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Complaint to HUD on Malden park deal

Posted by Marcia Dick  September 17, 2010 10:04 AM

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The following is the complaint letter sent to HUD by the Concerned Citizens of Malden:

Mr. Robert Paquin
Office of Community Planning and Development
10 Causeway Street Suite 535
Boston, MA 02222-1092

Dear Mr. Paquin,

We are contacting your office as the Concerned Citizens of Malden. We formed our group due to our unanswered questions and concerns surrounding the renovations and subsequent lease/and possible sale of the Roosevelt Park in Malden. The renovations are being partially funded by Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

Our issue with this renovation is the agreement drawn up between the City of Malden and the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. In this agreement, the Charter School is to pay $378,000.00 toward the renovation, in return, the Charter School will have an exclusive use agreement of the park from 4-6PM, everyday, in addition to weekend hours (see attached signed document).

Our issues concern lack of transparency on behalf of the city leaders, conflict of interest between the parties involved in the agreement, use of the field by non Malden students who are not primarily low to moderate income children, the fact that the City entered into this agreement without informing all city leaders, all organizations who use the park, and Malden Public Schools officials about the upcoming renovation, and the inability of City officials to answer questions and concerns posed to them through letters and community meetings.

The city has not included citizen concerns in their annual plan (see attached). The mayor has close ties to the officers of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. Mr. Neil Kinnon is a current city councilor in Malden, he is also the founder and CEO of the MVRCS. Mr. Kinnon also served as the mayor’s campaign manager. Both gentlemen have children who attend or graduated from the MVRCS. Although Mr. Kinnon claims to have recused himself from the agreement, he also states that he had discussions about the renovation over a year ago with an outgoing councilor.

The Charter school educates children from over 13 communities and all of these students will have use of the park. The total population of students attending the Charter school from Malden is 500 while the Malden Public Schools educates 6700 students. The Charter school does not have a large percentage of low income students or students who receive free or reduced lunch, yet this park will be used by these students during prime playing time. CBDG rules state that the City has an obligation to notify all parties who use the facilities. This did not happen. School officials who will be directly impacted by the construction were not notified. Sporting organizations were not notified. Afterschool programs were not notified and the Malden High School Band which practices on the field were also not notified of the renovation or of the agreement with the Charter school.

We are asking the officials at your office to please investigate the use of CDBG funds for this project and to determine if these funds are being used appropriately, without conflict or disregard for the low and moderate income residents to which these funds are targeted.

Your help is truly appreciated. Please inform us once a determination has been made by Community Planning and Development officials at your office.

Sincerely yours,

Kathleen Sullivan, Secretary
Concerned Citizens of Malden

Anita LaFauci, President
Emma Taddeo, Treasurer
Penny Gordon
Sarah Strayer
Louise London Choate
Cathy MacDonald
Patricia Tramondozzi

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