Expected outcome, dysfunctional process
Our understanding is that the BRA approves all projects (they will delay projects from being considered for approval but once approval is recommended we believe projects are always approved). Indeed, they granted approval to 64 Allandale but approval from the BRA is just the first step in a process that is far from over. The extraordinarily inaccurate BRA presentation and decision only strengthens our resolve to mobilize for a fair and positive outcome for the community.
BRA board meeting:
- 10 adults and 2 children representing Friends of Allandale attended and conveyed clear opposition (we held up signs in silent protest). The events generated some press mentions (WGBH, WBUR, Boston Globe) and documentation on Twitter. Ours was the first item on the docket not to receive unanimous approval. In Tim Logan’s Boston Globe piece (Friday 5/12), he noted that any dissent is a rarity and a sign that this project is controversial.
- Chris Tracy, who guided the project for the BRA, misrepresented the lay of the land by failing to accurately convey the level of objectively expressed opposition versus support. One Friends of Allandale attendee said that in 40 years of attending public meetings, he'd never seen such a poor/unfair representation of events.
- The developer's attorney, who primarily spoke on behalf of the project, made one false and one deceptive statement with no consequence for doing so. He stated that Springhouse was closer to the woods than this proposed development would be. Yet, in fact, Springhouse is set back by many acres of land put in conservation easement but this project would be 40 feet from the woods. He was asked what zoning variances were sought and did not mention the majority of the variances the developer is seeking. He mentioned two and said they were "the main ones" but did not mention variances for number of units, height, setbacks.
- At a break in the meeting, two BRA board members said to one member of our group that we should have been allowed to speak, whereas the BRA staff said that members of the public could not speak. This is another example of the dysfunctional process of the BRA. Adam Reilly, of WGBH, tweeted that it was problematic that the BRA board asked about the opposition but the opposition was present but disallowed from speaking.
- The proposed funds that would have been given to Friends of Allandale Woods that we refused, now seem slated to be given to the City to support improvements to the woods.
This Week Yielded Good News for the Woods Too:
· Many of you wrote terrific letters! The number of letters received by the BRA supporting and opposing the project showed stronger opposition than support (this, despite the BRA’s recommendation for approval). Although roughly half of the letters were letters of support, 90% of these were form letters and we presume many came as a result of paid ads on social media and push-polling. Further, 25% of opposition letters were from outside of Boston and the BRA indicated that it ostensibly gives lesser weight to such letters. Conversely, all of the support letters came from Bostonians, and several letters came from institutions, which demonstrates broader opposition. None of the support letters came from institutions. The opposing letters were lengthier and more detailed. Even though this wouldnot seem to support the decision by the BRA to approve, these letters and the greater strength of the opposition even without a paid campaign to encourage letters, will be useful to us in the next phases.
- Letters of opposition to the project included objections from all of the neighborhood associations surrounding the site. Brigham and Women’s, which manages Faulkner Hospital, had previously written a letter of support but submitted a second round letter indicating that it shares opponents concerns about density and impact on the woods.
- The Evening Garden Club of West Roxbury, which has long gardened in the portion of Allandale Woods across the VFW Parkway from the main portion of the woods, voted to formally oppose the 64 Allandale Project. We deeply appreciate this support.
- Yesterday's issue of the JP Gazette includes 4 pieces about the 64 Allandale project and woods: one news story, one editorial, one opposition letter, one support letter.http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/
- Tony LaCasse attended a meeting of Park advocates from around Boston and there was broad appreciation that our threats also threaten other parks around the city. We could perhaps use this network to broaden opposition beyond residents of the neighborhoods closest to the Woods.
- A fun, child-friendly, "Walk the Wall" event is in the works stay tuned for details
- The next stop is the Zoning Board of Appeals. Our understanding is that "only" 80% of projects are approved there and we have more ability to influence the project through demonstrations of community opposition and political support.
- A significant number of projects approved by the ZBA that are legally challenged thereafter, wind up losing on appeal. So, if we need to litigate, we will seek to do so.
- Both the Boston Conservation Commission and Dept. of Parks and Recreation assert that they have jurisdiction over this proposed development site. That means they have formal say in the approval process. The developer may fight this legally but ideally one or both of these parties would prevail and have some influence. This also opens another line of possible legal appeal.
What you can do:
- Attend the forthcoming Walk the Wall event on June 12th (see Visiting/Events page for details.) Stay tuned for other opportunities for planned activities in the woods or grab a map from our website and come visit on your own and bring newcomers to discover the woods (seasonal pro-tip: walk from the woods to get snacks at the Allandale Farm Stand)
- Connect to us on social media (allandalewoods.org, Twitter: @allandalewoodsFacebook: friend Allan Dale Woods, and connect others to us.)
- If you wish to become more involved, send a message to email@example.com about getting involved in the Friends of Allandale working group