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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) - For the first time since the Boston Marathon bombings, when many had to flee in a matter of seconds, many business owners on Boylston Street got their first chance to see their premises and come to grips with what cleanups and repairs they will have to make to reopen.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office launched a highly systematic process in which business owners checked in at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, then were escorted by city officials at specific hours to each of the blocks between Hereford and Berkeley Streets.
"As everybody's said: The terrorists will not win. We will win," said Edward Borash, president of the Sir Speedy printing-shop franchise. His manager let dozens of people into the back of the shop for shelter during the frenzied evacuation after the two bombs went off.
Peter Meade, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, one of several city agencies working on the Back Bay's recovery, said: "What we're trying to do right now with people that are running businesses is, how do we get you back in the building? We want to be respectful of people who've been killed and injured, and we also do think, for the city, it's important to get people back."
For restaurants dealing with food still on tables that has accumulated eight days worth of mold and maggots, it's an extra-tough job to clean up and sanitize their cooking and dining areas. "One of the inspectors told me that he went into one of the restaurants and the music was still on. The computers were still on. The food was on the table. So that's a different matter in terms of what has to be taken out of that facility before you can open it up," Meade said.
The city's outlined a restoration process that includes decontaminating buildings affected by the blasts and their aftermath; assessing whether structures and their utility services are safe; removing debris; assessing building interiors; and then undertaking an orderly "re-entry" process that includes communication of what to expect when and counseling for employees as needed.
What was far from clear Monday evening: Just when Boylston Street will be fully reopened to pedestrians, motorists, shoppers and restaurant and bar patrons -- no longer just a matter of staunching growing losses for all kinds of business owners, but restoring the beating heart of the Back Bay's economic life.
"Opening the street back up is an important part of our healing," said Chris Hobbs, a psychologist who works in the area. "It's a sign that we're safe again."
With videographer John E. Stuart