Letters to the Editor

Community Deserves a Transparent Process for Sale of Blessed Sacrament Church

Dear Editor

We want to thank the hundreds of people who have joined our campaign in support of development at Blessed Sacrament Church that prioritizes the community’s vision and goals for Hyde/Jackson Square: Boston’s Latin Quarter.  More than 1,500 residents have signed our petition (online and in-person) calling for development at Blessed Sacrament that promotes the Boston Latin Quarter and aligns with the vision and priorities of residents, youth, business owners, and artists. 

We were pleased to hear from the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) that they have received several formal offers to purchase the Blessed Sacrament Church building, and that there is interest in the property beyond market rate condo developers.

We are also encouraged by recent public statements that HSTF will prioritize a buyer that appreciates the significance of the church building to the Boston Latin Quarter and that HSTF will consider community benefit as well as financial benefit and make sure any future buyer listens to the voices and concerns of the Latin Quarter community.

As HSTF considers proposals to develop the church, Friends of Blessed Sacrament requests that they create a process where the community gets a chance to meet potential developers and give input and feedback before HSTF makes a final decision.  Specifically, we request that before taking a vote, the HSTF hold one or more public meetings where the community can hear from potential developers and give their feedback and comments.

We understand that as the owner of Blessed Sacrament, HSTF will make a final decision based on a variety of factors.  Given HSTF’s long history of holding developers accountable to the community and the importance of the church building to the future of the Latin Quarter, it is essential that they create a process where residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard before a final decision is made.

There are nearby examples of community organizations that own real estate who have involved the community in the development process so that residents can understand how the proposals align with neighborhood priorities.  For example, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) recently hosted a meeting to introduce two possible developers for the former Citizens Bank building in Upham’s Corner, currently owned by DSNI’s community land trust.  The DSNI Board of Directors will make the final decision on developer selection, but they have committed to take into account community feedback received at the developers’ meetings and from members of the community steering committee they established to advise them on the project.  Given the significance of the church building, a similar process for Blessed Sacrament Church would serve HSTF well as they go through their decision-making process. 

An open and transparent community process will result in the most favorable outcome for everyone concerned and ensure that the future owners continue to engage with the community going forward.

We look forward to hearing how HSTF plans to involve the community as they consider the proposals to redevelop the church.

 Betsaida Gutierrez

Damaris Pimentel

Dorothy Malcom

Harry Smith

Cisnell Baez

Vanessa Snow

Mark Hanser

Christine Harris

Pat Feeley

Alok Shrivastava

Paloma Valenzuela

3368 Washington St. is Welcome News

Dear Editor :

Lauren Bennett’s May 14, 2021 story of the settlement that will allow the affordable housing project at 3368 Washington St. to proceed brought welcome news. Developers and landlords have long determined peoples’ access to housing regardless of the federal government’s Constitutional responsibility to “provide for the general welfare”.

The story brought back memories of me as a nine-year-old standing on the sidewalk crying as we were being forced from our house. I grew up in a white, working class family in a small southern town. My father worked long hours at jobs with unpredictable income and no health insurance and he faced enormous medical bills due to my mother’s illnesses. The available medical care was inadequate.

With scholarships and student loans I was able to go to college and within 10 years pay off the loans and go to graduate school. I have been very fortunate in my life. I’m now retired with a pension and I own my house. As a white woman, I’m not the target of the systemic racism that permeates our society. Still, I sometimes wake up with the fear of loosing my house and ending up on the street.

Righteous organizations like City Life/Vida Urbana do tremendous work. But the housing problem goes far beyond our city. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has successfully pressured leaders in Congress to introduce a Resolution demanding a Third Reconstruction to end poverty in this country by lifting from the bottom up. We will be holding a press conference at the office of U.S Rep. Stephen Lynch, One Harbor Street, Boston, at 12:00 noon on June 7 to demand that he – and all our representatives – co-sponsor this essential resolution.

Pat Aron

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