I went to the BRA meeting last night for the proposed project at 17-23 Greylock Road. Dmitry Baskin is the developer who lives in Newton and owns 19 & 21 Greylock. #19 is a 3-family appraised at $720,480 and #21 is a 2-family appraised at $669,370. Baskin wants to demolish these homes and build a 20 unit apartment building primarily of 1,000 sq ft 2BR units.
The merits, or lack thereof, of this proposal can be the subject of a separate post, but I thought a few other things were worth noting:
1) The BRA website for this project has only a 1 sentence description of the development. No maps, no drawings, just 1 sentence. We were told that this is because the developer hasn't given the BRA an electronic version of its proposal. If this was 1999 that might be understandable, but in 2009 I can't understand why the BRA doesn't require developers to submit a PDF file of their proposal. And even if the BRA only has a paper copy, they should use a scanner to make a PDF and get it on their website several days before a meeting.
2) The BRA's public outreach for these meetings could be a lot better. A lot more could be done than an advertisement in the TAB and and email to some list of residents that the BRA keeps. Sending emails is great, and if you go to http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/ or http://www.cityofboston.gov/ it should be much more obvious how to get emails for events and meetings in your neighborhood. For example, the My Neighborhood page could include a sign-up box to subscribe to this list.
City Hall sends postal mail announcements of various things (Zoning Board of Appeal hearings, Historic Commission hearings, real estate tax bills). If a developer wants a zoning variances for a new development and the BRA actually wants community input, the BRA should mail announcements to direct abutters and nearby property owners. Or the BRA could do like many community volunteers, political candidates, and local restaurants and have someone spend an hour going door to door putting flyers in mailboxes. They could even go so far as to staple some notices to telephone poles like Harvard has done for the Farmers Market.