I am writing to warn the residents and working people of Jamaica Plain, especially my neighbors in the Stonybrook neighborhood—as well as the mayor and other city officials—that public entities that oversee development disregard residents, workers and abutters to development projects.
For many years, the Stonybrook neighborhood and abutters to the Arborway Yard attended meeting after meeting negotiating with the MBTA concerning the development of their bus maintenance yard bordering Washington Street, Arborway and Lotus Street. The negotiations were done under the auspices of the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY), chaired by local resident Henry Allen. Finally, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was negotiated and agreed to by all parties that reflected the give-and-take needed to uphold residents’ rights to a safe, livable environment and the need fro MBTA buses to be maintained.
After already doing it once, the MBTA has once more informed the CPCAY that it has another new design that will enlarge the building further.
The CPCAY has let us down by not taking a strong stand to uphold the investment the community has already made in the existing MOU and compelling the MBTA to make the compromises needed to honor its agreement. The CPCAY is having trouble saying “no” to a dangerous and inferior plan.
The CPCAY and City Hall know that working people negotiate and attend these meetings for no pay, while MBTA negotiators and other developers send people making large salaries backed by large staffs and lawyers. With these resources, they just wear us community people down and get their way at our expense. This part of the system is seriously broken.
The CPCAY is also a victim of this system; its members are unpaid volunteers.Instead of standing up to the wrong-doers, the CPCAY seems to be giving up now. We abutters are not asking the CPCAY to fight the MBTA or hold more endless meetings. All we are asking them to do to support the community is to say no to the MBTA’s all-for-them-and-none-for-us plan.
City Hall’s role is to not allow development to go forward that disrespects a community’s efforts to reach a fair compromise, and our role as citizens is to organize our votes to reward those who respect us and punish those who don’t.