Category Archives: Seen From the Hill

SEEN FROM THE HILL : Mayor Walsh Walks Dudley Thursday, May 8, 2014 – 5:00pm to 7:00pm

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Very troubled by all of the CDC’s present tat the walk, o bend the ear, so to speak, of the new Mayor as he walked the Dudley Square area. CDC’s are not community leaders, albeit they are very active in their own interests, rarely ours, and shouldn’t be seen as ours.

May 6 at 5:14 PM

Today at 12:15 PM
Below is a facebook post and reply to my dear Aunt Viola who happened to notice some of the goings on from the WalkBoston tour in Dudley yesterday.

Viola Howard fb post: “Fond memories of Hibernian Hall during the late fifties early sixties attending the Cape Verdean dances….Great memories, fun times and oh the music!!!……”
@Auntie Vi: You probably wouldn’t recognize Dudley now from the 50’s and 60’s. There’s a lot happening. I credit the mayor for sharing his parent’s experience of Hibernian as a dance hall and his voiced commitment to work on preserving Dudley’s history and its people. But sadly, the context and narrative that could speak to your fond memories of Cape Verdean dances at Hibernian, along with the mayor’s reflections, were sorely missing from the actual WalkBoston tour of Dudley that proceeded the gathering at Hibernian.
That’s because the WalkBoston tour was co-opted by the community development corporations that helped sponsor the walk. From the eyes of many the walking tour was strategically designed and meant to promote their various development projects in and around Dudley Square.

Your comment about “oh the music” speaks to the missed opportunity around art and culture and the transformative power of each to engage and bring us together. To have our account hijacked in the interest of gaining favor with the new mayor to promote the development agendas and interests of a cohort of CDC’s over our interests is unconscionable!

I trust the mayor sees this walk for what it was: money and power trying to steer policy! Policy that very often is not the will of the people!

Really a shame!

Love Rodney

—- Rodney Singleton / seen From the Hill

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SEEN FROM THE HILL : SUPPORTING THE FERDINAND BUILDING & HALEY HOUSE — UPDATE

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Today at 10:53 AM
FYI Recap: Rounding Up the Square, by Executive Director of Discover Roxbury….

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Derek Lumpkins <write.derek@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Recap: Rounding Up the Square

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 If you’re a casual observer of the redevelopment happening at the Ferdinand Building, there’s a good chance that you saw more about it in the media in the last seven days than you have in the previous seven months combined.

On March 27, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) organized an open house for retail bidders to present their visions to the public at the Dudley Branch Library. Although the BRA stated that the open house would have no impact on the decision of the selection committee, roughly half of the 22 bidders appeared to talk to visitors.

 But, it wasn’t until the following Monday that conversation about the project and its impact really became the talk of the town. First, there was an article explaining (as well as feeding off the usual stereotypes and furthering stigma) that Dudley Square’s comeback was linked to bids submitted by national chains for space at the Ferdinand Building [Boston Globe]. Unfortunately, that article lacked any reference to bids also submitted by local businesses and organizations, including a pair of complementary bids by Discover Roxbury and Haley House Bakery Café. In response, Discover Roxbury’s board of directors issued a petition asking for public comments and support for our work and our submissions.

 By the end of last week, the conversation about the Ferdinand and the bids morphed into a conversation about local vs. national brands, or more specifically, Haley House vs. Starbucks  [Boston Globe]. Although the BRA doesn’t have a mechanism to solicit public input, we at Discover Roxbury are excited by the level of public participation being shown via the online petition, on social media, and in conversations that we’re having around the city.

As we all eagerly wait for the BRA to announce the winning bids, we hope you will continue to stay abreast of the ongoing conversation around the redevelopment of Dudley Square and continue to be part of it. The current conversation risks being reduced to a simple binary discussion of the little guys vs. national corporations. Yet, we all know there’s more to the situation than that. Beneath the surface are questions of how new tenants envision civic and community engagement (particularly in a publicly funded municipal building); the degree to which there will be displacement in the wake of so much new development; and the role of the City in shaping the changes in the neighborhood.

 If we only had that casino in East Boston. We could place bets on what the answers to those questions might be.

—- Rodney Singleton / Seen From the Hill

SEEN FROM THE HILL : DND/CITY FUNDING AWARDS FOR RENTAL HOUSING — JUNE 2009

Tuesday 3:38pm
Rodney Singleton

DND/City Funding Awards for Rental Housing — June 2009

Hi John: I beg your pardon for not quoting the DND funding round information precisely last night. The DND/city rental funding awards that I made reference to were from June of 2009 (tabulated below) .

The total award for that round was $22,383,755, of which non-profits received $20,316,430. This represents nearly 91% – a disproportionate share indeed – of all city funding for that round awarded to the CDC non-profit sector. A share of funding did go to for-profit developers (Frank Thomas, Trinity, and Mitchel Properties) of a little over 9%, representing $2,067,325, but we’ve been having this discussion for spell now (see Banner letters below).
I quoted a lower number of 85% or 87% of the funding going to non-profits, indicating the disparity of city rental awards was more acute for the funding round in June of 2009. The point remains though, and we can argue the precise numbers and if they have changed much since 2009 (in lieu of arguing and to promote full transparency the city can also just provide the information — it’s a freedom of information issue — and a metric that helps establish a direction for change), but it’s clear the city spends more money with non-profits than it does with for-profit firms to develop rental housing. This has the effect of eroding the local business sector that provides the service of providing rental housing because winning city bids builds the kind of capacity that not only sustains the business and helps it grow, but also helps sustain and grow the community the local business is part of. So the city is in fact culpable in some measure for the capacity problems we face in our neighborhoods.
Add to Mr Guscott’s point, if he knew or the city had worked with his firm to locate the school department at Ferdinand’s, he would have been able to go to nearly any bank with lease in-hand and secure the funds required to develop the Ferdinand building.

— Rodney Singleton / Seen from the Hill

 

SEEN FROM THE HILL : WILL THE WALSH BRA HONOR COMMUNITY INPUT ?

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Folks,

Recent revelations, in the Boston Globe,of BRA dealings that benefit developers at the expense of a process that serves the community is nothing new!

As if we need reminding, Bartlett Yard/Place (the old MBTA bus garage in Roxbury) recently got BRA zoning commission approval.

The zoning commission process differs from zoning board of appeal (ZBA) approval. There, the principal community notification happens on the BRA web site, where community rebuttal to developer plans seemed dismissed (petition signed by nearly 90 community members to stop development because home ownership was not included in the first phase of development) in an effort to clear the way for developers to move forward.

Having that process move forward, without a clear community input on shaping the outcome of a project, is what we’ve been dealing with since not long after the ink had dried on the Bartlett RFP (request for proposal). Given that community input has been woefully marginalized, our only remaining recourse is to sue.

And now, a quick word to :Undersecretary Gornstein of Housing and Community Development for the State of Massachusetts: Mr. Gornstein, Nuestra does not have the required community support to move forward, but they’ll move forward anyway under this system and continue to destroy our community. Please continue to deny them funding!

The Bartlett RFP has very clear guidelines fora mix of housing affordability. the developer, Nuestra, is violating these in the very first phase of development, putting at risk the entire economic sustainability not only of the project, but also of the entire Roxbury neighborhood. Exactly three years ago, I wrote to the Bay state Banner a “letter to the editor” that I quote below. Home ownership was taken off the table at Atkins apartments too, a development done by Nuestra. Should we be surprised that Nuestra is delaying home ownership at Bartlett? Home ownership has yet to be incorporated at Atkins. What assurance do we have for Bartlett?

Putting economic sustainability at risk in neighborhoods in dire need of it is nothing new either. The community input that helped craft the Bartlett RFP understood this need for sustainability and insisted on income balanced housing — including an element of home ownership. The home ownership requirement spelled out in the RFP has been delayed because the developer cannot find funding — despite having the required community input.

What should trouble members of our community and what this latest Globe BRA article shines a light on: how continued abuse of power — Tom Menino’s legacy to Boston’s neighborhoods struggling for economic equality — impacts our community.
It’s no mystery that developers are eager to meet on January 2 of 2014, to the chagrin of the Walsh administration. With a BRA culture that spurns and mocks the very community input required to make development successful, and as bias and collusion continue, unchecked by oversight, it’s no wonder an envelope need never be passed. Or perhaps the envelop has morphed into a hefty campaign contribution. It’s time to put an end to the BRA and its culture.

The damage in Menino’s legacy has been tragic and devastating. The data cannot be refuted. As the Globe article states, the city, through the BRA, has and is prepared to put down millions on affordable housing projects in Roxbury, while in more affluent neighborhoods in Boston, developers are allowed to opt out of providing affordable housing (i.e. Back Bay/Beacon Hill, Central in the table below).

Menino’s own neighborhood of Hyde Park is next to the bottom for affordable housing options (7.3%). Not setting a very good example for affordable housing Mr. Mayor. Affordable housing should be regionally shared, it shouldn’t be concentrated in one community or neighborhood. Affordable housing units all but dominate all housing units in Roxbury at nearly 45%. If you include section 8 certificates, affordable units comprise well more than half of Roxbury housing — and that’s unsustainable!

Add to Menino’s legacy: a quadrupled wealth gap between whites and people of color in Boston under his tenure; failed schools; a diversity record, at city hall and on local construction sites, that’s far from inclusive.

Leadership for our community that doesn’t support a vision of development in which our struggle for economic mobility and parity will not change for the better, and we will remain poor !

Does the incoming Walsh administration’s vision of our future make similar assumptions ? Will Walsh make good on BRA reform?
Accountability is key! It’s time to dig in!

— Rodney Singleton / Seen From the Hill