Rep. Birmingham backed the appropriation of $200,000 to build a municipal building in East Boston, one of a number of projects proposed by Mayor James Michael Curley in an $18 million Boston construction program submitted to the state legislature for approval.
However, during a March 31 executive session, the Committee on Municipal Finance recommended only to fund a $250,000 park in the West End, the Boston Herald reported on April 1, 1932 (JMC Scrapbooks Vol. 73, p. 5).
The raft of projects not approved by the committee included $600,000 for construction of Porter street, $600,000 for a public works building, $400,000 for a Charles River Basin playground, $1 million for sewer extensions, $2 million for City Hospital expansions, $200,000 for the East Boston municipal building, $10.1 million for new school construction and renovation of existing schools, $1 million for street reconstruction, and $500,000 for Dorchester Municipal Hospital.
The committee decided to fund the West End park because an existing playground was eliminated as the result of the city’s widening of Charles Street, the newspaper reported.
In explaining the gutting of Mayor Curley’s construction program, Committee Chairman Sen. Samuel H. Wragg of Needham said in a statement: “No city or town has been permitted to exceed its debt limit this year and it was the consensus of the committee that no exception should be made in Boston’s case. The single bill reported probably would not have been recommended had not the committee members been convinced that the city is under a moral obligation to make some provision for the playground eliminated by the Charles street widening.”
Rep. Birmingham, who was a member of the committee, joined with Rep. Edward J. Kelly of Worcester, Rep. George C. McMenimen of Cambridge, and Rep. John P. Higgins of Boston in dissenting from the committee’s recommendation not to fund the East Boston municipal building.