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11 Businesses Housed in a Landmark Roslindale Building That Was Damaged in a Car Accident on Sunday Morning
City crews worked all day Sunday to repair a Roslindale building after a driver crashed his automobile through its front façade early that morning, tearing a big hole in it and displacing over a dozen businesses. On Sunday morning, a car collided with a building on Corinth Street in Roslindale.
According to officials, the driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. There was no one inside the building at the time, and no one else was injured. However, the damage raised concerns that the building may collapse, so emergency crews were called in to restore it.
The crash sparked widespread community outrage. Neighbors gave thousands of dollars to an online fund-raiser to aid the displaced companies, while state and city officials initiated measures to assist them. Gaetano Ragusa, who shares ownership of the building with his brother-in-law, said his family has gotten support from neighbors and politicians, including Mayor Michelle Wu.
His family also owns and manages Sebastian’s Barber Shop & Salon, a long-standing town fixture. “There has been a lot of contact from neighbors and consumers. “I can’t say enough good things about the neighborhood,” Ragusa stated over the phone. “Everyone has made contact, including the mayor, and she is happy to assist in any way she can.”
According to an e-mail from Wu’s office, Sean Lydon, Boston’s inspectional services commissioner, said Sunday afternoon that technicians anticipated removing the damaged automobile, clearing the debris, and restoring the area to traffic after shoring up the building, but he did not provide a schedule. Officials from the city did not specify when the repair will be done.
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Police did not respond to inquiries on whether the motorist, whom they only identified as male, will face charges. Officials did not officially identify or age the individual. The accident, which occurred at 8:30 a.m., could have been far worse.
It happened just steps from the corner of Birch Street, a pedestrian-only zone frequented by restaurant patrons sitting outside, musical performances, and community gatherings. The structure is a well-known neighborhood landmark, which commuters driving into Roslindale from Belgrade Avenue pass on their approach to Roslindale Square.
“It’s a popular hangout… there are constantly people walking straight down in front of Sebastian’s coming onto Birch Street,” said Chris Lang, a Roslindale attorney, over the phone. “It’s an extremely active member of the community.”
According to Robert Orthman, a lifetime Roslindale resident, the crossroads where the incident happened had been a source of concern for a long time. The 40-year-old, who serves on the board of directors for WalkUP Roslindale, a nonprofit dedicated to making Roslindale more walkable, believes the intersection of Corinth Street and Belgrade Avenue is “inherently unsafe as constructed.”
Drivers traveling east on Belgrade Avenue must make a sudden right turn to merge onto Corinth Roadway, after which Belgrade Avenue becomes a one-way street. Corinth Street is a busy retail street with lots of traffic and pedestrians, however, there is no stop sign or traffic light at the turn, just yellow sign warning drivers to slow down. However, drivers frequently violate the notice, especially when there are few other vehicles on the route.
Ricardo Arroyo, a Boston City Councilor, has urged for measures to improve traffic safety in the region. “This is not even the first accident on this stretch, and it emphasizes the necessity of supporting upgrades and traffic calming measures that contribute to long-term safety for Boston’s pedestrians and businesses,” Arroyo said in an e-mail.
Debris was spread across the sidewalk and highway as crews worked throughout the day on Sunday. Large portions of the building’s façade had collapsed, exposing the interiors of the rooms on the ground and upper floors. The mangled gold Toyota sedan’s rear end popped out from behind the debris.
“It was shocking to see how one small car could cause so much damage to a building,” Lang remarked. According to Anna VanRemoortel, executive director of Roslindale Village Main Street, the building holds 11 local businesses, including the barbershop. VanRemoortel described the structure as “a vital feature of our small business community” in the area. According to city assessor records, the structure was constructed in 1920.
VanRemoortel stated that state and city authorities, including state Representative Rob Consalvo and Segun Idowu, Wu’s chief of economic development for the city, are trying to assist the damaged firms. “It’s heartbreaking to watch the devastation caused by this disaster, especially at a time when businesses rely significantly on holiday sales,” she wrote in an e-mail.
The accident stunned the Roslindale community on Sunday. Many people shared photographs of the crash scene on social media, as well as expressions of support for the businesses that were damaged. Lang, an attorney who also serves on the board of directors of Roslindale Open Studios and has been a board member of Roslindale Village Main Street, has created a GoFundMe fund-raiser to assist employees of the companies harmed by the vehicle incident. He said that it had raised several thousand dollars in just a few hours.
He claims that the barbershop has a particularly committed following. “There are folks who have been going to them for 30 years,” Lang explained. “It’s a dependable tenant [and] an important component of the neighborhood for us.”
Ragusa, whose family owns the building and barbershop, has stated that they want to reopen shortly. His family has owned the company since it first opened its doors more than 60 years ago. “We are really grateful for their outpouring of support. And we aim to be up and running again as soon as possible,” Ragusa said.