the last community meeting on April 24, 2012, the Planning Office of
Urban Affairs, which is the Archdiocese in-house developer of the St.
Kevin's parcel, has not updated the community on their plans and
Pre-development soil samples were taken in the fall; a contractor fixed
a drainage problem on site; they "evicted" a homeless couple living on
the property and have applied for funds with the Department of Housing
and Community Development (DHCD).
They have also removed mention of the St. Kevin's project from their website's featured projects. Planning Office Website
What they have not done is maintain a dialog with members of the
community, especially those residents who are within "earshot" or
"eyeshot" of the 2.7 acre parcel. And they have not responded to
issues raised by the community at the April meeting.
Community Meeting April 24, 2012
The Archdiocese of Boston’s in-house developer, the Planning Office of
Urban Affairs (POUA), held a community update meeting on Tuesday, April
24 at 6 PM at the Cape Verdean Adult Daycare Center on Hancock Street
in Upham’s Corner. From a news perspective this meeting provided little
technical content to what is already known about the project.
Except for a couple modifications the developer’s presentation
consisted of a rehash of past presentations with an emphasis on
citing their own accomplishments. Of the many suggestions made by those
in attendance, all were turned down.
The meeting lasted two hours with presentations from the developer team present:
- Lisa Alberghini, Pres POUA
- David Aiken, project manager for St. Kevin's
- The Architecture Team (project architects)
- Drainage specialist
- Judy Beckler
- Joe San Clemente (traffic engineer)
- Fr. Jack Ahern
The drainage specialist contributed nothing new to the community's
understanding. The landscaper presented the same pictures he had
presented in 2010. The project manager said nothing. All St. Kevin's
developer statements were made by Ms. Alberghini who spent the first 15
minutes talking about the past.
Joe San Clemente made helpful comments about why there had to be a
Davern Ave exit (truck turnaround problem) and the architect showed
renderings of Building A which is now set back 30' on the 5th floor.
Finally, the developer has agreed to store the trash inside the
building - no smell, no dumpster divers and no raccoons.
Meeting of Little Benefit to the Community
other words, the community spent two hours and learned almost nothing
new. It was, however, a chance for the developer to put another “notch”
in their “gunslinger belt” - list of accomplishments.
Note: This statement is not made lightly, nor sarcastically. Regardless
of how useful a meeting was / was not, at the next community meeting,
the developer then proudly states how many times they have met with the
The real story was not the technical content or lack thereof at the
meeting but rather the emotional and psychological state of the
community during the meeting. Anger, hostility and a warring attitude
toward the developer pervaded the interaction over the entire two-hour
At all of the community meetings, the developer methodology appears to
be one of "We'll show you and tell you what we are doing.”
- Why are the residents so angry with the developer?
- Why was the developer quite literally ignoring resident comments at the meeting?
Residents Looking for Cooperation
What Upham's Corner residents and stakeholders want, they say, is a
cordial working relationship with the developer - give and take - all
hands working out design issues with the developer. The developer seems
unable to hear suggestions the residents are making.
From one resident: “There is a clear level of disrespect for the
community. It appears that they have the bit between their teeth and
are determined to ride roughshod over the neighborhood.”
Throughout the meeting, residents made suggestions to which the developer’s answer was “no.”
|Build underground parking
|Reduce the height of Building A to 4 stories
|Rebuild Building B
|Add density to the rear of Building C to remove density and height from Building A
|No - maybe
|Set back from the sidewalks to give community "breathing space"
|The development is too close to traffic pollution - bad for children
||No - “We think the location is OK for kids.”
|Curb cut on Columbia Rd to ease traffic problems
|Examine the health effects of families on the high traffic Columbia Rd
|Widen Davern Ave
|Route traffic into/out of the site from Columbia Rd not Bird St
For several residents who live close by and who walk through the St.
Kevin's property, comments about "pollution" are frequent. "About
three days ago, (early Dec 2012), I was actually having trouble
breathing because of the pollution from vehicles on Columbia Rd.
And this is nothing new. I am really concerned about putting
housing on such a heavily travelled artery."
Developers Waiting for Funding; Residents want Cooperation
As one resident said to Judy Beckler who represented the Planning
Office at the January 2012 Westside meeting: "My problem is that we do
not have a relationship with the developer. Right now it feels like
we're getting into a divorce."
Ms. Beckler responded by saying she "hoped" they could be friends. On
what basis is not clear. To gain the confidence of the community the
developer needs to "offer" the community enough to regrow the trust
that has been draining from the reserves since day one. Yet the
meetings are never structured that way.
As of December 2012, the developer has made no attempt to dialog with
the community (since April 2012). They have, however, done some
investigative probing on site, have cleaned up the property and as of
October 12, have applied again for LIHTC funding (Low Income Housing
According to Matt Seadale from DHCD, the Department of Housing and
Community Development, funding announcements (awards) will be made in
Your comments will be posted here and in the Letters to the Editor after processing.
Posted: December 10, 2012
Nancy J Conrad