State holds public hearing for Shattuck campus proposal

On April 13, a public hearing was hosted by the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to present the project proposal for the Shattuck Hospital campus on Morton St. in Jamaica Plain, and to allow for public comment on the proposal. 

The Shattuck Hospital plans to move to the Newtown Pavilion in the South End in 2024, and throughout a several year process, the community has been outspoken about what should be done with the campus site. The proposed plan includes turning the existing 13 acre campus into an area for supportive housing, integrative health care, and other services.

Many residents and organizations have said they would like to see the existing Shattuck site be returned to parkland for Franklin Park and have suggested that these services be sited at the MBTA’s Arborway bus yard instead, while others expressed that they feel these services are needed as soon as possible and agree with the plan as proposed.

As previously reported by the Sun, the state has four goals for the proposed project, including:

•Provide stable health care and housing options for underserved populations, including the chronically homeless;

•Provide integrated, ‘person-centered’ behavioral and physical health care and housing systems;

•Provide substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health services that play a critical role in regional public health and treatment systems;

•Provide safe, stable and supportive housing that contributes positively to health outcomes, and contributes to the supply of supportive housing in the region.

DCAMM project manager Loryn Sheffner explained some of these goals further at the public hearing, saying that they include a “minimum” of 75 to 100 supportive housing units, as well as “integrated health services including both services currently offered on the site and new types of services/programs cited in the Vision Plan,” according to a slide presented.

The state is also looking at “other allowable public health uses pursuant to deed restriction,” the slide stated.

Sheffner said that the team anticipates a “phased redevelopment” of the site. 

“This project only pertains to the Morton St. site,” she said, and addressed the suggested use of the MBTA Arborway Yard for these services that has been brought up several times in the community.

“Our discussions with the MBTA have indicated that this is not an option at this time, and we are moving ahead with this project at this site,” she said.

In a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the site, DCAMM “will include all of these elements” of the proposal, “including team qualifications,” Sheffner said, and will look at things like “responsiveness to the program and design goals, financial feasibility,” and the schedule for implementation. 

“The RFP will seek a single master developer,” she said—which could either be a sole developer or a partnership—“to propose a redevelopment plan and lead implementation.”

She said that after approval from the state’s Asset Management Board (AMB), the RFP will be issued and “advertised for no less than three months,” according to a slide presented. 

The state will then review the proposals and choose a “private/non-profit development partner/service provider” which will then be required to come up with project plans and secure approvals, permits, and financing. 

Sheffner said that the state hopes to issue the RFP this year, and the final project proposal draft can be found at mass.gov/service-details/shattuck-campus-redevelopment-at-morton-street-proposal. 

The majority of the hearing was dedicated to allowing the public to make comments on this proposal. 

Many residents spoke in favor of the proposal, saying they believe these services are crucial and this plan would provide a space for them to become a reality.

Sue Sullivan, Executive Director of the Newmarket Business Association, said that “I truly think we should stay with the vision that is intended,” as the city is in “desperate” need of affordable housing. She supports the proposal as is.

“We will be the new host for the Shattuck Hospital and as such, we have a really important and vested interest in this process and how the Shattuck campus is redeveloped,” said Steve Fox, chair of the South End Forum. 

He said that there is a “need for both temporary and permanent supportive housing,” and he believes that the “recommendations that have come from this process” are “right on target in terms of how it can help the South End.” 

Fox said that the South End community supports the proposal as is.

Kathy Brown of the Boston Tenant Coalition was a part of the Citizen’s Advisory Board for the Shattuck planning process, and said that there is an “unbelievable housing crisis” that has been made worse, and there is a great need for emergency shelter and substance abuse treatment. “Please move forward on the plan,” she said. 

However, many JP and Roxbury residents, like Louis Elisa, don’t feel that the Morton St. site is the right place for these services.

Elisa expressed his concern with the siting of these services, as he believes it is “not well thought out,” and will isolate people from the rest of the surrounding community. He said that “no amount of transportation” to and from the site will be of any help. 

“Other than Franklin Park, the only surrounding for that community is cemeteries,” he said. 

Sarah Freeman, a JP resident who is active in the community, suggested that the MBTA site be seriously considered. 

 “I’m not suggesting displacing the bus uses; it is a bus site,” she said, “but if they segue to cleaner technology with a more compact site, their needs could be met. These Shattuck proposed uses have been shown that they could work by some collaborations between the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and Northeastern University.” Freeman said that she “urges” the state to “take a look at those” and to “help us work together to get the T to follow through on their promises.” 

Karen Mauney-Brodek, president of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, said that “Boston’s Emerald Necklace is a very important park system for the City of Boston.” She also said that there is “an important set of needs” that this proposal seeks to fulfill, “and we must find a location,” as she does not believe Franklin Park is the best location for them.

She and others support the use of the Arborway Yard site because it provides easy access to public transportation, along with “a more accessible site for supportive services and the 75–100 housing units for the formerly unhoused, as proposed by Massachusetts Health and Human Services, eight acres for community-serving development, residential units and affordable housing,  the opportunity to provide space for the MBTA’s electric bus fleet, and continued direct access to Franklin Park,” Mauney Brodek said in a statement. 

Former governors Bill Weld and Michael Dukakis also supported the use of the MBTA Arborway Yard for these services, with Dukakis saying that “this is precious parkland.” He said that “the T is a public agency. It responds to the governor,” adding that “I hope we can work with you and I hope we can do this right.” 

However, resident James Michel said that he doesn’t believe Dukakis or Weld “are in a position to speak for Black and Brown and indigenous communities that surround the park.” He said believes affordable and supportive housing is much needed, and he supports the project as proposed. 

Teronda Ellis, CEO of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, said that “we have to remember that we’re all kind of working towards the same set of principles here,” and “understand that our positions need to be flexible. We need to find ways to find common ground.” 

The written comment period for the proposal has been extended to April 23, and comments can be sent to [email protected]

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