News Briefs

BOSTON ARTS ACADEMY FUNDED

The Boston City Council voted 13-0 on Dec. 13 for the second time in two weeks (which is required by the City Charter) to approve $123 million in funding for construction of a new Boston Arts Academy on Fenway’s Ipswich Street.

With the project now fully funded, it would be the first, ground-up, high school construction in Boston for several decades.

For years, parents, students and administrators have been lamenting the conditions at the school, which was formerly Boston Latin Academy, and before that a postal warehouse. Last summer, the state School Building Authority (MSBA) invited the project into the Schematic Design Phase.

The next phase was the Funding Phase, which the Council solved Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Mayor Martin Walsh appeared at the MSBA board meeting to report the good news and advocate for the Arts Academy project.

The proposed project would create a new 152,438 square foot facility to replace the current building, which suffers from deficiencies in major building systems including mechanical and electrical systems. The district also reported in their Statement of Interest, that the current structure suffers from roof and window deficiencies and additional physical plant issues. The existing Boston Arts Academy is a 120,825 square foot facility located on a .98 acre site, which currently serves just more than 400 students in Grades 9 – 12.

The City would be reimbursed by the MSBA by about 60 or 70 percent of the eligible costs.

FENWAY HEALTH LEADER LEAVES

The second top leader at Fenway Community Health Center has been forced out following disclosures that Fenway mishandled complaints about a high-profile doctor who allegedly sexually harassed and bullied staff members for years, according to the Boston Globe.

Robert H. Hale, chairman of Fenway’s board of directors, resigned from his position Monday, Dec. 11. His departure follows that of Fenway’s long-time chief executive, Dr. Stephen L. Boswell, who resigned under pressure Sunday after a Globe investigation detailed the allegations against Dr. Harvey J. Makadon.

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL UPDATES

The Boston City Council held their final hearing of the year on Dec. 13.

  • It was the last hearing for both Councilors Tito Jackson and Sal LaMattina who said their farewells after the hearing. Mayor Martin Walsh thanked them both for their years of public service and time spent on the City Council.
  • Acoustic Live Entertainment was unanimously passed and made permanent. The amendment took away the sunset clause on last year’s Acoustic On Main ordinance. The legislation, initially passed in December 2016, eliminated the permit requirement, hearing, and fees for small businesses in business districts to host acoustic live entertainment acts of up to five performers between the hours for 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • The City Council voted unanimously to authorize the acceptance of the Massachusetts state law that allows municipalities to accept and impose a local sales tax of up to 3-percent upon the sale or transfer of marijuana or marijuana products by a recreational marijuana retailer. It is the maximum-allowed 3-percent rate. The proceeds will go towards helping individuals in jail diversion work force development and technology and mentoring services for those most affected.

FENWAY CENTER MOVES AHEAD

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Department of Transportation today announced that after nearly two decades of discussions, it has closed on a lease agreement for Phase 1 of the Fenway Center Development Project, allowing for construction to begin immediately on two buildings which will contain rental housing units, retail and office space, as well as a direct pedestrian walkway to the adjacent Yawkey commuter rail station and a parking lot with more than 1,200 spaces.

With the $21 million, 99-year lease, signed between the developer and MassDOT, logistics for the project’s construction will begin to be put into place on site soon.

In July 2017, the MassDOT Board of Directors authorized MassDOT to develop the Fenway Center Project in two phases. The developer is expected to begin work-related activities this month on Phase 1 construction while discussions are ongoing regarding the lease agreement for Phase II. Phase II plans call for three buildings to be constructed over I-90 near the two buildings which are part of Phase 1 and the developer is required to close the Phase II lease by December 2020.

ASPIRIN AND AN INAUGURATION

The City’s Inauguration event for the City Council and for Mayor Martin Walsh will take place on Monday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.

And yes, it does take place on New Year’s Day morning.

According to the City Charter, the Inauguration has to take place on the first Monday in January. This year, that would be on New Year’s.

The time will take place at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St.

In other cities and towns, the Charter includes a provision that indicates that the inauguration should take place on the first Monday in January that “is not a state holiday.” Maybe such a change should be considered in Boston too.

 

MASSPORT AIRPLANE NOISE COMPLAINT LINE

Residents who are being disturbed by airplane noise are encouraged to call the MassPort Noise Hotline 24 hours a day. The phone number is (617) 561-3333.

SOUTH END DATES

  • The Old Dover Neighborhood Association will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19, in Project Place at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will feature development updates from the Nordblom office proposal (1000 Washington St.) and 345 Harrison Ave. (The former Graybar building). There will also be a discussion on how to get more trees planted in the neighborhood, and a continuing discussion about changing the name of the association.
  • The next Working Group on Addiction, Recovery, and Homelessness in the South End will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 4 p.m. in the Hampton Inn and Suites meeting room. Other meetings will include Jan. 16.
  • The next South End Forum will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. in the South End Library.

MAYOR’S HOLIDAY SPECIAL

Mayor Martin Walsh has launched the 14th annual Mayor’s Holiday Special supported by the Highland Street Foundation, produced by ArtsBoston and created in partnership with the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tickets are on sale now at www.MayorsHoliday.com and at the ArtsBoston booths located at Copley Square and Faneuil Hall marketplace.

The Mayor’s Holiday Special is an annual event designed to shine a light on arts and cultural events that take place in Greater Boston during the holiday season. This two-month celebration of performing arts features thousands of great deals to over 500 mostly holiday performances, as well as dining experiences and an online calendar of free holiday events across the city.

FENWAY FUNCTIONS

  • Fenway Community Center Holiday Open House – join members of the Fenway Community Center for a free holiday open house party on Thursday, Dec. 21 from 6 – 8 p.m. at 1282 Boylston St. Meet your neighbors, explore upcoming events and programming, eat local treats, enjoy live music, and visit the membership table to learn how you can enjoy FCC benefits all year long.
  • Fenway CDC Community Organizing Meeting will take place Thursday, Dec. 14 from 6 – 8p.m. at the Fenway CDC Conference Room located at 70 Burbank St. in Boston. Join community advocates to discuss the Fenway CDC messaging and outreach plan around Airbnb/ Corporate Short-stay and next steps for housing policy reform. For more information or to R.S.V.P., please contact Colleen Fitzpatrick at [email protected]

HUNTINGTON AVE HEARING

The 252-264 Huntington Avenue project will be before the BPDA Board for a Chapter 121A public hearing this Thursday, Dec. 14 at 5:50 p.m. The hearing will take place at the BPDA Board Room on the ninth floor of City Hall. Depending on the duration of preceding public hearings, this hearing may start later than 5:50 p.m., but it cannot start prior to that time.

NATIONAL GRID BACK BAY PIPELINE

  • The community meeting with National Grid and members of the community concerning the Back Bay pipeline will take place in Rabb Hall at the Copley Square Boston Public Library on January 16 from 6 -7:30p.m. The Public Improvements Commission recently granted National Grid permits to proceed with the natural gas extension to service the development of One Dalton in Back Bay.
  • The Department of Public Utilities will be meeting Friday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. at One South Station, fifth floor, concerning financing for a new gas pipeline that would run through the Back Bay. The contract between National Grid and One Dalton requires DPU approval. The attorney general’s office is actively engaging in the review of this contract.

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