Holmes says residents surrounding Franklin Park deserve respect — and quiet 

AT WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S virtual community meeting about the plague of dirt bikes and all-night parties overtaking parts of Franklin Park in Boston, ideas for what to do about it ranged from speed bumps to a set-aside area for motor bikers to ride in the park. City Councilor Julia Mejia called for bringing those riding the dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles into the conversation, and others commented about the importance of not “criminalizing Black and brown youth.” 

State Rep. Russell Holmes, whose district includes a chunk of the park and surrounding Dorchester neighborhoods, said he has little patience for any proposed solutions that don’t include a clear intention to get the illegally operated motor bikes out of the park — and off city streets — and shut down the parties that involve bringing in massive speakers that rattle windows in homes as far as a mile away. 

There was talk at the online meeting of forming a task force to address the issues, but Holmes says his constituents want action, not more talk. 

Immediately after the Franklin Park meeting, Holmes attended two area neighborhood association meetings Wednesday night — in Codman Square and the Erie-Ellington streets area — where he said the sentiment from residents was clear. “There was not very much thought around, oh, we should be creating spaces for people to ride motorbikes,” he said. “What I heard was similar frustration — both groups were saying, no way do we want another summer of fireworks the way they were last summer, these parties, and motorbikes. They have to end.” 

At 527 acres, Franklin Park is the largest greenspace in the city’s park system and sits at the  southern end of the string of parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. But what has long been an nature-filled oasis from the noise and bustle of the city has lately turned into a loud and lawless speedway, with scores of motorbikes racing across its terrain, unsettling park goers as well animals who live in the Franklin Park Zoo, John Linehan, the zoo director, said during Wednesday’s meeting. 

At the meeting, Holmes recounted his own brush with dirt bike riders, describing a frightening episode in which he was recently surrounded by off-road dirt bikes and ATVs while in his car leaving the park’s golf course. 

“Enough is enough,” he said in an interview on Thursday. 

The challenges facing policing in minority communities, he said, were keenly illustrated by an episode in his district last summer. Amid heightened tensions nationally between Black communities and police following the killing of George Floyd, Boston police decided not to try to break up an all-night party, complete with oversize speakers, at Harambee Park, which sits along Talbot Avenue not far from Franklin Park. While police explained that they did not want to risk setting off a confrontation with a huge crowd, Holmes said residents of the area — who were kept up all night — told him they thought the police were intentionally allowing the disruption to go on all night to show those calling for a reduced police presence in the community what that could lead to. 

“With the Black Lives Matter movement and all the things happening between police and the community, I hear folks say we need to figure out what the right solution is,” said the African-American lawmaker. But Holmes — who helped lead the push last year for legislation providing for decertification of police for misconduct — said any solution needs to also include regard for equity for Black residents who are fed up with the “lawlessness” of activity that he describes as “the wild, wild West.”

“We deserve quality of life like everyone else,” he said. “What Brookline gets and what West Roxbury gets — we deserve the same.” 

MICHAEL JONAS

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FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

The family of a girl whose accusations of sexual abuse by former Boston police union president Patrick Rose led to his arrest last August is suing the state Department of Children and Families after the agency substantiated “concern of allegations of neglect” against her parents for allowing her to stay with Rose. Her father has alleged that he, too, was a victim of Rose when he was a teen. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Nahant says it has received $3 million in private donations to fund an eminent domain action against land owned by Northeastern University. (Daily Item)

Meanwhile, a Northeastern proposal for a 25-story dormitory on the edge of Roxbury is presenting a big challenge for Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who opposed the project as the Roxbury district city councilor, but now oversees the Boston Planning and Development Agency, which could be asked to sign-off on final approval of the plan as soon as this spring. (Boston Globe)

Several hundred people gathered in Hopkinton yesterday at a memorial vigil for Mikayla Miller, a 16-year-old Black girl who was found dead in woods there last month and whose death has prompted calls for an independent investigation from some who question its handling by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. (Boston Globe)

Northampton Mayor David Narkiewicz abandons plans for a town dog kennel after a group of nearby residents, through a show of hands, indicated they don’t want it in their neighborhood. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

An advisory committee in Milton criticizes the town for lacking a commitment to diversity. (Patriot Ledger)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Mass General Brigham’s expansion plans for a set of outpatient surgical centers in Boston suburbs are drawing fire from other health care systems, which say the system will steal their patients and drive up health care costs. (Boston Globe) Among the leading critics is Dr. Eric Dickson, president of UMass Memorial, who discussed the issue on this week’s episode of The Codcast.  

At UMass Memorial Hospital, 25 babies are born in 24 hours – doubling the number of babies the hospital delivers in a normal day. (Telegram & Gazette)

MassLive creates a database where you can see what percentage of each city and town has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

After a federal judge vacates a national moratorium on evictions, Massachusetts activists say more state-specific protections for tenants are necessary. (MassLive)

In her bid to replace Rep. Liz Cheney in a House Republican leadership position, Rep. Elise Stefanik is embracing the same lies about the presidential election being stolen from Donald Trump that Cheney has so vehemently denounced. (New York Times

As neighboring India is overwhelmed by COVID, the latest sign of global pandemic reaching nearly every spot on the globe: It is now present at the base camp to Mount Everest expeditions in Nepal. (Washington Post

ELECTIONS

Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s campaign has resorted to hiring paid signature gatherers to obtain the 3,000 signatures needed to appear on the mayoral preliminary election ballot, a sign, say observers, of a less-than-robust field operation. (Boston Herald) Joe Battenfeld says the host of thorny issues facing Janey are making the visibility of the acting mayor’s post a mixed blessing. (Boston Herald

The six mayoral hopefuls offered their views on racial justice issues in an ongoing forum sponsored by the Boston NAACP. (Boston Globe)

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Grocers and retailers ask Gov. Charlie Baker to lift some of their COVID restrictions, like one-way aisles and senior hours. (Salem News)

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Struggling renters in rural areas in states with small populations like New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont are getting more COVID rental assistance than struggling residents of larger population states like Massachusetts, due to the way a federal formula is calculated. (USA Today)

EDUCATION

A group of parents are asking Gov. Charlie Baker to lift some restrictions on kids, such as outdoor mask mandates for summer camps and youth sports. (Gloucester Daily Times)

In what may be a preview of things to come in other districts, Andover High School says it will offer students the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine at school during the school day. (Eagle-Tribune)

After years of effort and hours of debate, the Worcester school committee finally approves a comprehensive sex education curriculum for the district. (Telegram & Gazette)

New Bedford High School has increased its graduation rate by a whopping 32 percentage points over the last decade. (Standard-Times)

TRANSPORTATION

A new planning study, touted by Rep. Richard Neal, highlights the financial benefits of improving New York to Boston rail service that goes through Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The defense rested its case, calling just three witnesses, in the corruption trial of former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia. Correia elected not to take the stand. (Boston Globe

PASSINGS

George Jung, the infamous cocaine smuggler from Weymouth and the subject of the film “Blow,” dies at 78. (Patriot Ledger)