Upham's Corner Online

St. Kevin's Developer Bypasses the Community Voice

Posted: April 24, 2012     Nancy J Conrad  

POUA Website
Developer Bypasses Community Voice
Developer uses St. Mary's as Ploy St. Kevin's Update Meeting
Did they invite you to the party? No?  Don’t worry about it. They invited almost nobody.St. Kevin's Developers

The "party" is another event in a string of incompetencies carried out by the Archdiocese of Boston’s in-house developer in (mis) managing the St. Kevin’s Redevelopment Project. In a display of callous disregard for standard community involvement, the Planning Office of Urban Affairs (POUA) scheduled an update meeting in response to a demand letter written by the Westside Neighborhood Association but failed to notify almost everybody.

By relying exclusively on a limited mailing list, they have disenfranchised and suppressed the community voice for all but a few residents and stakeholders.  Who got notified?  A few English-speaking socio-economically elite who have computers, e-mail addresses and who happen to be on a select and limited email list.  

This meeting needs to be rescheduled or held a second time with the community making sure the developer has provided proper notification.

St. Kevin's DevelopmentWere elected officials notified? No they were not. Were other Upham’s Corner neighborhood associations notified? According to other area residents who did not receive either an email or a flyer notification, the conclusion is "probably not."

Upham’s Corner News received e-mail from representative Carlos Henriquez’ office in response to a conversation about another meeting in conflict with the St. Kevin’s meeting. Danielson Tavares asked us for the time and location of the meeting.

While any third-party organization can act as if they know what is going on (like UC News),  in fact it is incorrect for us to represent what the think Kevin’s developer is doing (what if something has changed?).

Liana Poston from Concillor Tito Jackson’s office, Flavio Daveiga from the Department of Neighborhood services, Kathleen Hurley from Councilor Frank Baker’s office, and Lance Campbell from the BRA all confirmed they had not received notice.

St. Kevin's RedevelopmentOn March 10, 2011, the BRA board issued initial approval for the St. Kevin's project with the proviso that the developer continue working with the community to resolve outstanding issues technical design issues.

Following two March/April 2011 meetings that appeared to be on the road towards productivity, the developer has attended two meetings and reported they are not working on the project because they're waiting to hear about funding. Since the hearing, the developer has accomplished absolutely nothing.

Finally, the Westside Neighborhood Association sent a demand letter to the developer. Their "public" meeting is a response to the demand letter. 

The developer is acting like the Westside Neighborhood Association is the primary voice for approval of the St. Kevin's project. This is simply not true.

In 2009 entire community came together in a community-based visioning process sponsored by the St. Kevin's Area Planning Collaborative (SKAPC) to determine the St. Kevin's parcel site best use. 

The resulting SKAPC Executive Report outlined a mixed use and mixed income site best plan that reflected the community's vision and the priorities of the residents of Upham's Corner, many of whom do not live in the Westside area.

Who are the people who will be affected by the St. Kevin's development?

Because it is a large project located on the main artery in the business district, it has the potential to impact the entire community as well as people who pass through Upham's Corner on their way to somewhere.

Not giving due to the totality of the residents in Upham's Corner is a travesty.

DND Model for Community Meetings

The city of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development provides an excellent model for how community meetings should be handled. In particular they are not run by the developer but rather by the community (or city representative).

When the Davern Ave lot was up for sale with the potential that it be deeded to the St. Kevin's project, Kelly Shay, DND Development Officer, conducted an excellent meeting that serves as a model for future Upham's Corner meetings.

  • The meeting was held at a site convenient for the community (Dorchester Bay conference room)
  • DND provided adequate notice to the community through the standard notification methods - calendar, email and flyering
  • The meeting began with a statement of the facts
  • The developer gave a presentation
  • Residents were given a chance to ask the developer questions
  • The developer was asked to leave
  • DND conducted a community conversation that was free of the overtones that would naturally occur if the developer were present
The result of the meeting was a calm decision that everyone felt comfortable with.

Archdiocese Led Meetings

The archdiocese led community meetings have always consisted of the developer being in charge of the meeting with the residents seated in the audience awaiting a presentation they know nothing about.  No documentation is available in advance for community conversation and preparation and no opportunities are  provided without the developer present for the community to discuss the presentation.

The Community in Charge

If the community is in charge, the tenor of the meeting is completely different. The community actually believes it has a responsibility to make sure the developer is following through correctly on its commitments to developing the property. Without that oversight anything could happen. Once a project has been built, there is very little the community can do to get the aberration corrected. 

Examples of this exist in Upham's Corner where the developer carried out construction not consistent with the submitted plans and the community has been unable to get the problem corrected.

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