1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?
At the debate with Tim Schofield and James Jenner, I was able to describe in some detail and express strong support for the creation of a City Planning Dept. I continue to support it.
The planning of the city MUST be separated from the promoting of development. The BRA, an enormously powerful and unaccountable entity, cannot be responsible for both. It is an unacceptable conflict of interest, and too many of us see the disastrous results right outside of our windows.
The proposal would require a City Planning Dept. to be responsible for their actions to the City Council and the citizens: a refreshingly equitable and democratic concept.
2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard's proposed buildings?
The community and city agencies worked very hard to draw up the NASF.It is appropriate for the neighborhood, enjoys wide support, and should be respected. Any exception, such as Harvard's present plan for the 150' tall Science 1 building, provides a toehold for more of their (and anyone else's) projects to exceed the framework's provisions.
Was the NASF created and supported by the City and neighborhood only to be ignored by Harvard? Rules are rules, but let's not forget that the BRA gets to make up their own.
3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?
Yes____ Maybe_X__ No_____
Massive and continual real estate purchases by tax-exempt institutions shifts the burden of paying for city services to fewer and fewer taxpayers: you and me. This cannot continue unchecked in our neighborhood, as we are losing residents due to high taxes, quality of life issues, and other factors associated with expansion. Should Allston-Brighton become a swathe of conjoined college campuses and rental properties, with no long-term residents or children living here?
A zoning plan must be created for the city, with strong emphasis placed on protecting highly impacted neighborhoods such as ours. We simply cannot allow more families and long term residents to be driven from their homes, and for our wonderful community to disappear.
The universities bring prosperity to a large region around Boston. We of Allston-Brighton have dutifully shouldered more than our fair share of the burden for it. Enough is enough.
4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?
Many of the CV residents shared their opinions with me. Some are excited about the prospect of new, bright housing,others are outraged that they are being displaced. Abutters of the new site have expressed concern over the construction involved and more intense use of the area.
Instead of offering MY thoughts, it would be better to listen to our neighbors, support their decisions, and make sure we reach a fair and reasonable solution.
Will everyone be happy? No. But the decision will better reflect what our neighbors who live, raise children, and make a home in Charlesview want. They know best.
5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?
It should be restored and preserved. Let's not leave the future of this historic property in the hands of developers or well-intentioned bureaucrats. Let’s dream about what this building could be for our community. As one of A- B's landmarks, could it be brought back to life as a multi-use building for the community?
Could it host farmer's and/or flea markets, a community building materials and loaner tool cooperative (park cleanups, anyone?), an events center for concerts, puppet shows? The restoration and programming for the building could be undertaken by our community, for our community, and even create local jobs.
Of particular interest to me would be the melding of an old building with environmentally responsible, carbon-negative technologies. As an example, much of the roof faces south, making it perfect for solar panels. Can we reuse the grey water? Our finished project would be a shining example for the rest of the city to follow.
I'd be happy to volunteer my limited skills and well-stocked toolbox for a community restoration mobilization. I know a thing or two about breathing new life into tired old buildings.
6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?
Empty, abandoned buildings are ugly, and have a negative impact on the neighboring properties. It’s high time that Harvard addressed this issue.
The properties should be landscaped, maintained, and kept up to standards we all know to be acceptable. Harvard could show some goodwill towards the neighborhood by allowing temporary use of the buildings by startup community groups and/or businesses.
We make our homes, raise our children, and grow old here. During the next election cycle it is a critical that we all stand up for what is right, or watch what's left of the community we love wither away.
We must send a message to those who think they can push us around: that Allston- Brighton fights back.