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Community Meetings Over Urban Renewal Zones to Happen Soon

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA, formerly known as the BRA) recently shared with the Boston City Council that it will be holding sixteen community meetings about the different urban renewal areas. 

In August 2016, the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) approved BRA’s request for a six-year extension of urban renewal powers, which is until April 2022.  The urban renewal zones include parts of Charlestown, the Fenway, Chinatown, the South End, Roxbury, the Downtown Waterfront, the West End, North Station area and Government Center.

The meetings will take place at the various different urban renewal areas to get residents ideas on what should happen in terms of development, if they should extend the borders and boundaries of that area or if they should let the urban renewal period expire for that zone. 

Councilor Ed Flynn wants to make sure residents’ voices are heard and taken seriously. 

“We want to make sure the neighborhood voice is a part of this process,” he said. “This provides great power to the BRA and at times they have not used the power in the best interest of the city.” 

However, Renee LeFevre general counsel of the BPDA ensured the council they want residents to be a part of this process. 

“Community input is of the utmost importance to us,” she said. 

BRA Urban Renewal Map

In addition to the community meetings, the BRA will hold regular office hours in every neighborhood in case residents cannot attend the meetings. Information from the meetings will be posted online and will allow for public comments.

The BRA has to create a proposal to the DHCD on what they plan on doing with the different zones. They are using these meetings as a guide on what to propose. They are hoping to finish the meetings by the end of the year and have their proposal ready by the start of 2020. 

Councilor Michelle Wu worried about the timeline and that it would be rushed. 

“It doesn’t feel like the timeline is feasible,” she said. 

Flynn agreed saying he doesn’t want this process to be rushed.

“I think we have to educate people,” he said. “Why would this benefit the neighborhood? People need to know that.” 

The BPDA said they can request more time if need be. 

They plan on holding community meetings in a few weeks and will announce a schedule soon.