Marty Walsh Makes Good on His Threat to Overhaul the BRA

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has laid off 14 people, mostly at its Business Development Division.

I am on the record, multiple times, predicting that new mayor Marty Walsh would forestall action on his promise to reform the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). Not that he wouldn’t do it, but that he would start his term with more discreet accomplishments, while using some sort of task force or commission to put off the big BRA battle while he works out details and solicits buy-in from key players.

Walsh’s move for a real audit of the Authority was a promising but not conclusive sign. Today, however, there can be no question remaining.

As first reported by BostInno this afternoon, the BRA has laid off 14 people, mostly at its Business Development Division—including that division’s leader, BRA veteran Randi Lathrop.

That division will not be restaffed, BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler tells me. “It’s the end of it.”

This would be one way to accomplish the long-discussed goal of reformers, to separate the planning and development functions: sack the development staff, and presumably build a new one elsewhere.

Not that the Business Development Division is the only development office at the BRA. In fact, that’s a very new division, pulled away from residential-development as its own division a year or so ago—part of what some (myself included) viewed as a series of Tom Menino maneuvers to solidify the BRA in his own vision (and his own personnel) well after his departure.

We’ll see whether Walsh is ready to launch some new business development agency or department (and who will lead it) right away or not. This story, at least, is under development.