To the Editor: Time for Trinity to withdraw its Shawmut development plan

To the Editor:

I have been a resident of the Melville Park neighborhood of Dorchester for 36 years, and in that time have seen much change.  I have been active in the Melville Park Association, one of the many associations established throughout the city with the support of the various administrations to assist in addressing local issues.  

For the past six years our neighborhood has been dealing with a proposed development by Trinity Financial of the Fitzpatrick Auto Body lot on Centre Street.  The company’s proposal is for a 4-story, 74-unit building with no parking.  The Melville Park Association, St Mark Neighborhood Association, Codman Square Association, Friends of Loesch Park, the abutters, and Epiphany School are all in opposition to the development. The Build Together website, developed by neighbors to support proper development of the site, currently has more than 900 individuals who have signed on to our vision. 

My concern is that the proposed development does not address the needs of the neighborhood or respect its character.  The neighborhood is currently zoned for one- and two-family homes and is designated an architectural overlay district. 
The Epiphany School, a valued part of our neighborhood, owns a lot adjacent to the Fitzpatrick parcel, which is currently used by the school as a parking lot.  Epiphany is an independent school for economically disadvantaged families with financial aid for all students, who get a level of education that the city is sadly unable to provide.  But Epiphany needs to expand, and it now has the funds to purchase the Fitzpatrick site.  This would allow for a plan that would include development of the parking lot.  Epiphany would partner with a not-for-profit developer to build affordable housing on the Centre Street end of the lot that would be for larger family units more in line with the architecture of the neighborhood.  

This plan would address Epiphany’s needs, the city’s need for additional affordable housing, and the neighborhood’s and abutters’ hope for development that conforms with the character of the neighborhood.  Trinity’s proposal will give us a building out of scale and character with the neighborhood and leave a parking lot that most likely cannot be developed.     

While the mayor initially said she would abolish the BPDA, after she was elected that stance morphed into reforming the agency over time.  My experience has been that there has been little to no change in the agency’s approach. It still appears to be to support the developers at the expense of the neighborhood. It is evident that the city has no master plan for development. 

Our neighborhood does, however, have a vision for the Fitzpatrick site that would benefit everyone as I detailed above.  So, my final comment is to Trinity:  You have done a lot of good in Dorchester, and also benefited financially from it.  Now is the time for you to step away from your Centre Street project to allow Epiphany to purchase the property to expand their outreach to children in desperate need of a quality education and to ensure that our neighborhood will maintain its character. 

Domenic Accetta
Wellesley Park

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