SNA hears from mayoral candidate David Halbert; updates projects

The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) met virtually on April 12, where At-Large City Council candidate David Halbert spoke abut his campaign and addressed questions from the community. Then, members heard subcommittee updates on various projects in the neighborhood.

Halbert gave a brief overview of his campaign, saying that he is a proponent of affordable housing, as well as a supporter of education, as he has two young daughters, one of them a Boston Public Schools student.

SNA Steering Committee member Trevyn Langsford said that there is a “lack of equitable transportation options” in the city, and asked what Halbert would do to address that. 

“I think about it in two ways,” Halbert said, bringing up the ongoing conversation about a fare free transportation system. He said that he would be “advocating and working in concert with our friends at the top of Beacon Hill.”

 He also said it is important to get “people off the roads and onto mass transit.”

JP resident Caliga said that “we have felt very powerless” as residents when it comes to the Zoning Board of Appeal ((ZBA) and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). 

“We’ve done our due process as a very strong neighborhood association,” she said. “We’ve just been run over by these two entities.” She asked Halbert if he had plans to make changes to these organizations. 

“The BPDA should be split,” Halbert said, into a distinct planning agency and a distinct development agency.

He also spoke about the ZBA reforms that were “put forward” by City Councilor Lydia Edwards, saying that they are “critically important and need to be carried out to the fullest extent.”

Halbert talked about his time as a staffer on the City Council where he was a representative at the ZBA hearings, so he is familiar with how they operate. 

He said that it’s “really important that we empower communities.”

SNA Steering Committee member Roberta Hantgan also said that the SNA is fighting “not just for affordable housing, but more housing that allows for families to move into our neighborhood and stay in our neighborhood,” adding that is is “frustrating to not be able to make an impact in that area.” 

SUBCOMMITTEE UPDATES 

BMS PAPER SUPPLY, 

3390 WASHINGTON ST.

SNA member Jennifer Uhrhane reported on the expansion of BMS Paper Supply, which includes a restaurant space, an expanded version of the store, and around 160 units of residential housing. 

Uhrhane said that the subcommittee’s “main concern” is that many of the issues and concerns that they have expressed to the developer have not really been addressed in the design, as it “hasn’t substantially changed at all,” she said. 

DOYLE’S PROPERTY, 

3478-3484 WASHINGTON ST.

SNA Steering Committee member Paige Sparks said that there are a “couple of issues that the subcommittee is looking at” when it comes to the project at 3478-3484 Washington St., which includes a new version of the Doyle’s restaurant, along with a grocery store and residential housing. 

Sparks said that the subcommittee’s concerns lie in the areas of: “affordability/displacement, traffic and parking, building massing and zoning violations/compliance with PLAN:JP/Rox, [and] restaurant operations.”

Beth Abelow of the Save Doyle’s group said that an issue of concern is having a place for the community to gather that was once offered by Doyle’s Cafe. 

“Both Lee [Goodman] the developer and Jay [Kean] from Brassica have been very willing to engage in dialogue with us,” she said. Brassica Kitchen and Cafe will be the operator of the new restaurant on the site.

She said that when they first saw the design for the proposed community room in the restaurant, it “initially was the size of a board room. We really need community space—they did go back and redesign,” she said.

Abelow said outstanding concerns include “how available to the community it’s going to be,” as well as community preservation. She said some of the memorabilia that was auctioned off when the original Doyle’s closed will come back, but not all of it. 

“They do seem to be willing to work with the community,” Abelow said.

The SNA subcommittee is still working to address these concerns with the developer, and Abelow said she would be “willing to share in the discussions” with the SNA. 

BURNETT ST. GARDEN 

AND PARK

Leanne Manchineella reported on the community garden that was created in the middle of the 45 on Burnett condo complex and the Extra Space storage building on McBride St. The garden will be ready to accept gardeners soon. 

 There is currently a waitlist for the 28 garden plots that exist right now in the garden, and she said they might be able to squeeze in a 29th. As of the meeting on April 12, there were 41 households on the signup list.

“Please sign up if you’re interested,” she said.

Jennifer Uhrhane has also been working on organizing a mural competition for the Extra Space Storage building, and the SNA had put out a call for artists to create two murals. The deadline was April 17, and winners will be chosen by arts professionals and representatives from the community.

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