Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Globe's Dream Dorm

"Long-awaited dorm transforms campus life at UMass Boston" by Laura Krantz, Globe Staff August 28, 2018

In what will be a transformative step for the longtime commuter school, the campus is preparing to open its first-ever residence hall next week. The 1,077-bed facility has long been a dream of the city’s only public university.

The 12-story dorm is the culmination of years of planning, lobbying, reassuring neighbors, and searching for funding, but walk around the gleaming new building that still smells of fresh paint and you get no sense of how much effort it took to make it a reality.

The dormitory forms something of a new gateway to the campus from Mount Vernon Street, with a gleaming sign to welcome students. Budget problems still plague the university, and numerous massive construction projects still lie ahead, but the new dorm represents a significant milestone.

“The whole campus is going to feel completely different,” said interim Chancellor Katherine Newman on Monday, as she gazed out at the Boston Harbor Islands from an 11th-floor common room.

Still, the financial details of the dormitory’s construction hint at the predicament the university faces. The $120 million project was paid by Capstone Development, a private company that is leasing land from UMass. This arrangement came about because the university has already borrowed so much money it has reached a self-imposed cap set by university trustees.

Dorm revenue will go to Capstone, but after 40 years ownership will revert to UMass.

(I just rolled over)

For years, UMass leaders lobbied the state for permission to complete this type of public-private project, which was met with opposition from nearby private universities, which saw it as a potential threat.

Nearby neighborhoods also raised concerns but have now largely come around. Opposition from the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association has mostly evaporated, said longtime resident Don Walsh, who used to oppose the dorm.

“All the kids who want to live out there, let them live out there,” Walsh said Monday.

He said the neighborhood used to be filled with families who worried about students pricing them out, but the families were priced out anyway, he said. If anything, the dorm might mean fewer students living in the neighborhoods.

The university has no plans to build more buildings right away, nor does it have the money, but it has ambitions, first for a new nursing building. That school, one of the most popular and successful at UMass Boston, is housed in a science center that is set to be demolished.....


I'm not trying to undermine your rest, but.....

"Amid an unprecedented financial crisis, the university has hired at least seven people with connections to state government and politics as administrators with salaries between $81,000 and $222,000 in the past year and a half, records show. The hires include the former head of the state Democratic Party, a former legislative aide, and a former state commissioner of environmental protection. Together, the seven people earn nearly $1 million. A UMass campus spokesman said in a statement that hiring is based on merit, and the hires underscore UMass’s reputation as a place where the politically connected of Beacon Hill can land a job with a single phone call. It’s an attractive place to work in part because the UMass system is part of the state retirement system, so state employees can continue to earn toward their pensions, which are based on their three highest years of pay and their number of years of service. And the campus’s location is for many more appealing than traveling to the other campuses in Lowell, Dartmouth, Worcester, or Amherst." 

Yeah, it turns out the education department, like the transportation department, the environmental department, Massport, and all the other state and quasi-state agencies are nothing more than portals for political patronage and cronyism.

Also see: Ire at Ida

Looks like a case of misplaced anger by the Globe, and I hope it doesn't keep you up.


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