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[Note: This article concerns a disposition begun prior to Outside Section 548.]

Developers discuss concerns from residents over Waterworks complex
The Heights (Boston College) April 15, 2003
By Michelle Sanders

Local residents voiced their concerns and asked developers questions about their design plans for the Chestnut Hill Reservoir Waterworks site In a question-and-answer period held at the Taft Middle School in Brighton last Tuesday.

Residents had a two-minute time limit for asking their questions, and the development teams were limited to three-minute responses. Residents were not permitted to ask questions about finances under rules from the Commonwealth’s Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM). The evening began with community members addressing specific development teams about their design plans. Concerns ranged from the placement of fences on the site to the overall design of the buildings.

Residents then asked general questions that all three developers answered. Concerns about parking and the construction timeline were raised. Diamond and Company Inc. and the Boston Development Group plan to begin renovating and restoring the old Waterworks buildings at the same time they begin construction on a new building. They both plan to finish both projects in the spring of 2006. Raj Dhanda’s plans call for a process in phases begining with the restoration of existing buildings and then new construction. He estimates to complete the project by 2007.

“In this market, with units of this price, to build everything at once is a very big mistake,” said Dhanda. “Phasing is absolutely necessary.”

The units are expected to cost between a million and a million and a half dollars.

Although specific financial questions were not allowed, financial tactics of the three developers were discussed. Diamond and Company, Inc. and the Boston Development Group both have partnerships with investors to fund their projects. Dhanda plans to fund his venture through profits gained from the spa, restaurant, and condos included in his phased construction plan.

Traffic was another community concern discussed at the meeting. Boston Development Group plans to cut down the curbs and design small roads within the campus area to create a separation of public and private space. Merrill Diamond of Diamond and Company, Inc. said that traffic was the primary reason for omitting a spa in his plans. Dhanda’s team wishes to relocate the tennis courts at Cassidy Park and eliminate the road currently separating the park and the Waterworks site.

“It will be a nightmare while construction is going on,” said Donna Drvaric, a Brighton resident. “We’re hopeful that the results will uplift the overall area, but I’m not totally convinced it will bring up the entire area. It may be self-serving for the developers.”

Toward the end of the meeting, residents wanted to ask DCAM questions about the proposals and the process of choosing one development team over the others. DCAM would not answer any questions, but will hold a separate event with residents on an unspecified date in the future.

Some residents expressed frustration at DCAM’s decision not to field questions from the audience. “It’s like they are a secret organization or something,” said area resident Richard Marquez.

“I take a cynical view toward processes like this,” said an East Brookline resident present at the meeting. “If you like sausage, you don’t want to see it being made. This is like seeing sausage being made.”

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