District 6 Boston City Councilor Matt O'Malley sat down with Patch to discuss his priorities for 2013. District 6 includes West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, a little bit of Roslindale and Mission Hill.
Patch: What are your priorities for 2013?
O'Malley: Among the things I’ve been working on the last two years: public education, public safety, economic development and livability. Those are my four priorities for both West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.
Education – (I'm) continuing to push for the Quality Choice Plan to the Education Advisory Committee, which has done incredible work. It's imperative that we have a close-to-home option in the student assignment process, ensuring we have top quality options for Boston residents. Which is why having magnet schools and strengthening all close-to-home options is the way to proceed.
Public safety - we’ve seen crime go down. The homicide rate was the lowest, I believe in three years, and is continually going down. We have seen some home and car breakins go up. The city is safer than it’s been in a while. But we need to continue to push for resources for public safety departments, as well as having resources available for drug and alcohol abuse and mental health services.
As we reflect, as City Council President Stephen Murphy talked about Newtown (during the first Boston City Council meeting of 2013), it’s playing heavily on all our minds. We have to have a conversation about mental health services. We boast some of the best clinicians, doctors, psychiatrists, in the world. We have to see ways we can offer treatment and prevention for those suffering from mental illness, coupled with reform and strengthening of our gun laws, and advocating for national assault weapons ban.
Economic Growth in West Roxbury
Economic development – it’s been great in the last two years. I remember running for this seat and one frequent statement is we have enough banks in West Roxbury. We do have enough banks. We have seen some terrific restaurants coming into Centre and Spring streets. We’re seeing local residents like Shirley Walsh working to bring some innovative retail to Fairview Corner. Particularly, it’s all woman-owned businesses.
And I'm going to continue supporting the indefatiguable West Roxbury Main Streets Executive Director Kara O'Connor and the WRMS board, and continue the rebirth of the business districts.
I want to work closely with the Washington Street businesses in attracting and strengthening the retail community on Washington Street. West Roxbury Main Streets cover Centre and Spring, but not Washington Street. I want to help bring in new businesses on Washington Street.
Public water taps in West Roxbury
The livability - we’ll re-file and had great interest in our bottled water ordinance for having more potable water. Will re-file that. I'm really excited about Billings Field improvements (it will be 1.5 years). There have been two allocations - $500,000 for playground improvements, and regrading of Billings Field.
I remember that playground being put in when I was about 8-years-old. We're looking at some new technology and new equipment, and for it to be specific for ages tot lots.
I'm also advocating for funding for the Beethoven School Playground.
We're continuing to have a conversation about a dog park.
A little look back at 2012
Patch: What were the major issues for 2012?
O'Malley: Student assignment in West Roxbury is always large. We’ve seen some new development, a positive sign for the economy. Certainly in those new town houses on Crosstown Avenue and Grove Street.
I would like to work better with ISD (Inspectional Services Department) for as-of-right projects, so the community has a voice in West Roxbury.