Inman Square: a neighborhood's traditional business community makes the painful move to a more modern economy.

A community profile by CHRIS M. FORTUNATO

"He doesn't listen. Nobody listens in the government," said the grocery owner.

Mitchell, however, says that he believes Walsh, a personal friend of his, is concerned with the community.

And Johnson says he believes the local government should stimulate business in Inman Square and place a greater focus on crime prevention through increased foot patrols in the area.

Responding to these concerns, Walsh attributes much of the area's economic hardships to a lack of adequate parking lots combined with the strict enforcement of timed parking meters.

"Inman Square had 10 years ago begun a remarkable economic rebound, but the problem is the parking situation," Walsh explains.


"It had the restaurants, the boutique shops, and the jazz music. It had become sort of a jazz music center, but the city has never been able to address the parking," he continues.

"Instead the city continues to tag, which makes it prohibitive for people to go there, including myself. If I can't find a parking space in one of the lots, I just keep going."

Walsh also agrees that a greater police presence intent on preventing and punishing crime would tighten security and bring a more optimistic business climate.

"It is especially important in business areas where if people don't find parking, the alternative is to park on a side street, and people don't want to do that at night," Walsh says.

Walsh, however, dismisses the notion that East Cambridge is ethnically or racially divided.

"It just keeps dividing into new groups of people. A unique group of people is a very positive aspect," Walsh says.

So what does the future hold for Inman Square and its residents?

Walsh says he believes that careful attention and planning can cure the economic and social woes in the community.

"I think in general with a little bit of luck and some resolutions to the parking problem, it will go forward and be a very positive transition.

"But on the other hand, if we just ignore it, it can become stagnant or fall backwards."