MBTA considers 500 Arborway demolition

Rebeca Oliveira

STONYBROOK—After 12 years of negotiations, the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority (MBTA) is considering the demolition of the building at 500 Arborway as part of its Arborway Yard construction plans.

According to Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY) member Allan Ihrer, MBTA General Manager Richard Davey brought up the possibility of the demolition at a Nov. 17 meeting, as a means to cut costs for the proposed $200-$220 million project that would replace the current 18-acre temporary bus yard at the intersection of Washington Street and the Arborway with a state-of-the-art facility, along with surrounding green space, low-cost housing and commercial space.

“There are no plans to demolish the building,” Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, told the Gazette last week in an e-mail. “It remains an alternative, but certainly not a confirmed plan,” he wrote in another e-mail, when asked for clarification.

“They’re trying to cut constructions costs on the facility,” Ihrer told the Gazette. The MBTA is “weighing its options,” he said.

CPCAY Chair Henry Allen told the Gazette that the proposal is “very speculative.” He said he is “not sure if it’s serious yet.”

Community leaders first proposed demolishing the building 12 years ago, Ihrer said.

“At the time, we thought they [the MBTA] could build a much more efficient facility by knocking [the building] down,” Ihrer said.

The MBTA has resisted demolishing 500 Arborway and, having to relocate its employees who work there, from the start. The current proposed plan, presented to the community on Oct. 27, would maintain 500 Arborway as an administrative facility.

At that meeting at English High School, community support was strong for the proposed 90 percent design, leaving funding as the project’s next major hurdle.

Finding the funding will be a “tall order,” Davey said at that meeting, but he added that the MBTA will work on bringing down costs and “sharpening our pencils to try to find the $200 million” to build the facility as soon as possible.

The project is at a “real crisis point,” Allen told the Gazette last week, saying that the whole project “will be lost if financing doesn’t come through.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to get the funding and get this project into the [Capital Investment Program] CIP,” Allen said. The CIP is a document that outlines and authorizes the MBTA’s use of funds over the next five years. The MBTA cannot operate or build any projects not included in the CIP.

The CPCAY’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7, at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute at 305 South St.

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