Hyde Square Task Force: Please Don’t Betray the Community

Dear Editor:

I am writing as a community leader about your article in the July 24, edition, (“Hyde Square Task Force to sell Blessed Sacrament Church building”)

When I moved in 1972 from Mission Hill to Forbes Street in Jamaica Plain, the Blessed Sacrament Church became my place of worship, until 2002, when the doors were closed by the Archdiocese of Boston.

In 1980 I started as a community organizer to create community and engage residents, including the Latino community.   We got help from Sister Virginia Mulhern and Father Donahue at Blessed Sacrament, plus Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC.)  We worked together to lobby and advocate for justice and affordable housing.  Blessed Sacrament Church was a center of our work for social justice.  This work helped to create affordable homes for families, including developing limited-equity affordable cooperatives in Hyde Square and other parts of Jamaica Plain.

When the church was closed, many of us got together and asked JPNDC to support our call for keeping the church as a benefit to the neighborhood.  We joined forces with parishioners, merchants, and the rest of the community, including youth and leaders of Hyde Square Task Force, to plan the future for the entire complex.  It took many hours of work by hundreds of community residents and the outcome was a feasible plan to save the church and the other buildings on the campus, including the creation of an affordable housing building on the campus that I am proud to have named after me.

Now I have learned that the Hyde Square Task Force board has voted, with no community input, to sell the former Blessed Sacrament Church with no restrictions about affordability or community space.  They didn’t have the decency to contact community members who were involved in the organizing and planning to save the Church, or to seek our help.  Instead, they are hosting a virtual meeting to “inform the community” about their plans.  This action is not respectful to the many residents who organized to keep the Church in the hands of community. 

I am very proud to offer my help to residents who want to learn more about the power of people to change our community for the better.  This includes board members and staff of the Hyde Square Task Force.  I hope they will admit that they made a mistake and work with the community to make sure the Church is not sold without restrictions for luxury condos or something else that doesn’t serve our neighborhood.  The Church is not just a piece of real estate, it is the hopes and dreams of our community.

Doña Betsaida Gutierrez

Action Needs to be Taken

Dear Editor:

Along Forest Hills St. between Peter Parley, Olmstead and Washington Streets there have been many car accidents and countless near misses. On Wednesday, August 5, a speeding car with 2 young people inside rolled over near the intersection of Olmstead and Forest Hills after hitting a parked car. With the car on its roof and wheels spinning, neighbors ran out to help until the ambulance arrived. Fortunately no one was killed. 

The City needs to take action before someone — either a passenger or a pedestrian or a dog walker or a  bicylist –gets killed by speeding vehicles. We in JP know the roads. But many cars speed to reach the traffic light at Washington St. Drivers don’t always pay attention and this section of Forest Hills St. is narrow and curved. Drivers can easily lose control — and do!

The Boston Transportation Department must take immediate action before someone is killed. More signage is an easy fix. Speed humps would help save lives.

The entire length of Forest Hills Street has become a speedway. We need the City’s help.

Reva Levin 

Anthony Pasquariello

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