I don’t think the West End was really worth saving, but here’s a story about someone getting kicked out by the BRA who worries about similar things happening in Boston, in the future, following last week’s Supreme Court decision.
Sad Ending to a West End Story, By Peter Gelzinis, Boston Herald
In the 1955 class photo of the William Blackstone Junior High, Jimmy Campano stands out. In a sea of smiles, he’s the kid who looks like a pallbearer. That’s because the West End was dying. And Jimmy knew his world was about to disappear.
Today, the years may have flattened out the wave of jet-black hair and added a few lines and creases, but the mistrust that burned in Campano’s face has not aged. For time has never been able to replace what the practitioners of eminent domain stole from him.
"I remember, back in 1954, they (BRA) sent the same letter around to all our houses,” Campano recalled. "Basically, what it said was, you can go right ahead and put money into your houses if you want, but you probably won’t get it back.
"So, of course, what happened? The neighborhood began to look more and more like the so-called slum they wanted to get rid of. They helped to create their own self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Campano allowed himself to believe the travesty perpetrated upon the West End had become such a disgraceful landmark in the annals of urban renewal that such an epic episode of naked greed could never happen again. The courts, he was convinced, would never allow it.
A few days ago, by a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially validated the crime that has haunted Campano, along with a veritable universe of displaced West End refugees, over half a lifetime. The justices scuttled a plea made by a group of homeowners from New London, Conn. They fought to hang on to their residences in the face of the city’s desire to jack up tax revenues with a mega-development.
Originally posted 2005-06-29 12:38:00.