Letter: To Hyde Square Task Force About Community Process for Sale of Church

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The following is a letter sent to the Hyde Square Task Force from the Friends of the Blessed Sacrament Church requesting an open, transparent community process during the selection of a developer for the church.

Blessed Sacrament Church (Hyde Square Task Force photo)

We were pleased to hear that the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) has received several formal offers to purchase the Blessed Sacrament Church building, and that there is interest in the property beyond condo developers.

We are also encouraged by recent statements that HSTF will prioritize a buyer that appreciates the significance of the church building to the Boston Latin Quarter and that HSTF will be considering community benefit as well as financial benefit and make sure any future buyer listens to the voices and concerns of the Latin Quarter community.

As you consider proposals to develop the church, Friends of Blessed Sacrament requests that HSTF create a process where the community gets a chance to meet potential developers and give input and feedback before HSTF makes a final decision. Specifically, we request that before taking a board vote to select a developer, the HSTF hold one or more public meetings where the community can hear from potential developers and give their feedback and comments.

We understand that as the owner of Blessed Sacrament, the HSTF your board will make a final decision based on a variety of factors. Given HSTF’s long history of holding developers accountable to the community and the importance of the church building to the future of the Latin Quarter, it is essential that community residents have the opportunity to understand how any proposed development will meet their needs and priorities.

There are nearby examples of community organizations that own real estate who have involved the community in the development process so that residents can understand how the proposals align with neighborhood priorities. For example, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) recently hosted a meeting to introduce two possible developers for the former Citizens Bank building in Upham’s Corner, currently owned by DSNI’s community land trust. The DSNI Board of Directors will make the final decision on developer selection, but they have committed to take into account community feedback received at the developers’ meetings and from members of the community steering committee they established to advise them on the project. Given the significance of the church building, a similar process for Blessed Sacrament Church would serve HSTF well as you go through your decision-making process.

An open and transparent community process will result in the most favorable outcome for everyone concerned and ensure that the future owners continue to engage with the community going forward.

We look forward to hearing how HSTF plans to involve the community as you consider the proposals you receive to redevelop the church.

Sincerely, on behalf of Friends of Blessed Sacrament Church
Betsaida Gutierrez
Damaris Pimentel
Dorothy Malcom
Harry Smith
Cisnell Baez
Vanessa Snow
Mark Hanser
Christine Harris
Pat Feeley
Alok Shrivastava
Paloma Valenzuela