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Residents call for low-impact use of former Mattapan library

Posted by Patrick Rosso  February 20, 2013 09:59 AM

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(Image courtesy DND)


The inside of the building.


The city is getting closer to drawing up a contract for the sale of the old Mattapan library at 10 Hazleton St.

A representative from the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development, which controls the property, was before the community Tuesday night to hear opinions on a draft Request for Proposal developed by the department.

This is the second time DND has held a public meeting on the sale of the 13,700-square-foot parcel and the 7,800-square-foot structure on it. In 2012 the city assessed the property for close to $2 million, but a sale price has yet to be set by the city.

Constructed in 1931, the building housed the neighborhood’s library until a new one was constructed and opened on Blue Hill Avenue in 2009.

The draft document, presented Tuesday to a crowd of close to 25 residents, lays out general potential uses that the community and city would like to see at the property and guides future developers.

“The Department of Neighborhood Development invites applicants to submit a proposal to provide significant enhancement of the current site into a high quality and complimentary commercial development,” read the draft. “Applicants should consider and mitigate the impact that the proposed development will have on traffic and parking.”

Potential uses not supported by the community listed on the draft included any kind of alcohol-related use. The draft, in addition to forbidding the demolition of the structure, also pushed for a commercial use of the property that is low impact. At the past two meetings, residents have voiced opposition to nail salons, places of worship, and busy community centers.

“We have an education problem in Boston and there is a need for tutoring services,” said Bill Owens, a Hazleton Street resident and retired state senator. “Would education and job training been seen as a priority and would there be support from the city?”

Although many nodded in agreement, the city will not retain or manage the property.

Chris Rooney, a project manager for DND, said the city is not opposed to educational or community uses of the structure, but will not financially support any venture.

Rumors have also been going around the community about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston eying the property.

Jerry Steimel, executive vice president of operations for the organization, said the club is interested in the property, but all conversations are very preliminary.

“We’re interested in raising some money to support an investment here,” Steimel said after the meeting. “We feel there is a need in Mattapan.”

Community center uses have been discussed, but many in the neighborhood said there are plenty. Located near the structure is the Mattahunt Community Center, the Mildred Avenue Community Center, and the Gallivan Community Center.

“We currently have three community centers in the area, and I’d like to see some other programs,” said Mary Burke, an area resident. “We need women and children centers. I don’t want to oversaturate the area and forget something else.”

Residents who live next to the structure were also concerned about the drawback of being close to a busy community center.

“All these suggestions are good, but I must say it was not easy [living next to the library],” said Daunett Dwyer, who lives next to the structure and said while it was open she had to deal with youths making trouble.

“When we talk about another center for kids it scares me,” said Dwyer. “We need something structured, I’d love to see a home for the elderly.”

Although suggestions continued to come Tuesday night, there is still a long process ahead of the city and the community.

A final RFP, expected to be completed and out by the beginning of April, still needs to developed and approved by DND.

After the RFP is developed and a submission deadline is created, a committee of city personnel and nominated community members will review applications and make a selection. Prior to any official designation, the developer will have to appear before the community to discuss the plan and have all permits and financing in place.

Those interested in providing comments to DND about the property can contact Chris Rooney at (617) 635-0493 or by email crooney.dnd@cityofboston.gov

Those who like to nominate a community member to the RFP Committee can contact Walter Apperwhite at the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services by calling (617) 635-3485 or emailing Walter.Apperwhite@cityofboston.gov.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.


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