Jullieanne Doherty, Jamaica Plain’s neighborhood coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, has been getting plenty of chances to wear down her walking shoes over the last six weeks.
Mayor Martin Walsh last month announced NEW (Neighborhood Engagement Walks) Boston, a comprehensive audit of every street in every neighborhood across Boston last month. Since then, Doherty has walked over 60 miles, covering all of Jamaica Plain, sometimes multiple times.
“This is an amazing opportunity and such a valuable tool for the neighbors,” she told the Gazette during a walk around the Stonybrook neighborhood on Oct. 8. “Mayor Walsh is all about taking off your City Hall heels and putting on sneakers and walking the neighborhoods.”
“I’ve been a JP resident all my life, and being JP coordinator, you’d think you’d know every rock and stone, but I’ve never taken the time to walk down some ends,” Doherty told the Gazette in a follow-up interview. “I’ve gotten to know JP in a new way.”
About a dozen residents joined Doherty on that day, pointing out problem spots and suggesting improvements.
Doherty took note of cracked sidewalks and graffitti on Washington between Williams and Kenton. And she fielded requests for more shade trees on Brookley Road, and paving and adding a sidewalk to Dungarven Road.
She also told the residents about tools they can use to connect with City Hall. Those tools include the Mayor’s Hotline, dialing 911 for any public safety concerns, and the Citizens Connect app and website.
On top of the walks scheduled through JP ahead of time, when residents were welcome to join Doherty and offer their input, she told the Gazette she is also walking on her off time during the weekends, “to really look at the streets” and identify easily-overlooked but fixable issues like broken streetlights and graffiti.
She said, as of last week, she is about halfway done. She said she will likely still be walking JP through December.
According to City spokesperson Gabrielle Farrell, about 500 miles of the City’s 850 miles of streets have been covered by neighborhood coordinators by Oct. 11.
Doherty, like all other neighborhood coordinators, has been issued a tablet by the City to file reports on the Citizens Connect complaint service at a moment’s notice. She was using her new tablet to take pictures of problem areas and file multiple reports as the walk progressed.
“The number one thing to take away is, as much as neighborhood coordinators are the eyes and ears of the mayor, the residents really are the eyes and ears of the mayor. He wants to hear that feedback, positive and negative,” Doherty said.
Her tips for best results when using the Citizens Connect app include noting the exact address of any problem spot, and making sure any photo includes enough context for workers to identify the exact spot.
Doherty suggests all residents use 911 for any public safety issue concern, down to reporting suspicious visitors. If a resident doesn’t wish to use 911, she suggests contacting JP’s local E-13 police station at 617-343-5630. The Mayor’s Hotline can be reached at 617-635-4500. Citizens Connect is available on all mobile platforms as well as online at cityofboston.gov/doit/apps/citizensconnect.asp.
Residents are welcome to join Doherty on local walks. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 617-635-4855.
Doherty is also City’s LGBT liaison
While she’s best known as JP’s busy Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services rep, Jullieanne Doherty also has served as the City’s LGBT liaison since 2011, when former Mayor Thomas Menino appointed her.
“To continue this amazing, critical work is my true passion,” Doherty told the Gazette in an interview last week. “And it’s so great to have a mayor that shares that passion.”
Mayor Martin Walsh asked Doherty to continue in that role as well as her position as JP coordinator. She told the Gazette that she wouldn’t be able to pick one role over the other.
“I’m a JP resident who’s gay. I don’t pick in my life. They’re intermingled,” she said. “I don’t ever have to pick because I’m both of those things.”
And she also said that working with all other neighborhood coordinators to promote safety and well-being for all of Boston’s LGBT population is “kind of a big deal,” noting that Boston is leading the nation in that regard.
“Really making sure that we have a quality policy, from inclusive language, to anti-bullying policies, to helping our LGBT representatives for [Boston police], it’s really making sure every single facet of city government” reflects inclusive and supportive policies for the LGBT population, she said.
“Having this position so high up in city government really reflects our thought and feeling for our LGBT community,” she said.
Thinking back on the impact Boston’s supportive policies have already made, Doherty mentioned that she came out as gay in “late high school, early college.”
“But every Pride [week and parade] I see, the age of kids and young people are dropping,” she said. “These kids are coming out so young because they’re so comfortable” doing so.