As the hospital begins exploring new options for the expansion of its campus, the Massachusetts Ear and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) is soliciting the public’s input at an informational meeting next week.
Hospital spokesperson Jennifer Street said this new effort is a departure from last year’s proposal, which included three development projects and drew criticism from the public.
“We heard we need to fix the parking issues and [Department of Conservation and Recreation] DCR-managed parking lots needed to be returned to greenspace,” Street said. “We went back to the drawing board and put the scoping session on hold.”
Street said the expansion options also changed dramatically in July of last year when MEEI merged with Schepens Eye Research Institute, located at 20 Staniford St.
Now, MEEI is considering building underground garages below the two parking lots it leases from the DCR and restoring them to greenspace at-grade – a measure that would require legislation to insure a long-term lease with the state.
Street said that the garage plans would also require the reconfiguration of one traffic-lane on Storrow Drive.
“We know everyone in the community is concerned about traffic,” Street said. “We’re committed to studying the potential traffic impacts in a really thorough way, with community input.”
While she emphasized that MEEI has not yet begun the permitting process for the proposed project, Street said, “The parking garage could be entered from Storrow Drive in either direction and would hopefully alleviate traffic in Charles Circle.”
Street said if the lots are restored to greenspace, MEEI has committed to their ongoing upkeep and maintenance.
Also, Street said MEEI is exploring the possible expansion of its building at 243 Charles St. “The Schepens building is a great space, but it’s already filled with researchers,” she added.
Besides supplementing much-needed parking in the area and providing an opportunity to replace the “crumbling” infrastructure of Storrow Drive, Street said the possible expansion would also create new jobs.
“Our growth means good long-term healthcare and biotech jobs,” Street said. “We really look forward to hearing feedback from the community.”
The informational meeting on MEEI’s campus planning takes place at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St., seventh-floor cafeteria, on Wednesday, June 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.