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Boston asks for local artists’ help replacing ‘Welcome to...’ neighborhood signs

A "Welcome to South Boston" located at 253 Summer Street, right at the edge of South Boston and Fort Point Channel, Jan. 14, 2016. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A "Welcome to South Boston" located at 253 Summer Street, right at the edge of South Boston and Fort Point Channel, Jan. 14, 2016. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Another round of wintry weather is headed our way this evening — and it looks like great news for anyone with ski plans in northern New England this weekend. The forecast is more of a mixed bag across Massachusetts. Read more about the timing and predicted snowfall accumulation from meteorologist Danielle Noyes.

Now, to the news:

You know how Marty Walsh’s name is still on all the signs welcoming people to different Boston neighborhoods? Mayor Michelle Wu’s office is just getting around now to replacing them. (Listen, she had more important things to focus on like, say, the pandemic and a housing crisis, to name a few.) And while they’re at it, why not show off the city’s talented arts community, too? Last month, Wu’s administration released basic sign templates for each of the city’s 16 neighborhoods and asked local artists to submit design proposals. (Wu’s name won’t be the only one on the new signs; so will the artist’s.)

  • The deadline for submissions is today at 5 p.m. So far, city officials say they’ve gotten 84 different designs from 42 applicants. (Applicants also get $1,000 if their design is selected.)
  • Brianna Millor, the city’s chief of community engagement, says it’s “a great opportunity to continue to financially invest in artists’ practices while beautifying our neighborhoods.”
  • What’s next: The city says the final, edited designs will be unveiled “in the coming months.” Then, they’re planning to physically install the new signs by early this summer.

Early voting begins today in Newton’s special election — and there’s really only one issue on the ballot: Should voters allow the city to hike property taxes by several hundred dollars a year to close a $8 million budget gap. Without the tax increase, Newton school officials told WBUR’s Samuele Petruccelli that they could be forced to cut 40 to 50 teacher positions and extracurricular programs.

  • While the official Election Day is March 14, early voting runs today through Tuesday at Newton City Hall.

RIP: Former congressman Brian Donnelly, a Dorchester-bred Democrat who represented parts of Boston and the South Shore in Congress from 1979 to 1993, has died at the age of 76 after a long battle with cancer. Donnelly is perhaps best known for his work to create a visa program for Irish immigrants — a program that eventually became the diversity green card lottery.

  • Donnelly was also the last person to represent Massachusetts’ historic 11th congressional district — a seat once held by Tip O’Neill, John F. Kennedy and John Quincy Adams.

Heads up: The first of two downtown Red Line closures this month arrives this weekend. The MBTA will be running shuttle buses instead of trains between Harvard and JFK/UMass on Saturday and Sunday so that work can be done on a new digital signal system.

  • MBTA interim general manager Jeff Gonneville says the signal project may not sound “glamorous” but is “critically important” for the T’s future. “We have a 1970s-based signal system that we’re using and maintaining on the Red and the Orange line,” he said at a meeting last month. Gonneville added that the updated system will be more reliable and makes it easier for the T to increase service and even automate parts of the system down the road.
  • The second big Red Line closure is set for the weekend of March 25-26. Read the full schedule of MBTA closures this month here.

Could Boston’s open space-starved Chinatown get a new park over the Mass. Pike? Maybe. This week, the city got $1.8 million from the federal government to explore building over part of the Pike, after Chinatown was cut in half by the highway’s expansion in the 1960s.

  • Zoom in: Boston will use the money to develop a plan to build public open space to reconnect Chinatown above the Pike in the area between Shawmut Avenue and Washington Street.
  • Zoom out: There are 45 projects nationwide — including a traffic study in North Adams — getting similar grants. They’re thanks to a new federal program aimed at reclaiming land in neighborhoods negatively affected by the mid-20th century highway-building boom. According to NBC News, Chinatowns across the country — often near downtown financial districts — suffered some of the heaviest health and environmental damage.

P.S.— An office building in Boston is a step closer to opening as one of the world’s largest to use a certain technology. Do you know what it is? Then take this week’s Boston News Quiz!

Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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