Meridian Street Library-City of Boston DND open up RFP again.
RE: Meridian Street Library Boston, MA
We, the undersigned, ask you and the Department of Neighborhood Development reconsider the decision to award the development of the Meridian Street Library Project to the East Boston Community Development Corporation (EBCDC) and East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC). An announcement took the community and elected officials by surprise when it was disclosed that one of the key tenants in the redeveloped, historic building, a childcare center run by the East Boston Social Center, would not be moving in to the building. Much of the support for the selected project appeared to be with specific consideration for the child care center. Since the proposed project has significantly changed, we feel that the City of Boston and the Department of Neighborhood Development have a duty to all of the residents of East Boston to allow for a new, open process allowing all parties who previously submitted proposals to do so again. At a recent meeting of the Eagle Hill Civic Association on May 25th, 2016, the treatment of the residents in attendance by Frank Ramirez of the EBECC and Albert Caldarelli of EBCDC was one of arrogance and disdain for the opinion of those who voiced concerns that the proposed project was now dramatically different from what was originally presented and that the community should be able to have a new vetting process to decide the best use of this historic building. The shining light in the contentious meeting was Veronica Robles, who has invested nearly $500,000 of her own money in to the Veronica Robles Cultural Center and would be moving her center to the basement of the library. Ms. Robles is a well-known figure in East Boston for providing the community with the music, art, dance, culture and food of Mexico and other Latin American countries. She is the only party involved in the selected project to have made a personal financial commitment to the selected project. We are dismayed to now learn that her name would not be on the deed of the building, leaving her vulnerable to being pushed out of the building in the future. Mr. Caldarelli and Mr. Ramirez have no skin in the game as they rely on government funding and grants to run their organizations. Right next to the Meridian Street Library is a high end, market rate development near completion: The Seville Theater Condominiums. The condos are selling for mid-six figures. The facilities next door would be an ideal place for a mix of culture, commerce and business not reliant on government funding or grants and true job creators. Imagine an evening enjoying music at the Veronica Robles Cultural Center followed by dinner where patrons can enjoy a sampling of food representative of the cultural diaspora that makes East Boston one of the best places in the city to eat. The carved sign above the entrance to the Meridian Street Library is “Free To All”. The people of East Boston deserve a chance to have this historic, beloved building truly keep that motto in place. With the right forward thinking, imaginative minds, it can provide services for all of us, regardless of immigration or socio-economic status. We urge you to stay true to the mission of serving the public and let the community have a voice by having an open, transparent process to reconsider this development.
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