February 23, 2022
The Epiphany School this week said it hopes to buy the Fitzpatrick Brothers auto body shop property near the Shawmut MBTA Station. The site, long the center of a controversy over various plans for its re-development, is currently under consideration for the construction of an 81-unit apartment development by Trinity Financial.
Epiphany has operated a middle school adjacent to the property for more than 15 years. The Fitzpatrick Bros. site has seen several development proposals over the years that drew neighborhood opposition, and Epiphany School had never before publicly expressed interest in buying the property, said Head of School Rev. John Finley.
That recently changed, he said, as the school has started a strategic planning process and identified the Fitzpatrick property as a space that could possibly serve the school well going forward. In addition to the middle school, Epiphany owns a parking lot abutting the Fitzpatrick property.
“What we’re saying right now is we’re very interested in acquiring it,” Finley said on Friday, following last week’s well-attended Melville Park Association (MPA) meeting that focused on Trinity’s latest proposal for the site.
“I can’t say we’re planning to expand to an elementary school or anything yet,” he said. “I can’t say what we’d do with it because we don’t know yet. We’ve only just started our strategic planning process…In all likelihood, we would let Fitzpatrick Brothers stay there as long as they need to because we wouldn’t have an immediate need. It is accurate to say we are … very seriously interested. We’re not expecting the Fitzpatrick Brothers to give it to us.”
Epiphany School operates a grade 5-8 school next to Fitzpatrick, and some years ago purchased property on Centre Street next to the Henderson School — formerly the O’Hearn School — for an expansion. At that property, it houses an age 0 to pre-kindergarten Early Learning Center and the teaching staff – many of whom live on campus as part of the Epiphany model. The school is private, but free to students and donor funded.
Finley said the Fitzpatrick Brothers have been wonderful neighbors and many Epiphany students have had their first jobs with that company.
Neighbors at the Melville Park Association meeting on Thursday said they had heard that Epiphany was interested, and many in the room said they preferred that outcome to any development plan from Trinity Financial.
“We’re really pleased the Epiphany School is looking to pursue that lot,” said abutter Rachel Kemper.
Epiphany’s planning process has featured early meetings with sub-committees focused on buildings and grounds; the middle school; the early learning center; and investments. The theme, Finley said, is “sustainability.”