Letter to the Editor: NU beds on Parcel 3 bad for neighborhood

I read Stephen Babcock’s article (“Roxbury site may yield 1,400 beds”) in the June 7, 2006 Northeastern News. The article seemed very well written. I do want, however, to take this opportunity to rebut several of the statements attributed in the article to Mr. Jeff Doggett, associate director of government relations and community affairs for Northeastern University.

“The university is the sole funding source,” Doggett said. However, Parcel 3 is a Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) owned property and apparently has been since 1960. The BRA does not pay property taxes. Therefore, the value of this land in unrealized tax for the last 46 years is a contribution to the proposed bids. An annuity of assessed value over 46 years would yield almost the full value of the property. The selling price has not been disclosed in any article I have read to date.

The difference between a fair market appraisal and the BRA selling price, when it becomes known, is another contribution from the city’s taxpayers to the proposal. The heavy investments already made in this site by the city’s taxpayers make disposal of this land of great concern to the city’s residents.

“Doggett defended the proposal, calling Northeastern an essential stakeholder in the future of the site,” the article said. It is hard to believe Northeastern’s centrality when the BRA is still considering other proposals with no Northeastern components.

“‘Parcel 3 is right across from our campus’, he said. ‘No matter what goes there, we are going to be affected by it.'” Here I agree with Mr. Doggett.

Large-scale development is very frightening to both direct and near abutters. I myself am Northeastern’s near abutter over on Gainsborough Street and I become concerned when changes in my vicinity are proposed.

“The move to develop Roxbury is also in step with Northeastern’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP) process,” Doggett said. I have been a close follower of this process, attending the majority of the community task force meetings and participated to my ability. Incidentally, City Councilor Chuck Turner, also heavily quoted in the article, has been a principal participant. I agree with Chuck that this proposal does not seem to be a logical outcome from the IMP process to date.

– Marc Laderman is a board member and former president of the Fenway Community Development Committee. He is also the author of a book chronicling ongoing clashes between Northeastern and the surrounding community.

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