Egleston Square hums with activity. Young mothers push toddlers in strollers. Hungry commuters pick up takeout at the Chinese restaurant. Barbers pass the time between clients in front of their shops. And those living in the margins loiter in the park and sidewalk near the liquor store as cars drive by blaring bachata and reggaeton.
Standing on Washington Street near School Street, Martin J. Walsh, mayoral candidate and state representative, does something of a 360. “I see potential in this neighborhood. This reminds me of parts of Hyde Square 20 years ago, where Hyde Square today, with some investment by the city, is completely transformed.”
Walking down Washington, Walsh passes a nail salon, a travel agency, a smoke shop, a butcher shop. There are a lot of great small businesses in the neighborhood, but “there are a lot of buzzers,” he laments, trying to pull open the locked door of an electronics shop.
This neighborhood, on the border of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, is one he’s becoming more familiar with, one that lies about 4 miles outside of his State House district. Still, every few feet someone’s shaking his hand, saying hello, or telling him that they voted for him.
His style is to listen, saying conversations with business owners, organization leaders, and police officers who walk the Egleston beat enrich his understanding of the neighborhood, its challenges, and the type of partnership needed between the city and communities. Because, he says, at the end of the day, the neighborhood must decide its own future. City Hall is simply a resource to bring that future to fruition.
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