- Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - A civil rights complaint filed Monday accuses a Boston agency of violating federal law by failing to ensure non-English speakers can participate in discussions about the development of a former horse racing site.

The complaint filed by Lawyers for Civil Rights says the Boston Planning and Development Agency hasn’t translated important documents or provided “competent and complete” oral interpretation at meetings in the review process for the development of the Suffolk Downs site.

Developers have proposed turning the former horse track in East Boston and Revere into a new neighborhood with shops, office space, parks, condos and town homes. The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of two groups that are pushing for the project to include more affordable housing and climate-resilient construction.

A BPDA spokeswoman said in an email that it has “prioritized creating a public process for the Suffolk Downs proposal that is inclusive for all.”

Bonnie McGilpin said there has been Spanish language interpretation at every public meeting for the proposal and two public meetings exclusively in Spanish. The agency has also translated meeting materials and documents about the development, she said.

Thomas O’Brien, managing director of the group developing the site, said it has gone “above and beyond” to make the planning process “open and accessible to all.”

“At a time when we are facing a housing crisis, it is unfortunate that anyone would want to hold up progress on this creation of much-needed housing, which will strengthen the communities of Revere and East Boston without displacing a single resident,” O’Brien said in a statement.

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