Gov. Deval Patrick has signed into law state legislation that will allow the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) to expand its Boston campus while restoring public parkland in the Charles River Esplanade.
The legislation, filed by State Rep. Jay Livingstone and co-sponsored by Sens. Anthony Petrucelli, Sal DiDomenico and Will Brownsbereger and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, authorizes the hospital to enter into a long-term agreement with the state to lease two surface parking lots located within the Esplanade. MEEI intends to build a 1,065-space garage beneath the parcels, converting the existing lots to landscaped parkland at the street level. Newly created greenspace is also proposed between Charles River and Storrow Drive, if, as the state has deemed feasible, the roadway is relocated beneath one arch of the Longfellow Bridge as part of the ongoing rehabilitation of the bridge.
The bill also allows 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 and research needs.
Livingstone told the Times that the legislation came as the result of a highly productive collaboration between The Esplanade Association, the Beacon Hill Civic Association, the West End Civic Association, MEEI and the state.
“I’m pleased that the legislation, which creates a framework to significantly expand the Esplanade and allow MEEI to secure the research and parking facilities it needs, has passed,” Livingstone said. “I look forward to continuing that collaboration through the public process for the project that now begin.”
MEEI spokeswoman Jennifer Street said, “We’re delighted that the state legislature and governor have supported the principles put forth in the legislation. It’s a very complex project, and now, the hard work begins.”