In a January 2012 letter issued to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council, NEWNC, is calling for a moratorium on the disposition of city-owned properties in the vicinity of the North End until the expansion needs of the Eliot K-8 public school are addressed. The letter comes in response to a City request for proposal (RFP) issued for the sale of the now vacant North St. buildings. The large city buildings along the Greenway, North St., Cross St. and Richmond St. are largely vacant having been previously used as the City’s printing plant and an old police station.

Earlier this week, Eliot School parents heard from the President of the North Bennet Street School that is likely to bid for the North St. properties including a building swap for its current North End property that could be used to expand the Eliot K-8 public school. (See Eliot School Parents Hear From North Bennet Street School President About North St. Buildings, Potential Swap And Eliot Expansion). Other locations thought to be under consideration in the North End include the city-owned parking lot on Fulton St./Cross St. (Parcel 11B) and 585 Commercial St., a privately owned property formerly occupied by Roche Boubois that is temporarily housing the campaign headquarters for Mitt Romney.

The NEWNC letter is shown below and available pdf format here.

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Thomas M. Menino
Mayor of Boston
Boston City Hall, Fifth Floor
Boston, MA 02201

Re:  Eliot K-8 School Classroom Expansion

Dear Mayor Menino:

I am writing on behalf of the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) to urge the City to address the expansion needs of the Eliot K-8 School and to request a moratorium on the disposition of any city-owned property within and in the vicinity of the North End that could potentially ease the demand for classroom space in this neighborhood.

As you know, NEWNC’s purpose is to act as an advisory board to the City in municipal affairs, represent the neighborhood’s views on issues and participate in the City’s decisions affecting the quality of life in the North End/Waterfront neighborhood.  North End residents and businesses are concerned that the shortage of K-8 classroom space threatens the neighborhood’s ability to attract and retain young families and imperils the vitality of the social and economic fabric of the community.  This lack of classroom space is a looming crisis that requires a creative and timely solution.  To this end, NEWNC strongly supports the expansion needs of the Eliot K-8 School and urges the City to make this a top priority.

The neighborhood is proud of the culture of excellence fostered by Eliot K-8 School administrators, teachers, parents and students.  Under the leadership of Principal Traci Walker Griffith, the Eliot K-8 School has grown in educational success, enrollment and student demand.  Its continued growth, however, is limited by the capacity of the current building.  To accommodate its growing student population, the Eliot K-8 School has been forced to eliminate its library and music classes, divide classrooms and delay the installation of a fully-funded computer lab. Moreover, children living near the school have been denied admittance due to the lack of space. Additionally, there are currently more children on the waiting list than the total number of its enrolled students.

We commend Superintendent Johnson for creating a short-term solution to expanding classes at the Eliot K-8 School by allowing access to three classrooms at the North Bennet Street School for the current school year and we thank you, Mr. Mayor, for supporting this resolution.

While the school district searches for a long-term solution to address the increased demand for space at the highly-successful Eliot K-8 School, NEWNC believes that the first step is to place a moratorium on the sale, lease or disposition of potentially suitable city-owned property in or around the North End that has sufficient capacity to house or supplement the classroom needs of the Eliot K-8 School.  NEWNC respects the City’s ongoing need to expand its tax base; however, we believe that the educational needs of our neighborhood should take precedence.

Thank you for your attention to this critical neighborhood issue.  NEWNC welcomes the opportunity to participate with the City in addressing the classroom expansion needs in the North End.

Respectfully,

Donna A. Freni
President, NEWNC

cc:

State Senator Anthony Petruccelli
State Representative Aaron Michlewitz
City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina
Councilors-at-Large Felix Arroyo, John Connolly, Stephen Murphy, Ayanna Pressley
Peter Meade, Director, Boston Redevelopment Authority
Matthew A. Cahill, Executive Director, Boston Finance Commission
Carol R. Johnson, Boston Public Schools Superintendent
Traci Walker Griffith, Principal, Eliot School

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