The Bay State Banner by Emily Carson
Plans call for creation of new neighborhood over 161 acres
Other concepts put forth in the meeting included resiliency, such as planning for storm surges caused by climate change and rising sea levels. Areas around the neighborhood, such as lower-level garages and a sunken park amphitheater, will function as water basins and drainage sites during heavy flooding periods. HYM is also aiming to reduce emissions in the building process and make the buildings sustainable: 50 percent of the buildings will be LEED Gold certified or better and 50 percent will be LEED Silver.
The meeting took place on the day the Draft Environmental Impact Report and Draft Project Impact Report had been filed by HYM and released by the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The impact report includes studies of how aspects of the project, such as infrastructure building and traffic, will affect the environment around the site, including wetlands, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
“Redevelopment of the project site provides a unique opportunity to create additional housing, spur economic development, mitigate climate change in the area and improve connections between several adjoining neighborhoods,” the report states.
John Walkey, a waterfront initiative coordinator with the Chelsea-based environmental justice organization GreenRoots, said he has been following the development of the project and remains unswayed by the presentation’s promises of affordable housing. He is concerned by both the environmental and social impacts of the plan, and echoes Berninger’s sentiments.
“Housing should be a human right, and treating it like supply and demand is just underselling the issue,” Walkey said at the meeting. “It’s really going to change the fabric of the neighborhood and hasten the demise of an immigrant neighborhood.”
Though HYM has held more than 300 meetings in the community with different neighborhood groups, and even one-on-one meetings, this is the first unveiling of the plan at a public neighborhood meeting. Councilor Edwards said she is pleased the meeting took place.
“It’s an opportunity to start off a positive conversation about where we want to go, but also to make sure that we’re developing a really good, open, transparent relationship with HYM, as this is a long-term project,” said Edwards.
HYM’s O’Brien expressed satisfaction with the meeting overall.
“I thought the meeting went really well,” he said. “People listened to our proposal, they listened to the details. There weren’t that many questions, so hopefully that means we’ve answered people’s questions for the most part.”
The process is currently under review by the BPDA. The public comment period concludes Dec. 17. The next meeting for the project is on Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Suffolk Downs Clubhouse.
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