Monday, June 01, 2020

June Marks Offices Reopening, Public Spaces Expanding & Property Taxes Due

Today, Monday, June 1, office workplaces can begin to reopen in Boston, under Phase 1 of the state’s reopening framework. Boston City Hall will be open today to assist with the property owners with the tax deadline. The City's Healthy Streets initiative is expanding public open space, sidewalks and bus and bike lanes. The MBTA is pushing forward on T and commuter rail improvements and the State's reopening plan.

June 1, 2020 is the date the City of Boston asked for, because of the size of the City’s commercial sector and the unique role Boston plays in the region’s working and commuting patterns. 

The City published guidelines for offices on how to keep workers, clients, and customers as safe as possible during a gradual and limited reopening. These guidelines use the state Safety Standards for this sector as a starting point, and are supplemented with recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and industry associations, as well as input from local building owners, property managers, and workers.

These guidelines are not mandated, but serve as a detailed and use-able best practices framework. The framework, which covers social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfection, can be found at boston.gov/reopening

The Mayor urges office workplaces to be cautious about reopening, and protect their workforce by keeping the guiding principles that apply to the entire reopening process in mind.

  • First, going back to work brings risk. Even with a limited reopening, workplaces must be ready to manage the ongoing risk, and all plans must include mechanisms for scaling back if COVID-19 cases and deaths begin to spike. 
  • Second, everyone who can work should continue to work from home. Nothing close to an old normal will be possible until a vaccine or effective treatment is developed. And for any worker who is high-risk, steps should be taken to make sure they can work from home.
  • Third, equity is essential for effective risk management. If workplaces don’t plan at every step for the needs of those who are disproportionately impacted, they will have disproportionate impacts that affect the entire workplace. Workplaces must take a complete view of who the workers are that make their offices run: from the front desk staff and custodians up to the CEO. 

The Mayor strongly urges all employers, landlords, and property managers to make use of these best practices and guidelines. The City will be taking feedback and adapting it to conditions moving forward, and can help answer any questions about how to implement them. 
The City will also be consulting with the new Boston Reopening Advisory Board on safety and recovery needs in offices and other sectors of the economy. This is a diverse group of leaders from business, health care, education, labor, arts, and faith communities.

NOTE: Workers in any size organization have options if they feel they are being pressured into an unsafe situation. They include an online form at the Attorney General’s website and a dedicated Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465. People can also find those resources by calling 311. 

In addition Phase 1 applications for the first round of the Boston Reopen Fund are live. More information can be found at boston.gov/reopenfund. The $6 million Fund is a new resource to help small businesses minimize risk and manage economic recovery during reopening. 

PUBLIC SPACE UPDATE
The Mayor announced “Healthy Streets”, a package of changes to improve social-physical spacing in Boston’s neighborhoods, help workers and small businesses recover, and continue the work the City was doing before the crisis to make public space in Boston more safe, accessible, and healthy. These measures are “quick-build” projects that can be adapted and adjusted based on their success and community feedback. Details
Expanding bus stops and bus lanes: Working with the MBTA, the City is increasing space at bus stops on busy routes used by workers—including in East Boston, Mattapan, Roxbury, South Boston, and downtown. We’re also putting in a new bus lane on Washington St. and upgrading the bus lane on Essex Street, for the Silver Line through Chinatown.
Building dedicated bike lanes: The first phase will connect downtown job centers to our existing citywide bike lane network. We’re starting with at least 8 sections of road, connecting downtown, Back Bay, and the South End. These are dedicated lanes that are comfortable for new bike riders, families, essential workers, and commuters. We also continue to study opportunities for opening up lanes to pedestrians on some neighborhood streets, and more details are forthcoming.
Outdoor seating for restaurants: As of this morning, 264 establishments in Boston have expressed interest in seating on the sidewalk or parking lane, and we are reviewing the requests. As the State continues to develop a timeline and framework for restaurant reopening, the City is ready to help, where it can, to make those expansions safe when the time comes.

UPDATE ON PARKS
Areas that are now OPEN:
  • Passive space for walking, running, cycling, riding non-motorized scooters and skateboards, while practicing physical distancing. Keep six feet of space between yourself and others.
  • Tennis courts, pickleball courts, and athletic fields are open for families and individuals from the same household. Do not congregate in groups.
  • No permits will be issued until further notice.
The following features are STILL CLOSED in all parks:

  • Playground structures and equipment (slides, swings, climbing structures)
  • Fitness equipment
  • Courts: basketball, street hockey, and handball
  • Organized, group sports activities on fields: baseball, softball, football, rugby, cricket, and soccer

Only use parks when you have the ability to remain six feet away from others. If you find a park to be crowded, choose a less busy time or find another park.
MBTA UPDATE
The State is in the middle of a plan to replace 400 red and orange, modernizing stations and upgrading tracks.
The coronavirus made it possible for the MBTA to quickly bump up work on the Blue Line and should wrap up on Sunday, May 31.
The T is also speeding up work on the Lowell commuter rail line between Anderson and North Station for the Green Line expansion project.
The T has been cleaning more regularly and often, and is doing rear-door boarding on buses and street-level trolley stops, making it safer for MBTA workers and riders.
Transportation Secretary Pollock says that some may think the T can't do as much this year, but in fact the T will continue their work, spending $1.4B and doubling the amount invested in maintenance.

Precautions for keeping the T safe moving forward with the State’s reopening plan:
  • Social distancing: The State expects that more employees will work from home now, which may decrease congestion on the T and on the roads.
  • The State is looking at asking employers to consider things like staggered start times.
  • T has a Ride Safer Campaign, to promote social distancing, face coverings, and ramping up cleaning and disinfecting. The T is also providing PPE to employees. Staff will be monitoring ridership levels during Phase 1.
  • During Phase 2, service levels across all modes (bus, T, ferry) will increase. Face coverings are required while riding the T, including on shuttle buses.

CITY HALL HOURS AND RESOURCES UPDATE
Boston City Hall will be open this coming Monday, June 1st to accommodate the extended June 1st property tax deadline the City put in place to provide flexibility for homeowners. Staff will be available on a walk-in basis to answer questions and process payments. However, residents are encouraged to make their payments at boston.gov or by calling 311. This is a one-time change, and City Hall will remain open to the public, by appointment, on Tuesdays and Fridays only. BOSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT UPDATE ON PERMITS Due to the harsh economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, the Boston Fire Department is extending the expiration date on all existing Place of Assembly and Annual Permits from June 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020. Any issued Place of Assembly Permit or Annual Permit stating an expiration date of June 30, 2020 will now automatically be valid in the City of Boston until September 30, 2020. The invoices for renewal will be mailed out in mid-August, and the permitting cycle for both Place of Assembly and Annual Permits will become October 1 to September 30 of the following year from this point forward.

COVID 19
  • The City of Boston has 12,634 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive). To date 6,272 of these 12,634 residents have fully recovered. Unfortunately, there have been 627 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston. 
  • There are  420 cases of Covid19 in South Boston. 1,927 people have been tested in South Boston.
  • Massachusetts has 94,895 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 6,640 deaths reported at this time. Massachusetts has also tested 562,323 individuals to date.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Making Sense of The Census: Important Civic Benefits

Responding to the 2020 Census is easy, safe and important, and it’s key to shaping the future of our community. 
Top 5 Reasons to Complete the 2020 Census
  1. The 2020 Census will determine the number of seats MA has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  2. The 2020 Census defines congressional & legislative districts, school districts and voting precincts. 
  3. The 2020 Census influences how $675 billion in public funds are allocated over the next 10 years.
  4. The 2020 Census informs funding for the services that keep our community safe and prepared like emergency response.
  5. The 2020 Census helps direct federal dollars for infrastructure that our community needs, including roads and bridges.
The Census Bureau has created an interactive response rates map so America can keep track of how they’re doing. As of May 22, 2020, the state-wide response rate is above the national rate at 62% and the overall Boston response rate is 50%. 
How can Fort Point and Seaport District improve our under 25% response rate? 
Take 10 minutes and complete the 2020 census
NOTE: Even if you completed the census for a residence outside of the neighborhood, you need to respond for all your properties including your 02210 address.  
If you lost your code, never received it or are away from your mail, don't worry.  You can complete the census without your id online or over the phone:
  1. Dial 1.844.330.2020
  2. Listen to the introduction
  3. Press “0” or say “representative” to reach an operator
Once an operator has been reached, let them know you’d like to respond to the census without an ID. 

View detailed instructions for completing census without your census id.

Quick Reminder: The form must be completed in one sitting. If there is no activity for 15 minutes, with a notiļ¬cation after 13 minutes of inactivity, the session will end and the respondent will have to start from the beginning.

Let's be counted Fort Point & Seaport!

May Neighborhood Gathering: Census, Elections, MassDOT & Neighborhood News

FPNA cordially invites our neighbors in Fort Point and the Seaport to a virtual neighborhood gathering on: 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
6 pm sharp

featuring

Making Sense of the Census
Shelly Gillis, US Census
Sebastian Zapata, City of Boston Census Liaison 


Elections 2020
Tom Ready, FPNA

&

MassDOT Projects in the Neighborhood

with

Neighborhood Updates & Announcements
if you have questions you want answered, email FPNA


To join the neighborhood gathering, click on the invitation link
For dial-in one tap mobile +19292056099,,86394808808#,,1#,661496# 

We recommend you join us a few minutes in advance of our 6 pm kickoff. If you have not used Zoom recently or before, once you click on the invitation link above, you will be prompted to download the software or app. 
  • On a computer, you will be prompted to install the software from the Zoom website or click on the link provided to update your version.
  • On a mobile device, you will directed to the appropriate App store and asked to install the Zoom Cloud Meeting app. 

NOTE: You will need the software or the App to view speakers' presentations.

originally published 05.21.20

Northern Avenue Bridge Community Meeting

updated 5/26/19 with May 6th meeting recording, presentation and related documents and Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) comment deadline. 

Public Comments may be emailed to Team@NorthernAveBridgeBos.com

MEPA Northern Avenue Bridge Environmental Notification Form (ENF) Public Comments are due June 9, 2020. Contact Matt Devlin for a copy of ENF.


FPNA's Tuesday, April 28th's Neighborhood Zoom Gathering gave Fort Point and Seaport neighbors a preview of our new Northern Avenue Bridget. The City of Boston held an online public meeting to provide feedback on May 6, 2020. 

Northern Avenue Bridge
A Boston Bold Design
with new enhancements & new video
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM



originally published 4.30.20

Monday, May 25, 2020

What's Happening In The Channelside Parking Lot?

MassDOT is preforming work on the Ted William's tunnel including the Superplug joint where the underwater portion of the tunnel meets the land tunnel. 



As you can see a portion of the Channelside parking lot (near A Street & Necco) is closed off as a work zone. The remainder of the lot remains open to the public. Work will consist of erosion control, temporary utility relocation, temporary drainage, temporary lighting, and installation of support of excavation, excavation, dewatering, storage of fill, structural repairs to the Superplug joint, and restoration of the parking lot. Substantial completion of work pertaining to this stage must be reached by September 01, 2020. The work is being performed by R. Zoppo General Contractors and Builders and is taking place Mondays through Fridays from 7 am to 3 pm. 

Although Mayor Walsh issued an order to pause non-essential construction, the state is not required to follow the order. The City is starting to ease essential construction today. At the end of April, the City's Inspectional Services Department implemented safety protocols for essential construction work. 
  • May 18, 2020 -The City of Boston will allow essential construction project on sites that meet the following criteria: (1) Projects are permitted, in compliance and have filed a Covid-19 Safety plan and a signed affidavit; (2) Project sites are sufficiently prepared to adhere to all criteria of their safety plan; and (3) the work is for hospitals, public schools, residential buildings [1-3 units], road and utility work, or other outdoor/open air-work such as steel erection, roofing and constructing foundations. 
  • May 26, 2020 -The City of Boston will allow all essential construction projects to re-commence construction activities in adherence to their safety plans. This incremental approach will provide the time necessary to allow complex, large-scale development an opportunity to educate their workforce, safely remobilize and implement their site-specific Safety Plan.
originally published 5.18.20

Thursday, May 21, 2020

It Is Not Your Imagination. It Is Quieter.

At a recent public hearing on reconstruction plans for Logan Airport runway 9/27, MassPort confirmed flights are off more than 75% at the airport. When runway 27 is used it takes departing flights right over our neighborhood.

Now through early August these runways are closed for rehabilitation. Open up your windows and enjoy the sounds of the city!

View scope and details of Logan runways 9/27 rehabilitation project

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Boston Reopening, Testing, Renters Rights & Fresh Truck Open Air Market

COVID-19 CASES
The City of Boston has 12,050 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive). So far, 5,121 of these 12,050 residents have fully recovered. Unfortunately, there have been 588 COVID-19 related deaths in Boston. 

There are 397 cases in South Boston. (10 more cases since last week's 387 cases) and 1,658 people have been tested in South Boston.

Massachusetts has 87,052 positive cases of coronavirus (confirmed and presumptive) and 5,862 deaths reported at this time. Massachusetts has also tested 460,826 individuals to date. 

TESTING UPDATE
Last week, the citywide positive test rate was 13.9%. This was a new low and brings the city’s cumulative positive test rate to 27%, down 2 percentage points from the week before. The City has continued targeted outreach and testing in neighborhoods seeing the most cases, and as a result, those communities’ positive rates continue to go down.
The City also continues to build a citywide strategy for increased testing, which includes an effort that starts next week to test all first responders. 
Overall, the data tells us that we have been moving in the right direction on new cases, positive test rates, and hospitalization for about 3 weeks. 
Every data trend gives a reason for caution, in terms of how gradual our progress is, how necessary our precautions have been, and how much potential there is for new outbreaks if we don’t keep doing the right things. 

ANTIBODY STUDY
On May 15, Mayor Walsh, together with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), announced the study to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through a representative sampling of asymptomatic Boston residents resulted in 9.9% testing positive for antibodies and 2.6% of currently asymptomatic individuals testing positive for COVID-19
  • Approximately 1 in 10 residents in this study have developed antibodies and approximately 1 in 40 currently asymptomatic individuals are positive for COVID-19 and potentially infectious.
  • Learn more about the study here
PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION
Mayor Walsh announced that Boston has been selected as a founding city for the Rockefeller Foundation’s COVID-19 Testing Solutions Group, along with L.A., Detroit, Miami, and New Orleans. This is a group of cities, states, and tribal governments that are sharing best practices and getting access to technical assistance for testing expansion.

REOPENING: Implementing Phase 1 of the State’s Reopening Plan in Boston
On Monday, May 18, the Governor launched Phase 1 of a statewide reopening plan.The Mayor stressed that reopening does not mean “back to normal”—it means bringing caution and a commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19 into workplaces and community spaces.
Boston will continue to meet the needs of families, seniors, and small businesses, as well as continue to follow the science and public health guidance, while monitoring the data at the city and state levels.
The Public Health Emergency declared on March 15 in the City of Boston remains in place until further notice. The same applies to the guidelines for physical distancing and face coverings, as well as the citywide recommended curfew of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. 
The City will continue to focus on equity and meeting the needs of vulnerable communities, families with children, seniors, and small businesses. 

Reopening Construction:
Under the statewide plan: Construction can start the week of May 18.
Boston’s approach: Boston has a phased-in approach with comprehensive health and safety requirements. 
Starting this week of May 18: Work on schools, hospitals, smaller residential projects, and open-air construction can restart.
Starting on May 26: Other work allowed by the state may resume.
Contractors must submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan before returning to work. 

Reopening Office Spaces:
Under the statewide plan: Office spaces will be allowed to open with 25% capacity starting on May 25. 
Boston’s approach: The City will take this step on June 1.
This timeline allows the City to work in collaboration with building owners and employers on safety plans that meet robust public health standards.
Every employer must create and implement plans for workplaces to minimize the spread of the virus, as outlined by the State.
The City is creating guidelines for offices to follow, based on national best practices and expert input.
These guidelines include shift scheduling, work-from-home policies, physical spacing, PPE, cleaning protocols, ventilation, employee communication, and more. These guidelines will be shared next week (week of May 25).

Reopening Small Businesses:
Under the statewide plan: Retail stores are allowed to open for curbside pickup on May 25, as well as some services, including hair care and car washes. 
Boston’s approach: The City is ready to help small businesses create plans that not only meet state guidelines, but go beyond them. However, we are also urging caution. 
The Boston Transportation Department has helped facilitate safe curbside pickup for essential businesses, and will expand that work as needed. The City is also developing creative public space solutions for pedestrians in business districts.
If businesses don’t feel comfortable opening, the City will back them in that decision and continue to make services and resources available to them. 
The City will provide more information in the days and weeks ahead to help employers and community organizations stay safe and connected. Small business owners can reach out to our Office of Small Business

Reopening Houses of Worship:
Under the statewide plan: Places of worship are allowed to open starting this week, at 40% capacity and with strict distancing practices and face coverings.
Boston’s approach: Places of worship must take a very cautious approach and are urged to not reopen if they have doubts about being able to plan, implement, and monitor strict safety guidelines. 
The Statewide “Safer at Home” policy remains in place, which advises against people 65 and older leaving home unless absolutely necessary. The Mayor urged seniors to adhere to the advisory and hold off on going back to places of worship, even if services restart. He also asked faith leaders to reach out to their elderly parishioners, to guide them and support them in putting safety first, and keep them connected in other ways.
The City has been getting questions about church choirs and hymns. The Mayor says they shouldn’t happen yet, given the added risk of virus transmission from singing in addition to speaking. Face coverings must be worn at all times.

2020 CENSUS
We are reminding residents to take the 2020 Census during this time of physical distancing. To date, only 49.8% of households have responded, which is lower than the statewide average response rate of 64.4%. We need to increase the rate of response.
Much of the funding that comes from the Census count helps the most vulnerable among us. It provides, for instance, health care (Medicare and Medicaid), public education (grants for special education and Boston Public Schools), food and nutrition programs (SNAP and free school breakfast/lunch programs), affordable housing (Section 8 vouchers), and child care (Head Start) for low-income families.
The 2020 Census is a way to directly increase community power. It will impact our daily lives for the next 10 years. Many of Boston’s communities are at risk of an undercount. We need a complete and accurate count because all of Boston deserves to be seen, heard, and invested in.
The Census has never been more accessible. You can respond to the 2020 Census online (my2020census.gov), over the phone, or by mail. You can respond to the 2020 Census online or over the phone in 13 different languages.

OPEN SPACE SURVEY
The Boston Parks and Recreation Department is undertaking a Parcel Priority Plan to identify and evaluate land that should be protected as open space. Creating new open space and protecting existing open space will depend on practical concerns and available resources. Please consider sharing your feedback with the Parks Dept about where you would like to see more open space in our neighborhood! Learn more here

RENTERS RIGHTS TOWN HALL MEETING
If you have any questions about your rights as a tenant, join the The Department of Neighborhood Development and Greater Boston Legal Services on Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m. for a virtual town hall, where we will discuss tenants' rights during and after COVID-19. The town hall will be a WebEx event and can be accessed here.

FRESH TRUCK OPEN AIR MARKET
The Mayor's Office of Food Access has modified the Fresh Truck weekly markets to provide fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables while keeping our staff, volunteers, and shoppers safe during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information visit www.thefreshtruck.org, email info@thefreshtruck.org, or call (617) 297-7685.

Important points on the markets:
Fresh Truck Open Air Markets are a safe and convenient way to purchase fresh produce at low prices.
Customers can choose from several options of pre-packed $10 bags that obtain a mix of fruits and vegetables.
Fresh Truck Open Air Market accepts cash, credit, EBT, and HIP.
Markets are conveniently located in various neighborhoods. 

Schedule:
Monday: 11am-1pm | Charlestown BHA & Newtown 38 O’Reilly Way  
Tuesday: 2-4pm | East Boston PJK School 343 Saratoga Street   
Wednesday: 11am-1pm | South Boston West Broadway BHA 7 Joyce Hayes Way         
Thursday: 10am-12pm | South Boston Mary Ellen McCormack BHA Sterling Square   
Friday: 11am-1pm | Dorchester Franklin Field BHA 9O Ames Street; 11am-1pm | Brighton Faneuil Gardens BHA 45 Faneuil Street

BOSTON RESILIENCY FUND REMINDER
The Boston Resiliency Fund provides grant funding to nonprofits supporting communities, families, & individuals in the City of Boston who are most immediately and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. For more information including translated materials, visit boston.gov/resiliency-fund.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A Reopening Message from Councilor Flynn

Today, Governor Baker announced the plan to reopen the Massachusetts economy will be in phases, with all businesses required to follow guidance on physical distancing, as well as mandatory standards on workplace safety and sector-specific protocols. 

A Safer At Home Advisory is in place asking residents to continue to stay at home if possible, and only leave home for healthcare, worship and permitted work, shopping, and outdoor activities. Face covering is still REQUIRED when residents cannot maintain six feet of physical distance in public. All business activities when they reopen must follow guidance on physical distancing, hygiene protocols to prevent COVID-19, and have plans in place for staffing and operations in case employees get sick. Moreover, the Governor has issued sector-specific protocols and best practices for businesses to reopen safely. More information can be found here.

There will be four phases to the Governor’s reopening plan, and the first phase will start today, May 18th, with certain businesses being allowed to resume with restrictions, some capacity limitations, and staggered starts. In order to reopen, businesses must develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Businesses will have to fill out a COVID-19 control plan template, sign a poster  attesting that they have completed a COVID-19 control plan and post it in an area within the business premises that is visible to employees and visitors, as well as post signs and posters describing the rules for maintaining physical distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning, and disinfecting.

On May 18th, the following businesses are eligible to start:

  • Essential businesses stay open and continue to operate.
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction. However, Boston will reopen its construction sites in phases, and will expand permitted construction incrementally. More information is here: https://www.boston.gov/news/temporary-guidance-construction-city-boston#allowed-construction-work
  • Worship
  • Hospitals and community health centers who attest to specific public health/safety standard can provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients

On May 25th, the following businesses are eligible to start:

Laboratory and Life Sciences Facilities
  • Offices, excluding those in the City of Boston.  Work from home strongly encouraged, and businesses should restrict workforce presence to <25% maximum occupancy
  • Hair salons and barbershops by appointment only
  • Pet grooming by appointment only (curbside pet drop- off and pick-up)
  • Car washes exterior car washing allowed
  • Recreation and outdoor with guidelines
  • Other health care providers who attest to specific public health/safety standards can provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients
  • Retail remote fulfillment and curbside pickup
On June 1st, the following is eligible to reopen:
  • Offices in the City of Boston, following applicable guidelines for the rest of the Commonwealth
Even though we are beginning to reopen our economy, this pandemic is still not over unfortunatelyWe should all still continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face covering when we go outside, and do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. I urge everyone to adhere to the guidelines of our public health officials so that we can prevent a surge to our hospitals and protect our frontline healthcare personnel, our essential service workers, our families, our neighbors and each other from this virus. 
The detailed reopening plan, as well as the required forms and guidance can be found here. I hope this information is helpful.

Thank you and stay safe,

Ed
Councilor Ed Flynn
District 2
Office: 617-635-3203