The Walsh Corporation, a Dorchester-based construction contractor with an office on Park Street, is being forced to move a storage site for their equipment yet again.
Last year, the company was asked to leave a site on Columbia Point on land owned by St. Christopher's Church, possibly because at least one neighbor complained of dust and particulates being released into the air. Since then another Walsh storage site has sprung up directly adjacent to the Morton Street commuter rail station in Mattapan, near the center of a growing business area. Asthma is a common ailment in both areas, and some neighbors to the site raised an alarm.
"At the bus stop that dirt would be pouring right into people's faces, their babies, older people, it was like a dust storm," said Danny Hardaway, who co-owns the Final Touch with Class boutique across the street and also heads up the Morton Street Board of Trade. Hardaway said several people came into his store across the street to ask what was going on.
Compounding the issue, at least for the board of trade, was the fact that the site leased to Walsh by Claudio Poles - who also co-owns the new Economy Plumbing warehouse - reportedly destined to be a mixed-use office and retail development that would help bring more shoppers into the neighborhood. According to Pat Walsh, owner of Walsh Corp, Poles was trying to temporarily support the property taxes he pays for the property for two or three years until the mixed-use project could be built. But Hardaway said he had suspicions the arrangement would last longer. Walsh on the other hand said the dust was minor, and he could mitigate it.
"The first time I had available to meet [the Morton Street Board of Trade] was February and we were there," said Walsh. "They had concerns about the dust. I said, 'Whatever you need I'll do.' I'm not here to dust it up and create nuclear bombs. I'm here to work with the neighborhood."
On April 8, Walsh representatives appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) and asked for a variance that would have zoned the site for light industrial use.
"The board disapproved of the fact that only when [Walsh Corp] got caught, they came in to get permits," said assistant commissioner of the Inspectional Services Department Darryl Smith. "So they denied them the permits altogether."
Walsh admitted he didn't have permits at the time, but Barbara Crichlow of the West Selden Street Neighborhood Association was still sympathetic to the arrangement.
"What Economy Plumbing was trying to do was get somebody to help temporarily pay their property taxes," said Crichlow. "It's that and because of the delay of the opening of their business at that site."
Crichlow added that the site used to be a staging area for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, "nobody was complaining about it then because it was a city project," she said.
"They have 20 days to appeal," said Smith. "If they don't appeal we are prepped to go to the judge to ask them to leave the site within 30 days."
Additionally, part of Walsh's contract with Claudio Poles stipulated that a lack of the proper permits would be a breach of contract, according to a number of sources.
"Basically, after the ZBA didn't give them a permit we gave him an eviction notice," said Livio Poles, Claudio Poles' brother and business partner. "I think it was delivered a few days ago, but you know you have to go through a constable and all so I'm not sure of the date. We haven't gotten a response from the contractor yet. I know he curtailed his activity way down after the response from the neighborhood."
Claudio Poles didn't immediately return a call for comment.
"We'll be leaving that site," Walsh said. "We're trying to stay in Dorchester, that's where our roots are. We've been here 20 plus years... I thought [that site] would be good for business, because we work with plumbers. I thought maybe we could do some sort of landscaping supply, even though it's temporary.
"People can't just turn around and say to us businesses: 'Support the community, give our kids some place to work.,'" Walsh said. "I need some place to be. Because we're construction, they don't want to have anything to do with us."