Move politicians to Springfield
Search for housing calls for bold moves
If Gov. Maura Healey were truly concerned about solving the housing crisis, she would move the State House to Springfield.
Not the stately and historic building itself, of course, but the politicians in it.
There is plenty of fresh air and open land in and around Springfield as well as lots of parking. And it has no dreary MBTA or massive traffic jams to deal with.
It also has the huge Springfield Civic Center which can house the governor’s office, the Legislature and the other statewide constitutional offices.
To be more than a symbolic gesture, Healey could also take with her the thousands of state workers in the pair of high-rise state government office buildings on Beacon Hill — the McCormack and the Saltonstall.
The housing issue is so important to Healey that one of her first acts as governor was to raise the issue to Cabinet-level status and name a secretary of housing.
Those two 22-floor high rises would create a lot of housing after they were turned over to Boston and renovated into rent-controlled apartments to deal with Boston’s need for affordable housing as well as for its growing homeless and immigrant population.
Such a move would dwarf Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s recent $67 million plan to bolster the city’s affordable housing supply by creating and preserving 802 income-restricted units across the city.
Only the other day Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll said the Healey administration was looking for housing strategies and ideas to cope with a “full-on housing crisis.”
She said, “We’re not going to tackle this issue unless we produce more housing.”
Such a move would take a lot of pressure off Boston. It would also set an example of how to deal with the housing shortage — as well as the homeless — for Boston, the state, the country and the world.
It would be a bold move to be sure. But these are times that call for bold moves, like fighting for transparency, accountability and equity, not to mention diversity, inclusion, climate change and bike lanes.
Instead of hundreds of thousands of people driving into Boston each day and polluting the place, motorists would be driving out in the open air to Springfield. This would not only include legislators, politicians, and lobbyists but thousands of state employees as well.
Before you could say traffic jam, high-speed rail cars would be speeding from Boston to Springfield and back.
Boston would open up to such a degree that Mayor Wu could establish bike lanes everywhere and make Boston a car-free bike-lane-only paradise.
To help bring this about Wu would have to do her part, of course. And that is to vacate City Hall and move everyone, including the Boston City Council, to the Hynes Convention Center, which the state has been trying to unload for years.
That should be no big deal. After all, the old Boston City Hall on School Street was vacated when the new City Hall in Government Center was built. It Is now occupied by businesses.
However, unlike the old City Hall, Wu’s City Hall, which cannot look any uglier, would be spruced up and renovated to provide more affordable housing units for homeless Bostonians and new Americans crossing over from Mexico or down from Canada.
An alternative proposal is to turn City Hall into a prison. But just because it looks like a prison is no reason it should be used as one.
Quonset huts — not tents — on the vast City
Hall Plaza could be erected to deal with the overflow, and the name Government Center would in the name of equity, inclusion and delusion be changed to the People’s Center.
People concerned with what would happen to the State House need not worry.
The elegant Bulfinchcreated building could be turned into tuition-free State House University and the now empty East and West wings of the building renovated and turned into dormitories.
Former governors, lieutenant governors, attorney generals and mayors and other politicians could teach courses on how to win elections and drive the state into the ground.
What could go wrong?