Giarratani: Over-development is crushing the old East Boston

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by Sal Giarratani

SPECIAL TO EASTBOSTON.COM

I did not grow up in East Boston but remember often taking the old ferries from the North End over to East Boston for a two-cent fare. It landed right near Sumner Street and Maverick Square and a short distance from the old projects now renovated and renamed Maverick Landing.

Back in the mid-50s, from where I lived in the North End, East Boston looked like a gritty working class community . Housing projects were often built near water because that was where poor people were housed. Today everything has turned upside down, Today, high-end, high-rise housing is where folks with money choose to live. Very desirable today..

As I walk around Eastie today, all I see is more and more housing starts. The latest one just started down by Webster and Orleans Streets in Jeffries Point. I was pretty active in the 70s and 80s over in East Boston when I wrote for the old Regional Review and East Boston Community News before the California Gold Rush of ’48 hit the neighborhood. On the other side of East Boston up on Orient Heights, we see neighbors watching things very closely. Many of them can no longer trust BPDA which is why that last community meeting with that agency went so badly.

Today, in the East Boston community we see endless development. The high-end,high-rise housing gets built, the more and more East Boston becomes out of range of working families who get priced out and are forced to move elsewhere out of necessity. We are seemingly dividing up between the very rich and very poor. Left out are working class families and the middle class trying to afford stay and live here. What East Boston really needs is housing development for people being squeezed dry between the two polar opposites.

Where are our political leaders today with vision? Have they all dried up?

Many of us who live here, love here and want to stay here. It’s time for community members, the elected officials who represent us and area developers to work together for a more vibrant and inclusive community of residents.

As a community, we must become active citizens and generate better housing solutions. Together, there is nothing we can’t do. Get going and do it.

Our voice can never be silenced. I just heard many East Boston residents have now begun talking about some sort of housing development moratorium. That sounds like a good idea to really consider. Things need to slow down so we can get a good idea what should happen next right here in this neighborhood.

A columnist for the Post-Gazette, Sal Giarratani is a contributing writer for EastBoston.com

East Boston