Office Building, Soccer Fields Proposed

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

In an effort to address pressing needs for academic office and athletic playing field space, Boston College has proposed the construction of a new office building on Hammond Street and two athletic fields on the Newton Campus.

The new office building would be located between Murray and Hovey houses on what is now vacant land, according to Associate Vice President for State and Community Relations Paul White. "It will have the exterior appearance of a residential building and will be of a scale equivalent to that of neighboring Hammond Street buildings," White said. "This building would help to accommodate the severe needs for space for existing faculty, staff and students engaged in humanities and social science research."

Architect's drawing of the proposed Hammond Street office building.
The building's interior would be constructed in such a way that significant portions of the space could be reconfigured to accommodate the needs of various researchers. White said three visiting professors, as well as up to 30 faculty and support staff would be housed there. Many would be there temporarily while working on funded research projects that would necessitate the use of extra space. As one group's project winds down, it would be relocated and another, more active group would move in, White said.

Because of the property's location, the project requires the approval of the Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission. Boston College representatives outlined the project in detail before the commission last month and are scheduled to return this evening. The project, which conforms to zoning regulations, also requires site plan approval from the Newton Building Department.

Separately, the need for athletic practice and playing space is driving the proposal to construct two new playing fields on the Newton Campus, White said. "We have 33 varsity sports and have insufficient practice and playing space for them now," he said.

The proposal calls for the construction of a regulation soccer field for use by the men's and women's varsity squads' games, and a smaller practice field for those teams, as well as for intramural use by BC students. The University is not proposing to install lighting at the fields and plans to use temporary stands that would be erected only for the fall soccer season.

Tennis courts in the area would be moved to a nearby site, White said, and an easement that connects Colby Road to Edmand's Park, a city-owned recreational area, would be enhanced, he said. Some city residents who use Edmand's Park have voiced concern about the plan, but White said BC's immediate neighbors are largely satisfied with it.

BC must gain the approval of Newton's Conservation Commission because a wet area is located near the site. Some residents have claimed it is a permanent stream, which would necessitate a 200-foot setback for the field. But White said the area is an intermittent stream, meaning it is dry for part of the year and, therefore, does not require a setback.

"We have very compelling scientific proof from people who have worked in the area and are experts on topography that it is not a permanent stream," White said. He added that nothing appears on the United States Geological Survey maps - the standard guide for determining such issues - indicating a permanent stream flows in the area.

BC has proposed plans for the use of natural treatments for the field and measures to control run-off.

The University will appear before the Conservation Commission on July 23.

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