Civic leader pushes for St. Ann's traffic study

The president of the Pope's Hill Neighborhood Association this week hit planners of the new Pope John Paul II Academy for lack of a traffic study for its Neponset campus.

"I think the community is getting the short shrift," said Phil Carver, speaking at a community meeting at the Murphy School on Monday evening.

Neponset Ave. is "already a nightmare," Carver said, with parents picking up and dropping off students at the Murphy School and a nearby charter school.

Suffolk Construction is renovating St. Ann's School this summer, adding classroom space to the tune of six rooms. Planners hope to have teachers moving in to the expanded space by August 25.

Architects and Suffolk Construction officials defended pressing ahead without a traffic study, noting that they tend to cost between $8,000 and $12,000. The school will only be adding 30 students, they said.

"It was a school before we started, it will be a school when we're done," said Paul Ferolito Jr., project manager for Suffolk.

Carver said he had received 30 e-mails over the issue. The school is also extending the school day, he noted, to 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., from 8:10 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.

"You're jamming 50 pounds of school into a 20-pound bag," he said.

Rev. Sean Connor, the new pastor at St. Ann's parish, was reluctant to delay the construction work or to carve up part of the parish campus to create more parking.

"The Dorchester parishes are being saved by this," he said of the new central grammar school system.

A landlord whose apartments are across from the construction site also raised concerns, complaining of workers continuing to build until 10 p.m., throwing trash out into the gutter, and throwing metal into the dumpster late at night.

"It's torture," said Eric Gould, adding that he had no issue with the school getting built.

"We'll work with you, absolutely," Ferolito said, handing out his cell number, as well the phone number of the full-time project superintendent.

The community meeting came ahead of a public hearing scheduled for July 1 before Boston's Zoning Board of Appeal. The hearing will be on the plans for the school, including renovation and relocation of it, construction of a building to house a gym, auditorium, classrooms, labs and offices.

The zoning board hearing will take place at 10:30 am in Boston City Hall's Room 801.