State officials were on hand for the Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association’s March 16 meeting to provide information on Shattuck Hospital’s upcoming move to the East Newton Pavilion.
Department of Public Health Undersecretary Lauren Peters and Assistant Commissioner Frank Doyle said the operation for the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, a 260-bed medical/surgical and psychiatric hospital in Jamaica Plain that is run in conjunction with the state’s Department of Public Health and Department of Correction and serves many patients who experiencing substance use disorder or homelessness, is being relocated to 88 East Newton St.
The new South End hospital is expected to open in the second quarter of 2024, said Doyle, “with construction right up to that date to coordinate the Herculean task of moving from Jamaica Plain.”
Construction on the South End facility is expected to take two and a half years to complete, Doyle added, and to kick off in July with demolition work.
Most of the construction will take place inside the building and its envelope will remain unchanged, he said, although the façade will be re-clad for “energy savings” in the spring of 2022.
Doyle apologized to neighbors that the site has recently been plagued with issues, including inoperative lighting in an alley; discarded syringes and trash; and snow removal (or lack thereof), as well as overgrown bushes abutting a ramp, and promised he would address them with DCAMM (Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance), the state agency that manages the property.
“These issues haven’t been addressed to me satisfactorily, and especially not to neighbors,” he said.
Once the South End facility is up and running, a maximum of 15 van transports carrying a total of about 24 patients from the Department of Correction, Doyle said, would arrive there each day. The vans would come along the east end of the pavilion, which be renovated into a plaza for ambulances, shuttles and other vehicles picking up and dropping off, he added, to the old ambulance entrance. This area would be restricted and gated, Doyle said, and these patients would be under the supervision of guards throughout the process.
While the budget for the project still hasn’t been finalized, Boyle said the decision to the South End largely came down to numbers, since the cost to renovate that facility is estimated at $200 million, while it’s expected to cost around $400 million to rehabilitate the existing Jamaica Plain hospital, or $500 million to build a new one on that site.
“Jamaica Plain facility is beyond its life expectancy,” Peters said of the building that dates back to the 1950s. “We have explored several options and found our optimal solution in the South End.”
The 13-acre Jamaica Plain campus, meanwhile, would be redeveloped in accordance with a “vision plan,” said Peters, being developed by a Community Advisory Board, with several South End residents serving as members.
“Maybe it could be a site for recovery services,” she added. “The process is well underway, and we hope to issue a RFP later this year.”
A Request for Proposals [RFP] for this project is expected to be issued for the project in the late summer or early fall, Doyle said, and the design is on target for completion in 2026, with construction commencing soon afterwards.
“There will be a transitional period when we move out in 2024,” he said, “and the time when construction is done in Jamaica Plain.”
Boyle also said he would reach out to DCAMM and return to the group with a project design for them to review.
‘Buy a Bite’ Pilot Program
BFSNA Vice President Jonathan Alves and Elizabeth Buetel of the South End Business Alliance and AC Hotel Boston Downtown discussed the BFSNA and SEBA’s new Buy-a-Bite pilot program.
The BFSNA has used charitable funds to purchase $5,000 worth of gift cards from five South End restaurants for distribution, they said, among 10 South End retailers to give to customers as an incentive.
Alves said the initiative would have a “multiplier effect” by simultaneously generating business for both participating retailers and restaurants in the neighborhood.
As for how participating retailers distribute the gift cards, that’s entirely up to them, said Buetel, but the BFSNA and SEBA are asking them to track how they use the card to measure the pilot’s success. “We’ve kind of put the decision in their hands,” she said.
The SEBA website at www.sebaboston.com, said Buetel said, will soon publish information on the pilot program, including how corporate sponsors can get involved.
Jenni Watson, who co-chairs the BFSNA Scholarship Committee with Lisa Jenks, was also on hand to discuss the scholarship fund, which currently has more than $39,000 in its coffers.
Since its creation in the mid-2000s by the late Andrew Parthum, the scholarship fund has raised more than $180,000 to disperse $2,000 scholarships to South End high school seniors (or, funds permitting, to those who are significantly involved in a South End community organization), said Watson, to cover the costs of books, computers and fees not typically covered by financial aid.
The committee has also established a $3,000 scholarship in Parthum’s name, she added, “for outstanding community involvement.”
Watson said she and Jenks are actively looking for new scholarship committee members and assured new recruits that the commitment would be “not very onerous” and “really easy this year.”
New members, said Watson, would be charged with reaching out to local youth organizations to inform them about the program; conducting interviews s part of a group; and planning and executing a small event in June to honor the scholarship recipients.
Interested parties are asked to contact Watson or Jenks via email at [email protected], said Watson, while the scholarship’s next meeting is scheduled via Zoom for Tuesday, Match 23, at 6 p.m.
Domingos DeRosa appeared before group to discuss his candidacy for one of four City Councilor at-Large seats.
DeRosa, who immigrated to the U.S. with his parents as a child from Cape Verde Island, grew up in Dorchester and Roxbury, and after graduating from Madison Park High and earning a degree from the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, he spent 22 years working for Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF). He also served as leader of SEIU Local 888 and learned to work with different city departments under one contract, which, he said, broadened his “understanding of how city budget affects every one of us.”
In his spare time, DeRosa has run summer football combines as president of the Bengals Pop Warner League.
“I’m a family man, a BPS student, and I’ve never left Boson – it’s my home,” he said. “I want to be a voice for voiceless…and represent all concerns and matters.”
To learn more about DeRosa and his campaign, visit www.darosaatlarge.org.
Dr. Robyn Riseberg was also on hand to provide information on Boston Community Pediatrics, the new pediatrics practice she has opened in the BFSNA district on Albany Street.
The operation has “grown exponentially” since opening on Nov. 16 with 150 patients, Dr. Riseberg said, and now treats around 550 patients.
“We’re small, and we’re scrappy,” she said, “and we’re interested in seeing all kids in the neighborhood.”
Risberg offered her practice to use for community vaccination clinics “or anything else to support the neighborhood.”
For more information on Boston Community Pediatrics, visit www.bostoncommunitypediatrics.org.
David Stone, BFSNA president, informed those in attendance of Jeffery Street, which connects with Dedham and Canton streets and is the newest street in the South End, and likely in the city. It’s named for Jeffrey Hull, a South End artist and teacher, Stone said, who died in 2017.
Captain Steven Sweeney of Boston Police’s District 4, said some earlier problems in the neighborhood have been curtailed, including far fewer syringes discarded in Franklin Park and people no longer sleeping in the doorway of the Blackstone School.
Regarding Mass Cass, Sweeney said the area around the highway connector is “looking better,” although there’s still been reports of drug dealing on a stoop in the 600 block between Harrison and Washington streets while much of the other nefarious activity has “unfortunately” moved from District 4 to the C-6 side.
Sweeney also said police are working with Villa Victoria and hope to get bicycle officers to patrol that area.
Meanwhile, the BPDs Street Outreach Unit, which engages in outreach with the homeless just picked up a new sergeant and five additional officers, said Sweeney, who also praised the work of Lauren Schneider, a member of that unit who “has been driving around with officers to see how D-4 works.”
The next regularly scheduled BFSNA meeting will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, May 18, at 7 p.m.