North End resident and neighborhood activist Matt Conti addressed North End issues in an exclusive interview with the Regional Review.
Conti once an elected member of the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council provided the community newspaper a candid point of view regarding several topics relating to the neighborhood.
Conti is also very active and supports many local non-profit agencies. He is the man behind the very popular website North End Waterfront.com and he frequently contributes articles to the Review.
1. Is the North End still an Italian American residential community?
Italian-Americans have been a minority in the North End for years, but I believe the neighborhood will always be a place to celebrate Italian culture and the immigrant experience.
2. Is there anything that can be done to correct the improper placement of household trash on the sidewalks?
The streets are cleaner than a few years ago, but trash is still an issue. Efforts by those in the neighborhood and the City have helped, but there are times when it still gets out of hand. Consistent enforcement and attention by everyone who generates trash is the only answer. Recycling efforts could also be better, in my opinion.
3. Are there too many businesses operating out of the North End?
No. There are actually some areas in the neighborhood where more businesses would be beneficial. A thriving mix of business activity adds vitality to the neighborhood and makes the streets safer.
4. Is there a real rodent problem in the neighborhood?
Yes, but it is better than in the past thanks to successful “hot spot” efforts by city personnel working with people in the neighborhood.
5. Is the North End still one of the safest communities in Boston?
Yes. Neighborhood policing and community involvement have helped keep the North End a relatively safe place. Still, it is a downtown neighborhood where it always makes sense to stay alert and take precautions. Most of the concerns that I hear at public safety meetings relate to quality of life issues.
6. In general what is in store for the community?
As throughout its entire history, the North End continues to change. But, it is likely to keep much of its old world charm due largely to its manageable scale and active community. It is great to see more families staying in the neighborhood, a trend that will be helped by an expansion of the Eliot School. An active, mixed-use waterfront has expanded the North End’s core footprint and the Greenway brings untapped opportunities as well. Worth watching are developments currently going up around N. Washington Street.
7. What are your ideas and concerns for the future of the North End?
The next several years will bring attention to the eroding infrastructure of the neighborhood and how we will address overdue renovations of our streets, parks, schools, historical features and community buildings. The trend toward “dormification” and more transient residents is a concern. On a larger scale, it will be important to continue pursuing the elimination of hazmat trucks from our streets and coming to grips with how sea-level rise will impact our basements and waterfront.
8. Please express any other thoughts.
I encourage folks to get involved in one of the dozens of neighborhood and “Friends” groups. These organzations and non-profits continue a history of community involvement where neighbors look out for neighbors.
Thank you to the Regional Review for its work in the North End. The local paper is the lifeblood of a community. And, of course, I welcome folks to visit and contribute to the postings and comments on NorthEndWaterfront.com.