The 64 Allandale St. proposal to build 20 “green” units and 47 parking spaces on a less than a two-acre lot adjacent to a Boston park has received overwhelming neighborhood opposition. That concern is not just for the extreme environmental costs in developing this site with such density but also for the Wonder Group’s refusal to compromise in any way and its aggressive challenges to all government oversight boards.
It is an odd behavior for someone touting an “environmentally friendly” project to repeatedly challenge the legal authority of the Boston Conservation Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to protect wetlands near the site. Immediately downslope of the development is one of Boston’s last two vernal pool sites. There have been no substantive plans filed with the City as to how water run-off is to be treated or how the groundwater is to be recharged with 70 percent of the lot covered by buildings or hardscapes. There has been a “trust us” response while the developer’s attorneys challenge the authority of those governmental bodies charged with that responsibility.
Boston Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the magnificent urban wild of Allandale Woods, wrote a detailed letter last autumn outlining its concerns with the development. Not a single one of its concerns or suggestions was adopted by the developer. The developer has also challenged the Boston Park’s Commission role in reviewing this highly impactful project. For a “green” project, this is very odd behavior.
Friends of Allandale Woods had asked the developer to respect a four decade long history of the BRA under Mayors White, Flynn and Menino to place 40 to 50 percent of their land adjacent to Allandale Woods in a permanent conservation easement in exchange for accommodations by the City. The Wonder Group repeatedly declined and stuck to its plan, which exceeds current zoning by 400 percent and requires nearly 70 variances. A homeowner in JP would be lucky to get a single variance approved.
The Wonder Group has touted the energy efficiency of the design. With market rate prices of well over a million dollars, let’s hope the units are energy efficient. The developer has promised LEED certification, but one of the major criteria is site appropriateness, and this development requires the demonstrable diminishing of the natural assets of the site, Allandale Woods and the greenway corridor of Allandale Street.
The Arboretum Park Conservancy, Mass Audubon, the Trustees of Reservations and the Sierra Club have all filed letters with the City opposing this project.
Being “green” is much more than just energy efficient design. We need not sacrifice our beloved green space for a project of million dollar homes that could be sited in dozens of other more appropriate locations.