Christos Hamawi is a South End resident very involved in what happens in his neighborhood.
He lives near the site of the Alexandra Hotel, which was bought by the Church of Scientology several weeks ago. According to stories in the press, the church will move their Boston headquarters from the Back Bay to this new location, sometime during the next year or two.
Christos left a comment I thought you might be interested in reading:
I was rather disappointed to read in today’s “Boston Now” that there were hundreds of protesters wearing masks and shouting all sorts of anti-scientology slogans at the current Scientology headquarters on Beacon Street in the Back Bay yesterday morning. If you see the video, there was a lot of horn honking as well. I hope this is not a common occurrence. We certainly don’t need more noise pollution in our neighborhood. I am trying to understand why they are protesting and why they are wearing masks. I’m hoping the Church will explain this at upcoming neighborhood meetings. 150 protesters would be a fairly large number for our neighborhood. That would jam up that intersection quickly.
On a positive note, I learned that the Church is heavily involved in community work, specifically dealing with drug addiction and crime prevention. This would be a welcome benefit for the area. They also offer tutoring services to students. I’m not sure what their success rate is, but it’s definitely a positive. There is a Scientology branch office on that block now, so they should be able to discuss the types of community work they have been engaged in since arriving. As you may know, there is a history of gang warfare stemming from some of the housing developments just down the street from the Alexandra. I’d be interested in knowing if they are aware of this and how they might be able to help. There is a beautiful park a block from there called Ramsey Park, that no one on the South End Side of Mass ave ever uses. Even residents from the housing developments near the park avoid it, since it’s considered too dangerous. People have been shot there by gang members in broad daylight. It’s turf warfare, and very sad.
So in hindsight, I may have overreacted a bit. I think most residents would be fine with the Organization’s plans to move their headquarters here if they could help reduce crime in the area and include some mainstream commercial retail on the ground floor of the Alexandra. I don’t think that’s asking too much. The first floor of the Alexandra and the adjacent Ivory Beam red brick bow front building accounts for a very large amount of retail space. My guess is it would be around 9000 square feet or more if combined. Having mainstream commercial retail there would encourage more retail to open up on that block and bring in more foot traffic. I think a bookstore/cafe or perhaps a restaurant, or a small grocery store would be terrific. I would love to see a Barnes and Noble or Borders, but even a small cafe or restaurant would be fine. We’ll have to discuss this at the upcoming community meetings sponsored by the BRA. There has got to be a way for everyone to be happy. I would also think that it would be in the best interest of the Scientology organization to have something mainstream in that building to attract more visitors to the block.
I’m also curious to know how they plan to resolve the parking situation.
There are lots of unanswered questions. The neighborhood needs to take a very active role in this, so encourage your neighbors to attend the hearings. If I get any dates from the BRA I’ll post them up at www.wsana.net.
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