Opinion » Editorial

The year in review

by . .
Thursday Jan 5, 2017

Submitted by Eric Huang
President, Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association

Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association

As 2016 draws to a close, we'd like to take a look back at all the exciting things that have happened throughout the year. At our annual Heart of Gold scholarship fundraiser in February, we raised enough money to award $19,000 in college scholarships to ten of the South End's best and brightest graduating high school seniors.

We hosted the Halloween Festival in Blackstone Square, bringing together over 500 humans and dogs from the community for a day of pumpkin decorating, spooky music and storytelling, ice cream and face painting, and even a dog costume contest!

In December, we held our annual Christmas Tree Sale and Holiday Event. Santa was a big hit with the kids!

This year our neighborhood was abuzz with plans to redevelop dormant spaces and build entirely new ones. We reviewed each project to ensure it would positively impact and enhance the neighborhood. Highlights include redevelopment of Immaculate Conception Church as apartments, redevelopment of 46 Wareham as a mixed-use project, and the proposal for hundreds of apartments at Harrison Albany Block.

We were also pleased to enthusiastically support new businesses coming to Washington Street, including Anoush'ella, a fine casual Mediterranean restaurant, and BARRE3, a fitness studio.

We held numerous catered social events at Estragon and Elephant Walk for neighbors to enjoy each other's company.

We have been vigilante with public safety issues. Last December, we launched the effort that resulted in a South End-wide community meeting to express concerns about increased gun violence in the neighborhood, which led to focused police attention to area hot spots. In collaboration with IBA and St. Stephen's Church, we launched the Friends of O'Day Park, whose mission is to bring positive activity to a known problem area.

We provided input on numerous quality of life issues, including the impact of the opioid epidemic on our neighborhood. We vetted a proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary in the neighborhood, which was ultimately scrapped.

Last winter, we collaborated with Washington Gateway Main Street to bring a whimsical art and light installation to the parks. (Stay tuned for a new winter light installation coming soon!)

The Friends of Blackstone & Franklin Squares held numerous park cleanups throughout the year and teamed with local businesses, including Endurance Pilates, Public Body, and Jenny Leopold, to bring fitness activities to Franklin Square.

The Friends also welcomed EMERGENCE: What Does Hope Look Like?, a colorful sculpture by local artist Chanel Thervil, to Franklin Square.

What a year it has been! All of this was would not be possible without the help of our tireless board, generous volunteers from the neighborhood, and your financial support.
We depend on contributions from folks like you to support our work. Please consider supporting us as you think about your end-of-year giving. We are a 501(c)(3) organizations and all donations are tax deductible.

Cheers to our lovely neighborhood and kind neighbors. Happy New Year!