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Dorchester discusses ideas for vacant city lots

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 19, 2012 11:52 AM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

Residents gathered at the Great Hall in Codman Square Wednesday night to discuss their vision for vacant city-owned properties.

Community members from Dorchester were at the Great Hall in Codman Square Wednesday night to discuss what they would like to see developed at a series of vacant city-owned properties throughout their neighborhood.

The city’s Department of Neighborhood Development recently announced that it would be putting out Request for Proposals for 12 vacant lots located on Milton Avenue, Balina Place, Norfolk Street, Woodrow Avenue and Southern Avenue.

“We are trying to put them [properties] back to productive use,” said Reay Pannesi, senior project manager for real estate sales at the Department of Neighborhood Development.

The department went before the community Wednesday to find out exactly what kind of development neighbors would like to see.

Early in the discussion, which attracted more than 50 residents, it was clear that many in the neighborhood didn’t want to see the spaces filled with new residential or commercial developments.

“We definitely need more green space and no more big buildings,” said Carla Webster. “We do have concerns about what’s going on in our neighborhood. Why do you keep building big buildings around here?”

Green space seemed to be the hot topic of the night with many residents very supportive of the idea of bringing open space and community gardens to the neighborhood.

“We know this neighborhood is changing,” said another resident, Liz Cressy. “New business and residential projects are coming in and if we don’t act now the green space isn’t going to be there.”

Others didn’t think green space is the best solution to create a positive impact on the neighborhood.

“I think we need something for the teens. That’s what we should be focusing on,” said Joseph Pizziferri.

Moriah Nelson agreed, although she said she liked the idea of more green space, she said a center for teens might be beneficial.

“I support green space, but I don’t think all the space should be turned into green space,” said Nelson. “I’d be in support of a youth center and I know [neighbors] would be willing to work together.”

Others also voiced that a space for teens may be good idea, although it didn’t necessarily have to be a teen center.

“Maybe we could build a ramp space so they [youth] have somewhere to go [skateboard], so they don’t have to use the sidewalks and be in the road,” said Carla Webster.

DND said they are open to all ideas but mentioned that the properties won't being given away for free, however select properties could be offered at a reduced rate, if a nonprofit or community based group would like to purchase the plots.

Though green space and teen centers were the favorites of the night, some suggested the possibility of using the space for parking.

“Maybe these properties could be used for additional parking,” said Pastor Montgomery of the Prayer Tower Apostolic Church, located on Norfolk Street.

Resident Ben Cressy also thought more parking could benefit the neighborhood.

“I think the addition of parking could help reduce congestion and traffic,” said Cressy.

Many cited that the addition of parking could help elderly churchgoers and families but many in attendance stuck behind the idea of creating more green space and community gathering places.

“Just like there is not one kind of building, there is not just one kind of green space,” said Jenny Silverman. “I think a healthy community needs spaces for people to come together.”

Still early in the process, DND representatives said that Wednesday's meeting was a very important first step for the project and they will definitely look to integrate resident’s ideas into their proposals.

Currently there are no future community meetings scheduled to discuss the properties but DND representatives said they will be back before the community before RFP's are sent out to bid.

No date has been set for when the properties would be placed for sale, although DND representatives acknowledged that they would like to get the process started as soon as possible.

The properties that are proposed to be put up for sale are: 9 Milton Ave. (5,822-square-feet), 11-15A Milton Ave. (2,436-square-feet), 9 Balina Pl. (2,743-square-feet), 175-177 Norfolk St. (4,730-square-feet), 4-6 Woodrow Ave. (2,644-square-feet), 2 Woodrow Ave. (2,862-square-feet), 145-149 Norfolk St. (2,707-square-feet), 93 Norfolk St. (3,235-square-feet), 106 Norfolk St. (4,858-square-feet), 131 Southern Ave.(4,000-square-feet) and 133 Southern Ave. (5,943-square-feet).

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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