Just days before an agreement to purchase the property will expire, roughly 225 supporters of a proposal to create affordable housing at Engine 6 in Waban signed a petition asking the mayor to help the project by releasing federal funds.
Among the petition signers are mayoral candidate Ted Hess-Mahan, an alderman-at-large from Ward 3. Deb Crossley, an alderman-at-large for Ward 5, which includes Waban, also signed.
"I'd like to see everyone have access to all of the facts," Crossley told the TAB on Saturday. "This project has good bones. For Newton to succeed in advancing its federally approved affordable housing plan, using the federal monies we are entrusted to use for that purpose, we need to work positively and purposefully together to that end."
In a statement sent to the TAB Saturday afternoon, Mayor Setti Warren said the "project was not set up for success," but that he believes "every human being should have a chance to be successful."
Metro West Collaborative Development faces an Oct. 3 deadline on a purchase-and-sale agreement on the Beacon Street site owned by Hospice of the Good Shepherd. The nonprofit has said the project likely won’t go forward without city funding.
Metro West is seeking $1.4 million in city-controlled federal funds to cover nearly half the cost of the redevelopment of the Waban site that would include nine studio apartments for the chronically homeless. In June, Mayor Setti Warren blocked the use of the Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, funds for the site, saying there was not enough time to answer lingering questions about the project. The two sides met again two weeks ago, but Warren and his staff say a number of issues remain unresolved.
The list of people who signed the petition also included representatives from the Newton Housing Partnership and the Planning and Development Board, both of which signed off on Engine 6 before Warren blocked the funding and raised concerns over the vetting of the project.
"This project was thoroughly vetted by the Housing Partnership and the Planning Board," said Hess-Mahan. "These folks have the expertise and the experience with housing matters and affordable housing in particular, and I think the mayor should have trusted their advice."
Unsuccessful attempts were made to contact several members of the two boards who signed the petition.