Complaint: Non-English Speakers Denied Suffolk Downs Voice By City Agency

A civil rights complaint filed Monday accuses a Boston agency of violating federal law by failing to ensure non-English speakers can participate in discussions about the development of a former horse racing site.

The complaint filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights says the Boston Planning and Development Agency hasn't translated important documents or provided "competent and complete" oral interpretation at meetings in the review process for the development of the Suffolk Downs site.

Developers have proposed turning the former horse track in East Boston and Revere into a new neighborhood with shops, office space, parks, condos and town homes. The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of two groups that are pushing for the project to include more affordable housing and climate-resilient construction.

"By denying non-English speakers access to the review process for Suffolk Downs, the BPDA has precluded residents, community-based organizations, and the developers themselves from hearing from the communities most impacted by the project," the complaint says.

A BPDA spokeswoman said in an email that it has "prioritized creating a public process for the Suffolk Downs proposal that is inclusive for all."

Bonnie McGilpin said there has been Spanish language interpretation at every public meeting for the proposal and two public meetings exclusively in Spanish. The agency has also translated meeting materials and documents about the development, she said.

This article was originally published on February 03, 2020.



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