Tim is the 4th candidate to respond to this questionnaire. You can learn more about Tim at http://schofieldforcitycouncil.com/.
1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?
Yes, I support the creation of a separate Boston Planning Department. I also support other specific reforms to the current BRA procedures including a requirement that institutions submit detailed plans to the community at mandatory public meetings, and specifically respond to community concerns, prior to filing any plans with the BRA. As it currently stands (and as the institutions frequently remind us), the meetings being held are not mandatory and there is no requirement that the institutions present interim plans which respond to community concerns. I have personally sat through meeting after meeting where the same plans were presented and the same concerns expressed time and time again, to no avail. Similarly, I would extend the time periods for the community to review and respond to plans that are filed with the BRA. As we are seeing right now with Harvard’s recent filing, the time which the community has to review and respond to the BRA filings are wholly inadequate, especially when dealing with the large and complex projects being proposed by the institutions.
2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard's proposed buildings?
Many members of the community volunteered countless hours of their time to develop the North Allston Strategic Framework (NASF) and their work and work product should be respected. The Framework must be applied to protect the residents and the residential character of North Allston and North Brighton by preventing Harvard and any other developers from constructing towering buildings abutting residential neighborhoods.
3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?
The Institutional Master Plan (IMP) process is an opportunity for the community to obtain specific concessions and benefits from the institution seeking IMP approval, one of which could be a requirement that the institution seek approval prior to purchasing any property within the community. An ordinance requiring City Council approval for the purchase of property is likely unconstitutional, but an institution (like any other person) can agree to such a requirement and we should work to obtain such agreements as part of the IMP process. As an attorney, I have extensive experience negotiating concession and settlement agreements.
4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?
Many of the buildings and units at Charlesview require significant work to bring them up to current standards for safety and comfort. Relocating the complex and constructing new units is one way to address these issues. Any such relocation must, however, be done in cooperation with the residents of Charlesview and the abutters of any new complex. The current plan being considered is far too large for the proposed location at Brighton Mills and does not adequately take into consideration the needs of all the interested parties.
5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?
Ideally, the Speedway property will be restored and preserved. Fortunately, the property is currently owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation so any sale or long-term lease would have to be approved by the legislature (in other words, nobody can purchase the property without us knowing about it beforehand). I would work with our state legislators to ensure that the community has full input into any proposed sale or development of the property prior to any such approval. The property is the gateway to our community and so we must, as a community, carefully weigh how we want to property to be used.
6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?
I think it is wrong and unfortunate that Harvard has permitted these properties to remain vacant and, frequently, in a state of disrepair while there is a great need for retail services in the community. If Harvard does not intend to utilize the properties for educational purposes in the foreseeable future, then it should lease the properties to businesses who will utilize them for the benefit of the community. I am also greatly concerned by the number of jobs that have been lost as a result of these actions. Many of the businesses that were along Western Avenue employed people who lived in the neighborhood. Whether it was Pepsi, the telephone company, the car dealerships, or video stores, these businesses provided job opportunities for workers who lived in Allston and Brighton. Harvard’s proposed development will not bring these types of permanent jobs back to the community. Harvard must ensure that there is a mix of retail and commercial uses now and in the future so that there are good jobs available to people in the neighborhood and basic retail services within walking distance of the residential community.