I want to express my strong support for the proposed redevelopment of the former Barbara McInnis House. I have lived in Jamaica Plain for 26 years, lived directly across the street from the Bowditch House, (a similar residential facility in JP) for 16 years and live a half a block from there now. In all that time there hasn’t been a single problem or issue with the residents, who are as much a part of this community as anyone else. I am proud to live in a community that can readily include people from very diverse backgrounds, including showing kindness and caring to the medically vulnerable and homeless.
I understand that change can be hard, but hopefully the residents of Montebello Road who are opposed to this project realize that the neighborhood is not going to stay exactly as it is, whether this project goes forward or not. Change will inevitably occur over time, as it always does, and we all have to accept that. Would they prefer a proposal from a commercial developer for numerous new condos at that site, with the resulting problems of increased parking and traffic, such as the proposal from the owners of Maracas Candy Distributors, across the street from where I now live? There weren’t significant problems in the neighborhood when the McInnis House was operating previously, so the partners in this project have a good track record.
Some neighbors have complained that there has not been enough process with the nearby residents. But it seems that is exactly what has been happening over the past months. The developer has been engaged in dialogue, directly with them. In 11 to 12 community meetings, input from neighbors has been sought and heard, and as a result, a number of changes have been made to the design of the project. When some additional requests have been made, the developer has readily agreed. There is an easily accessible web site from which anyone can learn about the status of the project, schedules of upcoming meetings, etc. Generally, we residents can’t expect much more process or accommodation from a real estate developer than that.
I have worked for and with non-profit organizations for nearly 30 years, including community development corporations. I know from first-hand experience that the agencies involved in this project (JP Neighborhood Development Corporation, Boston Health Care for the Homeless and the Pine Street Inn) are three of the finest, most reputable non-profit organizations in the greater Boston area. They have made significant contributions in helping to make all of Boston, and, specifically, Jamaica Plain, the relatively healthy, diverse, welcoming community that it is. The concerned neighbors are, in fact, fortunate that these are the organizations they are working with; some other developers might not have been so accommodating.
I believe that this project is consistent with the overall interests of JP residents, and should go forward, as planned.
Bruce F. Blaisdell