The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) has held two meetings so far in December to begin including Bunker Hill Housing Development residents and the broader Charlestown community in the design process as the city prepares to revamp the aging housing developemnt.
“The process for redevelopment planning for the Charlestown public housing development will include both residents at the site as well as the entire community,” said Lori Nelson, Deputy Director of Communications and Constituency Services for the BHA.
The first step has been to begin the BHA resident portion of the process with the neighborhood/community process expected to begin in early February or March. This will include meetings and interaction with the broader community development team and the BHA.
“We expect a fully interactive community based process before finalizing the plans,” said Nelson. “So far, residents of the Charlestown development are playing a pretty hands-on role in shaping the redevelopment of the community.”
The first two of about a dozen meetings and workshops planned were conducted on December 3 and December 9. The meetings are being conducted at 55 Bunker Hill Street and generally begin at 6 p.m.
The two well attended meetings with Bunker Hill residents were successes according to the BHA with residents came prepared with lots of good questions and input and were very engaged.
“The December 3 meeting basically got the entire process underway, and on December 9 was the first full “listening session” – where the goal was to really solicit concrete ideas and input from residents,” said Nelson.
Nelson said after some initial discussion with the whole group, residents broke down into individual table sessions to come up with responses to questions from the design and development team that will reflect the things that are important to the community from a design and development perspective.
“At every table a member of the design team or project team are sitting in on these table meetings,” said Nelson. “So there is a really good process where the team gets to see and listen to how the residents work through their own priorities and visions to come up with responses to questions.”
President of the Charlestown Tenant Task Force Bettye Carrington said the process to date has been inclusive.
“This is exciting for us and we are glad to have a seat at the table to plan what our community will look like,” said Carrington.
At the December 9 meeting, according to Nelson, residents were able to use a hand-held device to provide real-time responses to questions from the design team. Additionally, translators were on hand to make sure all English-, Spanish- and Cantonese-speaking residents had the best access to the information as possible.
The next resident working group session is planned for January 6, and will be programmed as a “What We Heard” presentation that illustrates and confirms what the design and development team learned from the residents’ input and responses.
“Two sessions will follow that, one on January 13 and then on January 20, where the goal will be to plan for ‘Resident Charrette Week’,” said Nelson. “That will be a six-day intensive and collaborative design workshop where the actual design and development plan will be drafted.”
Nelson said Charrette Week will be very busy and engaging for the residents. Monday through Friday evenings (January 25 – 29) will involve further listening sessions as well as technical updates. Saturday January 30 (beginning at noon) will be the culminating design workshop session where residents will very likely see the input they have provided really emerge in the design and development plan.
“Then, on Wednesday, February 10 there will be a resident open house where a plan will be reviewed by all those who have contributed to it,” said Nelson.