To the editor:
My mother and I reside at 167 Essex St., Beverly, directly across from the planned 11 Spring St. housing project proposed by the Beverly Housing Authority. I am sure many, many people know exactly where my house is. It is the large stucco house, surrounded by a stone wall and the archway with the wisteria growing on the corner, in the four-way intersection of Essex, Corning and Spring streets. My family has resided in this neighborhood for 53 years. This is for the majority a single-family residential neighborhood. All our neighbors take pride in their properties by keeping their homes well-maintained with groomed yards.
The BHA plans to put two more buildings to house four families on this lot at 11 Spring St., along with the already existing single-family home to make a total of five families that will reside there. If you drive by the property, you will see how small the space is to accommodate that many buildings and people.
We oppose this project for many reasons:
The first reason is because the lot does not appear to conform to the city ordinances, which the Montserrat Neighborhood Group is fighting with an appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, where it will be proven that the lot is nonconforming for such a project of that size.
The second reason concerns the amount of traffic in this intersection. This intersection is one of the busiest in the city of Beverly. At commuter hours, along with the Montserrat train station, owned by the MBTA, there is even more congestion and confusion for motorists and pedestrians. The five families will have 10 parking spaces for their vehicles, with exits onto Spring and Essex streets. I do not currently see where these 10 spaces will fit on the property. Now we have just added more congestion to the traffic issue. I blame the Planning Board of Beverly for not considering this issue before approving the plan.
The third reason is the safety issue for the children that will be living there. It is a tremendous concern to the neighborhood. Currently, the BHA does not plan on having a fence surrounding the property. This is not safe for any children and with limited recreational space on the proposed property, where are the children going to be able to play safely — the sidewalks or worse, the train station parking lot? Another reason I put the blame on the Planning Board of Beverly for not considering this issue either.
The fourth reason is the impact on the surrounding community. Besides the safety of the children and the traffic issues, my other concern is the maintenance of the property by the BHA. I see the other properties that they own around Beverly, and they are ill-kept. Buildings that need to be painted, fences that need to be mended, missing shutters needing to be replaced, bushes that need to be trimmed and overflowing Dumpsters. The neighborhood does not want the property to become an eyesore to the residents residing there and to the citizens of Beverly. This neighborhood, along with other family communities, takes pride in ownership of their properties, the BHA does not.
The fifth reason concerns the arrogant and disrespectful attitude of the BHA itself. It has been heard, directly to some of the abutters of the planned project, that safety and traffic is not their concern. So if there is no concern for these factors, then the BHA has no regard for its tenants either. What kind of landlord is that? I call them a “slum landlord.” Obviously, the BHA is only concerned about the number of residents it provides housing to and not the welfare and safety of those residents! Rental residents are not just a number; they are real people seeking a nice, safe and well-maintained place to live, within a residential suburban community. I am appalled at the lack of concern of the BHA toward its neighbors and tenants.
All tenants of any city, state, federal or private entity are entitled to reside in a safe environment. It is the responsibility of the landlords to maintain their properties, provide a safe habitat and respect the well-being of their tenants. And as a landlord myself, of 19 apartments, I think that I have the right and knowledge to make such comments. As a city, state and federal taxpayer whose monies are used for such state agencies and projects, I should have a real voice in how the dollars are spent, especially if it is going to impact me directly. It is truly a sad state of affairs when taxpayer monies are ill-spent and the directors and managers of these types of projects are not held accountable for their decisions and attitudes — or lack of!
Other direct abutters to this project are opposed to its construction for a lot of the same reasons and many more. Many other neighbors, who have resided in this area for more than 25 years and even a half-century, are opposed also. For the BHA to state that they CAN push this project onto this neighborhood “by right” is totally disrespectful to these long-term neighbors and unnecessary. No wonder the neighborhood is upset!