At Cedar Grove Civic, a changing of the guard

By 
Martine Louis
Jan. 16, 2008

Cedar Grove Civic Association - now 75 years old and with over 400 members - is undoubtedly one of Boston's largest neighborhood associations. From organizing recreational services to awarding over $9,000 in educational scholarships each year, Cedar Grove Civic is the "heart and soul" of the nearby community, says John O'Toole, the group's former president.

"Cedar Grove is a place many call home," said O'Toole, a 43-year old Dorchester native. "Families and neighbors share a tight-knit relationship. Whenever something goes wrong no other community pulls together in support like ours. One of this association's main priorities is to preserve the character of these neighborhoods."

Though O'Toole says he is proud of the association's many accomplishments - mainly remodeling an old Granite Aveenue junk yard along the Neponset River into a passive park called Neponset II - he regrets leaving his post as president without launching a "much needed" community youth center.

O'Toole was among those who proposed building a youth center along the waterfront in Port Norfolk last year. However, many residents in that village spoke out against siting any facility on vacant state owned land that they say has long been intended to remain as a passive park.

"The youth have definitely demonstrated a need for somewhere to go," said O'Toole. "It is a shame that today we are no closer to getting it done than we were when discussions began ten years ago."

O'Toole stepped down from his longtime leadership post last fall and now Cedar Grove Civic has a new president. He too is pushing for a local youth center.

"It's a great idea," said Sean Weir, 38, who was formally elected on Jan. 8. "Kids loitering is a recipe for trouble and they need something to do. Many feel it's unnecessary because we have the Murphy School or the Daniel Marr Club, but those facilities are not always accessible to our children. We need a place that is our own. More and more residents are coming around and lending their support so I do see this happening. But right now we are working on a location."

While both Weir and O'Toole agree the Neponset area would be the "ideal" location, they are also discussing the Pope John Paul II Park and Florian Hall areas.

Weir hopes to prioritize cleaning up and "revitalizing" the Adams Corner village. He is also advocating for more security - including traffic lights and police presence - along the Granite and Milton Street intersection, which he says is a danger to pedestrians.

"It's all about quality of life - especially for our youth," said Weir who has been an active member of the Cedar Grove Civic Association for seven years. "We will be hosting membership drives in hopes of engaging young men and women in our association. It is time that our young people step up and invest in their community."

For more information on meetings or membership call Sean Weir at 617-825-1402 or email weirsean@comcast.net.