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Lower Mills again slighted by city plan for libraries

Another week, another snub by the Menino administration toward the good people of Lower Mills and Mattapan.

The mayor made a ceremonial appearance on Tuesday at the Mildred Avenue Community Center (which is in Mattapan, not Roxbury, as the mayor’s office stated in its press releases) to announce the expansion of broadband Internet capacity in city facilities. The federally funded program will bring new computers and higher-speed online access to 48 facilities across the city — including community centers and libraries.

A map published by the mayor’s office at Tuesday’s press conference showed promising news: The Lower Mills branch library — which Menino and his administration want to close— would be among the facilities to get new laptops and high-speed service.

Turns out, the map is wrong. The Menino administration has no intention of upgrading services at the Lower Mills Library, the Reporter was told yesterday. Even though the rest of the city’s libraries will get re-wired — and even though the city has itself agreed to keep the Lower Mills branch open through next year— folks in that village will be left behind on technology improvements.

It’s clear that the Menino team is hopelessly confused about what to do about the library fiasco. Are we keeping Lower Mills open or are we closing it permanently? Are we expanding the BPL board and giving them fund-raising powers or not? No one in City Hall seems to know.

What has become clear is that while the library branch remains in bureaucratic purgatory, it has been relegated to third-class status by an administration that would prefer that it just go away.
Lower Mills neighbors and their allies across the neighborhoods have every right to demand that this branch library get the same treatment as all the others with our taxpayer dollars. The mayor’s team needs to fix this oversight and add Lower Mills to the list of buildings that will get faster, modern computer service in the coming weeks.

– Bill Forry

Greenway processneeds review time

The news this week that the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation may have assured Milton residents that the proposed extension of the Neponset River Greenway trail will not run through the Capen Street neighborhood is troubling.

The DCR has outlined a number of proposals for routing the one-mile connection from Central Ave. to Mattapan Square. A public comment period expired on Aug. 14, but reactions to the array of plans — including a new proposal by the well-regarded Neponset Greenway Council— demand more time for careful review before any decisions are made.

It may be that the Capen Street neighborhood is not the best path for the Greenway to follow. But all stakeholders in the process — in Boston and Milton— should have equal access to the decision-making that goes into the final route. Decisions by DCR leadership about which options are most viable should be made public to everyone, at the same time.

– BF