Codman Sq., Four Corners stakeholders take stock

By 
Elizabeth Murray, Special to The Reporter
Jul. 5, 2012

Over 130 people attended a working group meeting at the Great Hall in Codman Square last month to help develop a 10 year plan for the neighborhood. Photo courtesy Millennium Ten

In one of the largest gatherings of residents and stakeholders in Codman Square and Four Corners, over 130 people filled the Great Hall in Codman Square on June 19 to participate in planning processes for the neighborhood.

“I haven’t seen this much energy or resident involvement on a large scale in over 20 years,” said Candice Gartley, a long time resident who works at Codman Square Health Center, in a statement.

This was the first of three planning groups that would be held over the summer in order to develop a 10-year plan for the neighborhood. The event in Codman Square was put on by a collaboration of organizations, residents and businesses all under the banner of the Millennium Ten Initiative. The next event will be held on July 24 at Second Church in Codman Square.

Millennium Ten is the third planning process like this in Codman Square and Four Corners in the last three decades, and it has been encouraging residents and stakeholders to come together and discuss the neighborhood’s future since 2010. Since the Millennium Ten neighborhoods are at the hub of new transit in Boston, with MBTA stops being added on Talbot Avenue and Washington Street, coordinator Jenna Tourje said the meetings are necessary so community members’ priorities would not be forgotten.

“The working groups are where we’re engaging people,” Tourje said. “For the past year we’ve been collecting data from the community... to get what people find as valuable from their community.”

From the data collected from 690 people in the neighborhood, five key priority areas were discovered: connectivity/communication, safety, physical environment, youth and economic development. The people who came to the meeting have been separated into five groups to each address a priority area, Tourje said. This way, they are committed to the working groups in the future. Tourje said it was important that different stakeholders and businesspeople came out as well to try to get businesses more involved with the plan that will develop.

The event began with a dinner buffet provided by Merengue Restaurant in Roxbury. This was followed by an introduction to the engagement efforts of Millennium Ten and the priorities the groups would be discussing. Tourje said she put sticky notes on the tables so people could write down goals and priorities, and she collected them after the meeting to organize and present them at the next meeting.
“I have thousands of sticky notes in my office of things that people said during the meeting,” Tourje said.

Tourje said she was very impressed with the turnout. The mood during the event was very “high-energy” as she said she noticed people were very excited and motivated to help their community.

“I’m excited about the opportunity for stronger relationships between neighbors and
stakeholders and the real change, I believe, this action planning initiative will bring”, said Paul Malkemes, a resident leader of the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle Neighbors United, in a statement.

Tourje thinks next meeting’s turnout will be even larger. She does not think that having so many people working on a plan will be a detriment to the planning process at all.

“Residents are definitely a positive,” Tourje said. “There’s no doubt about that. People live in a community. They should have the opportunity to see what they want to see happen in it, and we help to make that happen.”