We’re pleased to announce WalkUP Roslindale has submitted its first comment letter, providing some feedback on the proposed 100 Weld Street development. 100 Weld has been at least a bit controversial because of its scale (17 units replacing a defunct former gas station). While the proposed development is imperfect (concerns articulated in our letter, text reproduced below), we believe on balance the increased density and revitalization of vacant space benefits Roslindale–residents and business-owners alike–and housing is sorely needed in and around Boston. See below for our complete analysis.
Among those affected is Orlando Espinal, who is facing eviction after his Roslindale apartment building was sold this year and the new owner ordered the renters out.
Espinal, 54, makes nearly $70,000 a year helping people with disabilities find work, but the only suitable places he can afford are far outside the city, which would mean yanking his teenage son out of Fenway High School.
The article doesn’t address the main cause of gentrification/displacement until the last paragraph: the interaction of supply and demand. We can’t stop the growth of demand (nor would we want to), so the only lever that works to ease displacement is to increase supply:
If workers can’t afford to live in Boston, it will make the city less attractive to employers, said Sheila Dillon, director of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. The city is trying to alleviate what it has called the “unprecedented difficulties” middle-income families are facing in finding housing, including pushing for the building of more than 26,000 units of housing for lower- to middle-income families and new dormitories to get more students out of working-class neighborhoods.
Only a small fraction of these units will be built in Roslindale, but because we are a small, compact neighborhood, even a few dozen units will have a noticeable impact. Let’s make sure every new project is designed to contribute to a more walkable, vibrant neighborhood. We’re coming up with principles and guidelines to advance that vision. Stay tuned.
City Councilor-at-Large Michelle Wu reported in her August 12, 2015 council meeting notes that fellow Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley called for a hearing on cycling infrastructure in the wake of the Anita Kurmann tragedy:
Cycling Infrastructure: Councilor Pressley called for a hearing on planned and ongoing improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure. She noted the need to follow up on the 2013 report identifying dangerous intersections in the city, especially after the recent fatal crash at Beacon St and Mass Ave, and wanting to understand how the new Chief of Streets and Transportation Director roles fit into cycling infrastructure planning. The matter was assigned to the Committee on City & Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs for a hearing.
That matter has now been set down for a public hearing on Monday, September 14, 2015, at 4pm in the Christopher Iannella chamber at City Hall. Councilor Pressley is particularly interested in the personal experiences of cyclists in the city. Although there has been a lot of focus on downtown issues of late, we need to speak up and make sure Rozzie is represented!
If you’d like to speak at the hearing, please drop a note to James Sutherland. They will also accept written testimony if you can’t make the hearing live.
Excellent Living on Earth piece this week about the “Complete Streets” movement, focused on Cambridge Street in Allston. The segment features an interview with then-deputy director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, Stefanie Seskin, now Boston’s Director of Active Transportation. Also interviewed is Vineet Gupta, Boston Transportation Department head of policy and planning.
It’s been nearly 75 years since World War II ended, yet much transportation planning is still based on that obsolete paradigm. The Living on Earth piece concludes on a hopeful note that the pace of change is picking up:
SESKIN: Post World War II, we embarked in the United States and in many other countries, on a massive infrastructure investment to move goods really across the country. And that had a lot of really important and good changes to the way that we built our roads in terms of safety when you’re travelling at high speeds, when you’re thinking about trucks and how they move.
LUCAS: But Seskin says while wide lanes make highways and other high-speed roads safer for traffic using them, they were never meant for cities and town centers. And yet city streets were built the same way as those high-speed roads. Vineet Gupta of Boston’s Transportation Department says that post-war engineering mentality explains why Cambridge Street is so bad for pedestrians today.
GUPTA: In those days, all they cared about was moving traffic and making traffic flow more efficient, and really not focusing on what cities really are, and what makes them livable.
LUCAS: That’s where people-oriented complete streets are different.And the idea has been gaining traction around the country.The National Complete Streets Coalition says that the number of places with complete street policies leaped from 86 in 2008 to 610 last year. Stephanie Seskin has noticed.
We haven’t seen much of this progress yet in Roslindale. It’s our job to push both elected and appointed officials to bring Complete Streets to our neighborhood sooner rather than later. We should be leading rather than trailing.
HT Ricardo: Great WBUR piece on development and gentrification in Eastie (listen or read), illuminating both the micro- and macro-economic forces at work in modern-day Boston. Demand for housing is surging in neighborhoods with short downtown commutes–which includes both East Boston and Roslindale. Each neighborhood has unique draws: East Boston has its waterfront; Roslindale has, among other natural and permanent features, the Arnold Arboretum. The result across Boston inevitably includes painful displacement:
Stories of exodus are increasingly common in East Boston, but it’s happening across the city. A recent study from Northeastern University suggests Boston’s housing market is in crisis: Young millennials and aging baby boomers are relocating from the suburbs, occupying housing that traditionally went to blue-collar Bostonians.
The WBUR article also cites a recent study showing Boston now leads the country in gentrification!
Having a much lower percentage of rental housing, the rapid displacement we’re witnessing in East Boston may be less dramatic in Rozzie, but development is coming here too (stay tuned for even more announcements soon), presenting both challenges and opportunities for the community. More residents, wealth, and improved building stock can be a net benefit, but in addition to design goals (encouraging smart transit- and foot-oriented development that will not exacerbate traffic and parking woes), we must continue to push for maintaining and adding affordable housing. One reason we love Roslindale is because it, like Eastie, has become one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city; let’s insure we preserve that key advantage in the coming boom.
Our WalkUP Roslindale team has a variety of skills, but graphic design isn’t one of them, yet! So far, we’ve relied 100% on public domain (copyright expired) and broadly-licensed Creative Commons images on our website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. We’d love to have some more distinct and perhaps cutting edge icons and artwork. If anyone has the skills and enthusiasm to help in this area, please contact us at email@example.com.
Longer term, we’d like to do more ambitious graphical projects, such as depicting various parts of the neighborhood with smarter pedestrian design (imagine Poplar Street as a woonerf!), similar to how the Boston Cyclists Union has worked with volunteers to generate drawings and doctored photographs to spark the imagination about what is possible. If you have the skills for this, we’d love to hear from you as well!
A critical piece of the walkability/livability discussion is the problem of parking. Some minor flare-ups around the proposal to replace (temporarily) even one car parking space with a corral that could accommodate at least ten bikes highlights the passion and sensitivity some feel around the issue. For those who don’t have time to pore over an 800-page bestselling book on the topic (“The High Cost of Free Parking”), we’ll try to lay out piece by piece over the next few weeks why parking–and especially free parking–can be toxic to the health of a community and especially a neighborhood shopping district.
In the meantime, though, last week’s Planet Money episode “Free Parking” provides an entertaining and engaging introduction to the topic, through the prism of a parking exchange startup that originated in Baltimore and was subsequently banned in Boston. Although the story is interesting from a number of perspectives, we urge everyone to listen closely to the interview with Donald Shoup, author of the aforementioned bestseller.
Stay tuned for more.
Via our friends at RozzieBikes, a ride this weekend to explore Roslindale’s “hidden” parkway. This kind of event is great both for regular urban cyclists as well as those who may not be entirely comfortable biking on public ways as the group can provide security and protection. The total ride should be around 5 miles with “no significant hills”, so easy enough even if you don’t have a fancy Lycra collection.
Exploration of Boston’s ‘hidden’ parkway by bicycle!
Date: Sunday, June 14 (raindate Sunday June 28)
Time: 7:30am meeting time for 8am departure – return by 10am
Location: Stop-n-Shop plaza (Walgreen’s end)
American Legion Hwy near intersection with Hyde Park Ave.
This 2.5 mile corridor that borders Roslindale and Mattapan has opportunities for large and small green recreational projects, including bike & walking paths, parks, tot-lots, picnic areas, and protected urban wild. However, this area is extremely vulnerable to destruction from both pending and proposed development. Once these pockets of green are gone, they are gone forever. Did you know that the 4500′ open Canterbury Brook that winds on either side of American Legion Highway is one of only five open brooks in Boston?
A 2-hour, 5-mile exploration by bicycle will introduce this corridor of opportunity, and you will get to share in the vision of residents and neighbors who are passionately working to preserve and enhance a vibrant community and fragile greenscape. Periodic stops will provide ample opportunity for discussion and engagement. We will finish in time for you to enjoy brunch or Sunday services, and the rest of your weekend.
Bring your bicycle, helmet, water bottle and sunscreen, and your curiosity! The ride will be casual with multiple stops and no significant hills, and so is appropriate for riders of all abilities.
We look forward to riding and sharing with you.
Email Laura Smeaton with questions.
Just days after the death of an eight year old girl in Mattapan, an eight year old boy was killed by a car, crossing the street in Adams, Massachusetts. It’s time for us to say enough. No loss of life is acceptable.
Based on the Google Maps imagery of the area of the death, there are no crosswalks, stop signs, or stop lights as far as the eye can see in either direction, nor is there even a sidewalk on both sides of the street.