Part of Centre Street’s name could honor Latinos


LATIN QUARTER—A walk either way along Centre Street from Jackson to Hyde Square is colored with restaurants like El Oriental de Cuba, Tacos El Charro and stores like Los Caballeros Market and La Gran Via Men’s Fashion.

That area is already known and is promoted as Boston’s Latin Quarter by Hyde/Jackson Square Main Streets through flyers and other programs.

Now that recognition may be accented.

At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo re-offered a resolution to create an honorary “Avenue Las Americas” on Centre Street between Jackson and Hyde Squares at a City Council meeting Jan. 24. Flags representing each of the American countries would be hung at each cross street intersection.

“This is a recognition of a community that has been in that segment of Jamaica Plain for five decades,” said Arroyo in a Gazette phone interview.

In the past, controversy surrounded the potential renaming, which was linked to efforts to change the name of Mozart Park to “Parque de las Americas,” and an effort to erect a statue in Boston to Latin American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Arroyo’s current proposal does not include either of those suggestions. It also does not change the name of Centre Street. Rather, the segment of the street would become known by the honorary name of “Avenue las Americas,” but would remain Centre Street.

It would be a similar situation to the section of Huntington Avenue known as the “Avenue of the Arts,” Chinatown or the North End’s Little Italy. In the Italian section, Italian flags hang on long lines between row-houses on opposite sides of the streets dominated by Italian restaurants, bakeries, cafés and shops.

According to Arroyo, the majority of the businesses along that segment of Centre Street are Latino, and official recognition would attract tourists who could spend money in those businesses. The area is also home to a number of other businesses, including Bella Luna restaurant and the Video Underground.

“If someone from Honduras knows they can come and take a picture of their flag hanging in JP, they will,” said Arroyo.

Arroyo said no date has been set yet for the hearing because the new City Council president had yet to make committee appointments, which were expected Wednesday. Once committee chairs have been appointed. the proposal will be assigned to a specific committee that will set the date.

Arroyo has requested the hearing take place in Jamaica Plain instead of City Council chambers, so more community members can be involved. He said he expects a meeting to be scheduled for no later than April, but no earlier than March.

“We will listen to whatever the community has to say,” he said. “My role is to accelerate the process as much as I can.”

Arroyo said the proposal would not cost the city any money. It would be funded by non-profit organization Visionary Integration of the Americas (VIA), as well as other local non-profits and interested parties.

Other councilors co-sponsoring the resolution include Sal LaMattina, Jerry McDermott, Steve Murphy, Rob Consolvo, Mike Ross, Mike Flaherty, Charles Yancey and Maureen Feeney.

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