Seeing an opportunity for a public-private partnership on a subdivided lot adjacent to the McCormack and Dever schools on Mt. Vernon Street, Boston Public School officials are seeking input into the best use of the property, BPS Chief of Staff Robert Consalvo said at a Monday night meeting of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association.
The 315-325 Mt. Vernon St. site is being weighed for potential infrastructure improvements and upgrades, with an eye toward the new high school slated for the McCormack site itself.
This is an early leg of the parcel planning process, Consalvo said. In fact, he added, “there is no plan.”
A School Committee resolution from this year states that “BPS wishes to explore opportunities to maximize possible use(s) of the Land for the benefit of Dever and McCormack school students, as well as students at nearby BPS schools and the surrounding community.”
The school department would retain control of the parcel, but partner with the city’s housing arm and local groups to solicit feedback and ideas to create a Request for Information on the land. A draft RFI proposal could be presented to School Committee and community in the new year.
Makeeba McCreary, managing partner of external affairs at BPS, said they have gone to the Harbor Point community group, as they live near the site, and those at the meeting expressed a desire to see the property used for outdoor recreational space and not for housing.
Meeting attendees floated a few ideas while noting that the parcel was a bit small for a standard soccer field. Civic president Desmond Rohan mentioned a New York sports club that has a dual-level grassy field and recreational athletic facility.
The McCormack Middle School will be closed after the 2019-2010 school year as part of the BuildBPS plan to shutter all middle schools to streamline the grade configurations across the district.
It will re-open in 2022 as a 7-12 high school, after a year or so of renovations. The McCormack community, along with the central office, will work to get a new high school partner to move into the school.
“This represents an evolution in planning since the October 17 recommendation to the School Committee and is responsive to the feedback BPS has received from the McCormack community since that time,” Consalvo said, reading from a prepared packet.
The school department is working to figure out transition space for the 7th and 8th graders currently at the McCormack. Excel High School, which was initially floated as the high school partner for the school, “remains a possibility,” according to the BPS presentation. Future meetings are scheduled as part of the $1 billion BuildBPS facilities plan.
City Councillor Annissa Essaibi-George said she would rather not see the decision-making move so quickly before it is known for certain what the structural plans are for the renovated McCormack. McCreary noted that the footprint of the school building would not change.