City to improve the zoning rules in this end of East Boston.  The idea was to control institutional expansion and allow the kind of development that would enhance the residential quality of the neighborhood. Both areas had historic overlay districts designated in parts of their areas to preserve some of the unique history of the sub neighborhoods.
During the 35 year operation of the GSCA many other ideas and issues were brought up for discussion and action. The Mount Carmel area was very strong and organized around neighborhood issues. They were recognized by all levels of government and earned the respect of all the elected officials and government agencies.
When the City was forced to close the police station and a firehouse because of severe budget cuts the East Boston citizens rallied at the tunnel for 61 days to protest the closings. The GSCA was one of the neighborhood groups to recruit volunteers to march in the protest. To have an active citizen organization to watch over a section of a neighborhood makes the whole neighborhood a stronger one. There is more information able to be circulated among the neighbors on small and large issues. 
An informed citizen is an empowered one.
After 35 years the leadership of the GSCA decided to slow down and work within other organizations to do community work. In recent months with so many new development proposals surfacing in the neighborhood it became evident that more work and citizen involvement was necessary to protect the integrity of the neighborhood. So the old leadership and the newer neighborhood residents decided to revive the GSCA as a mechanism through their voices could be heard on important issues, so, the Association reintroduced themselves to the local and State officials and to developers in the neighborhood.  Of course the intention is to work with all the other neighborhood groups on issues that affect all sections of neighborhood.  Particular attention is to be paid to the local issues in the Mount Carmel area so each voice is heard and opinions are heard and respected by all who want to do business in the area.
The community is made stronger and more effective with more people and opinions involved in decision making for their immediate neighborhood. So, the GSCA is a healthy, invigorated group of residents who only want the best for their neighborhood.
Perhaps the newspaper could reach out to the leadership and membership of the GSNA to better understand the philosophy and ideas of this strong neighborhood group with a proud history.


Mary Ellen Welch