Landmarks Commission future unclear

February 7, 2014
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By Peter Shanley and Rebeca Oliveira/Gazette Staff

With the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) involvement in a recent controversy in the Longwood Medical Area, the Gazette reached out to Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration to see whether the commission will undergo any changes moving forward.

But the Mayor’s Office and the BLC did not respond to requests for comment.

The BLC remains as an agency in Walsh’s recently released organizational chart of his administration. But whether it will see new leadership, be given more funding, or undergo other changes is unclear.

A member of a local historic group said she is unsure of the BLC’s role in the new administration.

The BLC was thrust into the spotlight recently with the Boston Children’s Hospital’s (BCH) plan to tear down the 55 Shattuck St. building, along with the historic Prouty Garden, and replace them with a new clinical building.

BLC did not landmark the building after a petition was filed by the Friends of Historic Mission Hill. But BLC and BCH did enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that includes documenting the 55 Shattuck St. building before its proposed demolition and creating a preservation plan for the BCH’s campus and the Longwood Medical Area. An MOU is a document formally describing a relationship.

When the Gazette asked Alison Pultinas, a member of the Friends of Historic Mission Hill, if she foresees any changes to the BLC under the Walsh administration, she replied, “I don’t know what to expect.”

Pultinas said that the BLC is “acutely aware of its limitations,” referencing the City Council’s veto last year of a house in Dorchester the BLC had approved for landmark status.

“That is very likely a scenario that would have happened if the BLC had gone ahead and approved landmark designation for 55 Shattuck St.,” she said.

Pultinas said an “ongoing concern” for Mission Hill is the preservation of institutionally owned property that is “historic and adds to the livability of the city.”

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