New Affordable Housing Planned For Quincy Center

RENOVATIONS are planned for the 19th century home at 47-49 Spear St. (pictured) and a home at adjacent 45 Spear St. to create new affordable housing units. The homes were purchased using $2.1 million in Affordable Housing Trust Committee monies and they will be renovated with Community Preservation Committee funding. Quincy Sun Photo/Scott Jackson


Quincy officials on Wednesday announced plans to renovate a pair of historic homes on Spear Street in Quincy Center to provide between eight and thirteen units of affordable housing.

“Today for me is a twofer,” said Mayor Thomas Koch. “We’re talking about doing some affordable units while preserving a historic structure.”

Plans for the properties at 45 and 47-49 Spear St. were unveiled at Wednesday’s announcement. The city acquired the properties earlier in September for a combined $2.1 million, using funds from the Affordable Housing Trust.

The home at 47-49 Spear St. was originally built in the early 1800s by Seth Spear and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, Koch said. The house at neighboring 45 Spear St. was built in 1910, according to the city’s online property records.

Speaking during the announcement, Koch said not every historic structure in the city can be saved, but it makes sense to do so in the case of the Spear Street properties.

“Spear Street is an interesting street. It’s got a mixture of types of housing and I know the neighborhood felt inundated when there was a proposal here just a few years back to put some 34 units on this site, and it would have had a dramatic impact on this site and the neighborhood,” he said.

“It’s not far from the historic district of Quincy Center or the transportation hub with Quincy Center station, but nonetheless it’s a little further into the neighborhood from the core of the center. Recognizing the sensitivity of that, recognizing the importance of the historic aspect of it and recognizing the need to continue to come up with workforce and affordable housing, we thought this was an easy one to pursue.”

ARTIST’s rendering showing conceptual plans for the properties at 47-49 Spear St. (left) and 45 Spear St. (right) once the renovations are finished. Work could begin on the buildings next spring and it is expected to take a year to complete.

With the buildings acquired, the mayor said the city would work with an architect to come up with plans to renovate the spaces. The city plans to use Community Preservation Committee funding to pay for the renovations.

“It’s early on in the process,” Koch said. “We’ve secured the building at this point and we’ll begin the process now working with the architect, getting the pricing down, the estimates down, going to Community Preservation Committee and then begin the process of the construction.”

The city hopes to begin work on the renovations in the spring and will take about a year to complete, Koch said. He added it was too soon to say what the price tag for the renovations will be.

Once complete, the new units will be for Quincy residents only, the mayor said.

“I’m really not interested in finding a house for somebody from Springfield,” Koch said. “This project is going to be Quincy people only.

“I said respectfully to the state there is no state money involved here, it’s all local money, so I think the people of our city should come first.”

The city will likely reach an agreement with the Quincy Housing Authority or an entity like NeighborWorks to maintain the properties going forward, Koch added.

Since the Affordable Housing Trust Committee was established in 2001, it has accepted a total of 125 on- and off-site units from private developments that are set aside for households making 80 percent of the median income for the area, said Sherry Zou, the housing programs manager for the city’s planning department. The committee has also accepted $38 million in payments in lieu of affordable units, she said.

“With that, we’ve funded affordable housing projects that directly resulted in the creation of affordable housing units, most of them occupied, some of them under construction and a few, like this project in front of us today, we have recently approved,” Zou said. “With this project’s current proposal…we would have a total of 600 units across the city as a result of the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance.”

Other projects receiving monies from the Affordable Housing Trust Committee include the Kiley Building and the Finn Building, both of which opened in Quincy Center last year and include a total of 54 units, Zou said. A total of $5.25 million in trust fund monies were allocated to those buildings.

Zou said that $1 million in trust fund monies were allocated to Father Bill’s and MainSpring for the construction of the new Yawkey Housing Resource Center. In addition, $1 million in trust fund monies were set aside to help residents impacted by severe winter storms in 2018 and another $1 million was used to provide rental assistance for service workers in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Koch credited Joseph Finn, the namesake of the Finn Building, for his work to pass the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance in 2001 while he was serving on the City Council.

“Joe worked very hard on this. That was his lifelong mission, really, to get people the help they need to get into a home,” Koch said. “Not necessarily a home – not everyone should be in a home with a white picket fence, but a home meaning they have somewhere to go at night…whether it’s a room or a couple of rooms to call their own.

“I want to certainly thank Joe Finn for all his vision creating the inclusionary zoning which led to today, the money and units that got poured in by the developers.”

Planning Director James Fatseas said the city would continue to develop new affordable housing.

“We haven’t finished yet,” he said. “We’re going to continue to do this mission.”

Granite Links Developer Withdraws Request For 99-Year Lease Extension


The developer behind Granite Links on Monday pressed pause on his request for a 99-year lease extension, citing the timeline for planned improvements to the intersection of Ricciuti Drive and Willard Street.

Mayor Thomas Koch in 2022 submitted a home rule petition to the City Council that, if approved, would have allowed the city and Quarry Hills Associates, the operators of Granite Links, to enter into a 99-year lease extension for the 242-acre property off Ricciuti Drive. Councillors held a pair of public hearings on the matter, one in November and the other in February, during which time a number of residents raised concerns about the lease extension.

In Monday’s letter to city councillors, Quarry Hills Associates President Thomas O’Connell said he “thought it best to pause the lease extension at this time.”

“Given the current projected timeline regarding the Ricciuti Drive intersection safety improvements, Quarry Hills has made the decision to request the withdrawal of QHA’s request for a 99-year lease extension,” O’Connell said.

“Over the past year QHA has attended and presented at numerous Quincy City Council meetings, conducted public on-site meetings and tours, met with citizens both from and outside Quincy and met with every city councillor individually. We have listened to the voices of our fellow citizens, our customers, and members of the City Council.

“There remains legitimate safety concerns regarding the Ricciuti Drive intersection that must be addressed as a component of the overall corridor planning efforts, and we look forward to participating in that public process. We recognize that it will take time for the MassDOT process of infrastructure study and planning to correct the Ricciuti Drive intersection deficiencies, and that time frame appears to coincide with the current challenging economic climate. As a result, I thought it best to pause the lease extension proposal at this time.”

(A spokesperson for the mayor did not immediately return a request for comment Monday afternoon.)

MassDOT held a community meeting in August to review plans to address the intersection of Ricciuti Drive and Willard Street, which is located at the bottom of the hill upon which Granite Links was constructed. Officials said the design of the intersection improvements – which will include a new traffic signal, changes to the geometry, bike lanes and other features – should be finalized by May 2025. The timeline for work on the $1.5 million project, the cost of which will be borne by the federal and state governments, has yet to be determined.

While O’Connell has withdrawn his request for the lease extension, on Monday he indicated that Quarry Hills Associates would honor the commitments it made to the community during the public process.

“Please know that we will fulfill our commitments to (i) upgrade the ballfields at the end of this playing season and (ii) install the enhanced hiking trail signage this year,” he wrote in the letter to city councillors, adding “We believe that all interested parties have a fuller understanding of the breadth of lease obligations that QHA delivers upon throughout the year, regardless of the season.”

In the future, O’Connell said Quarry Hills Associates “will invest the time to prepare a conceptual development plan with supporting data.”

“That will allow us to discuss potential development projects more comprehensively, as well as the resultant projected lease revenue increases to the city,” he said.

“We appreciate the open and candid conversations regarding the 99-year lease extension request and look forward to continuing those discussions in the future.”

The city’s current 50-year lease with Quarry Hills Associates was approved in 1994 and amended in 2002, city officials said previously. Under the current lease, the city receives 10 percent of all gross golf-related revenue the club generates and 10 percent of all other net revenue from the facility, including functions and food and alcohol sales. Between 2002 and 2022, the city received $7.6 million in rental payments from the club, including $825,000 last year, a representative from Granite Links told city councillors in February.

Murder Defendant Returned To Massachusetts

The last at-large co-defendant in the February 15, 2022 shooting homicide of 17-year old Weymouth High School student Nathan Paul in Quincy has been returned to Massachusetts and will be arraigned early this week, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey.

Quincy Police and State Police traveled to Puerto Rico to take custody of Keniel Diaz-Romero, formerly of Quincy, last week, and he is due to be arraigned on a murder indictment in Norfolk Superior Court at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26, District Attorney Morrissey said.

“State Police assigned to the Norfolk District Attorney’s office and Quincy Police have been working with the US Marshals Service and the the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section of the Massachusetts State Police to first locate, then return this defendant to Massachusetts since this indictment issued sixteen months ago,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “I thank Quincy Police Chief Mark Kennedy, the US Marshals Boston Office and VFAS for their coordination and cooperation here.”

Diaz-Romero is represented by Boston Attorney Liam Scully. The matter is being handled for the Commonwealth by Assistant District Attorney Aubrey Burr.

In addition to murder, the Norfolk County Grand Jury also issued indictments against Diaz-Romero for: larceny from a person; possession of a counterfeit bill; uttering a counterfeit bill; and conspiracy to commit larceny; and unlawfully carrying a ­firearm.

A July 2022 press release concerning juvenile co-defendants can be found here.

Diaz-Romero is being held pending arraignment at the Norfolk County Jail in Dedham.

QATV To Host Mayoral Debates Sept. 25, Oct. 12

Quincy Access Television (QATV) announces it will host two Mayoral Debates between Mayor Thomas Koch and Councillor-at-Large Anne Mahoney.

The first debate will be on Monday, Sept. 25th and televised live from QATV beginning at 7 p.m.  The debate will be shown on QATV-8, QATV-HD 1072 and online at  Moderated by QATV’s Joe Catalano, it will feature questions submitted by Quincy residents.  Due to space constraints, the debate is closed to the public.

“Quincy Access Television is happy to organize and host the debates to help inform the voters of Quincy,” QATV’s Executive Director Jonathan Caliri said.  “We felt it was important to give residents an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates, which is why this debate was dedicated for that.”

Residents who wish to submit a question for consideration can visit and complete the online form.  Questions can also be mailed to Mayoral Debate Questions, c/o Quincy Access Television, 88 Washington St., Quincy, MA 02169.

The second debate will be held on Thursday, Oct. 12th at 7 p.m. at Quincy High School and will be open to the public.  Additional information will be released soon.

For more information about the Mayoral Debates or additional replay times, visit or call 617-376-1440 ext. 224.

Board OKs South Quincy Dispensary


The Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a proposal to open a recreational marijuana dispensary on Liberty Street in South Quincy.

The Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday granted permission for a marijuana dispensary to open on Liberty Street in South Quincy. The applicant still needs approval from state regulators. Rendering Courtesy Valere Architects.

The ZBA on Tuesday unanimously approved the request of Cloud Nine Cannabis LLC, which plans to operate under the name Pinnacle Cannabis, to open the dispensary at 15 Liberty St. The applicant still needs approval from the Massachusetts Cannabis Commission before opening.

The property at 15 Liberty St. contains 9,700 square feet of land and is zoned Industrial A, according to the city’s online property records. Located at the intersection of Liberty and Water streets, the lot is presently home to an auto repair shop.

The applicant first went before the zoning board with the proposal for the site in August and, at the board’s request, completed a traffic study in time for this week’s meeting.

During Tuesday’s hearing, William Phelan, the applicant’s attorney, said his client was able to rework the traffic plan for the site between the two meetings. The applicant was able to obtain an easement to use a curb cut on Water Street – which is on a neighboring property that has the same owner as the dispensary site – so customers can enter the lot from Liberty Street and then exit onto Water Street.

“The entrance would actually be on Liberty Street and the exit would be on Water Street and that would allow for much smoother traffic flow,” said Phelan, a former mayor of Quincy. “It would allow for the parking to be not quite as difficult to maneuver in and out of and, according to the traffic plan, in any event it would not even delay traffic for a second at the peak hours in the evening or morning rush hour.

“These dispensaries aren’t really jam packed with cars at any point in time but nonetheless with BJ’s gas station there I can understand the board’s concern.”

Moving the exit from the parking lot to the Water Street curb cut will not impact traffic at the intersection of Liberty and Water streets, Phelan added.

“The light at Water Street is a little close, but that light is not historically a light – as depicted in the traffic plan – to back up in any shape or manner. In other words, nobody stays at that light more than one cycle, even at peak hours,” he said.

“The number of cars that would be maneuvering out of that site would not in any way impact that intersection. The most that would ever occur would seem to me would be that…somebody exiting the site might have to wait until that light cycle changed and then maneuver out safely, but certainly it’s not going to cause any type of backup or delay for anybody on the street.”

During the public hearing, Brian Backman, a resident of Pleasant Street, said the dispensary would “not be good for the city or for the neighborhood.” Backman listed traffic in the area among his concerns.

“To say that traffic is not an issue in that area I think is a little short-sighted, all due respect to the studies that have been done. I have lived at that residence since 2004. A lot of accidents have happened in that area,” he said.

“We’ve done in a lot in the city to help, starting with stop signs and then flashing five-way stop signs to the light system we have now, which has greatly helped reduce the traffic accidents there. It does cause backups during rush hours.”

Two other residents of Pleasant Street wrote letters to the zoning board in opposition to the proposal.

Matthew Lyons, a Centre Street resident running for City Council this fall, said area residents he has spoken to aren’t “opposed to having recreational marijuana dispensaries around” but are concerned they are being squeezed into certain sections of Quincy. He said a medical dispensary is open on Ricciuti Drive in West Quincy, a recreational one is located on Washington Street in Quincy Point, and community meetings have been held about potential facilities on Brook Road and Quincy Avenue.

“I think the problem and the perception of a lot of this is, is why are they all being dumped West/South Quincy and Quincy Point. Why don’t the good people in Squantum, Merrymount, and every other neighborhood have the opportunity to have their weed so they don’t have to drive down to West Quincy to get it?” Lyons said.

James Dunn, a resident of Babcock Street, voiced his support for the proposal. He said the board has to consider items on a case-by-case basis, so the Brook Road dispensary will be dealt with when it comes before the board. Dunn also said the dispensary at 15 Liberty St. should help clean up that lot.

“It’s going to clean up that corner and make Quincy more presentable,” Dunn said. “And, I hope I don’t offend anybody, there’s going to be change in Quincy and this board has pretty much always been for good change. There’s always going to be change and people have to accept it. Quincy stood still for so long.”

Following the public comments, board members voted 5-0 to approve the request.

“I’m not concerned about the business,” said Martin Aikens, the board’s chairperson. “I’m concerned about what’s there now that I don’t like. Cars all over that place and making that intersection look worse than it is. It’s almost like a horror show when you drive around and all these cars everywhere.

“I think it’s going to be good, I do, and I will be voting in favor.”

Vice chairperson Brian Radell said the dispensary should be easy to get in and out of and shouldn’t cause traffic concerns.

“It’s pretty easy on, easy off from Burgin Parkway. It’s pretty minimal impact in terms of additional traffic,” he said.

“We constantly hear about traffic on this board. I will continue to say, people have a heightened sense of awareness traffic when they’re in it and they don’t when they don’t. I certainly can appreciate the sentiments – I’ve pounded my wheel too at 7:30 in the morning but I’ve also driven around on a Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and there’s not a soul driving in the city of Quincy.”

Gov. Healey Visits Snug Harbor School, Leaders Celebrate Permanent Universal Free School Meals

Gov. Maura T. Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll hosted a press conference Thursday morning (Sept. 14) at Snug Harbor Elementary School in Quincy, to celebrate her administration delivering permanent universal free school meals for K-12 students in Massachusetts

The governor was joined at the celebration by House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano, Chair Aaron Michlewitzbill sponsors Representatives Tackey Chan and Bruce Ayers, and Erin McAleer, the president and CEO of Project Breadall of whom highlighted the impact the program is expected to have in addressing hunger and advancing equity for students across the state. 

We’re making school lunch and breakfast free for all students permanently in Massachusetts,” said Gov. Healey. “By delivering universal free meals, this administration is making clear that nothing is more important than ensuring our kids are fed, healthy, and ready to learn and play and grow. 

Universal free school meals are an investment in childhood nutrition, ensuring each of our school-aged students has access to the healthy food they need to fuel their learning,” said Lt. Gov. Driscoll. “This policy is also removing a source of stress from families and schools, leading to one less task for parents to complete in the morning, and making sure no student feels stigmatized or ashamed for accessing the food they need.”  

The fiscal 2024 budget that Governor Healey signed on August 92023 delivered $172 million in permanent state funding to provide universal free school meals for K-12 students. This funding, paired with federal reimbursement for eligible meals, means that all students who attend schools that participate in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs are entitled to one free lunch and breakfast each school day. 

 “During my 12 years as a teacher in the Quincy Public School System, I saw up-close just how important it is to ensure that a student’s ability to focus and ultimately succeed in the classroom is not affected by their family’s financial circumstances,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano. “I’m incredibly proud that Massachusetts will be one of the first 8 states to permanently provide free school meals for all students, a vital initiative that furthers the Commonwealth’s role as a national leader in education. I want to thank Chairman Michlewitz and my colleagues in the House, as well as the Healey Administration, our partners in the Senate, and the folks at Project Bread for recognizing the critical nature of this program, and for working to make it a reality.” 

 Making school meals free for students in Massachusetts will keep our young people focused on learning and provide financial relief for families who will save hundreds of dollars per student every year,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “It’s a proud moment for me—and for our entire Commonwealth—to know that our students and their families will have one less thing to think about before heading out the door for class every morning.” 

“Our families, schools and communities are stronger when kids don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from and when school staff don’t have to worry about whether their students are hungry,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch. “We are honored to welcome Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll and Speaker Mariano to Quincy today to celebrate this policy that will have widespread positive impacts for our city.” 

Making school meals free for all is a historic victory for Massachusetts families and children. It will have a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of an entire generation. We are so grateful to Governor Healey, the legislature and the thousands of advocates across the Commonwealth who took action for our kids. It is an incredible example of the change that we can make when we all come together around a common purpose,” said Erin McAleer, president and CEO of Project Bread.  

Universal free meals began as a national program with federal funding during the pandemic, and Massachusetts continued it on a trial basis. With this year’s budget, the Healey-Driscoll Administration, along with partners in the legislature, are making the commitment permanent. From now on, free, nutritious meals will be available to all students without stigma  helping ensure that students are better prepared to learn. By being one of the few states continuing this transformative program, Massachusetts is leading the way in addressing child nutrition, child hunger, and taking a more holistic approach to student needs. 

 Food security is essential for learning, which is why the Healey-Driscoll administration has delivered $17million for universal school lunch in our first budget,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “It’s related to a hierarchy of need—students can’t be focus on their lessons in the classroom if they continue to be hungry. Aligned with our goals to stabilize, heal, and transform our education system, this funding will ensure that students can focus on their classes in school, instead of where their next meal is coming from.” 

 “Thank you to Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, Speaker Mariano, and Chairman Michlewitz for the leadership in enacting this very important legislation for our students and families,” said Quincy School Supt. Kevin Mulvey. Since the inception of this universal meals program, Quincy Public Schools has seen a 25% increase in the number of meals served. The funding will help us improve the overall quality and freshness of our meals by expanding purchasing of food items grown locally 

The universal free school meals program will cover the cost of one lunch and breakfast including fruit, vegetables and whole grains, as per the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. School cafeterias might also choose to offer “a la carte” items for a fee. These items might include milk (if purchased alone) or an extra slice of pizza, and students must pay for those. Students must also pay if they want a second lunch or breakfast on the same day. Students’ first complete breakfast and lunch each day is covered. 

Squantum School Community Meeting Sept. 14

The City of Quincy and Quincy Public Schools are hosting a community meeting to discuss the next steps and solicit neighborhood feedback on plans to build a new Squantum Elementary School. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Squantum Elementary School.

The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the project team to the neighborhood and to listen to your thoughts on the existing site and how the new school can best be laid out. Your feedback will be important as the design of the new school moves forward. This will be the first opportunity of what will certainly be an extensive dialogue with the neighborhood as we work together to build a state-of-the-art, 21st-century school for generations of Squantum young people.

Read more about current QPS building projects »