Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Victims of West Roxbury Park

Not everyone was happy with the new park - particularly those who felt an undue burden in paying for it. In this case abuttors were to be levied an extra tax assessment for having their vicinity "improved" by the park. There were similar protests when abuttors were asked to pay for the improvements to that waterway.

Boston Daily Globe April 21, 1885

West Roxbury Victims.

Neighbors of the Park Meet to Protest Against the Betterment Scheme.

About 150 persons assembled in Wetherell Hall, Grove Hall, last evening, in answer to the call for the "victims of West Roxbury park." The meeting organized by the choice of J.M. Way as chairman, and I.W. Adams as secretary. Mr Way said that he felt strongly the outrage of levying taxes on the surrounding property for the fitting up of West Roxbury park. He thought that the property was taxed enough now, and hoped the meeting would pronounce a strong opposition to it.

Mr Albert Betteley presented the following petition:

The Honorable Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Boston, and Benjamin Dean, Patrick Maguire and C.H. Dolan, Park Commissioners:

Gentlemen - The undersigned citizens of Boston, owners of real estate and residents of Roxbury and West Roxbury, and who have received notice through the newspapers that it is proposed to assess them for betterments to their estate by the establishment of the so-called West Roxbury park, hereby protest against such assessment on the ground that said park will not be a benefit to their property or to them. For if there was no park, many persons would purchase parts of this property and would erect houses for themselves as well as for others upon it, which would bring a large income to the city as taxable property and lessen the burden of taxation which is now drawing out of this city many of its citizens. That the visitors to this park, especially on Sundays and holidays, are not the most desirable persons, and that on the days mentioned the cars are so crowded that the residents in the vicinity cannnot without serious inconvenience reach their homes, and that hordes of rude persons are now a great annoyance to quiet and orderly inhabitants living in the neighborhood of this park, and that this trouble will continually be on the increase. That we believe that today, as well as in the future, the park will be a great damage to their property, and in fact the city is bound to pay us damages instead of our paying to the city for so-called betterments.

Signed by S.A. Bolster (judge of Roxbury Municipal Court). Martin L. Cate, A.D. Williams, L.J. Wood, E.C.R. Walther, Leonard Ware, Jr., and others.

Boston, April 20, 1885.

Mr. Betteley explained how he had been driven from different parts of the city on account of various annoyances. At the North End it was the pawnbrokers, at the South End there was other troubles and now at West Roxbury it was the betterment scheme.

George O. Fillebrown said he didn't propose to pay one cent for betterments, for he did not think the assessment morally or legally right. He said it was impossible to get as much for property as they could before the park was thought of. He was willing to subscribe $10 to fight the scheme "to the bitter end, but not one cent for tribute." In conclusion he moved that a committee of five be appointed to conduct the case of the remonstrances before the park commissioners and as much further as necessary.

While the chairman was making up this committee General Hazard Stevens was invited to speak. General Stevens thought that this betterment scheme was in the nature of a fishing excursion on the part of the commissioners. "The park commissioners want," said he, "to reduce the cost of the park by taxing us. It is our duty to oppose them and go to them and show them their mistake. That park does not benefit us as much as it does those who live in the crowded parts of the city. We are willing to pay our part in taxes, but it is not right for us to pay for a special benefit."

The chairman announced this committee: General Hazard Stevens, Samuel Atherton, Albert Betteley, William Minot, Jr., and Augustus Parker. The chairman was added to the committee. The question of finances was then discussed. Mr. Betteley moved that the meeting subscribe a sum not more than $5 nor less than $2 to carry on work. An amendment that "each member subscribe according to his means" was carried. The chairman was appointed treasurer, and a very satisfactory contribution was obtained. At the close of the meeting the petition was numerously signed.

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