Meddling in neighborhood business

Rick Holmes

I don’t wade into Framingham’s affairs as much as I might like, mostly because most of our readers don’t live here.  But I waded into a local matter in today’s editorial, firing back at the NIMBYs opposing a proposal to turn the lovely Marist Brother’s property on Pleasant Street into a lovely campus for the treatment of eating disorders and depression.

Many will consider us wrong on this matter, but at least we’re consistent.  We supported locating a methadone clinic in downtown Framingham, near a residential area, over the objections of neighbors and the local political establishment.  We supported a group home in a Southside neighborhood for kids with a different eating disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome, over the objections of neighbors. We supported Wayside’s new campus for troubled adolescents in Rob’s old neighborhood.

The Pleasant Street proposal was an easy call for me.  When one former town official wrote to me complaining that letting a health care business into an area zoned residential would destroy “the integrity of the neighborhood,” I responded that, as a fan of multi-use zoning, I’m not a big fan of the old-style “only this can go here, only that can go there” zoning adopted back in the ’60s. The Marist parcel is a lovely island of green in a sea of single family subdivisions. In my view, replacing it with yet another 40-home subdivision would destroy the integrity of the neighborhood.

Besides, the opponents have trotted out a particularly ugly line of attack, using the Sandy Hook massacre to declare that the depressed, anorexic women seeking help at Walden Behavioral Care endanger the children in the school down the street. I’m glad to have a chance to take the other side.