There were equal parts cheers and mockery last Thursday night as the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) at Mattapan State Hospital voted unanimously to approve the use of a sports field. along Morton Street to serve Brooke Charter School.
The issue was highly publicized in the emerging neighborhood, as designated developer Lena New Boston had requested a change of use on the four-acre site. The change removed the planned city farm in 2005 and replaced it with a sports ground to serve the community and the Brooke Charter School next door.
The Brooke struggled to find space on the existing pitch in the city and had to either not field some teams or not play any home games. Since last fall, the Brooke and some of the owners of the adjoining Harvard Commons have been at odds — mostly at ACC meetings.
A vote on the change of use was expected at several previous meetings, including the March session, but was postponed each time for further consideration. Last Thursday, the question was put to a vote and it passed easily despite many months of back and forth on the subject.
The vote went evenly, with ACC member Glenola Mitchell outlining the details ahead of the vote, along with four conditions covering things like safety, signage and maintenance plans. Those who voted in favor included Donna Young, Carmen Kaechler, Joyce Carroll, Stan Gwinn, Donn Dingle, Glenola Mitchell and Royal Bolling (by proxy vote). There were no votes against the proposal.
The rapid vote, however, prompted opponents to demand that they be allowed to speak despite the end of the vote.
“Are you taking a vote without discussion?” Kay Mathews asked. “There is no discussion,” CKC President Young said. “We have been talking about it for several months. It’s not something we decided quickly, I promise you.
Brooke Charter School and developer Lena New Boston said they appreciate the vote and believe it was the right decision.
“We are delighted that the CAC voted to approve the change in use,” said Brooke COO Mark Loring. “We are excited to move forward with the process of bringing this sports field resource to our students and the Mattapan community. We look forward to continuing to engage with our neighbors to refine plans and create the best space possible. »
State Rep. Russell noted that Brooke and others went door-to-door asking for input from the nearby community.
“I am grateful that the CAC has once again made the right decision and that it is appropriate to ask the developer to provide a $5 million benefit to the community,” he said. “It’s the right decision… They’ve addressed safety and parking and are going to plant more trees. They chose the spot with the fewest trees.
But not everyone was ready to jog or score goals.
Several neighboring owners of the Harvard Commons have expressed opposition to the estate — primarily on environmental conservation grounds.
“I don’t want to be made to feel like an elitist because I don’t want the land here,” Jessica Spruill, with her husband, Darien, said last week before the vote. “They want to put it in our garden and take out the few trees we have… We’ve had issues with litter and litter, and things being stolen, just things I didn’t experience or notice when we moved here . I am totally against having a soccer field.
The estate will now need to be approved by the state Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), and then it will go through a traditional Section 80 review process at the city level. There are still several steps in the process before the school and developer can move on to constructing the land, CAC officials said.
Lena New Boston gets a 10 acre PDA
Eric Van Dusen of Lena New Boston reported to the CAC that his group had received an Interim Development Agreement (PDA) from the state on the last 10 acres of land available at the state hospital site – a strip behind MassBiologics and near the corner of Harvard and Walk Hill Streets.
“We now have a signed PDA from DCAMM,” Van Dusen said. “We have now entered into the 90 days of this agreement to do our due diligence. We will continue and continue to work towards our Licensed Development Agreement (LDA). We are delighted to have taken the first step and look forward to the others and to starting construction. »
The interim project includes 265 supportive housing units for seniors and foster families, as well as home ownership opportunities. The plans have not yet been presented publicly.
There was controversy earlier this year when some members of the community learned that a former developer who had gone through a very public process had dropped his intentions for the site – which was never publicly announced. An alternative process that has not been made public resulted in the selection of Lena New Boston.