BPDA to Hold Two More Suffolk Downs Meetings

The Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Molly McGlynn is reminding East Boston residents there are still two more opportunities to participate in a virtual community meeting regarding the Suffolk Downs proposal. 

McGlynn added that residents still have time to weigh in on the project through the Public Comment Period. 

“The meetings will include Spanish and Arabic translation, and are posted to our website here: www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/suffolk-downs,” said McGlynn. “As part of these meetings, the agency will be seeking additional community input on the project through August 21. 

The remaining virtual BPDA meetings are scheduled for Thursday, August 20 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and Tuesday, August 25 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 

McGlynn added the virtual meetings are being held to facilitate additional outreach to Spanish- and Arabic- speaking residents, as part of the BPDA’s review of the project. At each meeting, there will be a presentation by the proponent that will provide an overview of the project, anticipated impacts, and proposed mitigation.

Following the presentation, members of the public will be given an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments and feedback. Simultaneous translation services will be provided through the Zoom platform. Suffolk Downs project documents have been translated into Spanish and Arabic, and these are available to the public on the BPDA’s and project proponent’s websites.

With the BPDA poised to approve the 161-acre Suffolk Downs mixed-use project the community process came under some criticism that resulted in a civil rights complaint by the Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR). LCR filed the civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) back in February. 

The complaint charges that the BPDA has violated federal civil rights law by failing to make the Suffolk Downs review process accessible to non-English speakers. 

According to the complaint filed on behalf of GreenRoots, Inc. and City Life/Vida Urbana, LCR is asking HUD to halt the project until the BPDA comes into full compliance with federal laws, and urge the City of Boston to voluntarily conduct an independent language access audit of all city agencies.

“We are not anti-development. We are pro-growth—smart and equitable growth,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights. “The BPDA was well aware that a significant percentage of East Boston residents speak primarily Spanish or Arabic. By failing to hire interpreters versed in the language of planning or zoning, or to translate key documents, the BPDA is effectively excluding immigrant residents of East Boston from the development process. Under well-settled federal law, this exclusion constitutes national origin discrimination.”

If approved, the project will create an entirely new neighborhood in the heart of Eastie, a historically working-class community with a significant non-English speaking population.

McGlynn said each meeting will be hosted online, using Zoom. 

“You must register for each meeting through the links provided below, then you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting,” she said. “You will also receive an email before the meeting regarding technical assistance. The meeting will open about 20 minutes before the start time for each meeting for you to join and troubleshoot any technical issues, including respecting simultaneous translation services. If you’re calling in by phone, you’ll need to download the Zoom application to see the presentation and access language interpretation.”

The registration links to the remaining meetings are:

• Thursday, August 20 from 6:00  – 8:00 p.m. Virtual Public Meeting Register at:

www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN__naaekh-TpSUJKEKsYu5Dg

Call-in Options (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 669-254-5252 or +1 646-828-7666 or 833-568-8864 (Toll Free)

Webinar ID: 161 409 0862

International numbers available: www.zoomgov.com/u/acd1SnBXZk

• Tuesday, August 25 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Virtual Public Meeting Register at:

www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_f8aIxORdQCaW3WmOWvMRIQ

Call-in Options (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 669 254 5252 or +1 646 828 7666 or 833 568 8864 (Toll Free)

Webinar ID: 160 286 0002

International numbers available: www.zoomgov.com/u/adXVG3tGDX

Public comments may be submitted, including in Spanish and Arabic, via the BPDA’s project website located at www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/suffolk-downs, via email to [email protected], or through the mail to Raul Duverge, Senior Project Manager, BPDA, One City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201.

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