For decades, Franklin Park has been a key open space for neighboring Black and Brown communities, providing a gathering space for events, as well as a welcome respite from city life. Over time, Franklin Park land use has changed with the addition of other uses, including the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Franklin Park Zoo, William J. Devine Golf Course and Boston Parks Maintenance Yard. Today, though it spans 526 acres, 40%, or 200 acres, of Franklin Park is not freely accessible to the public.
The Shattuck Hospital was built on “Heathfield”, originally designed as a large meadow with shade trees, after 13 acres of parkland were transferred from the City of Boston to the Commonwealth for the purpose of building a hospital in 1949. The Shattuck Hospital building has now reached the end of its useful life and is slated for demolition by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). Most services are planned to relocate to the Newton Pavilion at Boston Medical Center in the South End.
At the Shattuck site, EOHHS plans to build 75-100 units of housing for the formerly unhoused but does not include any provisions for critical “wrap-around” supportive services. Community members have raised concerns regarding the States proposal, including:
- The Shattuck Hospital is isolated, without access to reliable public transportation and neighborhood amenities
- The Commonwealth’s current proposal requests a minimum of 75-100 units for the formerly homeless but does not require critical “wrap-around” supportive services.
- The Commonwealth’s proposal provides no State funding for the redevelopment of the site. The proposal offers a private sector developer a 99-year lease of publicly owned land to build housing and services solely at the provider’s cost.
- The Commonwealth’s current proposal is contingent on the approval of over 30 legal waivers, which could jeopardize the plan coming to fruition, and circumvent State laws requiring a public process when disposing of public land.
- The current plan is slated for construction in 2025 or later. This timeline does not address the current critical and urgent need for supportive services throughout the Commonwealth.
- Despite several nearby, vacant Commonwealth-owned properties, EOHSS has not performed either an Alternative Analysis or a Feasibility Analysis as a part of their planning process.