Attorney cites pushback from local residents, city councillors
The residents of Arcadia Street have won an improbable victory. The neighborhood formed a united front against a plan to open a restorative housing and educational facility that would serve the local homeless population at 84 Arcadia St. They were up against a developer who could move ahead with the project by right, a state law that waives zoning restrictions for such facilities and the city’s powerhouse lawyer. Ultimately, the developer and Attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio heard the residents’ concerns and decided to look for an alternative site.
“People say you can’t fight City Hall, but the residents of Arcadia Street fought and won. They stood up for their neighborhood,” said Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo, who added that he is proud of the way Arcadia Street handled the issue. “I’m thrilled, it’s just a great victory.”
D’Ambrosio said homelessness in Revere is a difficult problem that requires education and collaboration. “I’m hoping that Arcadia Street at least raises the issue that we need one of these facilities. There are 25 to 50 people living on the streets in Revere. These are people with Revere roots, Revere High grads, and these folks aren’t going away,” he said.
For D’Ambrosio, the real test is acknowledging that problem. Arcadia Street residents did acknowledge the problem and continually expressed support for this type of facility – just not on their dead-end street filled with kids and elderly residents.
But it’s not clear if people clearly understood what the planned program was and what it wasn’t. Fears about disruption in the neighborhood and safety of residents led to misunderstandings and misinformation about the project. It was not a shelter or a drug rehab facility. It was to be run as a nonprofit program with Bay Cove Human Services of Boston providing services, such as counseling and job training. Participants could not have open criminal records or histories of violent crime. It was a restorative educational program meant to help homeless residents get back up on their feet.
But Arcadia Street residents said the facility would change the character of their neighborhood, where they have invested in their homes and settled their families. They pleaded with the City Council to intervene but were told the council had no say because of the Dover Amendment, a state law which spared the developer from the need to seek zoning or council approval. But the neighborhood kept voicing their opposition, and they ultimately swayed the developer.
“We are moving ahead with what the neighborhood wants,” said D’Ambrosio. “We are working with private developers to find another site; hopefully, in a part of the city with less push back.”
A statement released by Mayor Brian Arrigo regarding the project: “I am disappointed that the proposed project on Arcadia Street, which would have provided much needed housing and support for dozens of Revere residents has been withdrawn. It’s especially disappointing given the vitriol and propaganda spread about the project. The stigma attached to those facing homelessness and substance use disorder is very real and has been on display for the last two weeks in our city. The City of Revere is committed to working with Bay Cove to find the right location and we are dedicated to seeing it through.”