Neighborhood group, state rep oppose Taco Bell in Roslindale but would support a community center

Members of the neighborhood group that represents the streets along American Legion Highway in Roslindale vowed last night to fight a possible renewed attempt by a Taco Bell franchisee to open an outlet on American Legion at Walk Hill Street, between the Wendy's and the Haley Pilot School.

State Rep. Russell Holmes (D-6th Suffolk) told the Mount Hope/Canterbury/Manning/American Legion Neighborhood Association that he would join them in their fight against yet another fast-food drive-thru place on Roslindale's fast-food strip.

"I'm a no to Taco Bell," Holmes said.

Haley School Principal Kathleen Mendes Sullivan also voiced objections to sticking a Taco Bell next to her school.

A Taco Bell franchisee in Tennessee first proposed the location of the current Frosty Freeze and a used-car lot for a 24-hour drive-thru outlet in the spring of 2016. After the neighborhood group collected some 375 signatures on petitions against the idea and then voted it down unanimously at a meeting, the idea quietly disappeared.

But over the past couple of weeks, the franchisee has talked to Boston city officials to talk about re-starting the application process for a new Taco Bell, which would require approval from both the zoning board and the Boston Licensing Board - as well as meetings with neighbors.

Residents and Holmes said a much better use of the land, if the ice cream and cars must go, would be a community center, both for the neighboring Haley, which has no gym, and for neighbors - including the people who will be moving into the recently approved apartment building across American Legion. Nobody has yet to formally propose a community center - or funding for it - however, and Holmes said he could support commercial reuse of the land, just not for a fast-food outlet with a drive-thru.

Group organizer Lisa Beatman summarized the case against Taco Bell: A drive-thru at "the most dangerous intersection in the area" would only make conditions there worse and it's yet another low-nutrition fast-food outlet literally right next to a school, in a neighborhood that does not currently has a single non-fast-food restaurant and which already suffers the privations of slobs who toss their fast-food trash out their windows.

She said the Taco Bell would be the eighth fast-food joint on the strip. "That would be unacceptable in any other part of Boston," she said.

One resident tried playing devil's advocate. "People like fast food," Dmon Bills said. As an example, he pointed to his children: "I might like La Taqueria, they might like mushy gray tacos."

The possible impending battle is the latest for neighbors in the stretch from the intersection of American Legion, Cummins Highway and Canterbury Street down to Walk Hill Street, who say they sometimes feel forgotten by the rest of Roslindale, never mind the rest of the city.

One of the group's other efforts is to rename American Legion Highway to American Legion Parkway, in part to remove the perception it's a high-speed road where drag racers speed around with impunity on weekend nights and fast-food franchisees in other parts of the country think would be a good place for their restaurants because it's a highway. The group is also working to bring traffic calming methods to the road.

Holmes last year introduced legislation to make the name change, but withdrew his bill after Boston officials objected, saying the change should go through the city's "public improvement" process, because it's a city-owned road. The problem is that that process requires 100% buy-in from all the property owners along the road, and group organizer Rick Yoder said that is proving next to impossible since many of the parcels are owned by out-of-state corporations who just don't care.

The state of the neighborhood led to a brief verbal skirmish between Holmes and group members. Talking about the area's perception, Yoder said some people in the rest of Roslindale "are afraid to come over here."

Holmes, who also represents parts of Mattapan and Dorchester, said it's time to cut that kind of talk out, that the neighborhood is fine, his mother even lives there.

"You keep acting like this is not a well off neighborhood," he said. "Go to Franklin Field. Go to Franklin Hill."

Yoder responded by bringing up Jamaica Plain and the Back Bay. He and other residents agreed the area is great, but that the perception on the other side of Hyde Park Avenue isn't helped by things such as barbed wire on the fence around an American Legion Highway church building.

"No, this is a good neighborhood," Holmes continued. "Don't beat up on my neighborhoods is all I'm saying."

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Comments

So...

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Everyone would rather have a free public recreation center than a Taco Bell? How shocking!

The problem is, no one is offering that. It's private land. They don't owe you free use of their land just because they have to go to a zoning meeting.

I'd rather have a big tree that gives free money on the site as well. But just listing off unrealistic things you'd rather have in your neighborhood is not helpful.

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Voting is closed. 57

Yes!

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Everyone is so generous with other peoples' money (land)!

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*Eyeroll*

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Seriously?
It's a Taco Bell not a super fund site. And a "community center" whatever the hell that is supposed to be, would be a waste in a space that could hold a viable business that generates traffic, like Taco Bell.

And what's up with this contradiction? [from Lisa Beatman]

in a neighborhood that does not currently has a single non-fast-food restaurant

Taco Bell would be the eighth fast-food joint on the strip

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Read it again. It's not well

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Read it again. It's not well worded but the speaker is saying there are many fast food restaurants in that area and no "non-fast food restaurants" i.e. sit down restaurants. That's an accurate statement for that neighborhood.

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Voting is closed. 15

Yep

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That's what I meant. Now to see if I can word it better (I mean, technically, the Wendy's and McDonald's are "sit down" in the sense that they have tables and chairs, but she meant a place with an actual chef who cooks stuff that gets served to you).

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What

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The United Microwave Workers International Union doesn't count?

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American Legion Parkway

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This is where the logic of the community group goes off the tracks.

The problem is that that process requires 100% buy-in from all the property owners along the road, and group organizer Rick Yoder said that is proving next to impossible since many of the parcels are owned by out-of-state corporations who just don't care.

If they don't care either way, buy in would be easy. I would imagine, though, that some of the abutters who are in the area might be less inclined just due to the very nature of people. Just one person can muck this up.

They are spot on about the church, which should be noted inherited the barbed wire fence when they bought the property from the phone company back in the day (so far back I cannot remember the name of the phone company.) I was running by there last week and they were having summer camp for kids. A bit of work on the property would do wonders. But that would cost money. Just like building a community center would cost money. So maybe the community group could toss some coin over to the church from what they have left over from building the community center.

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I'm thinking the issue is

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I'm thinking the issue is less their opposition and more actually finding the person who needs to sign off on it. They might be paying their property taxes no issues, but that doesn't mean they're letting community groups knock on their doors.

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Trash

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Why are fast food joints being blamed for trash? She should hold a meeting and ask the neighborhood to stop littering.

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Taco Bell Is Among The Least Offensive Fast-Food Restaurants

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The emissions from a Taco Bell restaurant pale in comparison to the greasy smoke of a McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or Burger King.

Once in while when the wind is out of certain direction I'll catch a whiff of fried fish from Kelly's, or a hint of wood-fired/char-broiler from Renzo's — I'm 2-3 blocks away, as the seagull flies, and it doesn't happen very often. I like the taste of Burger King, but I wouldn't want to live next door and/or directly downwind of their broiler.

While not odor-free, living near a Taco Bell would be preferable to many other restaurants, especially those specializing in broiled or fried foods. In a neighborhood with other high-emmision restaurants, adding a Taco Bell to the mix might actually improve air quality. Instead of buying broiled burgers, some customers may switch to beef burritos filled with meat manufactured in a factory far away.
   IMAGE(http://www.universalhub.com/files/uhub215_0_0_1_1.png)
   IMAGE(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pgKZWAoLjrw/TT-sabkELeI/AAAAAAAAMH4/fDIJ-frjcgM/s1600/taco%2Bbell%2Bmeat%2Bingredients.jpg)
          ( one's own personal emissions after dining there are a different issue )

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Voting is closed. 12

Where Did They Meet

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To decide they needed a community center? Was it perhaps in a community room?

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Actually, no

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It was in what appeared to be a classroom or activity room at the Home for Little Wanderers.

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Building has issues

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"The Home" has/had issues with the building. It needs work. Last I heard -- and that was quite some time ago -- was that they were either going to sink funds into the building or seek a new location.

The Home was previously the Roslindale General Hospital, a local regional hospital not unlike the Faulkner, and by Faulkner... I mean the old building that stood where the garage is now, which was about the same in size and functionality.

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Community Center... well... historically speaking...

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I sometimes marvel at the new people that have moved into the area who have no concept of local history, yet foist themselves as historians. That said...

Community Center? Yeah, that's a nice idea.

However, the Haley School itself was never built there to be a school. It is a building that was obtained and re-purposed by the City that CONVERTED it into a school, taking the original structure and making some small additions.

That structure started its life as a recreational commercial center. It was a bowling alley -- and a big one at that -- and a billiard hall. The bowling included both 10-pin and candle-pin lanes. We'd all walk there (no bus in those days) to bowl on a Saturday afternoon or when the guy that ran the bowling alley in Roslindale Sq had a mad-on for the local kids and threw us out.

Schools have come and gone in re-purposed buildings. The now-named West Zone offices for the school department, which is also the school for "troubled" youth that have been suspended from their regular facility, was re-purposed from an office for the FW Faxon Corporation. It was later obtained by the city and turned into the Barron Grammar School hosting grades K to 6, and after a population shift, became the West Zone Offices.

No community center there of course.

Existing local city community centers include those in Roslindale Sq, Mattapan (Mildred Ave), JP (Curtis), and two in West Roxbury (Roche and Ohrenberger). The pools, Flaherty at Healy Field and Draper at Draper Field are also part of the community centers groupings. The city doesn't have funds for a new community center and it is not in this year's budget. As it is the city is rebuilding and renovating several centers in need of work. Anything of a new nature would be several years in the making.

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Voting is closed. 10

ummm just showing up to a

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ummm just showing up to a zoning meaning doesn't mean that privately held land will suddenly become a "community center." This "neighborhood association" needs to reevaluate their demands in the context of a capitalistic society. Ah yes, the word "highway," so offensive to the yuppie ear aside from their childish affinity for racing on them.

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Voting is closed. 6