Fenway Community Discusses Northeastern Institutional Master Plan, Issues and Concerns
While no Master Plans were presented at Tuesday's meeting, residents had the opportunity to voice their concerns with a variety of issues with Northeastern University's hope to expand.
Northeastern is looking to expand by improving sites that are on campus. Representatives from the university held a community meeting in The Fenway Center at 77 St. Stephens Street on Tuesday evening. In attendance were residents of the Fenway area, representatives from the Fenway CDC, The Fenway Civic Association, the Boston Police Department and Chan Krieger NBBJ.
While the university has not presented any plans for expansion, they hosted a public forum for community members to voice their concerns regarding the effect expansion may have on their neighborhood.
Patrick Tedesco, principal at Chan Krieger NBBJ told the crowd that the Master Plan “only looks at property currently owned by the University.” The goal is to improve facilities that are not being used to their full potential.
The crowd, however, had many issues to discuss about Northeastern students and the idea of any expansion:
Jane Hartmann of the Fenway CDC addressed the problems with quality of life for residents living near the student housing areas. The issue many residents have is that students do not care for the wellbeing of the neighborhood.
The issue of students moving into the neighborhood and families leaving remained a central issue. Fosters told the crowd that the Fenway CDC Task Force had conducted a study with MIT and learned that 64 percent of all students in Boston live in the Fenway area.
“The area known as Animal House at 150 Gainsborough Street, as well as Hemenway Street and Symphony Road are covered in trash. There are rats all over the place. On Thursday through Saturday, there are kids making loud noises and partying on the roofs. When they leave the bars, they are loud, they key cars, break tree limbs,” Hartmann said. “We want to meet with the R.A.’s and have student/neighbor meeting at orientation.”
Joyce Fosters of the CDC said she wanted to see Northeastern provide more jobs for those who were unemployed or underemployed in the Fenway area. She also wanted Northeastern to create an open door policy that would allow community members to use the libraries and cafes art galleries as well as audit classes. “A world class university should be more available to the public,” Fosters said.
Fenway resident Richard Orareo requested that an independent study be conducted to determine if building new dormitories would ease the housing crunch in the area.
Orareo also took objection to Northeastern’s purchasing of St. Botolph Terrace, a section 8 housing complex, which Northeastern purchased in November of 2007.
“The St. Botolph Purchase was a mistake,” Vice President of City/Community Affairs John Tobin said.
“We promised we would sell it and we have held to our word. It is for sale now to a company with an affordable housing portfolio.”
After a few heated words about affordable housing in the area and the housing crunch, Orareo challenged Tobin to a public debate, which Tobin refused to take part in. Once the argument ended, comments from the audience resumed.
"Going forward, we will be glad to help in any way we can," D-4 BPD Officer Bill Slayne said. "We have a good relationship with the university and I think that meetings like this with multiple groups involved is a step in the right direction."
Tim Horn of the Fenway Civic Association said that he wanted to see a mixed use of the facilities between the community and the university going forward. Landscaping upkeep and snow removal were also issues of concern. “I’m out there with a shovel and you have a Bobcat, could you help me out?” Horn said.
After the members of the community voiced their opinions, issues and concerns, the Northeastern panel said that they would take everything into consideration and that another meeting like this one would be held in the near future.