Wednesday, January 30, 2008

MHC Calls for BC to Explore Alternatives to Demolition of Three Houses on Foster St

In a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) argues that "alternatives to demolition must be explored" by Boston College for three "historic properties" on Foster Street. The alternatives identified by the MHC "must include rehabilitation and reuse of the Foster Street houses."

In its Institutional Master Plan Notification Form (IMPNF) of December 2007, Boston College proposed to demolish the three houses and build townhouse-style housing on the five-acre site in order to provide 75 beds of housing for Jesuit seminarians, theology graduate students, and faculty of BC's new School of Theology of Ministry. The need for the housing is a result of the re-affiliation of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology with BC in Fall 2008; the WJST is currently located in Cambridge.

The three Foster Street houses date from approximately the 1880's. The houses "display elements of Victorian eclectic style and are fine examples of this period and type of construction," according to the MHC letter. All three houses are identified in the appendix of BC's IMPNF as being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The letter of January 18, 2008, was written by Brona Simon, Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Office of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and addressed to John Palmieri, Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. It was written in response to Boston College's Institutional Master Plan Notification Form, which was filed with the BRA on December 5, 2007. Elsewhere in the letter the MHC also requests an "intensive (locational) archaeological survey" at the former St. John's Seminary property and Evergreen Cemetery.

Alternatives to Demolition

The fate of the three houses has been documented previously on the Brighton Centered Blog. I previously suggested that BC consider keeping the houses, which sit on one corner of the lot, and renovate them instead. The houses could be incorporated into the new housing in a manner similar to what Harvard University did for the University Place development in Harvard Square a quarter-century ago. (I also wrote that the topic of housing on that site is a potential minefield for the City Council candidates, due to the large Jewish Orthodox community abutting the site on Portina Road.)

In response to those suggestions to preserve the buildings, Thomas Keady, Jr., Vice President for Governmental and Community Affairs at BC, told BostonNOW, "I don't believe that they are [historically significant]. Those three houses will be coming down."

Alternatives to demolition are described in the MHC letter:
The IMP should study alternatives to the demolition of these houses in order to protect and preserve the character-defining elements of the Foster Street area, such as the uniform setbacks of houses, size and scale of residences, and mature vegetation. Alternatives to demolition must be explored and must include rehabilitation and reuse of the Foster Street houses. Rehabilitation alternatives should include additions to the existing houses and/or compatible, adjacent new construction. Feasible alternatives that would preserve and protect the historic properties should be adopted and implemented.
The BC Task Force wrote a letter to Keady on August 25, 2004, in which they asked that BC "consider relinquishing control of the two homes" (owned at the time by BC; the third was purchased in 2006) as a "symbolic act" to the community, thereby allowing the houses to be purchased by Allston-Brighton residents "unable to find housing at an affordable price in this community." (In 2004, BC had not proposed demolishing the houses; in fact, the WJST had not yet announced plans to re-affiliate with BC.)

Should the Upper Foster Street Area Be Listed in the National Register of Historic Places?

The MHC letter goes beyond the three houses to argue that the surrounding neighborhood -- the Upper Foster Street Area, which is part of the MHC's Inventory of Historic and Archaeological Assets -- is a "cohesive collection of late 19th century architectural styles" which the MHC believes "meets the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places."


The MHC letter uses strong language that "alternatives to demolition must be explored" [emphasis added], as well as that "demolition of these historic properties would constitute an adverse effect... through their complete destruction and through the construction of new buildings that are out of scale and character, and would alter the setting of the Foster Street area."

Addressing these concerns will be quite a challenge for BC's proposed use of the site as Jesuit seminarian housing to go forward. The nature of the comments call into question not just the demolition of the houses, but also the setbacks from the street, the "size and scale of residences," and the woods that cover much of the five acre site.

Increasing the setback of the new buildings from the street would decrease the size of the interior courtyard, while reducing the size and scale of the housing would decrease the capacity of the site for housing the Jesuit seminarians, faculty, and theology graduate students in the current proposal.

Some alternate sites exist for housing the seminarians, but BC officials have rejected those suggestions during the past year. St. William's Hall on the former St. John's Seminary property proper housed students for a year who had been displaced from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Capacity for housing in Bishop Peterson Hall (owned by BC) or St. John's Hall (still owned by St. John's Seminary) is unclear.

Without saying so explicitly, the MHC letter makes it clear that preservation of historical properties contained within the former St. John's Seminary land will be vigorously pursued by the at least one state agency.

Mass Historical Commission on BC's Expansion: Watch Out for Unmarked Graves

The Massachusetts Historical Commission has submitted a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority related to Boston College's proposed expansion into the former St. John's Seminary land raising questions about whether unmarked graves of Sulpician Fathers may still be present on the land. The letter also raises the possibility that other archaeological sites associated with Native Americans and two historical estates are present.

The possibility of unmarked human graves on the site may complicate BC's proposed expansion into the former seminary grounds (referred to by BC as their new "Brighton Campus") because "unmarked human burials are protected under the Massachusetts Unmarked Burial Law," according to the letter.

The letter of January 18, 2008, was written by Brona Simon, Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Office of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and addressed to John Palmieri, Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. It was written in response to Boston College's Institutional Master Plan Notification Form, which was filed with the BRA on December 5, 2007.

Copies of the letter were brought to the January 29, 2008 meeting of the BC Task Force by Brighton resident Mark Alford.

Possible Unmarked Graves of Sulpician Fathers

The Sulpicians are a Roman Catholic diocesan order which traces its spiritual history back to 17th century France. The historic Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris is well known in recent years due to its role in the book and movie, The Da Vinci Code. The Society of St. Sulpice in the U.S. has a mailing address in Maryland.

Historical records referenced in the letter state that the graves of Sulpician Fathers were originally located near Cardinal O'Connell's Mausoleum and Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the St. John's Seminary grounds. The graves may have been disinterred in 1928 and reburied in the Evergreen Cemetery, located across Commonwealth Avenue from the seminary grounds, or in Maryland. The MHC letter reads:
However, the records are not clear whether any or all of the graves were in fact removed, or if they were removed in whole or in part. There have ben instances in other locations in the state where historical accounts state that graves were disinterred and relocated elsewhere, but, in fact, that had not been the case (e.g., Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Roxbury). Since this area has never been systematically tested by archaeologists it is impossible to know whether human burials or other significant archaeological remains may exist within the project area.
One long-time Brighton resident I contacted indicated that he remembers as a child seeing grave stone markers in the general vicinity on the seminary grounds. I am aware of no such markers at present, however.

BC officials have previously stated on several occasions that the remains of Cardinal O'Connell have been removed from the site. That removal was presumably sometime after BC agreed to buy the land in 2004. [EDIT: One person has since informed me that Cardinal O'Connell's remains have not yet been removed, but that the Archdiocese will do so at some time in the future.] The MHC letter raises no questions about the removal of Cardinal O'Connell's remains.

Possible Other Archaeological Deposits

The letter also states that the seminary grounds are "likely to contain archaeological sites associated with the Native American occupation of the area" as well as "archaeological deposits associated with the 18th and 19th century Hildreth Farm Estate and Stanwood Estate. The website of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society provides a short summary of the estates:
During the early 19th century, a farm called the Hildreth estate was located atop the hill just to the east of Lake Street. Jacob Stanwood, a wealthy Boston merchant acquired the Hildreth estate in 1864.

Jacob Stanwood was a wealthy Boston merchant, who was the brother-in-law of Maine Governor and United States presidential candidate James G. Blaine. The 1875 Brighton Atlas shows the estate of the Jacob Stanwood heirs with a large main house and five stables situated at the center of the tract bordered by South, Lake, Glenmont and Foster Streets.

Potential Impact on BC's Expansion Into Brighton

The letter appears to raise the possibility that BC might be required to undertake extensive archaeological excavation at the site as part of their proposed expansion onto the land.

According to the letter, "to date, the property has not been subjected to an archaeological survey... MHC requests that an intensive (locational) archaeological survey (950 CMR 70) be conducted at the former Chancery-St. John's Seminary property and Evergreen Cemetery... to locate and identify any historic or archaeological resources or unmarked graves that may be affected by the poposed projects."

In December 2007, BC announced their filing of a proposed, 10-year Institutional Master Plan Notification Form that includes $800 million in construction costs and a similar expenditure over ten years in increased annual budgets. In the master plan, BC proposed to construct undergraduate dormitories, baseball and softball stadia, an underground recreation facility, art museum, auditorium, fine arts department building, and a 500-car parking garage on the Brighton Campus. The parking garage and one of the fine arts/auditorium buildings are the proposed new buildings closest to Cardinal O'Connell's Mausoleum.

Massachusetts Law is referenced at the end of the letter, indicating the possibility that these issues related to archeological remains may need to be resolved "should any state agency funding, license, or permit be required" for the projects proposed in the IMPNF.

I can think of one kind of state agency funding that might be sought by BC as part of their proposed expansion: issuance of tax-exempt state bonds, issued by MassDevelopment (the state's finance and development agency), to raise cash for construction costs. BC won approval of a $177 million tax-exempt bond in August 2007 which they used, in part, to pay for the $65 million to complete the purchase of the seminary grounds.

If the MHC requires, through application of the Massachusetts Unmarked Burial Law, significant archaeological excavation in portions of the former seminary grounds, then this could pose potentially time-consuming delays in the new building construction in BC's proposed institutional master plan.

While St. Elizabeth's Medical Center has begun construction of their new emergency room at the corner of Washington Street and Cambridge Street in Brighton, construction of a new access road was held up last year while archaeological excavation proceeded on the site.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Burritos at Chipotle in Cleveland Circle 11am to 8pm

The new Chipotle restaurant is opening in Cleveland Circle at 1924 Beacon Street.  They are, apparently, giving out free burritos on Wednesday from 11am until 8pm.  Enjoy!  (Urrp.)

BC Task Force Meeting Today at 6:30 pm: Open Space and Academic/Administrative Buildings

BC Task Force Meeting
Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 6:30-8:30 pm
Brighton Marine Health Center, 77 Warren Street, 3rd floor, Brighton MA 02135

For more information, contact: John Fitzgerald, Project Manager, BRA, 617-918-4267

Public comments on the IMPNF: Due February 5, 2008 to the BRA

Note: The BC Task Force has requested that attendees, if possible, provide them with written comments at their meetings. It doesn't have to be a formally-written letter, etc., but anything to help them assemble information in addition to verbal comments at the meetings. Address letters to Jean Woods, Chair, BC Task Force.

Agenda: The following elements of BC's 10-year institutional master plan
  • Open Space
  • Academic Buildings and Usage
  • Administrative Buildings and Usage
  • Summary
BC's master plan website with electronic version of their project notification form. Current summary of their campus is in Chapter 2; proposed new projects in the 10-year IMP are in Chapter 3; sustainability issues are in Chapter 8.

Open Space. In 2004-7, Boston College acquired approximately 65 acres of land (the former St. John's Seminary land, now referred to by BC as their "Brighton Campus") from the Archdiocese of Boston. This land has been previously inventoried by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department as part of the privately-owned open space in Allston-Brighton (see, for example, the previous master plan by the department). The Brighton Campus comprises more than 10% of all the open space in Allston-Brighton.

The Brighton Campus has an underlying zoning of Conservation Protection Subdistrict under Article 51 of the city's zoning code. (Article 51 defines the zoning for Allston-Brighton.) BC's Institutional Master Plan Amendment of 2006 put an institutional master plan overlay onto portions of the Brighton Campus. Their IMPA of October 2007, which is still undergoing Article 80 review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, might seek to extend the IMP overlay to the entire site; alternatively, the IMPNF of December 2007 might do the same. (Article 80 defines the review and re-zoning process for large developments and institutional master plans.)

While the Article 80 IMP review allows re-zoning of the site, the underlying zoning is not ignored in the process. As Gerald Autler, Senior Project Manager of the BRA, wrote in April 2007:
"We certainly take aspects of the underlying zoning into account during the IMP process -- for example, the goals of the Conservation Protection Subdistrict would not be forgotten, even if the zoning provisions of the CPS do not literally apply."
According to Article 51, development in a CPS-zoned property should cluster buildings at the interior of the site an avoid impacting natural features of the property. As in any zoning, there are a series of permitted, conditionally-allowed, and forbidden uses for a CPS-zoned property under Article 51.
  • Allowed uses under Article 51 include: museum; open space; "group residence, limited", single- and multi-family houses, or townhouses; "accessory parking" (connected to another lawful use); "accessory cafeteria"; and "accessory dormitory".
  • Conditionally-allowed uses include: art gallery; auditorium, concert hall, or theater; conference center or bed-and-breakast; office space (except for retail); grounds for sports; open space recreational building; "outdoor place of recreation for profit"; research laboratory; and lodging house.
  • Forbidden uses include: stadium; "dormitory not accessory to a use"; hotel, motel, or "executive suites"; restaurants and other retail uses; outdoor storage of junk, scrap, fuel, minerals, etc.; trade shops (carpenter, electrician, machine, etc.); and parking garage or lot (unless an ancillary use connected to another lawful use).

Conservation Restriction. A conservation restriction is a legally-binding document, operating outside of the zoning process, that can preserve open space in perpetuity. A public agency is typically charged with monitoring compliance, and the restriction can only be overturned by a 2/3 vote of the State Legislature.

A number of private developers have seen these conservation restrictions as good for both themselves and the surrounding community. The EF International School, for example, has worked with the Brighton community to development a pair of conservation restrictions on their Lake Street property to preserve open space in exchange for an expansion of their facilities. Harvard University has also entered into an 875-year conservation restriction on a parcel connected to the Arnold Arboretum, in exchange for a proposed development project.

Boston College has not included a conservation restriction in their IMPNF or presentations to the community.

A number of Brighton residents have proposed particular sites for conservation restrictions that could be part of the Article 80 community benefits related to BC's IMP:
  • Wooded hillside along Lake Street;
  • Athletic fields on the Brighton Campus; and
  • Orchard near the southeast corner of the Brighton Campus (i.e., bordering Greycliff Road).
The Boston Globe's editorial board has already weighed in on this issue:
BC’s president, the Rev. William Leahy, points to a buffer zone of trees between the two proposed dorms and homes on Lake Street. But he is unwilling to pledge that the buffer zone will remain a permanent fixture. Such a stiff-necked approach is likely to invite the same inflexible attitude on the part of neighbors.
Preserving Natural Features. Many aspects of the Brighton Campus proposed development follow these CPS guidelines in clustering the buildings in interior locations and avoiding (or preserving) natural features of the land: the athletic facilities use existing flat field space; the parking garage avoids the steep, hillside meadow nearby; all the development avoids the wooded hillside along Lake Street; and the Foster Street development does not modify the Foster Rock or the ledge near Portina Road houses.

Other aspects of the development do not appear to preserve features (or at least require clarification): the undergraduate dormitory site on or near a rock outcropping along Commonwealth Avenue; and the removal of a substantial length of the stone wall on both sides of Commonwealth Avenue.

Academic and Administrative Buildings and Uses.
Three new buildings (possibly connected together as only one or two buildings) are proposed along the Brighton Campus's southern edge on Commonwealth Avenue as part of this 10-year IMP:
  • Department of Fine Arts, 4-5 stories, 60-70 feet tall, 30,000 square feet;
  • Art Museum, 3-story, probably also 60-70 feet tall (e.g., compare with Harvard's proposed HUAM at Barry's Corner, which is also very tall even though only three stories), 21,000 square feet; and
  • Auditorium, 1200 seats, 25,000 square feet.
Uses for the auditorium are unclear in the IMPNF; possibilities could include academic conferences and seminars, musical concerts, rock concerts, theater plays, etc. On-site parking related to some of these uses might be an issue to be raised.

Renovations are also planned for number of buildings on the Brighton Campus purchased from the Archdiocese. The Chancery, Creagh Library, and part of St. John's Hall (?) are listed as being converted to administrative use, while Bishop Peterson Hall would be converted to administrative and academic use. Note that Bishop Peterson Hall's renovation and subsequent use is currently in question: the IMPNF states that the IMPA's proposed use is infeasible for office and academic uses of the School of Theology and Ministry, such that St. William's Hall will be used for the STM instead.

Those many administrative office buildings in the Brighton Campus may house a potentially large number of employees who would presumably move from their current offices elsewhere at BC. No indication is given in the IMPNF as to which offices would be moving, or what the employees' previous offices would be used for after they are vacated.

The 10-year IMP for BC's campus in Newton contains many academic projects. On the main Chestnut Hill Campus, five projects are proposed:
  • Academic building for the Humanities;
  • Academic building for Graduate School of Social Work and Connell School of Nursing;
  • Stokes Commons, a student center and dining facility;
  • New Science Center (first phase) replacing Cushing Hall; and
  • Renovation of Carney Hall (academic and administrative).
Two academic and administrative projects are proposed for the Newton Campus (i.e., Law School site):
  • Replacement of Smith Wing; and
  • Renovation of Stuart Hall.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vote for the Best of Brighton (and Allston)

The TAB newspapers (or is it GateHouse Media?) is running their annual "Best Of" survey for neighborhoods and towns in the Boston area.

This is an opportunity to vote for your favorite florist, frame store, day spa (or massage), retirement living residence, insurance agency -- as well as Indian restaurant, takeout restaurant, and coffee shop.

Voting is by neighborhood, so Brighton is separate from Allston. If you wish to vote at all, you must vote for a minimum of ten categories for your votes to count.

Extra prizes for those who vote for best beach or golf course in Brighton.

Double-Take in NYC Over Artificial Turf

The New York City Parks Department appeared last week to be the first city to declare a moratorium on the use of rubber infill from used tires for artificial turf fields. But then the department made an abrupt, partial retraction of the position, instead stating that the city is "exploring the use of carpet-style" nylon turf -- which, it so happens, does not include used tires as a component of the construction.

An independent watchdog group, NYC Park Advocates, published an internal NYC Parks Department memo, dated January 14, in which the department put forward a new design directive "suspending the use of rubber infill synthetic turf in all Parks Capital Projects," according to the New York Times. The NYC Parks Department also asked the Health Department to investigate the potential human health impacts of shredded tires used in many, if not most, artificial turf construction:
On Tuesday, the department said it had asked the city health department to investigate potential health and safety problems associated with the synthetic material, even as it continued to insist the surfaces were safe.
After the disclosure of the internal memo, however, the Parks Department appears to have changed course -- albeit not a full about-face -- according to the New York Metro newspaper:
“I incorrectly made a blanket statement,” said Deputy Commissioner of Capital Projects Amy Freitag. “There is no change in Parks Dept.’s policy on synthetic turf.”

Freitag went on to explain the city is now “replacing” the rubber-infill “standard” and “exploring the use of carpet-style” nylon turf.
Carpet-style nylon turf does not include a layer of shredded, used rubber tires as part of its construction. (I guess she meant to make a carpet, not a blanket, statement.)

Used rubber tires typically contain polycyclic aromatic hyrocarbon molecules, a class of organic molecules of which seven have been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being "probable human carcinogens." Concerns have been raised about these PAH molecules leaching out into ground water, the rubber layer "crumb" breaking free from the installation, and the PAH potentially entering humans through inhalation. Additional concerns have been raised about the high temperatures artificial turf reach in hot weather, causing a heat island effect.

The possibly conflicting positions emanating from the NY Parks Department might reflect an internal battle. According to the Times, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe "has been a forceful advocate of the safety of turf fields made with shredded rubber."
Mr. Benepe has said the surfaces are safe to play on; have environmental advantages over natural surfaces, which require pesticides, watering and mowing; and are cheaper and easier to maintain than are grass fields.
The NY Metro article also refers to data sheets from the artificial turf manufacturer Forever Green, presumably provided to the Parks Department, which were obtained by the newspaper through New York's Freedom of Information Law. The manufacturer's data sheets read, in part:
“This product contains petroleum oils similar to ones categorized ... as causing skin cancer in mice after prolonged and repeated contact. Any potential hazard can be minimized by using ... protective equipment to avoid skin contact and by washing thoroughly” [after using the fields].
These data sheets appear to indicate the the manufacturer confirms that their product contains particular molecules or compounds that are a known animal carcinogen.

The New York State Legislature is considering a bill that would put a six-month, state-wide moratorium on the use of rubber infill from used tires as part of the construction of artificial turf.

Artificial turf installations have become increasingly popular both among public agencies -- including Boston's Parks and Recreation Department and the City of Newton -- and private institutions, including Boston College, which has proposed three new artificial turf fields for the former St. John's Seminary land purchased from the Archdiocese of Boston.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Knife Fight Between Two Employees at IHOP

There was a knife fight early Saturday evening between two employees of the International House of Pancakes at 1850 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton.

The Boston Herald couldn't resist using some colorful imagery:
A knife duel between two workers at a Brighton greasy spoon turned the eatery into the International House of Pain.

The fracas broke out about 5 p.m. yesterday inside the International House of Pancakes on Soldiers Field Road, just as early dinner guests were sitting down to enjoy the food chain’s all-you-can-eat pancakes. But in short order, the clinking of coffee cups was replaced by the sounds of battle.
One employee was badly hurt, but is expected to survive; another had more minor wounds to the hand and has been booked, according to the Herald. WBZ-TV and the Herald have differing accounts on the second employee: WBZ reports that the hand injury was suffered by a third employee who tried to intervene in the incident. What's right? WBZ looks closer to the truth, according to the Boston Police Department report.  (EDIT 1/28/08:  The Boston Globe appears to get it right, too.)

The Herald also notes that "employees were separated in different rooms while detectives checked the restaurant’s licenses near the front door." Were detectives looking for the requisite license allowing knife fights?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Parsons/Pike Pointed Picture

A couple of years ago, nice artwork was installed in the Parson Street underpass underneath the Massachusetts Turnpike in Brighton.  Diverted Motion blogger posts at The Bostonist about the "Asparagus Under the Bridge".

Many know Brighton historically for its role in the cattle trade, particularly for supplying George Washington's Continental Army (at a time that the area was called Little Cambridge and was a part of Cambridge).  Many are unfamiliar with 19th century Brighton's role in developing agriculture and horticulture, since it was seemingly dwarfed by the blossoming cattle trade; this mural offers insight into that part of the town's past.

I didn't know anything about the muralist who created the asparagus art, but the post at The Bostonist fills in the details:
Upon closer inspection of the murals, you may notice a striking similarity to other public art around Boston. Well, you're right! (Good job!) They were created by Joshua Winer, Boston's go-to public muralist. He's also responsible for the trompe l'oeil mural over the Harvard Square Theater and the Davenport Street Mural in Cambridge; The Chestnut Hill Highway Mural in Newton; the Kennedy Family Mural in Brookline; the Elephant Murals and the Alpha Omega Watch Mural in the Prudential Center; and The Newbury Street Mural on (you guessed it!) Newbury Street.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Housing Petition as a Public Comment to the BRA on BC's IMPNF

Dear Brighton neighbors,

Over the past nine months, members of our community have attended a series of public meetings of the BC Neighbors Forum. We have also had a lively exchange of ideas here on this Google Group. And, of course, we have regularly attended the monthly meetings of the BC Task Force. Many opinions have been expressed about issues related to BC's proposed expansion plans.

The coordinating committee for the public meetings has tried to draw upon all those comments in order to put together a single document that expresses, as best we can ascertain, the common central ground amongst our diverse neighborhood. As you can imagine, it took a lot of work just to get this committee of 15-ish people to agree on all the wording -- as well as what to include, and what not to include. We have heard your concerns and tried to respond, as best we could, to incorporate them into the document.

This "housing petition" focuses only on housing issues in BC's master plan. As a public comment to the BRA, it makes concrete suggestions as to what further study we believe should be requested from BC in the scoping determination.

The scoping option argued for in the petition is flexible: it identifies multiple sites for housing that are more than sufficient to house all of BC's currently off-campus students, thereby leaving BC flexibility to choose which sites to use and how to balance building heights and open space.

This scoping option is complete: it deals with the entire issue of undergraduate housing, rather than expressing opposition or support for only one particular site or another.

And this scoping option is robust: if problems are identified in one or more parts of particular sites, there are more than sufficient alternative sites identified that the scoping option could still work.

Our committee's intention is to work next on a similar petition about athletics facilities.

Please read over the housing petition and consider supporting it.

One way to sign onto the petition will be at next Tuesday's (1/29) meeting of the BC Task Force, at 6:30 pm at the Brighton Marine Health Center.

To sign up yourself -- or to have your friends and/or neighbors sign on, too -- contact me at for a PDF of the letter and a signature page. (I.e., hardcopies of signatures are required.)

For those people who would like to get signatures on their street, a short note sent to me at would be helpful so that we don't duplicate efforts on any particular street.

Note that this "housing petition" in no way should be considered as replacing your own, independent public comments to submit to the BRA. There are many important issues which we could not cover in this one, short document.

-Mike Pahre,
for the BC Neighbors Forum coordinating committee

Housing Petition:

To: Boston Redevelopment Authority
Re: Housing Issues in the Boston College Institutional Master Plan Notification Form
Date: January 22, 2008

As many Allston-Brighton residents, we are concerned about the disproportionately large number of undergraduate students (including Boston College students) living in houses and apartment buildings in our neighborhood. The neighborhood is plagued by quality of life issues related to student rentals, which leads to an increasingly transient population. As a result, it is difficult to attract families to Allston-Brighton, and keep them here.

Therefore, we urge the BRA to seek revisions in BC’s proposed Institutional Master Plan in order to better serve the needs of the Allston-Brighton community. We ask for the following:
  1. By 2018, BC should be required to provide on-campus housing for all of its undergraduate students (except those studying elsewhere or commuting from family homes in the greater Boston area).
  2. Undergraduate dorms are unacceptable on the former seminary grounds, which borders a residential neighborhood, and should not be built. BC can, and should, colocate its undergraduate students in the traditionally residential parts of the Chestnut Hill campus (both Boston and Newton) that are not directly adjacent the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
  3. It should be ensured that: the proposed housing for Jesuit seminarians on Foster Street is used for absolutely no other purpose far beyond the 10-year IMP time frame; that the extension of Wiltshire Road is never re-opened; and that buffer zones are increased.
To accomplish these goals, we request the BRA’s scoping determination include the following:
  1. BC should maintain the Edmonds Hall site for dormitories -- as well as the current site of the Rec Plex (Flynn Recreation Center), should they wish to move it elsewhere.
  2. To make good use of available land and maximize open space, BC should build dorms of 6 or more stories high (consistent with those recently built), and locate them throughout the Chestnut Hill campus, including Newton (and not directly adjacent the Chestnut Hill Reservoir).
  3. BC should substantially increase the number of beds on the two-story “Mods” site (temporary housing built in 1970) to accommodate more students on campus.
In light of deep concerns about impacts caused by BC purchasing houses in Brighton, we also desire full transparency as to their purpose and extent, both now and in the future. BC can best serve and coexist with the Allston-Brighton community by taking the responsibility of providing on-campus housing for all of its undergraduate students. For decades, BC has not assumed this full responsibility to the detriment of the neighborhood.

This letter comprises a complete, robust, and flexible scenario for undergraduate housing that the BRA should require BC to scope fully. The proposals identified here for housing are more than sufficient to house all BC's undergraduates while still maximizing open space. We believe that our community position outlined in this document offers solutions that serve the interests of the community, BC, and the city.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coyote Spotted in Allston On Brighton Avenue?

There are reports of a coyote spotted on Brighton Avenue in Allston both yesterday morning and today.  I don't know of any particular news report about it, however.  The reference to it running "back into the woods" likely means Ringer Park, a block or two away down Allston Street.

Monday, January 21, 2008

BC Task Force Meeting Tuesday 1/22 at 6:30 pm

BC Task Force Meeting
Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 6:30-8:30 pm
Brighton Marine Health Center, 77 Warren Street, 3rd floor, Brighton MA 02135

For more information, contact: John Fitzgerald, Project Manager, BRA, 617-918-4267

Public comments on the IMPNF: Due February 5, 2008 to the BRA

Note: The BC Task Force has requested that attendees, if possible, provide them with written comments at their meetings. It doesn't have to be a formally-written letter, etc., but anything to help them assemble information in addition to verbal comments at the meetings. Address letters to Jean Woods, Chair, BC Task Force.

Agenda: Housing Issues in BC's 10-year institutional master plan

BC's master plan website with electronic version of their project notification form. Current housing is summarized in Chapter 2; proposed housing in the 10-year IMP is in Chapter 3; and "Residential Life" is in Chapter 5.

Undergraduate Housing. BC has proposed a series of new construction of undergraduate dormitories, and demolition of current dormitories, that results in a net increase of 610 beds of undergraduate on-campus housing over the next 10 years. Currently, approximately 1200 undergraduate students live off-campus in neighborhood rentals.

Existing dormitories proposed to be demolished:
  • 790-bed Edmonds Hall, which would be replaced with a new student Recreation Center; and
  • approximately 40% of the "Mods" buildings (i.e., demolish 185 beds out of 444 in the total Mods buildings), which would be replaced by 175 beds of new construction.
New dormitories proposed to be built:
  • Mods partial replacement (175 beds replacing 185 current beds, see previous paragraph);
  • Two sets of dormitories, comprising 500 beds, on the former St. John's Seminary land (now called the "Brighton Campus");
  • 420 beds on the More Hall site, at the southeast corner of St. Thomas More Road and Commonwealth Avenue; and
  • 490 beds on part of the Shea Field, at the northwest corner of St. Thomas More Road and Beacon Street.
No housing additions or modifications are being proposed for BC land in Newton.

One corner of the site of the current Flynn Recreation Center ("Rec Plex") -- which is proposed to be demolished once the proposed new Recreation Center is built -- would be occupied a proposed new "university center" with space for "dining, student organizations, offices, conference center, and theater"; the remainder of the Rec Plex site is proposed to be converted into open space.

Seminarian and Graduate Student Housing. BC has proposed to build 75-beds of "Jesuit faculty and graduate student housing" on the property at 188-196 Foster Street, adjacent to the Foster Rock, primarily in order to house the students (including Jesuit seminarians) and faculty from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology who are re-affiliating with BC in Fall 2008. Three houses -- occupying one corner of the site, dating from the late 19th century, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places -- are proposed to be demolished to make way for the new housing.

No other graduate student housing is proposed to be constructed in Brighton or Newton.

The university holds master leases on 186 units in the Cleveland Circle area which it uses for graduate student housing. (My estimate is that they comprise 203 beds of graduate student housing.) These master leases end after six years; there is no indication in the IMPNF of what will happen after that date within the remaining four years of this master plan.

Faculty Housing Purchases. Since the time of the previous IMP in 2000, BC has acquired a number of houses in Brighton on Wade Street and Foster Street. The Foster Street houses are proposed to be demolished (see above), while the Wade Street houses have been extensively rehabilitated during the past year to provide BC faculty housing. The Wade Street houses, in particular, are for "residential use," not for "institutional use," thereby remaining on the city's property tax rolls.

In a January 16, 2007 letter from Thomas Keady, Jr., BC Vice President for Governmental and Community Affairs, to the BC Task Force he referred to the Wade Street (and similar) houses. "If approached," he wrote, "the University will consider opportunities for other strategic acquisitions."

Employee Mortgage Assistance Program. At public meetings of the BC Task Force, BC has proposed a new program to assist employees in purchasing housing in Brighton. (Since the program is not described in the IMPNF itself, as far as I can tell, or in any other available document, I have no further information.)

Proposed Ban on Undergraduates LIving in Off-Campus 1- and 2-Family Houses. BC has proposed a new ban on their off-campus undergraduate students living in Allston-Brighton and Newton 1- and 2-family houses. This proposed ban was described at the December 4, 2007 meeting of the BC Task Force, and in meetings between BC officials with the media, but is not included in the IMPNF itself; it is not further described in any documents provided thus far. According to the Boston Herald,
William Leahy, SJ, President of BC, stated that the ban would take effect "after the new dorms are built."

Boston Poetry From Brighton Resident

Boston now has its first poet laureate:  Sam Cornish, a resident of Brighton and a former professor at Emerson College.  His appointment was first announced by Mayor Thomas Menino's in his State of the City speech last Tuesday night.

Writes the Boston Globe editorial page:
Cornish gives an eclectic account of his life. An African-American, born in 1935 "at the edge of the Depression," Cornish has seen the world change and changed with it. He wrote while he was in the Army in the 1950s; and he praises the military for lifting him out of segregated society and placing him in an integrated setting, where he recalls talking books and writing with other soldiers who also wrote. He loves comic books, westerns, and Rachael Ray. And, he adds, "My wife has raised me well."...

What Boston won't be getting from its new laureate is poetry on demand, according to Alice Hennessey, an aide to the mayor and the chairwoman of the task force that chose Cornish. That's good news. Boston doesn't need cheesy paeans. Instead, the city should follow Cornish's lead and create a public chorus of lyrical voices.
No cheesy paeans?  Too bad.  I was hoping for an Ode to the Olde A Lyne.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NY Times: Brighton High School College Preparatory Program Successful

The New York Times ran a front-page story Thursday featuring the recent success of Brighton High School in not only getting more urban students to graduate, but in preparing them for -- and then getting into -- college:
Those efforts, and others across the country, reflect a growing sense of urgency among educators that the primary goal of many large high schools serving low-income and urban populations — to move students toward graduation — is no longer enough. Now, educators say, even as they struggle to lift dismal high school graduation rates, they must also prepare the students for college, or some form of post-secondary school training, with the skills to succeed...
At Brighton High in Boston, for the first time this year, John Travers, the head of counseling, and his staff visited every freshman English class to begin mapping out the steps toward college: Maintaining a high grade point average. Taking tough classes. Building a résumé...

In 2005, 74.2 percent of the graduating seniors went on to post-secondary education: of those, 56 percent went to four-year colleges, 33 percent to two-year schools and 11 percent to advanced training, Mr. Travers said. The colleges at the top of the list: Bunker Hill Community College, the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Massachusetts Bay Community College.
A couple of comments posted online by readers:
I don't understand how anyone can defend lowering expectations for some of our students. In my view, that has been the problem for far too many years. Perhaps some students will fail, but we degrade them by not holding them to the same standards of excellence that we expect of our best and our brightest.
— Ken Schwarz, New York City

College is not being presented as the only option, nor is it being propositioned as a definite. The point of early college awareness is to tell ALL students, regardless of their socioeconomic situations or neighborhoods, that if they want to go and if they work hard enough, they can go to college. It becomes a possibility. In a country where we harp on the idea that opportunity comes with hard work, we should allow everyone the possibility to have as many options or ideas for their own futures as possible. Presenting college as an option in no way negates the option of trade school or the military; it merely broadens the way students can think about their lives and what they want for themselves. I find it appalling that we should limit and stifle the conversation about higher education in order to keep our workforce in line. Education isn’t just about money; it’s about seeing the world and ourselves from new and different perspectives. All post-secondary options should be presented to students, so they can take ownership over the trajectory of their own lives.
— l.o., Massachusetts
Of course, this distinction for Brighton High School piles on top of their victory last month in the state's high school Division 4 Super Bowl, thereby completing an undefeated season, and a National Bronze Medal awarded by U.S. News and World Report. And how can we forget their contribution to the human flag to celebrate Brighton's 200th anniversary?

Via the All About BPS.

Bike Lanes at Kenmore Square and Cleveland Circle

While Commonwealth Avenue between Kenmore Square and the BU Bridge lies outside of Allston-Brighton, improvements to it will impact transportation for Allston-Brighton residents.

In his State of the City speech Tuesday, Mayor Thomas Menino proposed to put bike lanes along that stretch of roadway alongside Boston University. The Mayor himself took up cycling last year. Harry Mattison has the story about the State of the City speech, and some of the things that are in it, over at the Allston-Brighton Community Blog.

Bicycle lanes on streets within A-B have been discussed seriously during the last year in a number of different venues. Harvard University's expansion proposals into North Allston have included bicycle access in various ways. The Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Planning Initiative sponsored by the Boston Redevelopment Authority included discussion of improvements for access to and from the Charles River, as well as possible lanes on several A-B streets like Cambridge Street, Washington Street, and Beacon Street.

And as recently as last Wednesday night's meeting of the BC Task Force (on traffic, transportation, and parking in BC's institutional master plan), several people raised the issue of striping bike lanes on Beacon Street west of Cleveland Circle in order to create connectivity between the new bike lanes on Beacon Street east of the intersection and bike lanes being planned further west in Newton proper. Putting bicycle lanes along that stretch of roadway is likely to be a relatively easy project: the road is wide, which means that it would probably require little more than striping itself.

Several members of MassBike made the pitch, while also noting that bike lines need to be designed carefully and intelligently so that they do not actually make the streets more dangerous for cyclists.

It is unclear how such proposals for bike lanes would become an element of BC's IMP. Some possibilities are that they would be: part of mitigation for traffic and transportation demands from the increase in 454 workers (100 faculty, 12 staff, 342 graduate students) at BC in the 10-year IMP; part of an improved Transportation Demand Management program in order to reduce the use of cars for commuting to and from the campus; or part of the community benefits package as spelled out in the zoning code's Article 80 process. Alternatively, it could just be something that the city does on its own.

The Mayor likes to talk about private-public partnerships. Beacon Street bike lanes could be one.

Boston Globe: Obsession With Fitness on University Campuses

"Despite an alarming rise in childhood obesity - and the fabled 'freshman 15' - the current generation of college students appears to be more fit than ever, with students working out several hours a week, and many able to cite their body mass index along with their height and weight."
This front-page story in today's Boston Globe describes an obsession with fitness among what appears to be a growing number of students on university campuses. Whether the obsession is healthy or unhealthy is a major focus of the story; it presents an interesting read on the subject.

Students who show up at the recreation centers more than once in a day are apparently being monitored to ensure that they are not engaged in obsessive numbers of fitness workouts. This is an odd criterion to use, however, because triathletes -- those who participate in combined swim, bike, and run training and competitive events -- routinely engage in two workouts per day, typically 10 or more workouts per week. Sure, many triathletes are obsessive about working out, but identifying them as engaging in a potentially unhealthy obsession via the multiple workouts criterion seems overly-broad. If the universities are concerned about unhealthy over-exercising, then why not instead just require everyone to have periodic clearance from a doctor in order to use the facilities?

Building New "Informal" Athletics Facilities

The Globe story focuses on students at Boston College and Boston University as its local examples, but the pattern of increasing focus on fitness appears to apply to a wide-range of universities.

The choice of these two examples, however, was clearly not random. Boston University recently built a large, new student athletics center, nicknamed the "Fit," at a cost of nearly $100 million. Boston College has proposed building one of their own (chapter 3) as part of their December 2007 institutional master plan, although its proposed size is somewhat smaller (200,000 vs. 272,000 square feet).
The conventional wisdom used to be that 1 square foot of workout space per student was sufficient, but that's no longer enough. Tom St. Laurent, BC's fitness director, says colleges are having to build bigger gyms to keep up with the students' interest.
(Laurent must be referring to a very small sub-category of "workout space", since 9000 students would only correspond to 9000 square feet of workout space -- far smaller than the overall 200,000 square feet proposed by BC.)

The site for BC's proposed Recreation Center is where Edmonds Hall, a 790-bed student dormitory, now sits on their main Chestnut Hill campus. Photographs accompanying the print version of the Globe article show the indoor Rec Plex (Flynn Recreation Center) at BC that would be torn down when a new center is built. Some additional indoor recreation facilities are proposed to be sited within the below-grade athletic support facility in the Brighton Campus (the former St. John's Seminary land), including indoor tennis courts and an indoor track.

While much discussion among the Brighton neighborhood, city officials, and BC have focused on the proposal to build a baseball stadium in the Brighton Campus, a large fraction, if not most, of the athletics facilities in BC's proposed master plan are primarily designed for "informal" athletic usage by students not part of varsity sports teams -- i.e., for individual exercise, exercise classes, club sports, or intramural sports.

Approximately 2000 BC undergraduates are involved in intramural sports each year, according to Jack Dunn, Director of Public Affairs at BC, which is around 22% of the undergraduate student body.*** Many students use the Rec Plex on a daily basis (although I could not find a number). (In the Boston Globe article, approximately 5000 students at Boston University -- i.e., 30% of their undergraduate enrollment of around 16,500 -- use their FitRec on a daily basis.) By comparison, only 780 undergraduates at BC were involved in varsity sports, according to BC's Fact Book. These numbers indicate the high level of involvement among undergraduate students in non-varsity, fitness-related activity.

Why did BU build an expensive, new recreation center in 2004, and why is BC proposing to do the same? In the case of BU, the answer was previously reported in a Globe story titled, "Campus officials hope $90m athletic center will lure top students":
BU's $90 million Fitness and Recreation Center, slated to open April 1, marks the newest entry in the college gym wars, a feverish race among schools to lure prospective students and faculty to campus and keep them happy once they arrive.
BC's proposed recreation center would be the latest addition to this trend among local and national universities to attract students, what the Globe calls the "gym wars." The print version of today's Globe story also has a photograph of the inside of the RecPlex, showing its age, heavy use, and crowded accomodations -- other reasons for wanting a new complex.

Harvard University seems to have been avoided in today's Globe story because its "informal" athletics facilities seem to, at least in part, buck the trend of the other universities. Harvard submitted a proposed institutional master plan in January 2007 for its North Allston campus which included substantial reconfiguration of its athletic facilities there, but only called for construction of around 50,000 square feet of (indoor) athletics buildings. The Malkin Athletic Center in Harvard Square is closest to the largest number of Harvard undergraduate students, but, despite repeated and significant interior renovations, it is, by comparison to BU's new center and BC's proposed one, an old and modest facility.

Harvard does not appear to be pushing for a flashy new undergraduate recreation center to attract students as part of their North Allston proposals. Harvard plans to resubmit their proposed institutional master plan in the Fall of 2008; their previous IMP proposal has been on hold while the science complex was considered.

Odd Choice for a Photo Subject

The print version of the story includes a photograph of a BC freshman woman working out, ostensibly providing an example of someone who is fit but may be questionably too thin:
Liz Kulze, a freshman from Charleston, S.C., is a former high school track and cross country runner. At 5-foot-9 and 118 pounds, she knows she's thin: It's in her genes, she says, and it's a healthy weight for her. She has heard that BC has "body image issues." But she still thinks the school's fit culture is a positive.

"At home, you never worked out unless you were an athlete," she says. "Here, everyone works out."
I think that the photo subject was not necessarily the best one to illustrate the story. If she is (or at least was until recently) a competitive track and cross-country runner, then her physique is actually appropriate for success at those activities. According to "The Competitive Runner's Handbook," by Bob Glover and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover, the performance target weight for a female runner who is 5'9" is 129 pounds, with the weight range being 116-142 pounds. Kluze falls at the low end, but still within the range for competitive runners. Elite distance runners routinely fall at the low end of such target weight ranges -- just watch the lead pack at the Boston Marathon or this summer's Olympics.

The Globe would have done better at illustrating their story by picking out a student not connected to competitive sports whose successfull performance is associated with lean body-types.

*** Involvement in intramural sports is tabulated in BC's annual Fact Book, but the method of tabulation includes substantial double-counting of students involved in multiple intramural sports. Dunn provided the number of 2000 students that does not double-count.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mayor Menino Reopens School Assignment Process

In his State of the City Address this week, much of the attention has been focused on Mayor Thomas Menino's newfound effort to take on the firefighter's union in the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.

Buried at the end of the Boston Globe article, however, was a nugget from a different topic altogether: the Mayor wants to revisit the school assignment process within the Boston Public Schools.

This is no small issue. School assignment was at the heart of the Boston busing wars of the 1970s that lead to federal court intervention in 1974 and a mandatory busing program in 1975. It is a charged issue, because reverting to "neighborhood schools" could potentially pit neighborhoods with better-performing schools against those with worse-performing schools

Current Three-Zone Model for School Assignment

Boston Public Schools is no longer under federal court oversight over its school assignment policy. In 2000, BPS modified its assignment program so that 50% of all seats in schools would be set aside in the first round of school assignment for students living within the walk-zone, which is a one-mile radius for elementary schools and one-and-a-half mile radius for middle schools. (High schools are all city-wide.)

The other 50% would be filled by a lottery within each of three school zones: North Zone (Allston-Brighton, Back Bay, Charlestown, downtown, and East Boston), East Zone (Hyde Park, Dorchester, Mattapan, and South Boston), and West Zone (Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and West Roxbury). The zones were setup in 1988 and rolled out in 1989, as BPS was phasing out court-oversight, a way that ensured overall diversity in the school population within each zone, although there is substantial variation in, for example, ethnicity and economic status across each zone.

Since 2000, BPS has not used ethnicity in the school assignment process. The U.S. District Court ruled in 2003 that these three zones are no longer being used in order to provide racial balancing among them. The three-zone structure remains, however, and contains elongated zones that cause many children to have long bus rides. Trying to make those zones more compact in order to minimize bus usage and travel times is the point of the Mayor's initiative.

Six-Zone Models Examined in 2004

Back in 2004, the city tried revisiting the school assignment policy, but failed to come to a consensus on a plan. It is likely that many of the proposals put forward in 2004 will be raised again now in 2008, so it is worthwhile to take a look back at them.

The report of the Student Assignment Task Force on September 22, 2004 said:
Although the Task Force could not reach full consensus on the appropriate number and configuration of assignment zones, a majority of the group recommends that the current three-zone structure be replaced by a six-zone elementary and three-zone middle school structure, delineating a "primary" and "secondary" zone of school choices for every family.
The problems the task force found in the six-zone models, however, was more fundamental. There is an invisible vertical (actually north-northeast to south-southwest) line bisecting the city, where the schools on the western side outperform those on the eastern side in nearly all of the quality indicators they inspected. Three better performing zones result on the east, and three worse-performing schools on the west, in those six zone models. That invisible line is one key factor that led to the elongated structure of the three zones in the current model.

The task force preferred the idea where there were secondary zones matched to the first, with some choice allowed across those boundaries. It seems like the only way that equity could be achieved would be to pair primary and secondary zones that cross the vertical invisible line: Zones 1 and 3 are paired, 2 and 4, and 5 and 6:

In the six-zone model, Allston-Brighton has a "primary" zone 2 along with Fenway/Kenmore and Jamaica Plain; A-B's zone 2 is then paired up as having a "secondary" zone 4 consisting of Roxbury and South Dorchester.

These primary-secondary zone pairings create combined zone structures that look to me as every bit as unwieldly as the three-zone structure. Parents near Brighton Center may still have lots of schools to choose from, but their most distant options are now in South Dorchester instead of Charlestown or East Boston -- basically, just as far away. You might save a few bucks overall on gasoline for the buses, but it will only a few bucks because there will still be some very significant bus rides. The Globe story quotes the Mayor as wanting to cut up to $10 million from the $40 million (current) to $60 million (in five years) expenditures on busing.

The Mayor will find a hard time re-jiggering zones like these without creating newer, smaller zones that show increased disparity among them in the school performance indicators.

Walk Zone Preference and Neighborhood Schools

Modifying the walk zone preference percentage could very well be a another approach to school assignment reform also explored by the Mayor in his new initiative.

The School Committee has tweaked walk zone preference repeatedly over the last two decades. The 1990 K-12 rollout of the three-zone model increased walk zone preference from 50 to 75%. Variations of the walk zone preference were allowed to vary somewhat from school to school in 1996 based on changes to the waiting list policy, which resulted in some schools having 100% of students from the walk zone, i.e., a fully "neighborhood school" for those cases. The walk zone preference was reduced back to 50% in 2000, which is its present structure.

Back in October 2007, I posed a written question to the City Councilor-At-Large candidates regarding school choice:
Some people have proposed that the BPS return to “neighborhood” or “community” schools. Do you support such a proposal? How would such a move impact the achievement gap?
The answers, even pared down to those who won election, varied significantly. Councilor John Connolly gave clear support for the neighborhood school model. Councilor Sam Yoon gave his support for it only if "every school aged child in every neighborhood has access to a quality school", which he also said is a criterion not currently satisfied. Councilor Michael Flaherty appreciated the idea of community schools but considered it "unrealistic and socially reckless to go to 100% neighborhood schools overnight."

Best Wishes for Departing A-B TAB Reporter Rich Cherecwich

The reporter for the Allston-Brighton TAB, Rich Cherecwich, had his last day of work today for the newspaper.  He's off to Los Angeles -- driving the whole way, so hopefully he'll live some Route 66 stories himself.

He has been a rock solid reporter for the paper, consistently writing accurate and balanced stories covering all aspects of life in A-B.

Reporting for the A-B TAB is no easy job, since he has to write lots of stories every week.  I counted eight bylines in last week's newspaper, five in today's paper, and another one online today.  Maybe I missed something else?

I would like to express my best wishes to him on all of his future endeavors.

Stop by Rich's blog posting over at the A-B TAB to leave a comment!

BostonNOW Story on Language Used on BC Sports Fans Websites

The free daily, BostonNOW, has picked up the story, first reported here on the Brighton Centered Blog, of anti-Semitic and misogynistic comments posted on two online discussion boards devoted to Boston College athletics.

The BostonNOW story includes statements from Jack Dunn, Director of Public Affairs at BC, and Bobby Burton, editor-in-chief of one of the websites (
BC spokesman Jack Dunn said disciplinary actions will be taken against the posters if they are current members of the university's community. BC police is handling the investigation, he said, but would involve Boston police if necessary.

Rivals editor-in-chief said his company does the best it can to stay on top of the postings.

"We monitor and moderate the message boards and try to eliminate any items that violate the terms of service," Bobby Burton said.

He said he has not yet heard from any University officials about the matter.

"From a Rivals perspective, if there is anti-Semitic jargon, it would be grounds for dismissal from the site and it should be deleted," Burton said.

"Anything threatening, frankly."
The story does not, however, quote any official from, which is where the most inflammatory content was posted -- and where the BC discussion boards, Eagle Insider, have now been converted from free to paid subscriber-only status, along with a pledge to clean up the content.  The Eagle Insider board administrator stated yesterday that reporters had been "badgering" the Vice President.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Op-Ed in A-B TAB: House Undergraduates On-Campus Rather Than Banning Them From Living in 1- and 2-Family Houses

This week's edition of the Allston-Brighton TAB includes an op-ed piece written by me regarding Boston College's proposed institutional master plan.

In particular, I address BC's proposal to ban off-campus undergraduate students from living in 1- and 2-family houses in Allston-Brighton and part of Newton.

I argue that BC's proposed ban amounts to a Trojan Horse gift.  Accepting the present would bring with it the simulutaneous acceptance of the proposition that BC does not need to house all their undergraduates on-campus.  That would leave something like 600 undergraduate students living off-campus through the year 2018:
A far better idea, however, would be for BC to do the obvious: move all their undergraduates into on-campus dormitory housing. In this scenario, it would be unnecessary for BC to ban its undergraduates from living in one- and two-family houses, because they would already have moved out of those houses and into new dorms. As an added benefit, the students will be far more comfortable in on-campus dormitories than in an off-campus wooden horse.

Cassandra warned against accepting the Greek gift, but Apollo’s curse prevented the Trojans from believing her. “All heard, and none believed the prophecy,” wrote Virgil. We would do well to learn from Troy’s mistake by heeding Cassandra’s warning this time around — and pushing that horse back south of Commonwealth Avenue where it belongs.
Note that BC's proposed off-campus housing ban is not contained within the Institutional Master Plan Notification Form filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority on December 5, 2007.  Instead, the proposed ban is something that BC officials have announced verbally at community meetings, and have pitched in meetings with editors and reporters at various media outlets, such as the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.  (The ban would presumably be accomplished through a written agreement between BC and the BRA, as opposed to being part of the IMP itself.)

As a result of BC's pitch, the topic received a substantial amount of press in late December:  the Boston Herald reported the story (albeit without seeking contrary comment) and their editorial board endorsed the idea; the Boston Globe editorial board stated that the idea seemed a good one; and WBZ chimed in with a brief story.

Thanks to the editors of the TAB for publishing this piece.

Eagle Insider Discussion Board In Danger of Being Shutdown

The Eagle Insider discussion board, on which inflammatory anti-Semitic and misogynistic language has been posted recently targetting a Brighton community activist, is in danger of being shutdown.

Eagle Insider [EI] is a sports discussion board on issues related to Boston College athletics.  It is part of a larger website,, which has individual discussion boards for many different college athletics programs.  It is an independent website, not directly affiliated with any particular college or university.

Visitors and posters to the discussion boards are often alumni, students, or employees of the individual colleges or universities -- but certainly not exclusively so, since some may have no affiliation with the institution.  Since posters are generally anonymous, there is no corrobating evidence as to which category of affiliation they fall under.

The administrator of the Eagle Insider board posted a statement Thursday afternoon that the Vice President at has been "badger[ed]" today by reporters "demanding a response about the type of language" posted at the board.

The administrator further indicated that, for the moment, the Eagle Insider board will convert from a free to a paid-only website.  He also stated that he has been told to "clean up the board in the process."

The complete statement can be found below:
IMPORTANT: From the administrator [EagleChevy]

As you may have noticed, this forum is now premium [requiring paid access].  This board is in danger of being shut down permanently as several reporters have been badgering Scout's VPs demanding a response about the type of language and things posted here. Show your support for EI and Scout by subscribing, and show some deal of respect for the people who've worked and fought to make this forum what it is by thinking before you post.

I have a mandate from Scout to not only double subscriptions or be relieved of my duty as publisher but to clean up the board in the process. I can promise you my successor will not be as liberal with the moderation.

That is all.
Later in the afternoon, the changeover appears to have been made:  the board was no longer accessible to the general public.

Letter to BC Task Force: Traffic, Transportation, and Parking

At Wednesday night's meeting of the BC Task Force on the topic of traffic/transportation/parking in Boston College's Institutional Master Plan Notification Form, I presented the following letter to the task force for their consideration.

Much of the information in the letter grew out of a series of community meetings of the BC Neighbors Forum during 2007 which I facilitated. It is not a "position paper" (nor a public comment for the scoping determination) per se, but instead my attempt at summarizing the various concerns that were raised at those meetings -- and add a few more.

TO: Jeanne Woods, Chair, BC Task Force
DATE: January 16, 2008
RE: Traffic, Transportation, and Parking in Boston College's IMPNF

Dear Ms. Woods,

In this letter, I outline a series of issues needing discussion in the traffic, transportation, and parking proposals in Boston College's Institutional Master Plan Notification Form of December 5, 2007. Most of these issues have been raised by Brighton residents in previous meetings of the BC Neighbors Forum.

1. Need for Independent Peer Review of Traffic, Transportation, and Parking Studies (and Their Assumptions). Members of the public and the BC Task Force are neither experts nor engineers in the field of traffic and transportation. BC's traffic, transportation, and parking studies should therefore be subjected to an independent peer review in order to examine their assumptions, data, models, analysis, and conclusions.

Such peer review is standard practice in the field of traffic engineering. Allowing municipalities to charge for it is provided in state law (MGL 44, section 53G). Many neighboring municipalities charge developers for independent, third-party review (e.g., Somerville, Plymouth, Hopkinton, Salem, Winchester, Stoneham, etc.).

a)BC should pay the costs of the independent peer review (Harvard is already doing so through as part of their review with the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act Office);
b)The BC Task Force, or another suitable community organization (such as the ABCDC), should act as both the fiscal agent and client for the peer review (this is already being done by the Citizens Advisory Committee in the Special Review Procedure for the Harvard case);
c)The peer review should examine the assumptions [see #6 below], data, models, analysis, and conclusions of BC's consultant's traffic study, including breaking down the traffic analysis by individual element [see #2 below];
d)The peer review should also examine errors in BC's 2000 traffic study, and certify that those errors have been corrected [see #5 below];
e)BC's consultants should share data in electronic format with the peer reviewer(s); and
f)The peer review should be conducted, and its results shared with the community, well in advance of BC submitting their next filing to the BRA (e.g., DPIR) so that the results can be studied and any remaining problems identified.

2. Traffic Analysis Should be Done for Individual Elements of Their Proposals. BC's traffic and transportation proposals for the intersection of Lake St and Comm Ave are:

a)Moving MBTA station. BC has proposed to move the MBTA station from its current location northwest of the intersection of Lake Street and Commonwealth Avenue to the center of Commonwealth Avenue east of Lake Street.
b)Creating new intersection east of Lake Street. BC has proposed to create a new intersection that crosses Commonwealth Avenue and the MBTA B line tracks at a location east of Lake Street (and east of the proposed new MBTA station).
c)Re-routing St. Thomas More Road. BC has proposed to re-route St. Thomas More Road, a city street on state-owned land, further to the east (to link up with the intersection in b) above).

The traffic and transportation impacts of these three elements must be analyzed both individually and in every possible combination in order to determine which elements improve the traffic flow – and which do not. Elements not contributing to traffic improvement should be removed from the IMP. For example, if moving the MBTA station all by itself creates all the improvement in the level-of-service (LOS) for the intersection of Lake Street and Commonwealth Avenue, then there is no public need to re-route St. Thomas More Road.

3. Stone Walls Along Commonwealth Avenue Should Not Be Removed to Provide Space for MBTA Center Platforms. If it is built, in order to provide for a wider center-platform MBTA station, the stone walls located along both the north and south sides of Commonwealth Avenue should not be modified from their current state. This may entail the trade-off of loss of a small number of on-street parking spaces along Commonwealth Avenue. Since BC is strongly advocating the new MBTA station, they should provide substitute parking spaces nearby.

4. MBTA Car Barn Land and/or Air Rights. BC and the MBTA should communicate to the neighborhood immediately if any kind of discussions have occurred regarding purchase and/or lease of land and/or air rights for the MBTA car barn parcel northeast of Lake St and Comm Ave.

5. Failures of the Traffic Assumptions, Models, and Analysis in BC's 2000 IMP Must be Fully Documented and Corrected. The traffic models in BC's approved IMP from the year 2000 contain the following information for the intersection of Lake Street and Commonwealth Avenue:

a)The intersection's actual "Level-of-Service" (LOS) in 2000 was rated a “C” overall (2000 IMP, App. B, Table 12);
b)The LOS no-build prediction for 2005 was a “D” (Table 14);
c)The LOS build prediction for 2005 was a a “D” (Table 24);
d)The LOS no-build prediction for 2010 was a “D” (Table 16); and
e)The LOS build prediction for 2010 was a “D” (Table 26).

As we know from BC's March 2007 presentation to the BC Task Force, the actual LOS for 2007 is “F” for this intersection. Note that the shrinkage of the Archdiocese of Boston, unanticipated in 2000, should have, if anything, decreased the traffic in that intersection; the opposite appears to have occurred.

The traffic assumptions, models, and/or analysis in BC's IMP of 2000 were therefore demonstrably flawed. These flaws must be identified, explained to the community, and corrected in their current traffic analysis. Their current traffic model must be capable of using the traffic data of 2000 in order to correctly predict the actual traffic data of 2007. I note that these glaring and systematic errors in their 2000 traffic study points to the need for independent peer review.

6. Assumptions for Traffic, Transportation, and Parking Must be Justified and/or Corrected. BC's 10-year master plan calls for an increase in their faculty of 100. Such an increase in the number of faculty usually bring an associated increase in the number of professional research staff, post-doctoral researchers and fellows, technicians, graduate students, secretaries, grant administrators, and the support staff (custodial, food service, stock rooms, etc.).

BC claims in their IMPNF that their increase of 100 faculty members would be accompanied by 342 new graduate students – but only an increase of 12 in all other categories of employees combined!!! (Table 6-3) Their 2000 IMP estimated an increase of 11 new faculty and 93 staff (2000 IMP, App. B, p.55). The ratio of increased faculty-to-staff has changed by a factor of 70 between 2000 and 2007!!! The 2007 numbers are highly suspect.
Jeanne Levesque, BC Director of Government Relations, has noted (private communication) that 23 of the 100 new faculty members will be in the natural sciences. These science faculty members will bring in a substantial number of new post-doctoral researchers, technicians, scientific staff, and so on.

Full disclosure of the ratio of faculty to all employees in BC's natural sciences departments (physics, biology, chemistry, etc.) should be required (it was requested verbally from BC), and the increase in total faculty, staff, and students should be independently reviewed.

Anecdotal evidence can be found at the website for some individual faculty members' labs, which indicate that there are often around eight employees per faculty member's lab group. Inspection of Harvard University's Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and Harvard Medical School's Department of Cell Biology, indicates that there are 12.6 employees in addition to each member of the faculty. Whether we adopt a ratio of eight (BC anecdotal evidence) or 12.6 (Harvard examples), just the 23 new natural sciences faculty members will bring with them an additional 184 to 290 employees in the other (staff) categories.

These additional employees must be accounted for transparently and included in BC's traffic, transportation, and parking plans. In so doing, BC will likely have to increase the number of parking spaces to be built on-campus as part of their IMP. For example, an increase in 290 staff employees (compared to an increase of 12 in the IMPNF) would require an additional 222 parking spaces (using 80% auto mode share for faculty and staff).

7. Inadequate Parking Spaces in Master Plan. Even with BC's estimated increase of only 100 faculty, 12 staff, and 342 graduate students (Table 6-3), the master plan does not construct enough new parking spaces to accommodate those new employees.

Faculty and staff currently have a 80% auto mode share (Table 6-4), while students have an auto mode share of 26% (Table 6-4). [Note: BC needs to separate students into undergraduate and graduate students for tabulating mode share and other statistical data.] Using these mode share numbers, BC's estimated increase in employees requires an increase in 179 new parking spaces, but their master plan only increases parking spaces by 36.

The needed increase in the number of parking spaces should be scoped and included in the IMP. Furthermore, the location of these parking spaces is highly problematical: effectively, BC is moving 150 spaces from the main Chestnut Hill Campus to the Newton Campus, while their faculty and staff increase (80% of whom drive!) are likely to be concentrated in the Chestnut Hill Campus. The location of new parking spaces should follow the location of the new BC students and faculty. Modified locations for the new and/or substitute parking spaces should be scoped.

8. Substantial Improvement Is Needed to BC's Transportation Demand Management Program. Boston College's TDM program appears to have shown only limited success, in that 80% of their faculty and staff drive to work everyday (2007 IMPNF Table 6-4). In 2000, however, BC reported that 70% of their faculty and staff drove to work alone (2000 IMP, Appendix B, Table 9).

In the absence of an effective Transportation Demand Management Program, Boston College regressed in getting their faculty and staff to use alternate transportation methods. A vastly improved and aggressive TDM program, with clear targets and penalties, should be a requirement of their IMP.

Example: BC Should Subsidized MBTA Passes. It is astonishing that BC does not subsidize public transportation passes for their faculty or staff. One easy and effective way to reduce the auto mode share is to subsidize monthly T passes, for example, by 50% – and by allowing them to be purchased before payroll taxes are deducted.

9. New Cut-Through Route Will Divert Traffic Onto Foster Street. Currently, traffic from northbound St. Thomas More Road or eastbound Commonwealth Avenue cannot easily access Foster Street northbound without taking a U-turn on Commonwealth Avenue. (The intersection of Foster Street and Commonwealth Avenue does not extend across the MBTA B line tracks.) Opening up the new intersection at the entrance to the Brighton Campus will provide for a new cut-through route to Foster Street. Such additional traffic diverted onto Foster Street will overburden a narrow street already the subject of regular vehicle damage and speeding. The recent effects of the street closure next to the Brooks Pharmacy on Market Street created a 1 km backup along Foster Street, indicating how the street is critically burdened already.

The methods to prevent this cut-through route are: (1) locked gate [near Clements Hall] blocking through traffic, or (2) closed entrances to Brighton Campus [fully manned 24/7] requiring permit access for parking. Without either of these solutions, BC's proposal will create a new traffic route that would defeat the original layout of the streets emphasizing, e.g., Chestnut Hill Avenue for through traffic. BC should scope both options in their master plan and justify the final option.

10. Street Parking Study Should Be Performed to Determine Impact of Illegal Parking by BC Community on City Streets. BC does not provide on-campus parking for most of its undergraduates, leading to many parking off-campus illegally on city streets without resident parking stickers. Other commuters to campus avoid on-campus parking fees – or because they do not qualify for on-campus parking – by parking illegally on city streets.

BC should be required to to a thorough, wide-ranging, and complete street parking survey of the entire surrounding neighborhood within, say, 0.25 mile of any BC property. This survey should be done at a series of times at each location – e.g., midday; late-night on weeknights; and late-night on week-ends. The results should be compared to known locations for BC off-campus student rentals and on-campus buildings (e.g., academic, administrative, athletics, and housing). Cars should be identified by visible, legal parking stickers, any BC identification characteristics, state of license plate registration, etc. The availability of street parking throughout the impacted neighborhoods should also be fully documented.

All impacts of BC community using street parking must be addressed in the DPIR with a clear path towards resolution (and penalties for failing to meet targets) for all of those impacts. BC needs to be proactive to prevent such illegal parking by members of their community, rather than simply saying that it is the city's job to enforce those laws.


Michael Pahre
76 Foster Street
Brighton, MA 02135

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anti-Semitism and Misogyny in the Boston College Community

In a series of recent postings at online forums and a discussion group, fans of Boston College athletics have repeatedly used anti-semitic and misogynistic language directly at a Brighton resident and community activist. The language has also included the suggestion of violence towards her.

The victim has not, to date, filed a formal complaint with the police against the posters, nor has she pursued a restraining order against them.

The forums, Eagle Insider and Eagle Action, are popular among students, staff, and alumni of Boston College. The posters have also targetted a discussion group run by Brighton neighborhood activists working on the issue of BC expansion.

In addition to the language and threats, the victim's home address and that of another community activist have been posted, along with sophomoric suggestions for property damage or pranks.

Why have these community activists been targetted by some fans of BC athletics who frequent these websites? The obvious answer is that BC has proposed a substantial expansion of their athletic facilities as part of their institutional master plan; there are many neighborhood residents who oppose some or all of BC's proposals. These particular activists appear as the visible representatives of the neighborhood, regardless of whether or not they oppose the new athletic facilities.

Words of caution to readers of this blog: the language used is offensive and, in a number of cases, in my opinion, appears to qualify as hate speech.###

Anti-Semitism and Misogyny Amongst Some BC Sports Fans

Many fans of BC athletics visit two websites for regular information about their teams: Eagle Insider ( and Eagle Action ( From the nature of many postings, most of the posters at the discussion groups appear to be alumni and/or students, although some unaffiliated fans of BC sports -- or also BC employees -- are no doubt also readers and posters.

The language on the discussion boards can be crude and crass, but is mostly focused on athletics.

Since May 2007, these two discussion boards have included direct references to four community activists -- three men (including myself), and one woman. At times the comments are harmless, while others are crude, obnoxious, or sophomoric.

Recently, however, the references at Eagle Insider have taken on a sinister, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic tone when discussing one of these activists.

Anti-Semitism. At Eagle Insider, bumpers wrote: "Then ask her whether her relatives at Dachau were too terribly upset with discrimination." That was preceded by a post by carolinaEagle08 stating that "someone should euthanize this bitch." Another user, eaglemaniac95, followed up with a reference to the wife of Adolph Hitler: "Clearly her name was Eva Braun before she changed it."

Other, more disturbing postings have already been deleted recently at Eagle Insider, according to one person who viewed the material earlier in the week.

The Jewish references were present in a more general form back in June 2007. Regarding neighborhood opposition for dormitories in the land purchased from St. John's Seminary, AlexFowler wrote at Eagle Action of (Jewish) Brandeis University: "If it was Brandeis looking to move into this neighborhood, we wouldn't be having this discussion." Another user, vellnueve, responded: "Perhaps referring to the high Jewish content of the non-student houses bordering the property?"

The comments are not limited to the discussion board, but a number of them have been sent to a Brighton neighborhood discussion group. A person with email address sent a posting to these neighborhood activists -- but clearly directed at the victim -- that read, in part, "Honestly you feminazi, BC couldn't care less about what you have to say." Normally, the comment "feminazi" might be dismissed as an anti-feminist comment that is found periodically among the modern lexicon. But its context amongst all these other comments shows that the term was also being used in an anti-Semitic manner.

All these remarks use Nazi history and imagery to paint a mean and nasty image of the victim. Not only are the remarks crude, they are truly offensive.

What makes the comments even more offensive is that the victim is a European immigrant who said that four of her direct relatives died in concentration camps at the hands of the Nazis in World War II.

The victim's maternal grandfather was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria (then occupied by Nazi Germany); her grandmother only learned after the end of the war that he had died there. Her great aunt, great uncle, and their child died at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The victim was raised a Catholic in Europe before immigrating to the U.S.

The posters may not have known of the victim's personal, tragic history related to the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany, but that really doesn't matter. The language used is anti-Semitic, and uses Nazi imagery in a casual and offensive manner directed at an individual.

Misogyny. Additional comments about the victim use a series of four- and five-letter words referencing sexual organs, as well as another, shorter term that got Don Imus in trouble. Other comments were about her hypothesized sexual activity, as well as one comment suggesting to engage in sexual activity with her. The "feminazi" posting described above is a reference to someone being a feminist; in the context of all the other, repeated sexual language, its misogynistic intention is also apparent.

None of the male community activists who have been mentioned on the two discussion boards had any such sexual language directed at them.

Sophomoric Antics. Sophomoric antics are clearly also popular amongst these posters. One suggests leaving a "deuce" (feces, or "number two") on her doorstep, and another poster seconds the idea. A photograph taken by freak1, with his face partially obscured, was taken in front of the victim's house while holding a sign suggesting a tail-gating party be held there.

Intimidation. Two activists home addresses were given on the boards (including mine), and comments on the board indicate that board posters have visited both houses. The streets of two other activists were given on the boards, although without specific address numbers.

On the Eagle Action board in June 2007, vellnueve suggested that my house be egged, although this never occurred. Residents of Lake Street in Brighton have long complained that their cars and other property have been routinely damaged by students whenever there is a town-gown issue arising where the neighbors are butting heads with BC. A threat to egg a house may seem minor, but it gains greater concern when you realize how many Lake Street residents have suffered far worse property damage.

Far more sinister suggestions were made at Eagle Action by pepperlick, who recalled techniques common amongst organized crime in silencing snitches: "There could be some mysterious fires and some roughing up in the neighborhood. Old school style. Horseheads and fishes in newspapers. Puppies in mailboxes. Fat Tony style."

These last comments were made in direct response to a comment about one of BC's proposed buildings in their institutional master plan. The context makes it clear that the intent of identifying neighborhood activists is to intimidate them into not opposing BC's expansion plans.

Boston College Responds

While these two discussion boards are frequented by members of the BC community, both are third-party sites with no known, direct affiliation with BC.

At a public meeting of the BC Task Force Wednesday night, BC Vice President for Governmental and Community Affairs Tom Keady, Jr., responded to the series of postings at the Eagle Insider discussion board. "Yesterday, I was given a copy of that website," he said. "BC has nothing to do with that website."

"We don't tolerate this kind of language," he continued. "It is deplorable. On behalf of BC, I would like to apologize for that language."

Keady indicated that he has met with BC's in-house legal counsel and the chief of police. The nature of the actions BC officials appear to be considering are related to pointing out to the owners of how certain users have violated the terms of use for the site.

I asked Keady if BC will consider blocking on-campus access to the websites. He gave a qualified yes, adding that he would have to contact BC's information technology group to explore this option.

I note that the option to block a website is one that is rarely taken lightly by institutions of higher education. The comments involved in these postings, however, appear to constitute hate speech of a nature that most universities would at least consider banning from their campus computer network.

Keady made no mention on what actions BC would take if they were to identify any of the posters at the websites as current students or employees at BC.

Is This Behavior Unique to the Boston College Community?

Online discussion boards on sports themes, such as Eagle Insider and Eagle Action, often include crude language and banter amongst the posters.

What makes these series of incidents unique, however, is that the posters have targetted an outside community activist with their anti-semitic and misogynistic comments. They have also published home addresses, advocated infliction of (minor) property damage, and engaged in what appears to be intimidation.

Viewing the language as a whole, it is hard to avoid the characterization of it as potentially an incitement to violence. The "euthanize" comment is an appalling example of that.

As BC is expanding into Brighton, Harvard University is also expanding into Allston. I asked Harry Mattison -- editor of the Allston-Brighton Community Blog ("allston02134") and moderator of two google groups ("AB2006" and "Allston-Brighton North Neighbors Forum") -- if he has seen any behavior remotely like this from the Harvard community.

Mattison said that there had been nothing direct at him personally, just a few "moronic" comments posted onto his blog. As a reader of Mattison's google groups, I can also verify that I don't ever remember seeing vitriolic or offensive comments on those discussion groups coming from students and/or alumni of Harvard.  Members of the Harvard community clearly don't harass the neighbors in any way even remotely similar to these incidents.

The question has to be asked: Why is it that some members of the Boston College community engage in anti-Semitic and misogynistic language directed at neighborhood activists, while members of the Harvard community do not?

Casual inspection of postings at these two BC sports discussion boards indicates that they appear to be popular and widely-read among BC students, alumni, and presumably also staff -- yet none of the readers seem to be voicing offense at the language or tactics of the posters, demanding that they stop, or asking that they be banned from the websites. One comment at Eagle Insider indicated that nobody is ever banned from that website.

A second question needs to be asked, then, too: Where is the outrage among BC sports fans at this behavior?

### I cringe at including these sort of anti-Semitic and misogynistic comments on this blog. I believe, however, that it is crucial to see the specific comments made in order to grasp fully their nature. It may also be important as an enduring record: several other postings at Eagle Insider have already been deleted since the victim made it clear that she was aware of the site.

UPDATE (1/17/08): While I strongly discourage readers from searching these two discussion boards for the various comments posted there, for those who do so a caveat is necessary. Several neighborhood residents' names have been adopted as monikers (handles) by other people posting at Eagle Insider. The postings under those names are not those of the individual, but rather they are a further example of the activity going on at that board targetted at members of the Brighton community.