This article originally appeared in the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge on January 22, 2016.
By John Lynds
January 22, 2016
Working to build a consensus on design and answer questions from previous community meetings, the Boston Housing Authority and developer of the Bunker Hill Housing Development held another in a series of meeting last week concerning the project.
Over 60 residents from Bunker Hill attended last weeks meeting and BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle said the meetings are aimed to have a thorough open and transparent process as the project moves forward.
“This will be an inclusive and transparent process from start to finish so their are no surprises for our tenants and the community at large,” said McGonagle. “We want our tenants at Bunker Hill and Charlestown residents to know what we are doing every step if the way. We want input from all corners of the neighborhood so this project is community driven.”
During the previous meetings, residents were tasked with brainstorming what they would like to see as far as design was concerned.
McGonagle said the plan is to raze the aging housing development and residents want to see it transform from an early 19th Century design to a 21st Century housing development.
“A lot of what residents are asking us is similar to what residents asked us during previous redevelopment projects at Maverick in East Boston or Old Colony in South Boston,” said McGonagle. “A lot of residents want bedrooms to be larger because the old design is outdated and the bedrooms are tiny. Many want to see single entry way buildings instead of the current design with common area hallways.”
One of the major concerns McGonagle said current Bunker Hill residents had concerned relocation during construction and whether or not residents would be able to return once construction is completed.
“First and foremost, I want to assure residents and their families that we are undertaking this initiative in order to preserve the affordable housing units at Bunker Hill for the long term,” said McGonagle. “We expect that there will be no loss of affordable units and all families that are abiding by their lease will have a home in the newly redeveloped community. While the new construction will require some temporary relocation,as the Administrator of the BHA I give my personal guarantee that each family that chooses to do so will have the absolute right to return to a new apartment at the site once completed.”
McGonagle added that the temporary relocation will allow families to choose one or more BHA developments for relocation or opt for a Section 8 certificate.
“The BHA will both assist with and pay for the temporary moves,” he said. “Upon their return, rent will continue to be 30 percent of residents adjusted income as it is now. Some families may choose to relocate permanently to another BHA development, or opt to keep their Section 8 certificate. That is perfectly acceptable as well.”
McGonagle said Charrette Week for the project will be the next major event for the project and will be held Monday through Friday evenings (January 25 – 29) and will involve further listening sessions as well as technical updates. Saturday January 30 (beginning at noon) will be the culminating design workshop session where residents will very likely see the input they have provided really emerge in the design and development plan.
“Then, on Wednesday, February 10 there will be a resident open house for the entire community where a plan will be reviewed by all those who have contributed to it,” he said.