Steve Bickerton first joined the Cedar Grove Civic Association (CGCA) as a junior member in the early 2000s when his father, Steve Senior, was acting president. Now, after serving for the last five years on the association’s executive board, the son is following in his dad’s footsteps as he takes the helm as president this month.
The 36-year-old Bickerton, who works for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, has chaired the association’s Planning and Development committee in recent months.
“I’m looking to have the position for the long term,” he told the Reporter this week. “I’ve stepped into the role because there was a bit of a vacuum, and I intend to run if there’s a contested election, which I don’t anticipate there will be.”
Bickerton said he hopes to encourage “smart development” in and around the civic group’s area of focus— which includes Adams Corner and the streets along Gallivan Boulevard.
“Whatever comes to the neighborhood, I want it to be smart development that still feels like our neighborhood,” he said. “It’s an interesting time because we have a lot of new people in our neighborhood. People know that we have a nice neighborhood here. There are some business districts, nice parks, good restaurants, and stores. Covid- aside, I think we are experiencing a really good time in our neighborhood, and in Dorchester.”
Bickerton points to the success of restaurants in the area, naming Lucy’s American Tavern, Landmark, and the Industry as examples.
“I think there’s definitely some new life being breathed into the neighborhood, and we also have the old standbys that have always been around, like the Erie Pub,” he said.
“There’s definitely a draw for younger families. It’s a steady-eddy neighborhood that’s now in an upswing with more happening.”
The challenge for the civic association, Bickerton said, is accommodating responsible growth and attracting new members.
“It’s an old trope to say ‘It should retain the character of our neighborhood.’ I think that’s a really vague thing to say. But I think it doesn’t make sense to put a ten-unit building on Chickatawbut Street. But it totally makes sense to redevelop the China Sky building a few years down the line and put maybe 10 to 15 residential units there.”
A key goal, he added, is to “attract people my age and younger who live here but aren’t necessarily active in the civic association to come to the meetings and be informed— not just when something directly affects them. But come to the meetings; it’s an hour a month and just be involved.”
One silver lining to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, Bickerton noted, is that enhanced access through virtual meetings has boosted engagement.
“We’ve had close to 100 people on some of those calls,” he said. “We haven’t had 100 people at a civic association meeting in a long time.”
For more on the civic group, see cedargrovecivic.com.