When I read the news about that “restorative, educational housing” plan for the Oak Island neighborhood near Revere Beach being staffed by Bay Cove Human Services in the Revere Advocate (February 10), I knew advocates for this type of housing program would not be received well by homeowners and residents, especially those living on or near a quiet dead-end road.
If anything, the opposition to this idea has only grown more vocal. Last week, this news item hit the Boston Herald on February 16 with the announcement that community residents would be holding a public protest.
I guess in order to get around neighborhood opposition and getting turned down by the powers that be at City Hall, all you have to do is throw the word “educational” in the mix, and developers get to use the Dover Amendment, a state statute to exempt a proposal from zoning restrictions and prevent city councillors from having any say in the matter.
I don’t know about you but when someone tries to sneak in something by finding a statute that takes away the rights of a neighborhood, city or its elected officials from stopping it, it may be a legal method of building something but instantly you’ve created a neighborhood against you. That can’t be good for people in need of services.
Do you have a feeling like me that they threw the word “educational” into the mix to ram something down the unwilling throats of neighbors concerned about the safety of their neighborhood? The attorney for the developers points out this site is not going to be a detox center or sober house. It will provide psychiatric care, drug counseling and vocational training. Taking the homeless off the streets of Revere is a laudable goal.
Can I tell you something? I am friends with Attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio who represents the developers of this 5,000-square-foot facility. I’ve seen a photo of the vacant three family and I’ve seen an architectural drawing of the planned facility. I must say it does seem large, leaving an outsized footprint on this neighborhood road. I hear what D’Ambrosio is saying; if there is disinformation out there and if there is any peddling of fear, it most likely is fueled by the method in which supporters of this facility pushed its way into the neighborhood creating immediate tensions. Using the Dover Amendment is seen by the neighborhood as incoming fire.
If the hope was to see this planned facility becoming part of the neighborhood, this was not the best way to form any kind of bond with the abutters of this property.
This proposed center will most likely push its way in but the relations with the city and residents afterwards will produce more headaches than community bonding. It is one thing to knock on your neighbor’s door to introduce yourself but another thing to enter the street like an army taking over your street.
More discussion, much more talking is necessary if the backers of this center want things to work out for everyone. Just thinking – just because you have an amendment on your side, doesn’t mean you have to weaponize it.