December 2, 2010

If this is listening...

I'll have more to say about the Varna Master Plan meeting last night, which mostly went well, but first I'd like to spit out one especially indigestible bit.

When it came time to talk about opportunities, Larry Fabbroni, the engineer on the Varna II project, said he'd been "listening" and that if people looked closely, his project would address 85% of what people want. Steve Lucente, the developer of the project, has said similar things at past meetings - this is a recurring theme in their pressing ahead with the project. (January is apparently the new "soon", after the ZBA appeal.)

Unfortunately, "listening" not only means "hearing the words", it generally connotes actually doing something in response and maybe even sharing that something. We keep hearing that there will be something new to look at "soon", though that "soon" always stays a few weeks to a month away, and the basic numbers for the project - 260 units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space - don't ever change.

What makes this a lot worse, of course, is that Lucente's earlier proposal for a 170-unit development ran into almost the exact same set of objections a decade ago. Somehow "listening" to that conversation seems to have produced the idea that if people object to a big neighborhood-changing project, the way to respond to those concerns is to come back with a proposal that's half again as large and far more visible.

The developers do cherry-pick pieces out of the conversation when they fit what they already want to do, but I don't think the rest of us are blind for not being impressed. Add Lucente's having contributed to those problems with his lack of interest in maintaining the buildings he plans to tear down, and a far from perfect launch of his Observatory Circle project a few years ago, and this is some serious chutzpah.

Posted by simon at December 2, 2010 6:10 AM in
Note on photos