SNA Hears from Franklin Park Zoo; Discusses Subcommittee Updates

The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) met virtually on October 18 to hear from the Franklin Park Zoo about its new Co-Designing With (Not For) Communities effort, as well as discuss updates on development projects in the area.

John Anderson, Director of Education and Volunteer Programs at Franklin Park Zoo explained that Co-Designing With (Not For) Communities is a “strategic three-year process to engage residents and local organizations of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, and Jamaica Plain in the co-design of programming” at the zoo, according to a slide presented.

There are several upcoming focus group opportunities on October 27, November 3, and November 10, all Wednesdays, from 6:30-8:30 on Zoom. To register, go to bit.ly/DiscussFPZ. Those who participate in a focus group will received a $25 gift card, and those who take the zoo’s survey will be entered to win a $250 gift card.

The focus groups will focus on questions related to what people want to see in the community and “how might you imagine the zoo could address aspirations or needs,” Anderson said.

There is also a focus group for those aged 18-26, and teens 13-18 are also able to participate.

Anderson also said that the zoo is really hoping to hear from folks who are not typically involved in community discussions.

Subcommittee Updates 3529 Washington St.—VITA, Extraspace Storage

Jennifer Uhrhane said that there is no real update proposed for the murals in this area, as the artists have been selected and the developer has requested estimates from mural painting companies. Uhrhane said that the “mural committee’s a little frustrated” as no company has been chosen yet and they are “missing out on all this great weather” to paint the murals.

For the community room, Bill Rayelt reported that he received an email on October 8 from Volunteers of America (VOA) Massachusetts, who have been selected to take over the community room space at Extra Space Storage, saying that they were not able to attend this meeting but they are basically prepared to start holding community meetings in the space. The website to reserve the room is not yet up and running, but interested groups can call VOA Mass for more information on booking the room.

For the Southwest Corridor expansion proposal, a subcommittee consisting of SNA Steering Committee member Paige Sparks and Fred Vetterlein has been formed, and Sparks said she has set up a Google Group for this issue. The proposal is to use the space between the Orange Line tracks and the Extra Space building for some more green space, particularly a dog park. She is hoping to get the MBTA to an SNA meeting to discuss the proposal further.

3390 Washington St. BMS Paper

Uhrhane said that she received an email from BMS Paper owner Bob Harrington during the meeting that she said stated that he was “busy with supply chin issues and trying to ope a deli in the market.” Uhrhane also said that Harrington said he is waiting to hear updates from his architect, whom he has asked to scale back some of the massing of the proposed housing portion of the project, as the SNA subcommittee remains concerned about the massing of the building.

3478-3484 Washington St.—Formerly Doyle’s

Paige Sparks reported that a Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) public meeting for the new Doyle’s project was held late last month where several changes to the proposal were presented, and “despite multiple requests for an extended comment deadline, the BPDA project manager chose to end the comment period on October 1,” she said. “I was disappointed in that. I felt like there wasn’t enough time to digest those changes and create any sort of meaningful response feedback in that time.”

The project was then approved by the BPDA Board on October 14. She said that “folks were caught off guard” by “how quickly it was turned around—less than a month from the last meeting.”

Uhrhane said, “I don’t think this is a fair thing for the BPDA to do.”

Sparks said that concerns around affordability remain from some neighbors and the “way it was calculated by the BPDA.” She said that the “developer owes the community more units” of affordable housing, and there are also equity concerns with the size of the affordable units versus the market rate units proposed.

Additionally, there are concerns around car and bike parking.

Sparks said that the “subcommittee is still working out how they will proceed.” There is an Article 85 demolition delay hearing coming up for the existing two family home at 3474 Washington St., which is expected to be razed as part of this project.

The proposal has not yet come before the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee or the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA), Sparks said.

Resident Allan Ihrer said that he does not “agree with the vote and the way it has been done. The BPDA should be supporting us in trying to work things out with the developer…many of the impacts could be mitigated and greatly reduced.”

SNA Steering Committee member Roberta Hantgan said that she also has concerns about “getting community points across,” as Doyle’s is so “nostalgic” for many in the neighborhood.

McCurdy said that the SNA will continue work on this project as it moves forward.

35 Brookley/10 Stonley

Royce Abel reported that the SNA had believed this project was approved and set to go, but it :has been born again. The previous developers handed this off to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC).”

He said that the subcommittee for this project met with the JPNDC “a couple weeks ago,” and “had open and honest productive conversations with the various representatives there.”

Royce also said that since this project has already been approved by the BPDA and the ZBA, “not much will change in terms of zoning and overall massing of the building.”

The biggest change is that JPNDC is seeking 100 percent affordability for the building I a range from 80 tp 120 percent of the Area Median Income with a range of bedrooms. There will be five artist/live work studios, and the building is proposed to comply with passive house standards and include a mural project.

97-99 Williams St. And 75 Stedman St.

It was reported that 97-99 Williams St. is set to go before the ZB at 11am on November 9, and the ew proposal includes more green space and the backyard “will not be bisected by a driveway” as originally proposed.

At 75 Stedman St., Steering Committee member Jonathan McCurdy reported that the originally proposed storage facility for the property was not popular with the SNA or neighbors, and they had been asked to go back and “reevaluate” that use for the lot. McCurdy said he is :not aware of the developer getting back to the subcommittee,” so there is no update on that proposal.

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