After-Hours Work at Harrison Albany Reaches Critical Mass, City makes Changes

After-hours work permits and weekend work at the Harrison Albany project seemingly have bucked the carefully coordinated system devised by the City and the neighbors, resulted in major confrontation over the last week and some major shuffling within City departments.

For several weeks, neighbors of the project have been complaining that after-hours work is going on by Suffolk Construction with and without permits – apparently not adhering to the system that was put in place more than a year ago by ISD Commissioner Buddy Christopher to stop such things from happening.

Now, Christopher has been re-assigned within the City, and the director of the Election Department, Dion Irish, has taken his position – and neighbors are left to wonder if they’ll ever find peace before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

“We are, indeed, cautiously optimistic; there’s a lot of work to do with Mr. Irish and we hope he’ll engage with us,” said Kyle Szary. “That being said, the H-A project continues to work/operate after hours multiple times each week, both through previously obtained permits and permits issued on-the-fly from ISD for magically reoccurring ‘problems.’ Unfortunately we haven’t yet seen any adherence to the new after-hours rules specific to H-A that former Commissioner Christopher agreed to several weeks ago, of which Suffolk seems to be ignoring at this point.”

It was in the midst of this two-week tussle with City services and elected officials that a major announcement came out of City Hall on Thursday saying Christopher had been re-assigned and Irish would take his position.

“I am incredibly proud to welcome these individuals into these important leadership posts,” said Mayor Walsh. “The work of each of these departments is crucial to our overall mission of serving the residents of Boston in the best way we can, and through these new appointments I look forward to our continued work ahead in making progress on our goals.”

Christopher, for his part, will now be a special advisor to the mayor focusing on managing services in the Mass/Cass corridor. He had been ISD director for five years, and his run started with promise when he instituted the new policies for weekend and after-hours work in the South End and South Boston. The policy only allowed such work for emergency circumstances with all weekend permits being signed off on by Christopher.

However, as larger projects began to get underway – such as Harrison Albany and the Related Beal project on Harrison Avenue – neighbors felt rules were getting bent too often.

Irish has been the Commissioner for the Elections Department for 11 years, but served at ISD for 17 years before that as Assistant Commissioner/Director of Housing Inspections, where he helped establish nationally recognized programs such as Breathe Easy At Home (BEAH), Rental Property Registration, and the statewide comprehensive certification training for housing inspectors (MPHIT).

•Separately, within the same re-shuffling at City Hall, Mayor Walsh appointed Greg Rooney as the Interim Commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department (BTD).

Rooney has worked for the City of Boston for 25 years, and formerly served as Commissioner of the City’s Property Management Department. Before working at Property Management, Rooney served for nine years at the Boston Transportation Department, where he worked as the Director of Parking Management.

Taking Rooney’s position is Indira Alvarez, the new Interim Commissioner for Property Management Department.

Alvarez formerly served as the Chief of Staff for the City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD), and as the Assistant Commissioner of ISD, as well as a Housing Manager in charge of the proactive inspection program for 12 years.

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