Boston Medical Center (BMC) representatives told the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) that they would file their new Institutional Master Plan (IMP) next month, and that it would likely not include many new projects – but rather renovation of existing facilities.
BMC has been consolidating its campus for quite some time, and the new IMP has been long-awaited as it will detail the direction of the campus for the next 10 years, and also address new traffic situations that have evolved with the consolidation.
Bob Biggio, senior vice president of facilities at BMC, told members of WSANA Tuesday night that they would file in October, and the new IMP would not likely detail new projects or new growth at the hospital.
“Most of the projects you’ll see in the Master Plan would not be projecting growth,” he said. “They will mostly be about taking care of what we have. Most of it is renovating existing spaces. We want to expand the lobby, for instance.”
He said the Dowling Building was carried over in the last plan, and it would likely be carried over into the new plan – with no immediate plans to renovate and re-purpose it. He said anything involving the Dowling would be in the latter part of the 10-year plan.
“We’ll leave the new building by the Power Plant in there,” he said. “I expect it to be addressed later in the plan too. We may have one new building to be proposed on the other end of campus and it would be looking beyond the first five years of the plan.”
The new IMP would follow up on an aggressive IMP from the previous 10 years that saw a major consolidation of BMC, the selling off of several properties and the construction of the Shapiro Building on Albany Street.
A major piece of the IMP for the neighborhood will be addressing traffic, and Biggio has been very upfront about that process to date. In fact, BMC began a study of the traffic this past summer to prepare for the IMP and to accommodate requests of neighbors – many of whom pointed out that traffic on Harrison Avenue is now really backed up at several times in the day. That has mostly been due to the consolidation and increased use of the main entrance off of Harrison Avenue.
Last spring, Biggio had suggested they would move a valet service to the new Shapiro Building, and he hoped that would help.
“We made that move and collected some data,” he said. “The data has proven I’m no traffic engineer. It did not help in steering the traffic situation away. In fact, the traffic at Harrison Avenue is greater than it was last year despite the growth of our valet service at Shapiro.”
He said they have traffic engineers studying some physical changes that could be made, and they are also considering having a separate drop-off location for vans – which take longer to unload typically. They have also introduced more valet parking overflow.
However, the bulk of the traffic situation will be up for discussion at length during the IMP process. He anticipated that the plan would be filed in October, and public meetings would take place throughout the spring and into next June.
The BPDA reached out to the WSANA neighborhood on Tuesday to look for help in their PLAN Newmarket initiative that kicked off in June.
Arreen Andrew from the BPDA said the process is meant to look at creating a 21st Century industrial job creation area, and they are about to submit an RFP to bring on a consultant.
“We hope the consultant can help us create a vision for what that might look like,” she said. “We don’t know what that is, but we are hoping to plan for it and create a vision for that area.”
As part of the consulting process, the BPDA is looking to form an overall advisory group, and since there are fewer than 1,000 residents in Newmarket, they are looking to WSANA for advice.
Member Fernando Requena led the charge in signing up for the measure, saying that area has always been a concern for WSANA.
“We are the closest neighborhood to Newmarket,” he said. “It’s always been a very large concern for us.”
Newmarket is also host to several drug treatment facilities and homeless shelters, and many in WSANA wondered if the planning process would be a way to spread some of those consolidated services to other places.
Andrews said the plan right now is that all existing services and providers would stay.
WSANA has formed a committee to look into having a block party next spring, summer or fall.
Danny Allen of East Springfield Street said he felt that having an old-time block party could help bring the neighborhood together and get everyone to know one another better.
“I don’t know how we’ll do it, but I think it can help us all get together,” he said.