The time for the completion of 615-619 Centre St. project is long overdue. Mayor Thomas Menino should be commended for his personal intervention to get the project moving (JP Gazette 8/13, “Mayor: Time for 615-619 Centre rehab to move”). The questionable fire which destroyed the building happened exactly four years ago. Since then the property has been a blight on the neighborhood. The community and city graciously approved an increase in the size of the building and what we got in return is an eyesore, safety hazard and nuisance—accompanied by an overflowing dumpster to boot.
In contrast, the nearby First Baptist Church, also destroyed by fire, restored its historic site in a timely manner. While I agree with Carlos Icaza of the Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association that the Stamatos family has had a significant influence on Centre Street for a generation, it is time for the next generation to step up, clean up and take more civic responsibility by completing the project and removing the grates on their other properties.
We all pay our taxes, and if they owe taxes on their properties the city should place liens and take them if necessary. Mayor Menino got it right when he said, “It’s obvious they do not care about life on Centre Street.” It is time for the Stamatos family’s younger generation to demonstrate that you can both be successful in business and civic-minded at the same time. Thank you, Mayor Menino, for kicking some butt.