Owners of Fenway Shelter Offer to Close As They Find Out How to Keep Guests From Getting into Police Trouble

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The owners of the Boston Fenway Inn on Hemenway Street – who also own the Copley Square Hotel tonier – will learn on Thursday whether the Boston Licensing Board will accept their offer to simply shut down the place while they perform upgrades to reduce the number of times the police have to respond to deal with customer issues.

Closing the place shouldn’t be much more difficult at this time as the state has banned “non-essential” guests from hotels and shelters, but the hostel currently has some 13 guests, some of whom are would become immediately homeless if they were immediately closed, according to Joshua Bird, general counsel for Hawkins Way Capital of Beverly Hills, Calif., which owns the 60-room building. Bird estimated it would take a few days to help the remaining 13 guests find new accommodation.

“We wouldn’t want you to close voluntarily and make people feel homeless,” board chair Kathleen Joyce said in a Zoomed hearing this morning. Before the hearing began, Joyce said the board would not address the issue, noted by police, of accepting new guests during the current state of emergency without proof that they were health workers, first responders or other “essential” personnel, because it is the business of the state, not the city.

Bird and local hostel lawyer Dennis Quilty said they would present a plan to council by its Thursday meeting on what steps the hostel would take instead of an immediate closure, including a better signage warning customers to make noise and drinking outside and installation of additional security cameras and possibly hire additional staff.

BPD Licensed Unit detectives and Captain D4 Steven Sweeney said police have had to respond to the hostel almost 40 times since January 1, largely to deal with customers who don’t want to leave when asked, either because their stay has ended or because they have broken a hostel rule, such as banning guests. Sweeney said the managers and workers at the hostel have been cooperative, but, especially in the midst of a pandemic, it’s just too many calls.

Quilty actually started the hearing by offering to forgo the formal reading of police complaints and simply voluntarily shutting down the hostel “in an effort to make the changes necessary for the proper functioning of the establishment.” Quilty admitted “that they have obviously had difficulties”. But Joyce said the reports were required to be read due to council hearing rules.

Retail BPD Licenses Sgt. William Gallagher and det. Eddie Hernandez recounted seven incidents just in April, including having to respond when a guest said a friend showed up to his room with an apparently underage woman and said they were going to film a porn movie there, but did not.

Other incidents included a woman refusing to leave her room on the day she left and when police arrived she told them she had found other people’s clothes mixed with hers in the dryer at the house. ‘apartment building ; a man who apparently slipped behind a guest, entered the first-floor toilet and started shouting and babbling inconsistently, a guest who called 911 several hours after saying another guest was there ‘had threatened with a knife during an unsuccessful robbery attempt, only this guest claimed that the first guest was trying to sell him drugs he didn’t want; and a guest who was standing outside last Friday drinking a bite and, under the watch of the two detectives, threw it on the floor when he was done, then went back inside.

During the last incident, Gallagher said, he and Hernandez entered the inn after him, made him pick up the nip and dispose of it properly, and gave him a warning for drinking in public.


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