Glover’s planning effort hits the street to get feedback

A sidewalk workshop outside the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester on July 31.
Jonathan Ng photo

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held an outdoor workshop on Tues., July 31, at three sites in Savin Hill and the Glover’s Corner neighborhood to give residents and passersby their chance to talk about what the village could look like in years to come.

The BPDA hoped people would come by the Savin Hill T station or the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester to talk about a variety of topics, including climate change, transportation, housing, and economic development in the village.

The reaction by attendees touched on a number of topics.

Oriah Geddes, a middle schooler, told BPDA staffers about her family’s financial situation. “I see my mom struggle through having to pay rent and taking care of me and my brother and it’s a hard thing,” she said.

Several residents said they aligned themselves with Dorchester Not For Sale, an advocacy group that says affordable housing is central to their cause.

Ngoc-Tran Vu, an organizer for the group, criticized the unfettered speculation and ongoing development in the neighborhood. “What we do not want to be is the next South Boston,” she said. “We’re so tired of houses being put on the market and rising rents around developments that are happening. Our neighborhood shouldn’t be compromised by economic development. It’s not for sale. People can’t just come in with money and buy up our community. That’s really where our sentiments come from.”

Viktorija Abolina, an assistant deputy director for the BPDA, said she understands why residents are concerned about affordable housing whenever the topic of development is brought to the fore.

“It is a pressing issue and we hear that concern not only in this neighborhood, but also across the city,” Abolina said.

“However,” she added, “we also need to address these other concerns and also opportunities for businesses or resiliency, for transportation, and so forth because there is going to be continued development pressure on the area. If we only focus on one aspect, we lose. It’s really an opportunity to think holistically about the place and not address only one issue.”

In the fall, Abolina said, the BPDA will talk with residents about affordable housing and “what is actually feasible on this land in today’s market or in terms of commercial space.”

The agency began soliciting feedback for the village a year and a half ago, following the release of the Glover’s Corner planning study in January 2018 which reported that nearly a third of renting households in the community are “considered severely burdened and pay more than 50 percent of their income for rent.”

As to having sessions streetside, Abolina said that if a meeting is held indoors, “we get the usual suspects. The point of having it outside is to get folks that live in the neighborhood become curious about the process and join our fall meetings. Hopefully, we get more voices from these workshops.”