By Michael Coughlin Jr.
Residents still have concerns about parking and safety regarding the proposed 9 McKay Place development as project representatives provided updated plans at the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) meeting on Monday, Nov. 28.
The proposed development, comprised of five stories and 41 units, was initially presented to the GSCA in February of 2021 and since then has seen some updates.
One of the most significant updates comes from a partnership with a popular East Boston non-profit organization. The project would commit 1,200 square feet of the ground floor for Eastie Farm.
“We don’t really have indoor space. We kind of walk around with our laptops looking for a café or somewhere to sit and have our meetings – but it would be nice to have some indoor space which is offered here, so we appreciate that,” said Eastie Farm Director Kannan Thiruvengadam.
Not only would this partnership benefit the non-profit, but it could also benefit the community as a whole, as Eastie Farm would have more space to store food that it gives out and be an area to teach residents about cooking and more.
Other updates include increasing parking spaces from 27 spaces to 36 as well as kicking back the fifth story of the building to alleviate the building’s sense of size. Maneuvering the fifth story also allows room for a rooftop garden patio.
Although some who attended the GSCA meeting praised aspects of the project, some still maintained that parking is a huge issue.
Citing the addition of cars as more units come to areas like Cottage Street, Kaitlin Andryauskas explained that there are just not enough parking spots, especially if this project were to be approved.
She also mentioned it is a safety issue saying, “When I come home late at night, it starts getting unsafe when I have to park this far away from my house.”
“I love the design, I love the partnership with Eastie Farm, but it’s getting to the point – it’s really problematic – the parking,” said Andryauskas.
Alexandra Zuluaga also expressed her frustration explaining that her father needs to search for almost an hour nightly to find parking in the area.
“Honestly, I know that you increased the amount of parking spots by 30% – good job – for me, I mean, the minimum is a one-to-one ratio at this point. I mean, there’s just no place else,” said Zuluaga.
While parking is undoubtedly a significant issue, safety is another, considering the Donald McKay School is a direct abutter to the proposed development.
Jason Meland, the school’s principal, outlined his concerns explaining that 90% of students live within one mile of the school, meaning many kids and their families walk to school.
Meland voiced that he wanted to hear plans for minimizing traffic disruption during potential construction in a high-traffic area with kids making their way to and from school.
He also mentioned apprehensions about dust production during construction as students spend a lot of time outside in a recess yard right behind the job site.
“As the school principal, my primary responsibility is the safety of our school, our students, and their families,” said Meland.
Susan Huang, the Director of Operations at the Donald McKay School, echoed Meland’s sentiment saying, “I do think the size and scope of the project raises safety concerns for our students and families, and I just hope that the developers will take these points into consideration.”
Overall, the project seems to have made some moves to quell concerns, but it is clear that residents are still worried about the issues it could cause.
However, Armindo Goncalves, who presented the updated plans, took all the feedback Monday and emphasized that this meeting is only the beginning of a community discussion.
“This is the beginning of a discussion and so let’s start that today, and hopefully, we’ll come up with something again we can all be proud of,” said Goncalves.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) will hold a virtual public meeting to field more comments on the project Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. Further, the public comment period is open until Friday, Dec. 16.
To leave public comments and register for the upcoming public meeting, residents can visit https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/9-mckay-place.