We need a mid-course correction on Village Hill

From Kirby on the Loose
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A confession: In the days that Hospital Hill still had a hospital on it, and design aspects seemed as if they could be talked about at public hearings, I got over-involved fighting to save Old Main. Too many meetings. Ask my wife. But even in the thick of it, I wondered if I and other people were being obstructionist: was I involved just because Pat Goggins was the kingpin of the thing and getting about 98% of the commissions on property transfers? MassDevelopment is not a bunch of goons; maybe with Old Main gone and its so-called stigma gone and the old fountain safely crated up in some warehouse, people and industries would flood in, and the city would be better for it.

But it is now 2009, and Old Main is long gone, and many, many millions of state and federal dollars have been put into infrastructure up there. On December 10, 2002 MassDevelopment split up the bulk of the land north of Prince Street into lots for resale. 34 lots, constituting about 34 acres. There are streets up there, but most of them are empty of life. Phase two, which was the area adjacent to Paradise Pond and the Smith playing fields was left undivided. That was the area they were going to build big houses on big lots with views of Paradise Pond.

Six years has gone by, and the developer has had a chance to do his stuff untroubled by pesky community activists. The houses that we saw in all the many plans MassDevelopment has circulated over the years at CAC meetings are now here. Three of them.

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