2.4 min readBy Published On: June 17th, 2013Categories: Features6 Comments on YMCA – Y not?

Community Meeting Tonight

There seems to be a little bit of controversy brewing over the proposed development happening at 621 East First Street.  South Boston resident and developer Gregg Donovan has proposed a project which would include 28 units with parking, a barber shop and a YMCA.   Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, not really.  A few vocal community activists are against the proposal.  

Both the Boston Herald and The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday, June 26th, the details of a “secret meeting” between Michael Kineavy, top aide to Mayor Menino, Kairos Shen, the chief planner for the City of Boston and Donovan.  Details of the proposed project were discussed at the meeting and approved by the BRA on June 13th.  Some community activists cried foul when they got wind of the meeting, and called the process “not fair”.  (Really? The BRA not being fair? ) They believe the community should be part of the decision-making process.   Donovan said there has been extensive community involvement since 2008.  One of the issues brought up by a few residents was the height of the building. The height of the original proposal was 65 ft and as it went through the community and BRA process over the past five years, it was reduced to 44 ft.

According to Donovan, the meeting was not “secret”at all.  “I’d been having problems with the BRA since 2008.  I needed to move forward with this project and five years is too long to wait, ” said Donovan.   He went on to add, “I reached out to the mayor’s office because I needed help and they helped by getting all parties involved to the table.”

Cara Donovan, wife of Gregg, championed the efforts of the YMCA coming to South Boston.  “Families are the foundation of the South Boston and we don’t want to see them leaving.  We want them to stay.  The addition of the the YMCA to our community is such a positive one that will not only benefit families but all residents as well.  This would also would be a great asset for the City Point, especially since there is no indoor recreational center in that neighborhood,” said Donovan. 

The project still needs final approval from the Zoning Board.  That meeting is scheduled for July 9thA community meeting will be held tonight at 621 East First Street at 5:30 to discuss the details of the proposed project.  We encourage you to attend, learn the facts and let your voice be heard.  This meeting is family friendly – bring the kids.

As for us, we think a YMCA would be a valuable and much needed resource in our community.   We also think that the whole BRA “process” needs much improvement.


  1. Stealth June 27, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    “The height of the original proposal was 65 ft and as it went through the community and BRA process over the past five years, it was reduced to 44 ft.”

    Good. It’d be a shame if it blocked someone’s view of the enormous, gross power plant. What is the efficient use of land compared to that?

  2. Local Citizen June 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm


    Support the initiative or not, the central issue here is a legal process – one that does not appear to have been properly followed. 
  3. Anonymous June 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    And where do you think people who are going to the YMCA are going to park? And don’t tell me they’re going to take the MBTA.

  4. An Abutter June 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    This meeting was a joke. It was hard to hear anything that was going on and most of those in attendance were not direct abutters. Many of those of us who abutt this property have no problem with housing but, like everyone in Southie, have real concerns over the parking congestion that would be potentially increased by a YMCA that, by the way, is not under contract and has shown no plans.


    Abutters just want to be able to sit down with Greg and go over this plan with a conversation; no animosity, no yelling, no humid warehouse.


    Greg, you are a great guy who does a lot for this neighborhood and I would never say anything to the contrary. People who live near this property of yours just want a meeting to sit down and ask some real questions.

  5. Kerry Souza June 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm
    I have lived in Southie long enough to know that “resident”/developers can be the worst kind, selling their story about their love for the neighborhood while scheming for huge dollars. A resident who really loves the neighborhood holds community meetings, engages neighbors, organizes or fair treatment of the neighborhood etc. Period. Profiting from a large development immediately moves a “resident” out of the category of neighbor into the one of developer, and from then on the burden is on that developer to prove that they have the best interests of the ‘hood a heart. How many times has Southie allowed home-town developers to run processes that belong to residents? The city continually sells out Southie and short cuts processes that should involve the community. Shame on “residents” that become part of that problem.
  6. Patrick June 28, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    If you think there’s really going to be a YMCA there I have a bridge to sell you.  Unfortunately Mr. Donovan has not engendered a lot of trust with many in the South Boston community during his prior developments and thus will always have some opposition. 

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