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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Statement by UMass Boston Chancellor Jo Ann Gora To Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association May 15, 2002

On behalf of the UMass Boston community, I would like to thank the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association for allowing the university the opportunity to make a statement tonight regarding the university’s dorms project.

Over the course of the last few months, it has become clear to us that the process we established back in November to address the community’s concerns about the impact of residential housing on its neighborhood has not been as effective as we had hoped. After the UMass Board of Trustees voted to do a feasibility study on limited housing at UMass Liaison Group, which is composed of representatives of the campus’ neighbors both on the point and in Savin Hill. Our intention, when establishing this group, was to provide a forum for its members to share their concerns and any issues surrounding this project. The university, in turn, would then present these concerns at our internal housing meetings for consideration. Unfortunately, while we acted in good faith, our intentions have not produced the outcomes we had hoped. This has been made ever so clear to us in the last few weeks, when we have been contacted by several public officials, including Senator Hart, City Councilor Maureen Feeney, Representative Walsh, and City Council President Michael Flaherty.

Because of the concerns expressed by our elected officials, as well as Bill Cotter, chair of your UMass Boston housing sub-committee, the university will conduct a community impact study, in addition to the originally planned feasibility study. This study will begin once the feasibility study has been completed on June 1. The results of the feasibility study will tell the university if the dorms project can be managed in terms of the university’s needs and resources. Issues like land availability, permitting, location, size, etc. will all be addressed in that study. However, the university will not move forward on the dorms project until the community impact study is completed, which we believe will address the community’s concerns are addressed. Such issues as parking, transportation, and security in the neighborhoods surrounding our campus will be examined in the community impact study.

We hope very much that the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association will appoint one of its members to work with the university on the community impact study to help us define the issues.

We believe that this initiative and new approach will help to rebuild the good relationship with the university’s founders 39 years ago, and that we had when the university first moved to Columbia Point.