Sunday, September 07, 2008

500 Residents Petition BRA and Mayor on BC Master Plan

A petition with 438 signatures regarding Boston College's Institutional Master Plan was hand-delivered to Mayor Thomas Menino's office and sent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority last week; several additional sheets of signatures were delivered later, upping the signature count to roughly 500. Several other petitions were also circulating in the neighborhood -- including one organized by condo owners at a Commonwealth Avenue apartment building, and apparently another one (which I haven't seen) from the Jewish Orthodox community -- supporting many of the same points.

The petitions were submitted as part of the public comment period that closed last Friday on the revised IMP that BC filed with the BRA in June 2008. The number of signatures expressing opposition to key elements of BC's master plan will likely raise eyebrows in Brighton -- and in City Hall, too.

The main petition read:
"I support Boston College housing 100% of its students. I do not agree with BC's proposed plan to house students on the Brighton Campus and in a 575 bed off-campus dormitory at 2000 Commonwealth Avenue.

I support low impact athletic use on the lower Brighton Campus. I oppose the construction of a 1500 seat stadium on the Brighton Campus due to its impact on the neighborhood in terms of noise and additional traffic.

I oppose the reconfiguration of the traffic patterns as proposed by Boston College without further study by an independent traffic consultant as requested by residents and Task Force members."
I have seen many other public comment letters sent separately which make many or all of the same points, suggesting that the number of Brighton residents supporting these positions is significantly higher than the roughly 500 on these petitions.

Inspecting the petition, I see that most signers are abutters or living within a few blocks of Boston College-owned property in Brighton, particularly the Brighton Campus (former St. John's Seminary land). Examples from some streets mostly having large numbers of off-campus student apartments:
  • 17 residents of Kirkwood Road;
  • 31 residents of Radnor Road;
  • 12 residents of Lane Park;
  • 14 residents of Lake Street; and
  • four residents of Glenmont Road.
By comparison, during the previous round of public comments in February 2008 on BC's IMP Notification Form, 454 people or organizations wrote or signed petitions in opposition of the Brighton Dorms:
  • Six elected officials;
  • The BRA's BC Task Force;
  • Seven organizations and civic groups;
  • 61 individual comment letters; and
  • 379 signatures to petitions.
There were 186 people or organizations who wrote or signed petitions in February 2008 asking for BC to house all of its undergraduates on their main campus, so the new petitions substantially increases the number on this issue.

Comparing both sets of petitions (February vs. September 2008) shows that there is a substantial number of signers on only one or the other, indicating that the total number of Brighton residents who have signed their name to these positions on undergraduate housing is significantly higher than 500.

It takes little analysis to figure out that a significant fraction of the people in owner-occupied residential property in Brighton have signed onto these petitions. Voting trends usually find higher turnout among such long-term residents than the so-called "transient" population, so I wouldn't be surprised if a number of elected officials in City Hall are taking careful note of these numbers.

Image of The Interactive Museum of News by afagen provided through a Creative Commons license.

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