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Proposed charter school on Roslindale/West Roxbury remains in limbo; zoning hearing scheduled for today is postponed

The Zoning Board of Appeal today deferred any action on the proposed Roxbury Prep charter school on Belgrade Avenue at West Roxbury Parkway until Oct. 8.

The board had been scheduled to consider a request to allow a 562-student high school, but Joe Hanley, the school's zoning attorney, asked for the deferral at the request of the mayor's office and the BPDA - which has yet to finish its own formal review of the project.

More than 200 people on either side of the issue had shown up at the board's eighth-floor hearing room for the discussion.

If allowed, the school would replace a former car dealership.

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My read is that he's hoping Roxbury Prep gives up on this site and moves elsewhere in the city so he can avoid actively taking a position by running out the clock on the decision.

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West Roxbury is the city's most rapidly diversifying neighborhood.

It was 85% white in 2000.

It was 72.5% white in 2010.

Its 60% white as of 2017. It is 16% African American and 13% latino. 8% asian and 2% mixed race. https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/n/west-roxbury-boston-ma/residents/

This argument about a school which is primarily black and latino, is really just symbolic about the change in the neighborhood.

For years Westie was seen as desirable due to its secluded suburban nature, now that that is not seen as such a desirable trait and property values havent risen like other white neighborhoods-Westie has seen much diversification. I think it pains old timers to see that West Roxbury is valued similarly to Roxbury. The majority of West Roxbury infants are now minorities.

Westie wants to slow down the change of the neighborhood. I dont think they want black and Hispanic kids to feel comfortable there, and I dont think they want them so close to the Holy Name kids...'intermingling'

Walsh likely knows this and dosnt want to alienate his more youthful growing black and latino voters, but doesn't want to alienate his older reliable white Westie voters. He know the Westie folks are dying off and would rather just wait till opposition cools or Prep decides to move elsewhere.

As the 2020s progress I think you will see more pushback from West Roxbury in regard to development. We see a good deal of it in that Washington street corridor where they put up all those apartments.

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Agree that Westie is out of the rising tide due to being so suburban. Ironically, old timers, by freaking out about every development and hyper-focusing on parking, have contributed to this - if they, for example, really pushed and got a commitment for an OLX along the Needham Line, they'd re-gentrify immediately (Somerville neighborhoods along the GLX line were gentrifying in 2010 and the stupid train STILL isn't done).

Unfortunately for these racists, young whites don't have the same values as old whites, so they're going to have to change either way - whether that's embracing PoCs taking advantage of flat prices or changing their neighborhood to appeal to yuppie white millennials.

I'm I guess what you would call a young yuppie who just moved to the Roslindale/West Rox line not far from the proposed site, and from what I understand glossing over that this is a charter school and painting all those against as racist is a pretty silly and petty argument.
If BPS were proposing to build a high school on site, I think most residents would be all for it. It seems desperately needed. But the issue as I understand it from nearby parents with kids in the system is that this is an independently-run charter school that will give precedence to kids attending its affiliated elementary and middle schools, which are in Roxbury/Dorchester, and that's likely to take up most if not all the spots at the school. So in the end, this is going to be a high school in a neighborhood that desperately needs a new public high school that few kids from the neighborhood are likely to be able to reasonably attend (since sending a middle schooler to Roxbury from West Rox/Rozzie is tough for transportation reasons).
On the flip side, you could argue that a new school is a new school. I think the neighborhood might be better off pushing for Roxbury Prep to guarantee a certain percentage, like 50% of slots, for West Rox/Roslindale resident students. I still doubt they would agree, but you're right that the optics are better than protesting a new school.
And by the way, I can tell you as a recent buyer that home prices in West Rox and Roslindale have risen like crazy just like everywhere else within 5 miles of the city center, and 90% of the new homebuyers I know in the area are middle to upper middle class educated folks. It's getting diverse because younger people are moving in, and we're naturally a more diverse bunch, but if anything the community is becoming more invested in demanded high-quality public education, not less. Yeah, they should have pushed for the OLX but Somerville got theirs because of Capuano so it probably wouldn't have mattered, and at least they have multiple commuter rail stops and a fairly walkable, developed main street. If you think West Rox is suburban then you haven't seen half the actual suburbs around Boston.

Truth: There were probably 200 people in the room, but not 200 for/against this project, as Hanley said. Around 25 people left the room after the hearing. Chairperson told Hanley to stop "grand-standing." Watch the YouTube when it comes out.

There were barely 100 people in the room. Many of the 200 or so who wanted to attend were out in the hallway due to space constraints.

Although they saved all the seats? Then they stood in the hall way "discussing".

BTW, what i heard (literally at the hearing ) is the city encouraged the deferral because they were on the verge of working something out.

Leasing a site you own is generally because of taxes. In this case it may have to do with grants as well.

Except that the school was the party asking for the deferral.

requests that a development project asks for a deferral--they would be stupid not to do so. The writing is on the wall so to speak.

The project developer is the only one that can request a deferral anyway.

No...that's not correct. The School is NOT the Proponent or proposer of the project.
And this is the problem: Roxbury Prep Charter School is not building the school.
A sub of the Education Management Organization (EMO) which "manages" the school is the Proponent. Roxbury Prep will LEASE (with tax payer money) the building, from the EMO - the Proponent, which will LEASE from the Developer, which will LEASE from CLAY, with every one marking up the Lease.
And Atty. Hanley does not work for the School. He works for the EMO called Uncommon Schools, which isn't even a school.

You’re supporting this project?

Didn't say that. You wrote: "Except that the school was the party asking for the deferral."
Just sayin' the School didn't ask for the deferral - the EMO did. And the EMO has done a really good job of creating confusion.
Kids are good - schools are good. This project isn't about kids or schools.
It's about making believe it's about kids so a construction project can make lots of money.

But hey, if you don't want to make it about the kids or the school, think what you have to think.

I was reading the Bulletin last week and there was a letter to the editor about the project spelling out some "concerns." Man, people in the area are very concerned with the ability of high school kids to cross streets. It's a good thing there isn't a grade school nearby. They'd be freaking out on a daily basis. Property values would plummet. The whole standard of living of that section of Roslindale would be kaput. Good thing there are none close at hand.

But yeah, this isn't about a school and their ability to teach students. Not at all.

The Mayor hasn’t taken a position in two years on this ...
Wu lives in Roslindale and hasn’t taken a position yet either.
Looks like Boston has some strong mayoral choices

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Please just approve this and be done with it. These NIMBYs battling it have made their points ad nauseum. IT'S A SCHOOL. Time to move forward.

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Boston is full of half empty schools. Even a full school is only used 20% of the time. We need housing, not more school buildings. These charter schools need to access existing school sites.

You are correct that there are many empty/partially empty schools in Boston. BPS, however, is simply not interested in expanding charter school access to these sites. This is what forces charter schools in Boston to locate in buildings that were not originally meant to be schools or that had to be built by the charter schools. It is a waste of resources, energy, and time - as evidenced by all the angst over this project. If BPS were willing to let more charter schools access under-used spaces, this would be a much less significant issue.

Roxbury prep rented out space on walk hill a few houses a few blocks down from me for their 9th graders. Never had or heard a single issue in the couple of years they were there. These people and all their enormous ridiculous house signs are fools. Reminds me of the rebuild the Casey bridge people (what a traffic disaster that turned out to be). Who doesn't want a school as a neighbor??? Would they prefer a liquor store or a dispensary? How about more high rise luxury condos? Bunch of fools.

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There were maybe 75 people there today, including some 20 students and staff from the school. Can you imagine asking students to go to a zoning hearing to root for a 99 year land lease which will put millions upon millions into the hands of proponents. Unfortunately, this money grab has very little to do with education. The City of Boston should be embarrassed to
encourage this kind of land deal. Don't be fooled by Joe Hanley. He's a lawyer for the proponent, not the school.

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Hi Jonathan,

I can certainly image urging students to be involved with civic decisionmaking, especially decisionmaking about the location of the students' school campus.

If it's a private land deal between private parties, why are you concerned? Have you spend a lot of other time commenting on other complicated real estate transactions? Is your argument really that Rox Prep doesn't know about the existence of Uncommon Schools? (Hint: their website is "http://roxburyprep.uncommonschools.org")

It's almost like they run exactly as they hold themselves out to do: Uncommon running the business side, and the educators doing the education part. (Uncommon's a non-profit, but if you think someone's running away with millions, please do let us know who.)