Civic group says no to Neponset Ave. center

By 
Lauren Dezenski, Reporter Staff
Jun. 18, 2014

The owners of a proposed adult daycare center at the corner of Neponset Avenue and Victory Road pledge to push on with their business plan after the Clam Point Civic Association unanimously voted to oppose the project at their June meeting.

Partners Hung Ngyen and Vi Tran say they have already invested some $700,000 into the property at 51-55 Neponset Ave. with the hope of opening a 69-person, full-service adult daycare. The proponents have not secured the necessary city approvals to open as an adult day center— a process that is still ongoing and with an outcome that is far from certain.

Nguyen and Tran co-own the nonprofit Boston Nutrition Care, Inc., or BNC, also known as Trung Tam Tuoi Vang, which would run the daycare. They argue that the center would fulfill the needs of the neighborhood’s aging community while filling a vacant Neponset Avenue office building. The proposed center would include full- and part-time services for the seniors, including an on-site doctor, physical therapy, a beauty parlor, and recreational activities.

“We are definitely committed to this,” said Tran in an interview with the Reporter on Tuesday. “We want to make sure this works and it’s meaningful for adults in the neighborhood.”

“The proponents of this project have been engaging with the area civic associations and in the prescribed public process,” Kate Norton, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. However, she added: “There appear to be a number of unresolved issues with this particular proposal at this point.”

Many of those issues came to a head on June 9, when Nguyen and Tran asked the Clam Point Civic Association to approve space in front of the building for a designated customer pick-up and drop-off zone. The spaces would set aside 15-minute parking from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to allow access for private busses or handicapped transit services such as The Ride.

Many community members immediately took issue with the spaces, calling the potential for more congestion at the already tight intersection “a big problem.”

In what became a tense and emotional meeting, attendees also strongly questioned the building’s capacity. In particular, they wondered how 69 people would fit comfortably into the 3,000 square foot, single-story building, whether the sidewalks were wide enough to be handicap accessible, and the suitability of the location as a whole.

“Have you looked at any other sites?” one person asked.

His voice shaking, Nguyen said they would not go to any other sites because they had already invested so much in the Neponset Avenue location.

Those investments, Tran said Tuesday, were over $700,000 in renovations to the building’s interior over the last two years to bring it up to state and federal code for adult daycares.

“We invested so much,” Tran said. “Everything is up to date. We can’t go anywhere else.”

Before the vote, association President Kathy Lynch addressed Tran and Nguyen.

“I just don’t think the community can support it,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t think this is the right location.”

All 18 voting members at the meeting voted against the proposal.

In February, the city refused BNC’s zoning change request to add a day health center within the building that was previously only zoned for office space. The city’s Inspectional Services Department’s Planning and Zoning Division cited neighborhood zoning regulations: the building’s use was not within the city’s defined allowed or conditional uses.

Tran and Nguyen appealed the decision. The city heard an appeal on Tues, June 17, but the outcome of the hearing remains undetermined at press time. Ahead of the hearing, BNC sent letters to community members, asking for them to sign a petition in support of the project.
Tran and Nguyen say they are want to address to concerns with the project and plan a return visit to the Clam Point Civic Association in November.

“Right now, we can’t understand the neighborhood requirements and we’re trying to do stuff for the project and we need a lot of help from the city,” Tran said. Ahead of the fall civic meeting, he said, “We need more help and ideas from the community.”

That help is coming, Norton said, as it would be for all other developers going through this process.

“The city always seeks to support and foster local businesses that will contribute to our neighborhood and economy, ” said Norton.
“However, it is too early to determine if this project is viable for this location.”

Gregory Sullivan, vice president of Clam Point Civic, echoed the current concerns of both the association and the city.

“It’s a good concept,” said Sullivan. “It will provide jobs and business opportunities to the local economy. And it certainly will inhabit a business location that will be perfect once it’s found. But that’s not the location at all.”