Not everyone likes the idea of another school going into the former Gate of Heaven School.
Here is a letter in support of the developer.
We’re all Southie residents—some for a few years and some for many decades—who are also close abutters of the Gate of Heaven School. We’re writing to express a viewpoint that many people in Southie share, but which certainly doesn’t get the coverage and attention it deserves. We have three main points.
Most direct abutters support the condominium project proposed for the property by the developer. We’ve talked to many of our fellow close abutters and have seen a map with the properties of those supporting the project marked. We are the people most affected by any development and the opinions of the direct abutters should be given significant consideration. Most neighbors we talk to feel the developer has listened to the concerns expressed, appropriately scaled back the project and provided a reasonable amount of parking (which exceeds BRA guidelines). We love our neighborhood, but are tired of having an empty building that’s become a fire hazard and a magnet for trouble and mischief in our midst.
A charter school is not supported by the demographics of the neighborhood and we don’t believe it’s economically feasible. Only about 60 Southie residents currently attend South Boston High School. Where will all the students required for the charter school come from? The vast majority will not be from Southie. The impact of transporting all these students to and from the school will fall most heavily upon the direct abutters. (Another reason for the point made above.) The building is old, out-moded and would require a multi-million dollar renovation. For example, there is a very small cafeteria, no gymnasium and no laboratory space. Where would the money for the renovation come from? How would the Parish get paid? The truth is the proponents of the school have no answers to these important questions. There has been no feasibility study conducted or analysis done that demonstrates the necessity or viability of a charter school. To us it seems more like a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream and certainly not the “cure all” for everything that supposedly ails Southie as it is sometimes portrayed.
Our highest priority is the long term health and survival of Gate of Heaven Church and Parish and South Boston Catholic Academy. We’re members of the Parish, so admittedly we’re biased. But we recognize that spiritually and socially, the Parish is the heart and soul of our neighborhood. We see firsthand the weddings, funerals, first communions, confirmations, Masses, etc.—and all the happiness, sadness, joy and fulfillment that transpires inside and outside the church. Developing the school into condominiums maximizes the sale proceeds for the Parish and will help ensure the long term viability of the Parish as a spiritual community and physical property. And why would the leadership of SBCA want a new competitor so close by? Last time we checked this was a free country—can the Parish be forced to sell the property to a buyer it doesn’t want? Would it be fair for the parishioners, whose predecessors’ blood sweat and treasure built the school for Parish children, if it was sold at a much lower price to a buyer the Parish doesn’t want? Maybe in China or Cuba. But sorry, not in this great country.
We don’t have clever slogans or bumper stickers but we do have the support of most of our immediate neighbors. And most of our fellow Gatey parishioners as well. Lots of people in Southie have good reasons to support the proposed development. If you want to make our neighborhood better, work to support and improve the schools that are already here. And don’t believe everything you read. There is NOT unanimous opposition to the project and there is another legitimate perspective to consider.
Donna Casper Joe Casper Frank Doyle Peggy Doyle Trisha Foley
Mary Irwin Mariellen Malcolm Jack O’Loughlin Ralph Pascarelli