Historic Boston Inc. ready to save landmark Mattapan farm

The Fowler-Clark farm has been boarded up in recent years to prevent further damage from squatters. The farmhouse dates to the 18th century. Reporter file photo

A historic but endangered Mattapan landmark could soon have a new owner that would ensure that it remains viable for decades to come. Historic Boston Inc. has entered into an agreement to purchase the Fowler-Clark farmhouse on Norfolk Street. The transaction will not be executed until next March, giving the non-profit preservation group time to raise funds and create a definitive plan for re-using the property’s old structures for housing.

The farmhouse, which was built at the turn of the 18th century, is one of the city’s last tangible links to a now-distant agrarian past. Designated as historic landmarks in 2006, the house and an adjacent barn have since been boarded up by city inspectors worried that squatters would destroy the buildings through vandalism or fire.  Read more

Neponset Greenway update: Phase 2 construction set to begin

A rendering shows what a connection of the Neponset Greenway near the gas tank on Dorchester Bay would look like.

Construction on the second of three phases of the Neponset River Greenway will soon get under way as the project to connect Readville’s Martini Shell to South Boston’s Castle Island continues on schedule and on budget, according to Jack Murray, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation.

“This has been a real priority of the governor’s,” Murray told the Reporter. “He’s directed us to get this project in the ground before the end of his term and we’re working hard to make it happen.”  Read more

Walsh administration sets stage for housing growth in new report

City Housing Report 2014-2030: A graphic from the city report characterizes "access to the Homeownership Market" by neighborhood. Image courtesy City of BostonCity Housing Report 2014-2030: A graphic from the city report characterizes "access to the Homeownership Market" by neighborhood. Image courtesy City of BostonThe Walsh administration released its first housing plan this week. The 140-page document is titled “Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030” and lays out the major challenges and goals for meeting the demand for new housing for a population that is on the rise. The plan anticipates that the city’s population will surge past the 709,000 mark by 2030 — a growth from today of some 91,000 people.

The report notes that the last time Boston was home to 700,000-plus people was in the 1950s. Back then, large families often lived in a single unit — like the classic Dorchester three-decker experience. In today’s Boston, this report notes, “fewer people inhabit each unit of housing, making our current housing stock insufficient to accommodate this growth.”

Insufficient is putting it mildly. Even in Dorchester, which is categorized in this report as one of the city neighborhoods with “good access” to middle income housing, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to find affordable homes or rental units.

The report is candid in saying that “given the constraints of space, the high cost of land, declining federal funding, and a finite amount of City dollars available, we must acknowledge that the City cannot build its way out of this problem.” But, build we must. The Walsh plan pledges to produce 53,000 new units of housing between now and 2030 – a growth of 20 percent in terms of the number of households.  Read more

Employees protest as UMass-Boston celebrates 50 years

Colleen Quinn, State House News Service
Oct. 7, 2014

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 7, 2014....As University of Massachusetts officials marched from the State House to Boston Common to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Boston campus, more than 100 university employees held their own procession, protesting sick time and vacation pay concessions the university is asking them to make.

Protestors quietly stood in the background as UMass officials and local dignitaries, including former Senate President Robert Travaglini - an alumnus - and current UMass President Robert Caret, described the transition of the campus, from its formation in 1964 on the site of a former landfill to its status as a modern, harbor-front urban campus where students can "realize the American dream."  Read more

Politicos put the spotlight on Strand

Walsh launches mayoral campaign at Strand Theatre, May 2013Walsh launches mayoral campaign at Strand Theatre, May 2013

The Strand Theatre gets another big turn in the state spotlight this Friday as the nation's first lady, Michele Obama, comes to Columbia Road for a campaign rally to support the Democratic gubernatorial ticket. It’s a good opportunity to let the broader community see the jewel that the Strand has once again become, thanks in large part to the last city administration under Mayor Menino that pumped in some $8 million to renovate the theatre.  Read more

Gov. Patrick rips 'stupid' Boston Herald cartoon targeting president

Reacting to a widely scorned Boston Herald editorial cartoon that the newspaper has said was not intentionally racist, Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday called it "stupid" and said he hoped for greater sensitivity.

"I don't need to pile on. I found the cartoon offensive. I think most people did. It was stupid," Patrick said, chuckling. "I think even the Herald sees that."

Patrick has regularly been roasted in the tabloid's pages. Asked about Wednesday's cartoon on his way to a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration he said, "Frankly my expectations are not very high. It was stupid."  Read more

Baker outpaces Coakley in fundraising down the stretch

Matt Murphy, State House News Service
Oct. 1, 2014

First Lady Michelle Obama's arrival on Friday to stump and raise money for gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley comes in the nick of time for the Medford Democrat, with the latest campaign finance numbers showing the Democratic ticket trailing Republican Charlie Baker and his running mate.  Read more

Menino's memoir: A case of too little, too soon?

Menino MemoirMenino MemoirThomas Menino's "Mayor for a New America" hits stores and tablets on October 14. It will no doubt find a well-deserved place in the libraries of Bostonians who have a keen interest in city history and politics.

But it will find that shelf-space too quickly for many of us. At just 250 pages, the book is an all-too-quick read that leaves those well versed in the Menino era wanting more. Those thirsty for a serious, deep-dive chronicle and analysis of the Menino era will have to wait. Perhaps the publishers and the authors should have, too.

Co-author Jack Beatty, the respected biographer of another great Boston mayor, James Michael Curley, does not intrude much or enough here. It’s Menino’s voice and style that rings true in the prose—simple and to the point.  Read more

Guv candidates mix it up at Springfield debate

Andy Metzger, State House News Service
Sep. 30, 2014

Sharing a debate stage for the first time, the five candidates for governor who will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot talked education, transportation and energy during a one-hour exchange of ideas that featured one flare-up.

Republican Charlie Baker, Democrat Martha Coakley and independents Evan Falchuk and Jeff McCormick convened for a forum at Faneuil Hall last week and a forum in Cambridge earlier in the day, but their appearance at CityStage was their first with Scott Lively, an anti-gay Springfield preacher who steered a question about infrastructure financing toward his wheelhouse of religiosity.  Read more

Polls: Coakley, Baker in tight contest marked by gender gaps

Gintautas Dumcius, State House News Service
Sep. 29, 2014

Hours before they face off with their fellow gubernatorial candidates in a televised debate, Attorney General Martha Coakley and former health insurance executive Charlie Baker appear to be in a dead heat in their battle for the Corner Office, according to two polls released on Monday morning.

A Suffolk University and Boston Herald poll of 500 likely voters showed Coakley, the Democrat, with 44 percent, and Baker, the Republican nominee, with 43 percent.  Read more