At its Feb. 10 meeting, the Beacon Hill Civic Association board of directors voted to support legislation proposed by State Rep. Jay Livingstone that would allow the Massachusetts Ear and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) to expand its Boston campus.
The legislation would authorize the hospital to enter into a long-term agreement with the state to lease two surface parking lots located within the Charles River Esplanade. MEEI intends to build a 1,065-space garage beneath the parcels, and to convert the existing parking lots to landscaped public parkland at the street level. The creation of additional new greenspace is also proposed between Storrow Drive and the Charles River, as the state has determined that the relocation of Storrow Drive under one arch of the Longfellow Bridge could be a feasible and convenient component of the ongoing reconfiguration of the Longfellow Bridge.
The legislation would also allow MEEI to construct a 240,000 square-foot addition to its existing 15-floor facility at 243 Charles St. to accommodate additional administrative, medical, clinical, research operations.
The Civic Association board’s motion to support the proposed legislation was drafted by John Achatz, past president and an acting director of the group. It stipulates that “the proposed project be subject to design full design and environmental review under Article 80 of the Boston Zoning Code and the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act,” among other conditions.
“Mass. Eye and Ear is very pleased to have support of the Beacon Hill Civic Association, but we realize this is beginning of what we hope will be a thorough review process,” said Jennifer Street, the hospital’s vice president of communications. “We look forward to working closely with the group as the environmental and traffic studies get underway.”
Livingstone also expressed gratitude to the Civic Association for helping to champion his proposed legislation.
“I have worked closely with the Civic Association and other interested neighborhood and resident groups, as well as individuals, so I’m pleased that they are supporting me in filing the legislation,” Livingstone said. “It presents a great opportunity to significantly improve the Esplanade while helping to secure the future of Mass. Eye and Ear, which is an important business in our community.”