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New liquor store approved near Dorchester schools

Martin Desmarais | 7/31/2013, 12:35 p.m.
Though a number of people spoke out against a new proposed liquor store on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester — including ...
A: 1445 dorchester B: 11 Charles Street, Harbor Middle School
Place

New Liquor Store

1445 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA

Though a number of people spoke out against a new proposed liquor store on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester — including Boston City Councillor At-Large John Connolly — the plan was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals last week.

The new liquor store will be at 1445 Dorchester Ave and, according to the approved plans filed with the Zoning Board, will be a 1,445-square-foot retail space that combines several smaller stores at the same location by knocking down walls currently separating them. The proposal was approved for “conditional use” to change the legal occupancy to restaurant/bar and liquor store.

The proposal, which was filed by local businesswoman Gina Amico, estimates construction costs of less than $100,000.

Supporters of the liquor store proposal are touting the project as business growth and a way to fill retail space that is currently empty, as well as an improvement over a very small and run-down liquor store in the area that will make way for the new, larger one.

The opposition is mostly concerned about the proximity of the new liquor store to The Grover Cleveland Building at 11 Charles Street, which houses the Harbor Middle School, the Community Academy of Science and Health High School and a community center. These schools are only several hundred feet from the new liquor store location. In addition, concerns have been voiced about potential drinking in a small park, which is also near the proposed liquor store location, and an increase in traffic to an adjacent parking lot that school staff uses to park.

Councillor Connolly said that he received a number of calls from concerned teachers and parents and he cited this as his reason for being against the proposed new liquor store. He voiced his objection at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing for the proposal on July 23, but the project was approved.

Councillor Connolly gave The Bay State Banner a statement about his position.

“My office spoke in opposition to the proposed liquor store after teachers from the Harbor School and the Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) reached out to me with their serious concerns about its proximity to the school. I’ve worked closely with parents and teachers at the Harbor School and CASH in the past, and I was happy to support the school communities again,” Councillor Connolly said.

Boston Public Schools teacher Andrea Doremus has been a voice for the teachers, parents and neighbors concerned about the new liquor store. “It seems like putting a liquor store at the exact crossroads of Adams and Dorchester streets should be turned down based on the obvious additional traffic stress alone,” Doremus stated. “But there is a larger question here. Isn’t it the job of adults to protect children? Since we don’t have a ‘village,’ isn’t that the role of adults in the government and schools?

“I just don’t understand how some of the powers that be are not opposed to it,” she added.

While the new liquor store has been approved, the opposition is hopeful that some suggestions, such as a viable parking and traffic plan, better lighting in the nearby park and increased Boston Police support in the area can be considered to help ease any negative impact.