Art Park site’s future comes into focus

July 13, 2012
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The City has narrowed its vision for the city-owned land between Parker and Terrace streets.

During a June 27 meeting, the City presented draft guidelines for a request for proposals (RFP), which included placing 35 to 45 residential units on the site and having mixed use of commercial, retail and industrial along the Terrace Street side. A nonprofit organization would run the community gardens at the site.

The Art Park, which is an area with murals, mosaic footpath tiles and colorful furniture, would be dismantled, but there would be art elements throughout the site.

Two rough sketches were also shown that place four residential buildings where community gardens and the Art Park currently are, but would increase the amount of garden space to about 60 plots. City officials emphasized the sketches were drafts and were used to stimulate discussion.

Some attendees welcomed the sketches. Others felt the buildings should be limited on Parker Street, while some wanted the Art Park and community gardens to remain unchanged.

The meeting, which about 20 people attended and was held at Mission Church, was the third of several that will help the City create a RFP. The City expects to hold another meeting later this month or during the first week of August before issuing the RFP sometime in August.

The site, which will be a “green building” project, was land the City acquired through tax foreclosure and was unsuccessful at redeveloping before. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) are working together to redevelop the site.

One of those finding fault with building on the land along Parker Street was Garrett Hauck, who gardens at the site with his mother and father. He said that placing the gardens surrounded by buildings inside the development, which both sketches do, make them private instead of public.

Dalzell responded that a nonprofit organization would be selected to run the gardens and that there would be a private-public relationship. He cited the relationship between an underground parking garage and a park above it in Post Office Square as an example.

“That’s certainly a platinum model of a private-public relationship,” he said.

Later in the meeting, Hauck pushed the notion that the present community garden is more sustainable than the proposed development.

Dalzell said that much more can come of the site and that the community is in need of housing.

Mission Hill resident Alison Pultinas was in favor of putting some housing along Parker Street, saying money could be needed to remediate the site. There have been concerns expressed at this meeting and previous ones about possible soil contamination.

Pultinas also asked about preserving some significant trees on the site and other natural features. Dalzell said that is something that might be considered for the RFP.

Another concern expressed at the meeting was how the development would be run. David West of the DND said there are several possibilities, including a co-op, a co-housing, condos or rental project.

“We are looking at all those options,” he said.

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