Koch To Use Federal Money To Buy Munroe Building

Mayor Thomas Koch announced plans to use federal pandemic relief money to acquire the Munroe Building in Quincy Center (pictured here) and a nearby parking lot. The land could one day provide a new home for Quincy College. The mayor’s announcement Thursday came one week after he withdraw a plan to borrow funds for those purchases amid opposition from city councillors. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth.

By SCOTT JACKSON

Mayor Thomas Koch on Thursday said he would use $15 million in federal pandemic relief funds to acquire the Munroe Building and a second parcel of land in Quincy Center.

On Thursday, Koch joined U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch at a press conference inside the Quincy College welcome center at Presidents Place, where the congressman announced the city-owned school would be receiving $10.7 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package Congress approved in March. The award to Quincy College is in addition to the $46.3 million the city will be receiving directly from the ARP.

Quincy College will receive $10.7 million in federal funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (center) said on May 27. Half of those funds will be set aside for the college’s students and half can be used for the school itself. Joining Lynch for the announcement were (from left): Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy, City Council President Nina Liang, Mayor Thomas Koch, and College President Richard DeCristofaro. Not pictured is state Rep. Tackey Chan. Quincy Sun Photo/Scott Jackson

Lynch said half of the $10.7 million would be set aside for the benefit of the college’s students and the other half would be spent on the college itself.

Koch said he planned to ask the college’s board of governors to approve using a portion of that $5.3 million to purchase the Munroe Building at 1227 Hancock St. and the nearby parking lot at 1177 Hancock St. The remaining funds for the acquisitions would come from the $46.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds the city will receive, an allocation that does not require approval from city councillors.

The mayor said the city should acquire the land while it is available.

“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of planning to do, but if we lose that site, we are going to be in trouble,” he said. “I think that site is too important for economic development right around the Quincy Center station, educational purposes, tourism purposes.”

After acquiring the properties, Koch said he would solicit community feedback on their future use. He is hopeful the land could be used to provide a new home for Quincy College

“Hopefully within a year or so we can come back after a lot of community discussion, a lot of community feedback, with a solid plan going forward,” Koch said.

“The plan is to use a portion of the money for the college, a portion of the money that was dedicated to the city side to secure that site, and then we will continue the discussions, the planning, and hopefully secure a final home, a permanent home, for Quincy College.”

Koch had previously sought to borrow $23 million to purchase the Munroe Building and the nearby parking lot as part of a proposal to construct a 16-story building to house both Quincy College and municipal offices. The bond would have also covered the cost of relocating the building’s tenants and designing the proposed new municipal facility That proposal, however, was withdrawn last week amid opposition from city councillors.

At Thursday’s press conference, Koch reiterated his support for building a new home for the college.

“I know I have said it publicly before, but to secure the college’s future, it needs to have its own home,” he said. “We can’t continue to be nomads leasing in different parts of the city. A hundred thousand square feet right at the Quincy Center station makes absolutely perfect sense.”

Lynch called the prospect of buying a new home for the college “tremendously exciting.”

“While that is not in my purview, I just know the facts here. Forty-seven percent of the students at Quincy College are people of color,” he said.

“Part of this funding is really to address inequity, right, and the impact it has had on parts of this community. When you think about the population here that is being served at Quincy College, there would be a certain appropriateness to ideas like that.”

Quincy Tree Alliance Announces Student Winners Of Logo Contest

By Quincy Tree Alliance

Three local high schoolers have won $350 for logos they designed for the Quincy Tree Alliance, a new volunteer group dedicated to protecting and expanding the city’s urban forest.

First Prize – designed by NQHS senior Chloe Chin.

North Quincy senior Chloe Chin won the top prize of $200 for her logo, which incorporates a Quincy Center skyline; Quincy High sophomore Christiana P. Nguyen won $100 for a design featuring a leafy letter “Q”; and Quincy High sophomore Josephine Leung won $50 for a tree featuring heart-shaped leaves.

The contest, sponsored by members of the Quincy Tree Alliance (QTA), asked high school and college students in or from Quincy to design a logo for the new community organization. Fifteen entries were received by the contest deadline of April 1, and the designs were featured on QTA’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and in The Quincy Sun. Members of the public voted for their favorite entries on social media and by email, and the top six vote getters were then voted on by members of QTA, which announced the results on April 30, Arbor Day.

“We were so impressed with all of the entries,” said QTA chair Maggie McKee. “The contestants clearly put a lot of thought and effort into their designs, and that showed in the quality of the work. It made for a very difficult decision.”

In the end, the group chose three simple and striking logos for its cash prizes, with the grand prize going to a stand of trees surrounded by three historic buildings in Quincy Center: United First Parish Church, the Granite Trust Company building, and old City Hall. “We wanted our logo to have a connection to the city, and this one did so in a bold and beautiful way,” said McKee.

Chloe Chin, the logo’s creator, said she values the trees in our city. “It is important that we take care of our environment so it can take care of us,” she said.

Second prize – designed by Quincy High sophomore Christiana P. Nguyen.

Chin taught herself graphic design as a passion project this past year, inspired by her artistic older sister, Brenda. She did not expect to win the contest but entered because she figured she had nothing to lose. “There were so many amazing entries,” said Chin. “I felt so happy and honored to have mine chosen.” She plans to use her winnings to buy textbooks at Babson College, where she will head after graduating from North in June.

Christiana P. Nguyen, winner of the second prize and a QHS sophomore, said she is also honored to have won a prize in a contest that featured so many “unique and innovative submissions.” She is active in various environmental and social justice groups, including the Quincy High School Green Team and the QYouth Climate Movement. “I hope that we as a community can unite in the continued support of local environmental organizations like the Quincy Tree Alliance,” said Nguyen. “We need to protect and conserve the greenery and wildlife that make Quincy beautiful. This is our home.”

QHS sophomore Josephine Leung said she is grateful to have won third prize in the contest, which she entered “for fun, to experiment with something new.” Her design struck a chord with people for its warmth and simplicity. One Facebook commenter wrote, “There is power in its simple beauty. The leaves as hearts is just genius.”

Third prize – designed by Quincy High sophomore Josephine Leung.

The Quincy Tree Alliance is a new group that came together after concerned residents noticed mature street trees being cut down around the city in recent years. The group plans to work with local government, other community groups, and individuals to protect and grow Quincy’s tree canopy. If you’d like to learn more about QTA, visit facebook.com/QuincyTreeAlliance, instagram.com/quincytreealliance, or email quincytreealliance@gmail.com.