As the Rev. Jack Ahern walked down Bowdoin Street yesterday, not far from the Dorchester parish he oversees, he talked about other Boston neighborhoods that have seen a revitalization.
He rattled off Dudley Square, Codman Square and other areas that have recently changed, and while he said the Bowdoin Street/Geneva Avenue area has also improved, he acknowledged “the area is still a challenge.”
“Some see this as a forgotten part of the city,” Ahern said. “It’s the last part of the city that’s not been addressed in a major way yet.”
Yesterday, the area was in the spotlight as Ahern and other neighborhood and city leaders gave a tour to federal officials examining the city’s youth violence prevention strategies.
Boston is one of six cities, and the only city in the Northeast, to participate in a forum on youth violence prevention that was an initiative of the Obama Administration.
As part of the forum, Boston shares its best practices and strategies to combat youth violence with federal officials. The city also receives nearly $10 million in grants over five years.
“We’re here because Boston is part of the solution when it comes to” youth violence prevention, said acting Associate Attorney General Tony West.
Part of the solution to combat violence, neighborhood leaders said, is inclusiveity.
Ahern attributed the improvements that have been made in the area to Mayor Thomas Menino gathering neighborhood groups and city officials together.
First thoughts of the Bowdoin/Geneva neighborhood, especially for those who do not live or work there, typically consist of crime and abandoned buildings.
But Ronald Lammy, president of the Bowdoin & Geneva Main Streets, pointed out a Bowdoin Street market that was under new ownership and had recently put up new, bright signs as a signal of changes coming to the neighborhood.
Lammy said the presence of the federal officials throughout the neighborhood would be a welcome sight for some residents and business owners, but would also be greeted with cynicism by others.”