The University's Middle Campus Project took a significant step forward Tuesday night when the Newton Board of Aldermen's Land Use Committee voted 4-3 to recommend approval of the project.
The full board will begin discussing the project and is expected to vote on the proposal at its Oct. 7 meeting, said Vice President for Administration John T. Driscoll.
Boston College administrators hailed the committee's decision and encouraged University employees, especially those residing in Newton, to continue expressing their support of the project to Newton aldermen. The proposal must receive favorable votes from 16 of the 24 aldermen, a two-thirds majority, to gain final approval.
"We expect it to be a close vote, but we are confident our petition will succeed," Driscoll said. "Still, there is a lot of work to do and it would be an enormous help for people in Newton to contact city officials and ask that the project be approved."
Under the proposal, Boston College would locate a new academic building, a new, consolidated student center, and a replacement for McElroy Commons on the campus' southwest corner. The project, which will be built in three phases and is expected to take four-and-a-half years to complete, will provide needed classrooms, faculty and student services office space, and meeting rooms.
The proposal also includes steps to reduce vehicular traffic in the area. Boston College has devised a detailed delivery-truck management schedule and has formulated a plan that will substantially curtail BC bus traffic on Beacon Street during daytime hours. The proposal also describes efforts to enhance pedestrian safety in the area and to address the University's neighbors' other concerns about the project.
Driscoll said Tuesday's successful vote reflects Boston College's strong effort to point out the advantages and benefits of the project.
"We have said that this building is necessary for the advancement of BC's mission, which is to educate the whole person," he said. "Our hope is that more people will come to see that in our planning we have also considered the quality of life in our local neighborhoods."
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