In the Globe article, Jack Dunn, Director of Public Affairs at Boston College, hurled a charge at opponents of BC's proposal to build dormitories on the former seminary land:
Dunn said neighbors' complaints about the location of student housing, in light of longstanding demands to house more students on campus, amounted to "a question of NIMBYism." NIMBY is the acronym for "not in my backyard."As the article also notes, however, Mayor Thomas Menino also expressed his opposition to the dorm proposal -- both last month and yesterday:
"Everyone wants to see college students live on campus, unless they happen to live close to campus," Dunn said.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday that BC should limit new dormitories to the traditional campus.Mayor Menino is a resident of Hyde Park. For Dunn to call opposition to the dorm proposals "NIMBYism" would require Brighton to be located in the backyard of Hyde Park, a geographically-challenged proposition.
"I say to them, why can't they build the new dorms on the campus they already have?" he said. "We want to see more housing on the present campus."
It is not often in city politics that the spokesman for a large developer accuses the Mayor of NIMBYism; in fact, I can't recall a single time. Given the Mayor's effective power over agencies such as the BRA, which has the statutory authority to approve or reject any proposed development on BC's land, it would also seem unwise.
I can't imagine the look on the Mayor's face when he opened the newspaper this morning and read Dunn's remark.
Comparing Suffolk and BC
Suffolk University proposed in 2006 to build a 22-31 story dormitory on Beacon Hill, but Mayor Menino killed that proposal when he changed course in December 2006 to oppose the project.
Suffolk University officials responded to Mayor Menino's opposition:
Bowing to the city's opposition to its plans, Suffolk University is giving up on the idea of putting a new dormitory tower on a Beacon Hill site.Suffolk and the city quickly found common ground, and the city backed a new plan for a dormitory in the Downtown Crossing area within three months.
But the university wants to work with Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority to find a suitable new location as quickly as possible, said John A. Nucci, vice president for government and community affairs...
Instead of expressing disappointment, Nucci said Suffolk was focused on moving forward. "Suffolk wants to peacefully coexist with our neighbors," Nucci said.
When the BRA yesterday called on BC to put their proposed dormitories on their main campus, instead of the land recently-purchased from the Archdiocese, BC officials responded:
Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said the college would work to address the city's concerns. But he said the Chestnut Hill campus is already "exceedingly dense" and cannot handle 500 additional undergraduates. Building dorms on the Brighton property, he said, is the only way the college can add student housing.While BC spokesman Dunn provided similar sentiment that BC would work with the city, by telling the Globe that the main campus cannot accomodate additional dormitories he already appears to be rejecting any such compromise with the city and the neighborhood.
Suffolk VP Nucci expressed no such rejection of alternative dormitory locations -- nor did he insist that Suffolk's original proposal was the only possible solution -- after the city killed Suffolk's dorm proposal, in contrast with BC spokesman Dunn's comments.
Suffolk VP Nucci expressed the sentiment that "Suffolk wants to peacefully coexist with our neighbors"; in contrast, BC spokesman Dunn made no such gesture, instead attacking the neighbors (and the Mayor) by accusing them of "NIMBYism."
Let's hope BC can try to follow Suffolk's lead by actually working with the city to come up with better locations for their dormitories, rather than insisting that there is no other possible way to house more students. And let's also hope that BC's officials can also follow Suffolk's lead by showing more politeness towards the community and the Mayor.
UPDATE: Harry Mattison has a few comments on this over at the Allston Brighton Community Blog.
UPDATE: Dunn appears to have been gentler in comments to the Boston Herald.