Sure, it’s not Eton, but the playing fields of Hyde Park are dear to Bostonians. This morning’s long, varied and elaborate ceremonies at the Iacono Playground and its newly dedicated (tot) playlot saw local pols and staff outnumber the residents.
Ostensibly this was another year of the later Mayor Tom Menino’s coffee with the mayor meet and greet. It was the same and different.
Among the same:
- Dunkin’ provided coffee and Munchkins, and Whole Foods fruit in cups
- Boston’s city greenhouses brought 100 or more pots of red geraniums to disperse
- The Mayor and District Councilor glad-handed all
- The new Mayor, Marty Walsh, (right) has a strong Dorchester-recognizable accent, but not the gently risible speech stumbles of Menino
- Walsh also did not insist on personally handing out the flowers, and showing he knew each of our names and family connections in the process
- While the former District Councilor, Rob Consalvo, appears now as deputy director of Walsh’s Home Center program, his replacement, Tim McCarthy is not the humble font of endless municipal-improvement ideas
- At-large Councilor Steve Murphy (also from Hyde Park) was a key player. He both helped Walsh dedicate the impressive tot lot to long-time owner of the Hyde Park Pharmacy Richard “Richy” Ferzoco. He also was the originator of DERO (the Diesel Emissions Reduction Ordinance) in Council.
- Walsh used the event to announce that this signing would be one of many outside of City Hall. Instead of quietly pushing ordinances into effect, he intends to sign more in affected neighborhoods, expecting residents to understand and talk up the good work.
- This go drew lots of local media, plus heads of numerous Walsh departments, like Public Works, Park and on.
Lest it get lost in, if you pardon, the smoke, DERO is a pretty big deal. It mandates retrofitting diesel vehicles owned by the city and its contractors to modern air-quality standards. According to Murphy (left), this makes Boston the only Eastern city to do this. Also, it seemed close to Walsh’s heart; he said he tried but failed to drive it through the legislature when he belonged in pre-mayoral time.
Murphy cited a 300% above national average childhood asthma rate here, which he attributed largely to diesel emissions. He and other speakers noted this ordinance holds the city and its contractors to a higher standard. It should, for example, mean retrofitting 120 of 400 city vehicles.
In another wise pander to a citizenry still staggered by the last dreadful winter, Walsh bragged about heading toward real snow removal. Instead of blocking driveways and moving the snow and its onus to the residents, he said Boston was buying two elaborate snowblower type of equipment. The idea is that the massive machines transfer snow from the streets into dump trucks, which in turn haul them away instead of blocking intersections, drives and sidewalks. Money well spent I predict.
Finally, Walsh said the city has planned $20 million in renovation for parks and recreation. He said it was the largest increase in Boston’s history for this purpose. Here too this crowd-pleasing decision should resonate, or as Walsh put it, “Parks can be used by the little guys, the seniors, and everyone in between.”