A meeting this week regarding plans for the Shattuck Hospital reconfiguration looks to kick-start a second look at plans cemented by the state and City for supportive housing and social services – looking to potentially inform more people in the neighborhood about the possibilities that could exist for open space on the site.
Last year, many were shocked when the state agreed to purchase the Newton Pavilion hospital in the South End and move the Shattuck operations there. Instead of repairing the old Shattuck buildings, a state planning process took place over the last 10 months to look at health, housing and social services uses for the site.
Those plans are pretty much set in stone according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, but those in the neighborhood aren’t so sure the conversation is complete.
Micah Sachs, a board member of the Jamaica Pond Association, said that there is a new effort to take a second look at those plans. Several concerned individuals have joined with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) Parks + Committee to hold the first in what they believe will be a series of meetings.
‘Finding a Balance,’ a dialog on best next steps to influence optimal park and housing integration, was the topic of a meeting last night, Oct. 24, in the Farnsworth House. While that meeting came too late for Gazette deadlines, Sachs said it was likely to just be the opening salvo in a longer discussion.
“The goal is to give them more information, especially in JP, but not just for JP,” he said. “We have other community groups interested, and one from Mattapan coming. We want to give everyone more time to understand this proposal on the development and potentially organize if there is a consensus for particular goals for the development…There’s definitely a spectrum with opinions on Parks Plus. I wouldn’t say we have a specific position. I think some it as a chance to maximize land for open space. Some see it as a balance. Others want a more friendly, harmonious design.”
Sachs said one of the major issues he’s come across, and the reason the movement has started, is he feels very few residents in JP understand what the planning process yielded for the new Shattuck.
“I heard about it on the sidelines, but I certainly didn’t have an opportunity to go to any meetings about it,” he said. “My sense in talking to people in the group is some on the Parks Plus, and hearing from friends and neighbors, is that the process has gone fairly rapidly and perhaps there’s a pre-determined outcome and a process that happened only because they had to have a process.”
He said the Master Plan for the site was supposed to be out in September, but it has now been delayed until December. He said he feels that leaves some time for those still concerned about the outcome to make some noise.
“There is delay here, so they are recognizing there is a difference of opinion,” he said. “So, potentially, there is an opportunity to still shape the process.”
Sachs said he and the others getting involved, which include Parks advocates Gerry Wright, Esther Tutella and Sarah Freeman, feel that the first meeting is just a beginning step. He said it won’t be a process to allow people to rant and rave about the issue, but to get together and figure out strategies and an organization.
Look for more information in the coming weeks for additional meetings on the Shattuck issue.