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Spotlight Report

  A Boston Globe Editorial  

Room for Boston College

4/23/2004

THE SALE of much of the archdio cesan complex in Brighton to Boston College has troubled some neighbors because of its suddenness and the potential for the intrusion of undergraduates into their lives. But it is a major step forward for the college, and if done right, it will cement BC's standing as a major university without unduly disturbing Brighton residents.

The archdiocese needs the $99.4 million purchase price to pay the settlement in the clerical abuse scandal. Without the scandal, the $85 million for the settlement could have been used effectively to further the religious and charitable mission of the archdiocese, but a payment of this size was necessary to partially compensate the victims and resolve the scandal. In any event, most of the site is underutilized. Selling 43 acres to Boston College -- with an additional 3.25 acres to follow -- allows the land to further the mission of this Catholic educational institution.

Boston College is desperate for space. Its last major expansion came in 1974, when it acquired the old Newton College of the Sacred Heart as a satellite campus a mile away in Newton Centre. The archdiocesan land is much better located, just across Commonwealth Avenue from the main campus.

Because of the suddenness of the purchase, Boston College has no firm plan for the newly acquired space -- it still has to raise the money to pay for it -- but the early thinking is that the land could be used as a baseball field, and perhaps administrative offices or parking as well. Any of these uses would free space for more classrooms and dormitories on the school's main campus, not on the newly purchased site.

The Menino administration has ample zoning powers to make sure that whatever Boston College does is compatible with the neighborhood. Higher education is one of the growth industries of the Boston area, and this purchase gives Boston College the room to stretch out to greatness without squeezing its neighbors.


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