Politicians ponder preservation PILOT

May 13, 2011
By

David Taber

The preservation of Hellenic Hill could be made part of a potential payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with Hellenic College, At Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo proposed in a conversation with the Gazette April 27.

Nonprofits are not required to pay taxes, but large nonprofit institutions, such as colleges, often pay PILOTs to the city because they use city resources. Those payments sometimes include community benefits in place of cash.

Hellenic is considering selling undeveloped land overlooking Jamaica Pond to a developer, but an agreement to preserve the land as public space could become part of its PILOT, Arroyo said.

Hellenic College spokesperson John Papson said the school, which has about two-thirds of its campus in Boston and one-third in Brookline and has a Brookline Street address, has not previously made PILOT payments to the city.

“Hellenic not having previously paid a PILOT opens the possibility of having a negotiation,” Arroyo told the Gazette in a phone interview.

Arroyo initially made the proposal in a conversation immediately following a public forum on the future of the hill at the First Church Unitarian Universalist on Eliot Street.

Conserving the land could have a “huge value to Hellenic College and a huge value to the city and beyond,” said former District 6 City Councilor Maura Hennigan, who spoke to the Gazette immediately following the forum.

The PILOT idea was apparently inspired by an off-the-cuff comment by Arroyo aide Heather Perez as the forum was breaking up.