To the editor:
It is very clear to me that the Windover/Beverly Crossing/Depot development team needs to radically change its attitude toward the public and the city’s boards as well as its design of the Depot II project if it expects to gain public support.
But maybe they are so confident that they have a “lock” on this that they just don’t care?
Although I have been following developments in this matter very closely, I did not attend the Design Review Board meeting last Thursday evening, because no materials had been provided to the board or the public in advance of the meeting. I was away on vacation but ready and eager to return had it been known that there were updates or revisions to present.
I find it exceedingly arrogant and cynical of the development team to then wonder aloud “if there are so many concerned people, why aren’t they here attending the meeting?”
Likewise, I understand that the architect immediately dismissed comments summarized from the Depot Matters petition as bogus since he doubted anyone who signed it had sat through his design presentation and therefore didn’t really understood the project details.
That is patently not true: There were at least 30 interested citizens at the first presentation to the Planning Board, as well as a full house at the initial presentation to the Ward 2 Civic Association, and the Historic District Commission hearing on the demolition permit for the Casa De Luca, where the project was also presented. And is he unaware that the entire original design package is available as public record where many residents have studied it?
Having presented some form of revision to the Design Review Board Thursday night, I understand the developer is now refusing to let the draft plans be available to the public, let alone inviting them to a public design presentation, until the second week in August. Is the plan for the developer to see how close they can they get to the Aug. 20 Planning Board Hearing without making anything truly public, so that they can claim once again that there is no basis for public input?’
Finally, I feel compelled to repeat my basic theme: This landmark area is unique and special. If we let the developer demolish it with only a placard or two to mark its demise, this history is gone. Forever.
The city is in the midst of developing both a new Master Plan and a Historical Preservation Plan. It would be truly tragic if, in the rush to get this project approved, we let a National Historic District be demolished, and a city block that much of the public clearly has issues with be built without any input from either plan.
Even if the development design team cannot stand up to informed, civilized discussion and review, the developer should not be able to slam it through with slick, cynical tactics. We need the city boards, City Council and Cahill administration to hold this project to strict, transparent processes, and to challenge the sacrifice of a rare landmark of the city’s history for the sake of either corporate profit or other city objectives that can be accomplished without the sacrifice.
Beverly citizens: get visibly, vocally involved. Come to the Aug. 20 Planning Board HEARING (Public comment invited), watch for meeting notices, and participate; write to DepotMatters@gmail.com to be included on mailing notices of relevant upcoming events, and for links to the public documents; contact our Planning and Design Review Board members, Planning Board staff and city councilors and thank them for the work they do preserving the character of Beverly!