Mayor Walsh announces reform for Boston Redevelopment Authority

Daily Free PressBy Lavanya Prabhakar | The Daily Free Press

In an effort to establish trust in city planning, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced a plan Tuesday to reform the identity of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, according to a Tuesday press release.

“This initiative will establish an identity, mission, and values for the organization that are reflective of the Walsh Administration’s commitment to smart and sound urban planning and positive economic development, and that are reflective of the critical reforms already underway,” the release stated.

Walsh announced that the agency will strive toward a goal of transparency and accountability.

“This is another opportunity to improve city government and take a hard look at an agency that has a difficult legacy to overcome,” Walsh said in the release. “The Boston Redevelopment Authority will be an important symbol of change that underscores this progress.”

According to the release, the initiative will redefine the agency’s identity as well as “inspire greater trust and confidence in the city’s planning agency.”

Gina Physic, a spokesperson for the BRA, explained how necessary the reforms are.

“There were a series of audits that took place in 2014 that did not produce the best of results and kind of showed some inconsistencies in reporting,” Physic said. “We’ve been at this for two years, making sure that we take these positive steps and really make sure that we are turning around how the agency is viewed, because it has changed quite a bit.”

Physic also described the next steps in the organization’s process of transformation.

“We are looking to hire a strategic advisor to help craft an organizational identity and brand strategy that is more in line with the image we are trying to project under Mayor Walsh,” Physic said. “Then, we’re looking to hire the consultants during the spring and have a plan in place by fall.”

According to Physic, the goal of the reforms is to “make sure that [the BRA is] accountable in communication, in engaging the community more.”

Barry Bluestone, director of the Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, said the relationship between the city and the BRA is already showing improvement.

“The agency is becoming much more efficient and certainly has under this mayor,” Bluestone said. “We can see it under the billions of dollars of buildings which are going up, and my impression from meeting the developers is that they are finding it easier to work with the city today than it has been in the past.”

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