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.

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