Editorial: Summertime musings

A few stray thoughts while we wait for the impeachment hearings to begin:

• The neighborhood is buzzing this week with word of an impending road project that is going to make significant changes to William J. Day Boulevard. In fact, the state’s highway administration – MassDOT - has “accelerated” a plan to reorganize the boulevard that connects Southie and Dorchester.

Paul Nutting, a well-informed Savin Hill civic activist, says that the eventual plan is to bring what is now a four-lane vehicular boulevard down to a two-lane artery, with dedicated bicycle lanes and safer pedestrian crossings. The public will get an update on what has been done, and what could come next, at a public meeting set for Wed., Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Curley Community Center. Not yet scheduled — as of this date: Any new meetings on the slow-moving plan to renovate Morrissey Boulevard. Will the DCR— which is the chief agency in the mix on the Morrissey re-do— be back with revised plans in time for the fall civic schedule? It’s not clear yet.

• The biggest real estate story of the summer unfolded two weeks ago when Center Court Properties bought up two huge parcels on Morrissey Boulevard— including buildings that house the Star Market and a cluster of radio stations owned by the Beasley Media Group— for $56 million. Center Court already controlled the old WLVI-Ch. 56 building and land next store, having bought it from car magnate Herb Chambers last summer for $14.5 million.

Center Court is a bit of a mystery. The New York-based firm was reportedly in the mix to buy the now-empty Boston Globe building two years ago. But, instead the 16-acre complex was sold to the Nordblom Company, which immediately engaged the civic and political community in its planning for what will soon be The BEAT.

We don’t really know what Center Court is thinking. They’ve used LLCs to assemble the land. They’ve made no formal or informal overtures to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). At this point, given their heavy-duty investment along the boulevard, it’s time for them to pipe up and explain their thinking.

• Let’s take a moment to marvel at this edition’s Page One story, which features a gleaming new student dormitory on the UMass Boston campus with commanding views of Dorchester Bay.

Some of us are old enough to remember when the mere mention of the “d-word” would send whole sections of the olde town into a state of apoplexy. What changed in those intervening years? In diplomatic terms, the university employed “soft power” tactics .They cultivated good will and won over skeptics one by one.

But it would be folly to recount this sea change in attitude without a tip of the cap to a singular leader who should be front-and-center at next month’s formal dedication of the dorm. If the UMass system wants to do the right thing, they’ll just go ahead and call this building by its proper name— the Dr. J. Keith Motley Student Residences.

– Bill Forry

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