Jackson Square CAC disbanded

June 13, 2013
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Jackson Square Community Advisory Committee (CAC), which was formed in 2006 to oversee a massive redevelopment of the area, has been disbanded by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), according to that agency and to Rodney Singleton, the former chair of the group. The reasoning behind why the group was disbanded is disputed.

It is unclear when the BRA disbanded the CAC, but it appears to be several months ago. In April, John Fitzgerald, a senior project manager at BRA, sent an email to Singleton that said, “You cannot sign your name as chair of the Jackson Square CAC anymore, nor can you place your own ads for meetings in the paper with you as the contact person.”

Several more buildings are slated to be built as part of the redevelopment, including at 75 Amory Ave. There was a community meeting last night to discuss the 75 Amory Ave. project, as part of an Article 80 process. Article 80 allows a community review of a major construction project.

BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler said that that process will be used on the smaller Jackson Square projects, while impact advisory groups will be used for the larger Jackson Square projects.

Singleton said he felt the BRA disbanded the group because it was being critical of minority hiring practices at 225 Centre St., a construction project part of the Jackson Square redevelopment.

“BRA is all-powerful and they do what they want,” said Singleton. “There’s a democratic way to do it. That is not the democratic way to do it.”

Singleton said the BRA told him one of the reasons it disbanded the group was because too few members were attending meetings. He agreed with that, saying only about four people attended the last couple of meetings. But, Singleton said, a list was sent to the BRA of 12 potential new members two years ago. He said the agency, which appoints members to the group, never acted on that list.

Schuler said that small number of members attending meetings was “certainly a piece of” the CAC disbanding. She was not aware of the list of 12 potential new members. But, Schuler said, now that the master plan for the redevelopment had been completed, the group could be disbanded. The master plan was done years ago.

The Gazette noted that there are still projects underway. Schuler said that individual community meetings would cover those projects.

Schuler complimented the CAC on doing a “great job” on creating the master plan and that the BRA was grateful for its “great effort.”

CACs are appointed by the mayor and BRA to give advice on major development projects. Jackson Square CAC was formed in part from remnants of an earlier community group called the Jackson Square Coordinating Group, which was formed by the City in 1999.