Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Downtown Lynn Neighborhood Association Gettin' Represented

NOTE: Most of this is my commentary, not the opinions of Steve Walsh necessarily. I will quote him within if necessary.  

Steve Walsh is beyond a doubt one of our most important political leaders in Lynn, MA. I personally believe there will be a stronger, greater Lynn because of his leadership in the State House and wherever he goes next. I keep telling him to run for Mayor (no offense, Mayor Kennedy).

The conversation was a great one from my perspective. While we were off on tangents (I'm as guilty as anyone else here) on our typical whiny tirades about medical buildings, parking, and litter, we also touched on some topics where our State Rep. can be of assistance. If nothing else, he can help us to channel our energies and give us guidance on the process to effect change in this City or at the State level.

So.... we came out of this with one overarching theme and a few topics to investigate and get out the typewriter to send some old fashioned letters to our old fashioned city hall.

The overarching theme of the evening was "audience development." Steve's a theatre man like me, so I think he likes these metaphors, but when you think about it, Lynn needs an audience. First, a marketing program (which Jamie Marsh and OECD are working on) and then we all need to develop our audience and bring more people in to our shows, art galleries, restaurants, and residences. To do this, we have some things that we need to fix and/or implement.

1. Incentive Programs - The example was given of Downtown Philadelphia. Develop incentives that will drive our number from 200 owner-occupied to the 500 we need. Whether it be tax-free or free parking or something else??? These incentives will drive much more demand and convince more developers to get going on key renovations and new development downtown.  They would not apply to us who already are here, but the benefits would be extraordinary for the area.
ACTION: Letter to City Hall (Mayor, OECD, EDIC, LHAND, Council)

2. Clean up - Mainly focused around the MBTA property. Urine, feces, and throw up are not going to be tolerated anymore. When noticed on the stairs, platform, etc, we are to notify Steve personally. This IS a State issue! Steve will be investigating the security and cleaning schedules for the MBTA garage. It's a crumbling mess over there and it's not as safe as we would like it.
ACTION: Letter and several emails to State Rep. Steve Walsh. We will also be setting up a meeting with the MBTA.

3. Planning - Lynn does not have a City Planner. As a result, we are painting an abstract on the map rather than anything that makes logical sense. Central Square should be the Arts & Cultural District, Union to Buffum should be the medical cluster, Market Street should be the Retail and Shopping District. We're messed up as we allow our City Council to continue to plan out our city, we will continue to be pushed in a political direction for "friends" of the city. Short term thinking which will yield nothing in the long term.  As we begin development of the Waterfront, little thought has gone into the connection to the Downtown. Lack of a planner will only continue to hurt us.
ACTION: Letter to the Mayor's Office

Great thoughts, great meeting. I'm sure others got other things from this meeting. Please leave them in the comments.

Together we can develop our audience and have the Downtown we all know is possible here! We've come so far from where we were 4 years ago. Let's keep up the momentum. Push the city! Push the state! You elected these guys and gals, now hold them accountable!

Thank you to LynnArts, Susan Halter, and Jocelyn Almy-Testa from Lynnarts and TLGUTS for their hospitality.

Thank you to Rep. Steve Walsh for his time, honesty, and most of all... for really listening! These will be quarterly going forward.


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