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The Point: DBC Redux


Greetings, Colleagues:

It was just about half a year ago that I wrote you about what developers are calling “Dorchester Bay City” and you and I know (mostly) as Bayside; things are moving even more quickly on that front than I imagined they would, and I think it might be a good time for a quick (re)visit of why this enormous development on the peninsula should be of concern to all of us. If you want to get a good sense of what is at stake in this development and can only imagine reading one thing about it this week, please click on this link and close the Point. 

In this remarkably powerful and efficient piece by FSU President and Dorchester resident Steve Striffler, we get a quick sense of why we should all be paying attention to how Accordia, the developers on the project, have managed to push a plan through the Boston Planning Development Agency (BPDA) that will benefit very few Bostonians:

Accordia has limited community voices by holding highly orchestrated meetings to ostensibly gather the public input required for approval. In reality, the developer has shared little meaningful information with hand-picked community organizations that were predisposed to support the project.  All the while, the BDPA facilitated the “vetting” process while UMass Boston looks to collect hundreds of millions of dollars while washing its hands of any responsibility for a project that will reshape the region. 

I really want you to read Steve’s piece—it is not long, but it is powerful. Here is his chilling summary of the plan as currently constituted:

It has woefully inadequate affordable housing, while paying no attention to its potential impact on housing costs in a rare area of the city still populated by a diverse working class whose majority remains people of color.  It seems destined to exclude working Bostonians from its confines, while serving to displace residents of Dorchester as its rent- intensifying impact gentrifies the area.

If you are still reading my words and not sure you’ll get around to reading Steve’s op-ed today let me boil it down to quoting three words from him: “Think Seaport District.” 

Here’s a thought experiment--close your eyes for five seconds and picture who you know who lives in the Seaport District.  Done?  Yeah, I couldn’t think of anybody either. But if you were able to bring someone to mind it is almost a guarantee that the person is white and very comfortable financially.  This is how the Globe broke it down a few years ago when trying to give a sense of the Seaport as the city’s whitest neighborhood:

How white? This white: Lenders have issued only three residential mortgages to black buyers in the Seaport’s main census tracts, out of 660 in the past decade. The population is 3 percent black and 89 percent white with a median household income of nearly   $133,000, the highest of any Boston ZIP code, according to recent US census estimates.

The history of Columbia Point is, to understate matters, fraught with the baggage of race and class inequity. UMass Boston has played a complicated role in all of this over the past 50 years or so, and I think it is incumbent on all of us to educate ourselves as much as possible about that role; as always I urge you to start with Professor Tim Sieber’s great blog post on the subject.  (And let me know if you want more leads on good things to read, watch, and listen to! This is pretty central to my current research project.) For now I want to urge you to try to attend the teach-in on DBC that will be held Thursday, April 15 at 3 p.m. hosted by UMass Boston's Coalition Against Gentrification with many co-sponsors.  You might also want to sign this petition.

This is your union. please tell us at what concerns you have about “Dorchester Bay City” and what ideas you have to ensure equity and justice in is development.


Jeffrey Melnick

American Studies Department

Communications Director, Faculty Staff Union Executive Committee

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage