We’ve posted multiple times about the proposed development at 100 Weld Street, which recently won approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The project could have been better–we would have especially liked to see more mixed use (i.e. retail) and a more progressive approach to parking–but on balance we supported the proposal because it should revitalize vacant space, benefit the business district, and help with the housing crisis. Earlier this month, the Roslindale Bulletin ran a feature on the BRA approval, quoting our own Matt Lawlor. The full article is reproduced below.
Would you like to help improve the pedestrian environment around Roslindale Square?
We’re doing a “Walk Audit” foot tour with the help of WalkBoston to identify the most pressing issues with sidewalks, intersections, traffic signals, and crosswalks, so we
can bring them to the attention of the right City departments and GET THEM FIXED!
WHEN: Saturday, December 5, 2015 9am‐11am
WHERE: Starting inside 2 Belgrade Ave
(a/k/a the former “Select Café” and “Emack and Bolio’s”)
WHY: Because a walkable community is a healthy community.
Stay tuned here for any last minute weather announcements.
We sent our third WalkUP comment letter today, providing feedback on the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Centre Street Corridor Study, focusing specifically on the intersection of Centre and Walter Streets, quite likely the most crash-prone intersection in all of Roslindale. We hope DCR will consider our comments seriously and ensure improvements to this area benefit users of all modes of transportation. In addition, because the redesign and construction are likely years away, we emphasize the need to make common-sense easy improvements today, such as flexi-poles and lane-narrowing, which will save lives and prevent serious injuries while we are waiting for the longer process to complete.
The comment period is open until November 30, 2015. Please add your voice (select “Improved Multi-Modal Safety and Access to Emerald Necklace Parks in Jamaica Plain (Centre Street)” from the drop-down list)!
The content of our letter is reproduced below.
Thought-provoking episode of Christopher Lydon’s Open Source podcast, featuring Mayor Walsh’s chief of staff Daniel Arrigg Koh among others, about the city’s ambitious move toward a “Moneyball” statistical/evidence-based approached to government. There are benefits as well as perils to this approach–we need to make sure we measure the right things, protect against “gaming” the system, and not lose sight of the forest for the trees (or, in this case, for micro-level data). The opportunities to promote walkability through a data driven approach are manifold and exciting, however, and better collection and use of data is key to the Vision Zero Initiative.
We recommend the entire episode which repeatedly touches on issues of transportation, walkability, density, and vibrant neighborhoods, but if you only have a minute, check out this snippet from city planner Jeff Speck, Boston-area resident and author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, who called in to highlight the importance of walkability metrics.
Also of interest is a somewhat contrary perspective on the “knowledge economy” and its ill impacts on neighborhood character from the Baffler’s John Summers, who bemoans the transformation of Central Square later in the episode, expressing the general sentiment of his article The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan.
Earlier this year, Mayor Walsh announced Imagine Boston 2030, the first citywide planning process in 50 years. The Imagine Boston 2030 process is an opportunity and a framework for WalkUP Roslindale supporters to advance our vision of a walkable neighborhood and a walkable city where people of all ages will have ample convenient and safe options for getting around by foot, bicycle, and transit. The 2030 target date is far enough away that we could make substantial investments and improvements in that time frame, but close enough that we should be moving ideas into policy and policy into practice starting now. But it will only live up to its potential if residents speak up and engage in the process.
One important part of the Imagine Boston 2030 citywide effort is Go Boston 2030, “an initiative to envision a bold transportation future for the city.” Go Boston 2030 has been holding visioning meetings at various locations throughout the city, and the Rozzie session is set for Thursday of this week.
The Go Boston 2030 Idea Roundtables are designed to gather transportation project and policy ideas that would most affect our lives. By donating your ideas, you will contribute to planning a transportation future that works for everyone. It is important that those who share our vision of making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston turn out and speak up. Details below:
Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Time: 6pm – 8:30pm
Spread the word!
As noted earlier, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (“DCR”) held an additional public meeting about potential redesign of the Centre Street Corridor in Roslindale on November 10, 2015. The meeting was reasonably well attended with a robust discussion about the significant problems with existing conditions at the troublesome Walter & Centre Street intersection, among others, and potential design alternatives. The majority of the spoken comments offered were consistent with key WalkUP principles. Although the latest presentation has not (yet) been posted, a copy of the presentation from the 10/7/15 meeting concerning the same area is available on the DCR website. WalkUp Roslindale is working on a formal comment letter advocating in favor of alternative 1 and emphasizing that any design must better incorporate pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure.
The redesign project, which is not currently funded by the state legislature, will not be implemented for at least three years, in the best of circumstances. It is important for Roslindale residents and WalkUP supporters to voice how critical the project is for the walkability and cycleabilty of Roslindale.
The comment period has been extended to November 30, 2015.
- DCR should make pedestrian and cycling access and usability a priority in a design and not be treated–as in the existing conditions–as second to automobile use.
- A traffic light (alternatives 1 and 2) is an essential component of pedestrian and cyclist safety and must be included.
- Key abutters, including the residents, employers and visitors of day care centers, senior housing facilities and a rehabilitation hospital complex require safe, usable and convenient crossing of both Walter and Centre Streets.
Finally, in our continued effort to avoid confusion, we remind you that this is separate from the process underway with respect to the nearby intersection of Walter and Bussey Streets.
We recently learned that the city plans to rebuild the intersection of Walter and Bussey Street, a problematic spot for pedestrians and bicyclists at the edge of the Arnold Arboretum adjacent the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and not far from the Sophia Snow House on Centre Street. Although the new design represents an improvement, it is a long way from achieving Complete Streets standards and moving us toward Vision Zero: that no one should die or be seriously injured from transportation on our public ways. We are also troubled by the apparent lack of public notice and comment on a project like this that has significant impacts on our quality of life and would benefit from community input.
Fortunately, our close allies from the Livable Streets Alliance have sent a detailed letter to the City’s new Chief of Streets, Chris Osgood, detailing problems with the new design. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we are reproducing LSA’s letter below, which we endorse wholeheartedly. If you want to help make this intersection better, please contact your City Councilors and neighborhood liaisons and demand that the Department of Public Works hold public meetings and hear from the neighborhood before plowing ahead with this project. Although the plans appear to be final, this should not be a done deal. The work hasn’t started yet, so let’s make it better.
Finally, to dispel any confusion, note this is not the same intersection nor the same process currently underway regarding the Walter-Centre Street intersection. That project is under DCR control; we’ll have an update on the recent community meeting in Rozzie about this shortly.
This article from yesterday’s Globe – Access to MBTA influences where millennials work, live – is an eye-opener, even for someone who already recognizes the massive shift in habits and preferences that Millennials (in this case, 660 of our friends and neighbors between the ages of 20 and 37 from the greater Boston area) are exhibiting on auto use and transit access:
- A combined 96% of respondents to the MassINC/ULI survey reportedly put transit access in the somewhat/very important category on where they want to live, and
- A combined 93% of respondents to the survey reportedly put such access in the somewhat/very important category on where they want to work
- Just 24% reported driving alone as their mode of travel to work
Big numbers, without question, that reflect that access to the MBTA, despite its shortcomings, is viewed as an indispensible amenity and driver of locational decisions among a very large cohort in our population (and, by extension, the companies that want to employ them and the developers who want to build their housing). As someone a bit older who would fall into the very important category on transit access myself, I hope this and similar information on the importance of the T to our region’s livability and economy will spur all of us to advocate for and support new initiatives, funding, and service in the days ahead. Among the other things we all need to do, it’s time to help the T work better.
Don’t forget that the annual Roslindale Open Studios event happens today (Saturday 11/7/15) and tomorrow, 11am-5pm. Complete brochure available here. This is an excellent opportunity to explore the neighborhood on foot, particularly with the unseasonably moderate weather. Grab a neighbor and see the original work of dozens of Rozzie-based craftspeople, painters, photographers, sculptors, etc. Don’t miss it!
Today, we sent another comment letter on a proposed development in Roslindale Square. The project is a 19-unit condominium complex a few yards away from the commuter rail station and the business district. Because we believe this sort of transit-oriented development will contribute to a more walkable and vibrant neighborhood, and particularly in view of some of the developer’s creative pro-WalkUP proposal elements (dedicated bicycle storage, car-share service credits, and support for the Roslindale Arboretum Gateway Path initiative), we generally support the project. There is still room for improvement, however, as detailed in our full comment letter below.
We hope many of you will agree with some if not all of the points made below. Either way, however, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.