A Conversation with… Anne Mahoney

hello and welcome to a conversation
width i’m mark crosby a conversation with is a program that interviews
counselor at large folks and joining me today to find out about what’s going on
really in the city overall a kind of a wide scope is counselor and mahoney and
welcome thanks mark you’re one of the folks i am i’m one of
the thanks for room for joining me today absolutely we have a lot to talk about
will talk about current business before the council hmm and i’m going to
actually start with something that happened just a few maybe a week or so
ago now and that was the 114 Whitwell Street property planning broad approved
development from Fox Rock right so it was delayed and we were there in the
summertime in the constituents in the neighborhood many people throughout the
whole city got up and they were very vocal about pushing back to Fox Rock
about the size of the development they really wanted to see it downsized and
you know we were supposed to come back in front of Planning Board prior to the
election but it got postponed until after the election the results um I
don’t think that had anything to do with elections it just happens to be timing
and we were back last week and it picked up right where we left off with you know
the the Planning Board came on and we we listen to Fox Rock and we listened to
some of the peer review what Fox Rock did and in the peer review basically
they did downsize it by about 25 units but they increased the number of
bedrooms in the units so in the end it ended up being a shell game where it was
actually larger than it was before so there’s going to be more people actually
living and inhabiting the space up at 114 Whitwell Street and because they
actually took the number of units down by 25 they also were able to decrease
the number of parking spaces they needed so it really is not a win for the
neighborhood up there and it was recognized if you go through the peer
review it was recognized and called out and then they’re able to give the
answers back saying we’ve met with the community we’re meeting the needs they
just wanted to have lesser units which isn’t really true they were talking
about density and density is the number of people not necessarily
of Units but it is permitted as it stands correct it is permitted Balazs it
stands for right now I mean it is an it got passed but you know the real thing
that was going on there is originally this sight would have been a Planned
Unit development and to the council’s wisdom in 2017 December of 2017 they
decided to change it from a PUD and put it in the hands of the Planning Board
because they felt as though that would give the council’s would be able to
represent their neighborhood and be able to stand up and voice their be there
that they were for it or against it and stand with the neighborhood and have a
vocal piece to that that was the selling part of 2017 and that plan yuning unit
development would have been in the council’s hand in other words we would
have been the people to be able to ask the questions into and and you have to
balance that because we would have been the Planning Board like so many other PU
Dee’s exactly yeah and you know the difference there is that we you know
that the density could have been something we could have discussed now in
this particular case it ends up going to the Planning Board the Planning Board is
appointed it’s an appointed board by the mayor this is a developer that is very
much you know in line with the mayor and you know the the fact of the matter is
is you know the mayor was very in favor of what was gonna be happening at 1:14
what well he didn’t really stand with the constituents and they weren’t asking
for much we were talking the difference of being able to bring it back in line
by the number of units to be able to coexist with the neighborhood and
development and we weren’t far off yet it was really a slap in the face and it
was disingenuous for the development to come back and say we’ve downsized it by
25 units and we’ve met the needs of the neighborhoods when in fact they
increased the density by increasing the number of two bedrooms to three bedrooms
and you know so on and so forth and it ended up being more ends up being more
people and the the other side of that is an area to which that they negotiated
with the mayor which was the mitigation money for how we would deal with the
street lighting and a lot of the things that they promised in their plan saying
you know we will at a light we will add crossing areas will make the sidewalk
safer we’ll make a walkway for the people who live in the new development
to go to listen street to the MBTA all those
things were considered and basically they sent the a million dollars should
cover all that and it’s just you know it’s a tenth of what will be needed to
be able to do that and this concerns about flooding in that area absolutely
and the flooding they’re doing you know every put everywhere you hear it’s a
hundred year flood storm but it’s a hundred year flood storm and we’re
getting wiped out in certain ear so we were only doing a ten year where
normally it’s a 25 year flood flood zone so there were there are lots of things
that when you listen to it you might come back and maybe have a question if
you’re on that planning board maybe raise the bar to say that scratch your
head and say is that the best that we can do to make sure that this is going
to protect a neighborhood that has problems but their answer nobody had
that question now the developer said it could have been more dense mm-hmm
I’m not sure they said a lot of things and they they also said that they
increased the number of bedrooms in the unit because it met the needs of the 55
and older category but if anybody goes for a 55 and older development they’ll
tell you that they don’t want kids in the 55 and older development so it’s not
more bedrooms that they’re looking for to entice people to come with their
family so there was there’s a lot of things that were being said in regards
to this development that that they were basically playing that cards of devil’s
advocates saying you know we could do we could have more we’re giving you less
but the neighbor it really at the end of the day they weren’t listening to the
neighbors they were having coffee hours not many people were gone people were
going but not many people were going and it wasn’t they the neighborhood I was
heinous the hustle hill Association asked to sit down with them they were
about to sit down with them but they said we wouldn’t talk about density so
any time it came to the actual concern that the hospital neighbors had they
weren’t they were shutting the conversation down and saying no and then
they came back and in the actual peer review they questioned it and I know I
have it in my pile here but they actually questioned the peer review
actually questions that by saying the project has twenty five year our units
but 14 more bedrooms compared to the previously proposed therefore it the
effect of the current development is not significantly changed so there there
lies the the kind of the slap on the faith too that those neighbors and then
the applicant negotiated a lump sum mitigation payment through the
office for any off-site improvements and that lump sum wasn’t was not actually
documented anywhere it was pushed to find out that was a million dollars and
a lot of the things that were said at the planning board was that you know it
would be bared by the responsibility would be bared by the city to be able to
do those developments and it was mentioned that then BC it the big
capital improvement money and there’ll be the Soraa money and there’ll be lots
of and what it turns out to be is the developer is gonna get the assist of a
lot of benefits that will be paid for by the taxpayers because that money will be
come back to the council and be asked to be approved and it will be borne and
paid for by the taxpayers of the city of Quincy and you know this is this is
where negotiations do come into play where we need we need to push back this
is not an opportunity zone you know they had a reverter at the site up at the
hospital Hill that was tied to an Lda we released that reverter so they can
develop now they’re just a developer in any other community you’ll see
developers being pushed for mitigation to be able to actually enhance the
neighborhood a million dollars and if he’s not even going to touch the things
that they said they were going to do very similar lay down at the it down at
Ross parking lot they were showing us in the plans with the LDA that they’re
going to have all this open space and they were gonna have you know that they
were going to have a place for our you know for community community out point
but and things to happen for the community and I also remember people
being very excited when they were showing that and they said where is it
in the plan who’s paying for that I’m we’re not paying for it this show is a
pretty picture but they’re not actually paying for it and they were showing you
a pretty picture for Hospital Hill telling you that we were going to put
safety requirements and lots of things that were going to happen to protect the
neighborhood for the traffic that they were going to create but in the end the
only enough a million dollars to actually fix a lot of problems and the
rest of it will P be paid for by the taxpayers in the city of Quincy and
that’s heartbreaking that the neighborhood wasn’t listened to and that
the taxpayers are bearing of the footage that they’re backing and the developers
and that’s not what the city of Quincy should be doing and you know and it’s
it’s you know they’re not listening to the taxpayers they’re not listening to
the residents of the city of Quincy we’re not working together and we’re
letting development come in and just pretty much take over our city I would
assume that there is possibility of an appeal there is I know
it would be taken upon it would have to be the hospital Hill neighborhood
association all right there could be a community-wide citywide thing that could
come on and do it but the question would be it
was a unanimous vote I’m not sure where that would go if he went and you
appealed it it would go back to the Planning Board and you’d be back with
the same appointed board that came from the mayor’s office I think the thing
that was most disheartening to me was that you know after the PUD went to the
Planning Board they have pointed plan of what I’m gonna keep saying that because
people will say but the Planning Board they’re professionals they’re appointed
by the mayor there there’s no right there’s no resume that’s collected
they’re tapped on the shoulder by the mayor and they’re appointed that’s just
how they work that’s how it works in the city of Quincy other communities I was
asked this earlier by somebody how do other communities do it they actually do
an op they do a call for appointees they ask for you know your background they
try to make sure that they’re fitting people that are on the board they’re
interviewing people that are on them to make sure that they’re putting people on
the board that have the right qualifications to be able to look at
things they’re still appointed by Mears but they have certain qualifications
that you have to have to meet to be put on them they’re all different ways to go
about doing these things but right now the mayor appoints the Planning Board
the Planning Board sat before him it wasn’t a special permit they passed this
through they had no questions after three and a half hours of people asking
questions bringing up question after question that of the presentation that
was shown to them that peer review and the developer brought before them public
hearing that they brought up specific to what was their backs not you know not
emotions facts there were lots of facts that were presented not one person in
the Planning Board thought to say what about that is it going to be better what
about this how are we going to fix this where’s that money going to come from a
million dollars doesn’t seem like it’s going to cover all that where is that
not one question instead they went through they went through and they
listed some of the the qualifications that have to happen in the I think there
were 32 of them and then they just although did I and this could be a
reality as soon as when I could be starting you know next week I have I’m
not sure I’m not sure how fast they know they actually it has to have to go
through other processes I’m sorry I wouldn’t had it goes from the planning
board it will have to go through any other any other Commission’s that
have to go through but the point is once it clears the planning board and it goes
to zoning or if it goes to if it goes to any of them any of the other boards that
they have to get they have to get releases from the Planning Board sending
it through with a with a recommendation of a favorable recommendation and
usually when the Planning Board sends it through with a favorable recommendation
the other boards follow suit they’ll ask questions they will I mean
zoning will ask questions if they need any zoning and conservation will ask
questions I’m sure about about you know some of the some of the things that will
come before them but again with the approval of the Planning Board and the
peer review typically these things don’t get held up any further down the road
there’s opportunities for for the neighborhood to actually step up and
organize again but it’s harder every time they get an approval they start to
divide and conquer so they’ll have they could have a zoning board and a
conservation meeting in the same week it gets harder for people to be able to
stay organized to go up to those and for those folks that are wondering what will
happen to the emergency room that’s currently there it will go away
it won’t stay so I’m not sure how much longer it has I think it was 2021 that
it was going to be there until so it was never intended that it was going to stay
right and I think pox rocks answer is that you
know they’re bringing medical use not to find we don’t know what it means
down to the Ross parking lot but it will not be and we will not have an emergency
room in the city of Quincy and that was pushed during the LDA as well because
they’re replacing their there they’re taking that away so we will not have a
hospital we might have Urgent Care down in the downtown we might have you might
be able to go see your general practitioner and down the downtown we
don’t know what’s going to be down the downtown well we do see a lot of
emergency not emergency and urgent care you know they’re very popular popping up
all over the place where yeah they’re very popular right now I mean it just
gives you another alternative that it’s usually but it’s not an emergency it’s
not an emergency so if you have if you have a cold or if you have you know you
if you have a sinus infection you can go to an urgent care and get that
prescription if you don’t want to go to your if you don’t have time or it’s not
convenient for you to go to your general practitioner to have
same thing you can go and potentially get the same or if you wanna get the flu
shot you get the flu shot needs to be you have to go your doctor’s office to
get the flu shot you can get the flu shot now would your local CVS yeah I
think those types of things yeah but you don’t want to go for broken bones and
you don’t want to go for you know major emergency issues i people mentioned this
to me all the time i can’t believe that a city that’s growing too close to a
hundred thousand doesn’t have a hospital yeah and you know the thing is is that i
don’t have the answer for that either you know we’re we’re ten miles outside
of Boston we have Milton Milton right next door to us local like the hospitals
are having a hard time staying in business because of the way the
insurance companies and you work so it’s it’s right you see all the mergers yet
the mergers that are happening at and the cost of insurance it’s just really
really expensive and you know those are things that are that are beyond the city
of Quincy that are going to be able to fix that but at the same time we do have
a responsibility of the constituents that we serve here in city of Quincy so
when we were talking about the LDA in the downtown and we work in this
specific special city to what was going to go down there it’s concerning to me
because it was pretty much an you know there medical use definition that they
had a really hard time the city of Quincy our administration had a hard
time defining even though they defined it they actually had to ask Fox Rock
what the definition was you know that stuff is concerning to me because that
definition was the same as what it was up in hospital Hill I mean up at the
upper Hospital Hill to turn around and say it was the same as it’s going to be
down at the Ross parking lot which really left the door very much open so
it could be an urgent care it could be a doctor’s office it’s going to be tax
exempt so although it’s commercial property we will not be collecting taxes
off of it the whole building not just not just the portions that will be
medical use you know so if you have a doctor’s office that’s not that’s
typically not medical use it will be tax free and if they do not get that in then
Fox Rock has basically four strikes before they are out I mean might be able
to reverse this back in four years that’s the one question I do have is
that we’re almost nine months into saying yes to the LDA you haven’t seen
much work happening down at Ross parking lot either let’s talk
about the downtown in general and what I guess through the LDA what the what the
council really has control over as to what is done there of the Hancock lot it
seems to be moving along but the garage should be maybe a little further along
at this point I thought it was supposed to open in October you know they haven’t
come back before us and in that is kind of one of the problems of it on the
council one of the things I get frustrated with is you may ask to have
certain things like summer updates ice please don’t come back and March it’s
not summer anymore and they’ll turn it around a little try to say well you
didn’t tell us what to do and it was pretty clear I want you to come by the
department heads come back report to us what you did over the summer how far did
you get what do you have left it’s not hard I know I shouldn’t have to
go any further than that it’s not rocket science that I’m asking for they’ve done
it before and when it comes to projects like that we can call them back before
us I don’t understand why they had why we’re not meeting deadlines you know
it’s a big problem that we have in the city of Quincy we set road maps and we
should be able to follow them through and if we do not meet those deadlines we
shouldn’t be saying you know we should be giving answers back especially if
we’re providing special you know special passes for developers or anybody else in
the downtown we should have expectations the city of Quincy the administration is
the master developer of the downtown they hold the reins so they should be
reporting back to the constituents of the city of Quincy why and the why can’t
be you know we’re trying to figure this out they don’t have an idea of what
they’re going to charge people for there’s a lot of unanswered questions
for that garage but they’re there promoting it as if it’s a success we
don’t know if it’s a success or not it hasn’t opened so I’m not sure what’s
going on with that it’s a concern of mine though I mean it will open I don’t
doubt that but I’m not sure what’s going on with it I know the governor was just
in the city and praised the administration for building housing and
there does seem to be a lot of residential housing in neighboring
communities as well yep so residential housing is it’s it’s it’s very hot right
now you know the real estate market is it’s everywhere it’s not just Quincy the
assessed values of homes all of throughout Boston and surround
going up there escalating higher which is great for I guess is your when you
look at as your investment it’s very hard for people to keep up with it
because their incomes are not keeping up with it the average person doesn’t get a
3% raise believe it or not people will say it’ll cost a living
they might get a 1% raise some people don’t get any raise right so when you
hear things like you know we’re conservative about how we go about
things there are plenty of people who haven’t seen any of those things they
don’t get their insurance paid for they pay for themselves there’s a lot of
expenses for the average person to to be able to pay and it’s not to say that
that you know the fact that your assessed value of your home is going up
so high that you shouldn’t you know that you should be happy about that it’s
great it’s a great thing that you have to be able to coexist with that and be
able to afford it your services and the communities are not going up your yep
you still have your trash being picked up sometimes it’s done better than
others but you know the answer back is but you get it picked up you know our
you know we’ve got tons of people parking on our streets yep but you know
it’s you know we have to coexist with each other we’re a city we’re often told
you you’re cut through people cut through your neighborhood that’s cut
through traffic do you know the you live in the city that’s the answer you get
back from department heads when you call do you live in a city so when you go
back and you think about the housing units and the fact that we’re we’re in
developing housing units it’s not affordable housing in it so what we’re
really building is you know for people who can’t afford to live in Boston come
live in Quincy for thirty five hundred dollars a month the average income has
to be about a hundred and twenty thousand dollars for that bedroom so
just talk about that I mean affordable housing is opposed to work force housing
yeah so the affordable housing and work force housing aren’t somewhat
interchangeable but so affordable housing basically says to a developer
you know if you’re if your units are over I think it’s over over a certain
amount of units you have to build 10% of that building so if it’s 55 units you
have to have five point five units have to be affordable housing or you can put
it in contribute to a fund to a fund and the problem with the fund is that
there’s no community space for you to be able to go out and build it but the
watson would be a really positive example of how you could use that fund
to go out and build affordable housing the mixed unit housing that has people
all different income levels but it has about I think it’s 40 or 50 units that
are for people of lower income talking about across from the shipyard
craftsmanship here that have to qualify to be able to get
into that building but it is a beautiful building that’s got great amenities and
it’s an important thing that we should be looking at as the success at a Quincy
but a lot of the developments including hospital Hill will not have an
affordable housing portion of it because they’re gonna put it down at the Ross
parking lot so they’re offsetting and they did it in the LDA they basically
said we’re gonna use all of the development that we have and we’re gonna
offset it all down into the I’m going to put it as affordable housing and they’re
legally able to do well they were that was part of the LDA
clause and one of the questions I had was all of your development other than
hospital Hill what other developments are you doing that’s gonna be
residential there are no other ones they own a lot of property in Quincy but they
really haven’t done the sonic tempo they own the Citizens Bank building the
Masonic Temple any update on that property nope so that is a Fox Rock
development has a great you know billboard in front of it portraying what
it may be it’s gonna be someday but they had a big splash in the paper telling us
it was going to be open restaurant rooftops you know activities all sorts
of things you know really placating to the needs of what people are saying they
would like to see in Quincy but not being developed now the one thing we
talked about is when you look at other communities when they have this done
within a short period of time of them saying that they’re going to do
something it’s done you know in Quincy we have this developer that’s come in
and bought up a lot of different things and has promised a lot of incentive
ideas that people would like to see happen but nothing is happening it’s
questionable as to why I’m very hopeful it’s going to but we haven’t seen a
shovel in the ground yet from Fox Rock on any of these maybe Hospital Hill was
holding it up and now that they have they’ve cleared that maybe they’ll start
seeing some things happen but it makes me worried because this is a development
that’s much bigger than anything they’ve ever done before so it’s you know those
and that’s the reason why I think the neighborhood’s concerned as well and
before we leave the downtown an update on another I suppose connector and
that’s the generals bridge mm-hmm no idea where that stands I mean that’s
another one that presented to us at the city council told us that we were going
to get going on it haven’t seen much happen there it’s very frustrating to be
on the couch not really have a full understanding coming back we talk about them and the
assumption is that things are happening but they seem very still you know
nothing’s nothing’s moving over there I dunno over in the Ross parking lot
where I think lovely pets was in the Ross parking lot they have since moved
out pretty much everybody has moved out but coffee break for those of anybody
who doesn’t know they’re still open and active over there so please still
continue to go to coffee break over there
but they’re the only business that’s left over there and they haven’t found
you know a location for them in Quincy Center yet that I know of so the whole
talk was was that that building was going to be you know settled and they
were gonna be working on the downtown in that area and that partially has
something to do with the bridge as well all of those things are connected but it
doesn’t seem like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together yet so well I
guess we’re all in a wait and say these things are taking far too long though
Marc I mean that’s one of the things that really is kind of amazing is that
the cost of the cost of the investment normally in any kind of development
phase once you push back past the approval stone you’ll start seeing
things happen because they don’t want them to take people just developers
typically do not want things to take decades to do it’s usually a time when
he’s tied up money’s tied up and it costs money it costs to stop the cost to
standstill and usually people will walk away from those kinds of investments
because you just can’t you can’t do that but I guess we can just keep going back
to the well here myself I want to talk about I don’t think you can’t no I know
I will not let you but the the Public Safety Building I think Broad Street in
that general area the moving of the animal shelter eventually a dog park any
updates there I mean we did the mayor was before the council did speak yeah I
went into finance and ordinance so he spoke before the council he showed us
the plan the plan has was originally going to be it was going to be a
collaboration of the fire department the police department in several other
departments seniors directory veterans and
forgetting one health I have been healthy yep and the fire department is
only going to have and I asked how many and he said 10 maybe 20 but he said 10
I’ll give him 20 20 people from the fire department will be housed in the police
so the building will be not much if it is bigger it’s not much bigger than the
current building they have right now and it’s only going to house 10 more people
from the fire department gonna have a full they’re gonna the chief of the fire
chief in his presentation he also suggested that we would be purchasing us
a piece of land across the street right now from where the the fire headquarters
are is right now was this because of the green space in the park or is it
separate that was part of that building I think it was separate because they’re
not going to be bringing the fight that the fire headquarters into the police
department so they’re suggesting that that’s now instead of having the
consolidation of these these units they’re gonna have two separate ones
again the cost and the cost hasn’t been figured out so all we know is
potentially what the cost would be to purchase the land for the police
department now I’m not against the fact that we need to do something that that
building is a desperate repair and need to do something my question to get to
that point though neglect and I want you know I I have to tell you when they did
that building over I was a kid and I remember thinking is that improved like
you know there were that I think just in general maybe when they were doing that
I just even what it might not have been thought through but if there’s anything
we should be able to do Wednesday is really learn from how things were done
and avoid those kind of mistakes again is that corner the right place for it
I’m not sure it’s eating up some of the DPW it’s DPW is overcrowded there’s lots
of questions that go along with what they’re doing but it hasn’t come back
for the council to discuss it so when the mayor was before us showing us the
plan it was really just about the purchasing of the land and it’s in
finance it hasn’t come out of finance and it will need to come out of finance
and there’s gonna be lots of discussion about that because it’s 32 million
dollars without the price tag of how much is it gonna cost to actually build
by the time my prediction will be by the time we will add the buildings that we
supposedly need to build will be up over 100 million dollars and we can’t afford
that I just I can’t like when you look at other communities for 32 million
dollars I got the whole thing they got the fire and
police in one place and it was the full thing I you know there’s there’s got to
be a way that we can do it that’s more economical than what the way we’re
approaching it now but there’s no it hasn’t been been out there’s no estimate
as to how much it will cost it but we have a plan and it’s a huge park the one
thing I just understand about it we love parks and Quincy this administration
loves parks anything we do we’re gonna have a giant park in front of it which
probably will be another department that we have to hire to maintain that but
there’ll be a giant park in front of it it’s a terrible corner already I can’t
see people going over and having picnics in front of the police no offense to the
police that started about the police but it’s just not a very that’s not a very
conducive corner for you know having a park but it’s a giant park that’s gonna
be in front of it I do want to we just have two minutes left any update on the
another Park and that is the dog park there is no update on the dog park I did
and we should mention that the shelter would be animal shelter would be moving
forestry so the animal shelter hasn’t come back before us either so they
actually never approved they gave him enough money just to start but not
enough money to finish and it was supposed to come back before it’s a
downsized version of the animal shelter that was before I was on the City
Council the park itself was approved they were supposed to be doing a
temporary road now it looks like it’s a full road and I’m not sure we asked them
to come back before the council I would love to see the budget for that because
I can’t imagine that that’s what their budget that has to be it’s just a lot of
it’s been going seven days a week for quite some time and that was asked to
come back before the council and if you go up there and only if you’ve been up
there but it’s it’s pretty it’s a pretty fantastic park that they’ve built lots
of lots of places to get water for your dogs it’s just one concern there it’s on
a bend it’s terrible so it’s it would be a challenge for soti Pathak yes
supposedly and I haven’t heard from this but supposedly when we were asking for
indirectly about this road we brought that up as well and this is what was
being asked to be brought back before the council to give us an update on this
and that was over a year ago so this is what I mean like he asked for things and
the administration is not eager to bring it back and they’ll blame the council
and say well you didn’t you know you didn’t tell us what they want but the
reality of it is is that it’s at a terrible corner we brought it up and
teep house and he’s there there’s going to be some major improvements that are
thing there I’m not sure what the major improvements are they’re not sharing it
with anybody I’m not sure if maybe the ward counselor knows I’m not sure but it
really should be something that’s displayed and talked about for the
general public to know I mean this is this is gonna be a major change
it’s a dangerous Quarry Hill as dangerous anyway it’s the speed it’s a
speed racing area so there’s a lot of areas and tons of danger that that
particular one if you’re teaching your kids to drive it’s a two-lane they think
they’re gonna change it into a one lane when they do do it I’m not sure but it
hasn’t come back before the council I’m very eager to see that because I can’t
imagine that that’s a lot in line or in budget well I want to thank you I agree
that the half hour went by fast but you certainly are welcome to come back I
always love coming back so I can I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday
season you believe that it’s only two weeks away Christmas is – it’s a merry
Christmas to all who celebrate Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and all the other
celebrations that will be going on I’m just you know it’s it’s a great time of
year to be with family great true thank you at home for watching please continue
to watch Quincy access television for more locally produced programming and
have a great holiday season

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