Last night’s Charter Commission meeting took up the topic of Area Councils in the city’s charter. From what I hear, there were both passionate supporters and opponents of Area Councils speaking out in the public comment section of that meeting.
Area Councils take up all sorts of neighborhood matters, some major, some minor. That’s true both here in Upper Falls and the other three villages that have Councils. I do believe though that the Upper Falls Area Council has a wonderful style on some issues that is completely unique.
Tonight’s Upper Falls Area Council meeting had a relatively full agenda of both major and minor issues on their plate. For my money though, the highlight of the meeting was this:
A man named Jack Fidler came to the meeting to say that he’d like to build a Little Free Library on the Upper Falls Greenway.
Carol Stapleton from the Parks and Recreation Dept was in attendance. She told Jack that the Greenway was under the jurisdiction of the Parks & Rec Dept. If he wanted to do that, it might be possible. He’d have to get permission from the Dept and she gave him the name of the person to contact. She said “what about instead putting it outside The Depot Coffee Shop. That’s alongside the main entrance to the Greenway and it’s private property.”
Area Councillor Jack Neville said that he’s the president of the Upper Falls CDC, who owns that property and that they would love to have the tiny library there. Better than that, Mr. Neville said if Jack could build it, the CDC would be happy to pay for the materials.
Area Councillor Jeff Riklin jumped in and said that he’s a contractor and would be happy to build it for Jack.
Area Councillor Julie Irish told Jack that she knows the neighbor that installed the Little Free Library up on Cottage St and she’ll put them in touch with each other because she’s sure he’d have some useful advice about running one of these libraries.
The Area Council voted its unanimous support of the idea and Jack left the meeting brimming with enthusiasm and our neighborhood will soon have its third Little Free Library and some neighbors who’ve never met each other before will work together to get it done.
There are all sorts of reasons that Area Councils are a good idea, but for me this story encapsulates why I most value our quirky Upper Falls Area Council. Good job Councillors!