First Official WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter – 100 Weld Street

Sketch Plan showing WalkUP Roslindale Proposal for Weld/Centre Intersection
Sketch Plan showing WalkUP Roslindale Proposal for Weld/Centre Intersection

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.


September 10, 2015

Mr. Christopher Tracy, Project Manager
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02201


RE:        Small Project Review Application for 100 Weld Street – Filed August 8, 2015

Dear Chris:

I write on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale to comment on the referenced small project review application (the “Application”).

Taking our name from the idea that “Walkable Urban Places” are the future of where people want to live, work, and play in and around Boston, WalkUP Roslindale is a collaborative group of Roslindale residents informally founded in June of this year to make our neighborhood the most walkable neighborhood in Boston by advocating for and supporting positive changes in the public and private built environment. In just two months, we have built up a core group of about 30 people, along with almost 200 supporters. More information about WalkUP Roslindale and our initiatives can be found at

The project set forth in the Application is a 17-unit residential condominium in a single 4-story building with 28 accessory parking spaces on the ground level (18 structured, 10 outside) with primary pedestrian access from Weld Street and vehicular and additional pedestrian access from Centre Street, and an accessory office/workout room space fronting on Centre Street (the “Proposed Project”). The Application describes the Proposed Project as being in compliance with the applicable zoning under the West Roxbury Neighborhood District of the Boston Zoning Code (the “Code”) and includes a letter from the Inspectional Services Department to that effect, so no zoning relief is required. The city’s Inclusionary Development Policy accordingly does not apply, and the developer has proposed all market-rate, 2-bedroom/2-bath units.

On balance, WalkUP Roslindale supports the Proposed Project and urges the BRA to approve the Application pursuant to Article 80E of the Code. As we discuss further below, there are several aspects that could be significantly improved, and we hope the BRA will work with the developer and the relevant city departments to address the issues we raise. We are well aware that the site is a long-defunct service/gas station (formerly known as “Weld American”) and that cleanup of the site due to contamination from its prior use was previously undertaken and completed. It is several years past time for this site to be redeveloped.

In addition, we support the city’s efforts in seeking to appropriately accommodate the, in our view, welcome increase in population that is currently underway throughout Boston, including Roslindale, and is forecast to continue through 2030 and beyond. In short, the need for new housing units in our city is acute. While we appreciate that accommodating new neighbors in existing neighborhoods such as ours should be approached thoughtfully, WalkUP Roslindale advocates for welcoming them and the vitality they bring to our neighborhood.

WalkUP Roslindale’s expression of support for the Proposed Project comes with the following comments and suggestions for improving the Proposed Project and the immediate vicinity:

  1. Missed Retail Opportunity.

The site of the Proposed Project is zoned Neighborhood Shopping, or NS, a zoning subdistrict that allows and is in some ways intended to foster mixed retail and residential use. While we understand and witnessed that there was resistance from certain project neighbors against retail use at this location, the fact remains that all residential use will prevent this location from realizing its full potential and helping to anchor the Weld/Centre node, which is a walkable neighborhood commercial amenity. As additional mixed-use zoned properties are redeveloped here and around Roslindale, there will be a need to avoid this kind of slow-motion loss of easily accessible commercial activity.

  1. Landscaping and Activating the Weld and Centre Frontages.

The site’s location, at a northern gateway to Roslindale and with close adjacency to the Arnold Arboretum and the Roslindale Wetlands also calls for careful consideration of both landscaping and activation of the street frontage (especially in light of the missed retail opportunity). The adjacency to important neighborhood green spaces calls for a comprehensive landscaping approach and plan on both Weld and Centre streets, while the lack of an active retail frontage on Centre Street calls for street furniture – perhaps benches or tables – to be incorporated to encourage people to linger. We appreciate the concept of continuing the stone wall on Weld Street and want to make sure it is clear that the shorter section of stone wall that will shield the surface parking on Centre Street will be of the same high quality (the wall appears on the conceptual renderings but is not apparently shown on the landscaping plan). Surface parking on this frontage is problematic on its own – the screening here needs to be more than bushes and some mulch and we are confident that the developer is aware of this.

  1. Weld/Centre Intersection Needs More Attention.

While we appreciate the efforts evident in the Application on making the Weld/Centre intersection work better for all users, the proposal in the Application falls short of what can and should be done to better accommodate walking, bicycling, and bus transit use at this intersection and more effectively slow traffic to speeds that are safer for all users, including those in motor vehicles. Given the location near the Arnold Arboretum, this intersection is also an important part of the link for those on foot or bicycle coming from the west to access the Arboretum. Specifically, we advocate for an intervention at this intersection that

(a)         improves both the northbound and southbound sides of Centre Street (not just the northbound side) on the southerly side of the intersection;

(b)         provides for 10-foot wide vehicle travel lanes consistent with Boston’s Complete Streets Guide’s provision about Neighborhood Connector streets such as Centre Street, instead of the 11-foot wide vehicle lanes currently proposed; and

(c)         uses the additional 3 feet in width to widen the center median by 3 feet while also extending the curb at the opposite corner to further reduce the crossing distance.

We would also recommend that the sidewalk at the Proposed Project’s curb cut as well as at the curb cub opposite the site on Centre Street be fully articulated as a sidewalk (not paved as if it were part of the driveway) and that the bike lanes on both sides be blocked in with green paint to highlight their locations. The attached sketch is intended to illustrate our proposal with respect to the intersection. We would be happy to discuss this further with the BRA, the developer, and/or other city agencies. Please let us know if there is any interest in doing so.

  1. Open, Data-driven, and Innovative Discussion of Off-Street Parking.

The initial discussion and resistance of some neighbors to including retail use in the Proposed Project in the pre-filing meetings appeared to have been driven in large part by perceptions that there is a current parking shortage in the immediate area and that any increase in activity at this site will necessarily contribute to this shortage. Statements were also made at the meetings that households in each of the units in the Proposed Project would have at least two vehicles, such that there would be insufficient parking within the Proposed Project’s site and so additional vehicles would be parked on the adjacent streets. While experience teaches that these perceptions are often expressed in the community review process, they are seldom backed up by or challenged through actual data. The result is that anecdote and subjective perceptions control by default. No one – not the party expressing the perceived concern over parking, not the developer responding that they are just providing what the Zoning Code requires, not the BRA or any other representative of the city – seems to have any publicly-available information on what the trends in vehicle ownership and off-street and on-street parking usage have been in Roslindale, whether we have a management problem or a supply problem  with our parking resources, and whether progressive concepts such as shared parking among uses will ever enter the discussion. Furthermore, it is time to seriously consider the “unbundling” of off-street parking from residential units in development projects going forward. Simply adding the spaces to each unit for “free” creates an incentive to own a vehicle when that choice might otherwise not be made. The lock-step provision of off-street parking tends to increase motor vehicle traffic, take up valuable space that could be devoted to other, more productive uses, and drive up the cost of housing to provide an “amenity” that the residents may not need now and most likely will need less in the future as improvements in urban transportation such as internet-based ride hailing and self-driving cars drastically reduce the need for parking. WalkUP Roslindale believes the time has come to have this discussion and is calling upon all stakeholders in our neighborhood to join us as we seek solutions to this oft-cited concern.

In closing, we wish to reiterate our support for the Proposed Project and our commitment to making our neighborhood more walkable by collaborating with our neighbors to produce better outcomes for all stakeholders. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Matt Lawlor
Resident @ 15 Basto Terrace, Roslindale, on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale

Attachment – Sketch Plan for Intersection – Click Below for Full-Sized Version

Sketch Plan showing WalkUP Roslindale Proposal for Weld/Centre Intersection
Sketch Plan showing WalkUP Roslindale Proposal for Weld/Centre Intersection

12 thoughts to “First Official WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter – 100 Weld Street”

  1. What’s most frustrating to the neighbors who actually live near this proposed project is that people like yourself who don’t live near it support it. While the site is an eyesore now (and I would point out the developers of the proposed 17 unit project have owned it about a year now and still the site is riddled with weeds as tall as a child), the proposed project would ruin the neighborhood for those currently actually living within a block or two of it. I suspect that if this monstrosity were proposed to be built on your block your opinion would be quite different.


      1. With respect to the first point, see the comment response below. We have too little new residential development recently completed, under construction, and/or proposed in Roslindale in relation to the need and opportunity, not too much. With respect to the second point, I haven’t heard anyone — open space advocates or anyone else — saying that this site should become a park or other open space. At the end of the day, it’s a long-defunct, vacant gas station a long block from the Arboretum that is well past due for redevelopment.

    2. Thanks for sharing your perspective. In response, consider the following:
      1. I’m actually on record supporting a recently proposed 15-unit multifamily project a block and a half from my house at the intersection of Walter and South streets. I spoke up on it at the LANA pre-filing meeting and you can find my follow-up post about it on this blog. So, no, I’m not the kind of person who supports development everywhere except close to me. Quite the contrary.
      2. Your comment implies that those who don’t live as close to the 100 Weld project site as you do (I’m guessing you’re within two blocks, though you don’t specifically say) should stay quiet and let those within a block or two of the site be the only voices heard. I’ve never understood the community process to work that way, and think it would be a mistake if it did. The proposed project is addressing an acute housing shortage across the city and in Roslindale and will have benefits for the neighborhood that extend beyond just the immediate vicinity. WalkUP Roslindale is a broad-based, collaborative group of residents committed, among other things, to making sure that a neighborhood-wide voice in support of good infill development is heard. It is up to the BRA to determine how to balance the various comments they receive.
      3. I obviously disagree with the characterization of the project as a “monstrosity” that will “ruin the neighborhood.” That’s certainly not been the outcome of the 14-unit project that was recently completed about a block and a half from me at Robert and South Conway. I think the conversation on new development overall in our neighborhood would benefit from avoiding sweeping statements and instead focusing on specifics.

  2. To address Mr. Lawlor points:

    It is easy to throw your support behind a project and dismiss the concern of those who are intimately and immediately impacted by the proposed project. Perhaps the ease of support is for the writer living .80 mile from the area in comparison to the residents who have raised opposition or concerns (none of which have been satisfactorily address) live within feet or less than .10 mile to the site.

    To address the opposition of the addition of retail, there are currently 10 business in the area that generate a great deal of foot and car traffic in the area. All are very viable, healthy and very successful. With all successful business area there comes a down side. The residents have to contend with noise, increase pollution and safety concerns. Needing to clean your own yard of empty food containers, empty drink cups, bottles (from soft drinks to beer bottles) picking up lottery tickets and only one litter basket to handle all this trash, as a home owner it is a major frustration. The idea of more retail space in the area when the city has not even address the current issues communicates that the increase on the current infrastructure will not be address and especially once the project is complete. For those living within feet of site the lack of additional retail means less stress on our property resources.

    Your assertion that as you put it: “…resistance of some neighbors to including retail use in the Proposed Project in the pre-filing meetings appeared to have been driven in large part by perceptions that there is a current parking shortage in the immediate area and that any increase in activity at this site will necessarily contribute to this shortage.” Let me remind you, the perception is entirely on your part considering that you are .80 mile from the impacted site. Those who are .10 mile this is not a perception but a reality. The current 10 businesses on Centre Street their parking needs are not fully supported by the current on street parking on Centre Street. The overflow goes onto Knoll Street and Hazelmere Road. Add to this residents who only have access to street parking are already impacted by the overflow the addition of more cars from the project will increase the shortage that we have come to live with and keep hoping that it will be improved but not worsen with a project that fails to accommodate all of its residents and parking needs without adding to the infrastructure of a small neighborhood.

    While your experience has been that these concerns are not backed up, it’s easy to hold that perception when one does not live directly in the affected area. Having been a resident in the immediate are and immediately abutting the businesses this is not a perception a hard data is not needed to substantiate what we already witnessed, experience and now to be true. The added revival and success of these business have come with their tradeoffs with the stress on available parking. Parking issues such as blocked fire hydrants, drive ways, traffic flow and extended parking on Knoll Street and Hazelmere Road are not sufficiently addressed by the city or like you dismissive of the issues that the neighbors have absorb with the addition of the Weld Street project. The city has failed to conduct any form of long term impact study to understand what the area looks like at various times of the year. Winter parking and especially during snow emergency, clearance for emergency vehicle to have access to all streets (not just Centre Street) in the event of emergency or snow removal those are real concerns that have not been address.

    The suggestion of unbundling assigned parking for free and having the tenants purchase the space further shows that the write has no idea nor understands the issues immediate neighborhood. This suggestion will not deter the new condo owners from not owning two cars it will further encourage them to save their money and park on the already stress surrounding street. The lack of public transportation access in the area and especially at night and Sunday it will further encourage the new residents from purchasing two cars. The proposed solutions are not at this time available and until such time those proposals are off table. However, if this idea is already in existence, utilized and the infrastructure is already built in the area ready to be use then we can consider such options. Proposed ideas in the city have a habit not materializing.

    While you have the right to express your opinion about the project please keep in mind that your opinion is coming from what you deal with on a daily basis and those directly impacted by this project of 17 units with the increase of anywhere from 17 – 40 new residents in a small area with the overflow falling onto Knoll Street and Hazelmere Road, it is us who will have to deal with the lack of thought given to those who have invested and live in neighborhood. It is easy living .80 mile from the area compare to those who live .10 or less from the site. We will be the ones having to deal with the issues once it’s complete. These issues are not new and have been brought up repeatedly in prior meeting long before this project. As you can see the city has not been responsive to the resident concerns. The assumptions made doesn’t help the neighbor address these issues but further supports the city as to why it is not an issue.

    I would suggest that you and your organization seek out and get to know the different pockets of the neighborhood and become familiar with the unique issues we each face. If you are going to represent the neighborhood and speak for us then you should get to know the neighbors. Until such I would keep the comments to the group and its members and understand that those living directly in the area may not be represented by your or your organizations views.

    1. I appreciate that your proximity to the project site gives you a specific perspective. But at no point in the comment letter or anywhere else is the claim made that WalkUP Roslindale speaks for anyone other than ourselves, let alone the immediate abutters, those living as close as you indicate, or the entire neighborhood. Going back to my earlier point made in response to Paul Langley’s comment — I’ve never understood the community process to be limited only to those immediately adjacent to a proposed project. The BRA should hear from as wide a range of voices as possible and weigh them accordingly. Those of us who’ve come together under the WalkUP Roslindale umbrella intend to continue giving voice to a broader perspective on these issues. Thanks.

      1. It is perfectly fine to give a wider perspective of any project but I would caution you that besides giving a wider voice to opinions and point of view that in so doing your organization doesn’t alienate or become dismissive of those living in the area. Lending support is fine but come to learn what are the real issues in the area. Once this project is done, any issues not addressed or corrected will become the headache of those abutting the project and the new residents. It will be those issues that the city has failed to address prior to the project and given its history what evidence do we have that will change after it has been built and the units are sold. Supporting the project from one set of lens without taking the time to look on what else is at stake or impact may not be the best way to throw support behind the project. With all the distracting comment to this letter, not once I have heard from you as the author writing in leadership for the group seeking how you can assist advocating for our concerns. This tight community has had to take a petition to voice as a community our concerns yet neither your group or LANA have come to us specifically to ask us questions. Again, we continue to feel unrepresented each time there is an effort to have something done with that parcel of land. There is the right project out there and the right size that can become a larger asset for the city and the neighborhood. You can give it all the support you want, those of us who are directly impacted still have questions and our experience with the city’s response is slow to response. We want a commitment and not empty promises or “we’ll look into what can be done” response. Organization like your’s seeking to improve the neighborhood should perhaps get out and get to know the neighbors you seek to represent and not just support projects because it’s looks good on paper but still have no idea who the neighbors are and what they face as issues. The BRA should and will hear all sides but for once I wish that a neighborhood group seeking to represent Roslindale would do so for all those who in habit Roslindale and not those within a certain radius. Want to spend a scary night, sit in your living room watching a fire truck or EMT ambulance turn onto a street but unable to do so because there is a big game and all the parking is gone and access is limited and yet as you put it there is enough parking to support all the added cars that don’t fit for this project and the businesses. In the winter time on snow cover streets this gets worse. Trust me this is not an every day thing but when it does happen we pray they get to the person or family needing the assistance in time. We shouldn’t be waiting for a tragedy to occur to finally be heard. How about advocating for something as simple as more trash receptacles and requiring business to go around and picking up trash so it doesn’t go into neighbor’s yards.

        Something as simple as getting a delineator to watch for pedestrians for Centre and Knoll Street took two years and consistent pestering from our part. This is despite that a pedestrian being hit and killed by a car years ago. The first sign didn’t last long enough as it was hit repeatedly and again it took time to have it replace. This is an area in which your group would have been helpful if we knew about you as well as if you were familiar with the neighborhood. With safety issues still needing to address, the city needs to come out and address these issues.

        Your group wants to lend support begin closer to home and support those who are your neighbors now than going after the support out of what sounds like a great idea but for those of us facing to live with the consequences are doing all we can to have the project be realistic and a more seamless fit than it’s current configuration. Your group can go ahead and throw your support behind this and then try to build a coalition with the neighborhood after this has been done. As part of your homework it would have wiser to speak with those of us in the neighborhood abutting the project. It’s not the first time this area has been over looked.

        1. I have two thoughts about this continued dialogue. First, I want to stress again that WalkUP Roslindale is not a community group trying to represent the viewpoint of everyone in Roslindale, or a specific geography within the neighborhood. We are speaking only for ourselves, from our own perspective, on issues that we think are important. Second, as the comment letter itself stated in the third point about the Weld/Centre intersection, we are interested in participating in discussion and advocacy about walkability improvements to the immediate vicinity of this project, especially as it relates to the design of that intersection. This includes the suggestion to narrow the vehicle lane widths on Centre to provide a wider center pedestrian refuge and slow vehicle speeds, which actually goes to the point you raise above about the safety of pedestrian crossings further up Centre. You can count me among those willing to work together on similar issues.

  3. I think the digs at Matt and WalkUP Rosi are unfair. The owners of the parcel have a right to develop it so the best the community can do is to try to shape it in the best interests of the community. The fact is that is that people are using cars less and less, particularly the young urbanites that are likely to move into the complex. The current parking problems on Centre and the adjacent streets are the result of the business traffic and are replicated all over Roslindale. The problems of trash could be alleviated by the City requiring the businesses to clean up the street within some distance of their facility – particularly the convenience stores and gas stations that sell those damn lottery tix and water/juice bottles. It will be far better to have the Weld parcel built on then to continue to be the moldering mess it has been for nearly 20 years. Density and more people invested in the community makes for a better neighborhood. (BTW – you can’t peg me as an outsider – Rosi resident for 23 years, most recently lived on Knoll st for 2 1/2 years and now own on Birch st which has lots of parking, trash, and traffic issues.)

    1. Let’s be clear, no one is saying that the parcel on Center is to remain vacant and not be developed. The developers have their right to build and develop their land. However in the community it doesn’t allow them to build what ever they desire with clear disregard to the neighborhood, community at large, business and those living. The key is the best interest of the community and this project even in its last small change doesn’t meet the that requirement.

      You mentioned that less people are using cars and especially “particularly the young urbanites”. You do realize and if you have attended the meeting would have known that the unit will be marketed to the older 50+ empty nester, seeking to retire and downsize. The likelihood of “young urbanites” moving in will be reduced since for the developers they are not the target consumers.

      The trash issue has been an issue and evidence that the city is slow to or not responding the needs of the community. With this history of no response, those living here are concern that with the added development problems will continue to be ignored. If the city had been more responsive there would be more confidence that the project and the neighborhood would be integrated and address infrastructure problems.

      Yes, it is better to have something built on the parcel of land. This is not right project. We need to be smart and ensure that the right project will be built that will be supported in the community. To date none of the issues raised by the neighborhood have been addressed.

      Yes we want to see something there, but this is not the right one and there is the right project out there. The developers haven’t budged on their plans. We too have the right to protect our homes and property investments. As someone who has lived on Knoll you know this is a tight neighborhood that works together to assist each other.

  4. Mr. Escobar:

    With respect to LANA, we had multiple board members at every meeting on this project through the summer. We advocated a number of changes to city officials that are reflected in the changing proposals. One board member did go door-to-door when the project was first announced to ensure people in the vicinity knew about. Our meeting schedule is on our website ( and we have an active social media presence on Facebook and Nextdoor as well where we post meeting notices and information. You may have already seen this, but the BRA announced yesterday they have heard the neighbors’ concerns based on the public comments submitted and will continue working with the developer on the proposal. We are your neighbors and volunteers doing this in our free time to better the community as best we can. I do appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

    Robert Orthman, LANA Board President

    1. Robert

      Thank you, I have been to every single meeting for this project. I have been vocal about the overall size of this project, that this project is not self-contained in respects to the available parking space to accommodate all those living there, and the added stress to the current infrastructure. Issues with traffic, over-flow parking snow removal, and general safety. I have sent my written comments, called about my concerns and spoken with city councilors about our concerns. We did get on thing out of these conversations, the Yield to Pedestrians marker to make it safer for those crossing the street replaced.

      Oddly, if someone from went door to door about this project it seems that Hazelmere Road was missed. Our neighbors made flyers and distributed them between ourselves and posted them in the business near us. We learned of the meetings the Matt’s office and through another neighborhood group in which we were invited to joined to deal with an increase of crime and difficult neighbor.

      I would recommend that when a project of this size does present itself that you outreach to those directly abutting this project. As the neighborhood organization, I believe it would be helpful to meet and speak directly with those greatly affected. One of us would have welcome an opportunity and open our homes to bring the neighbors together, show you our concerns and help you understand our concerns. You would learn that as a neighborhood we look out and interact with each other and have discussed this project and issues that impact our immediate area. We have attended a LANA meeting to support a request by one of our neighbors and were the only one present at the meeting. Being on the boarder of both West Roxbury and Roslindale we have to aware of both neighborhoods and sometimes it feels as if we’re overlooked.

      We appreciate your work, just recommend that you and the board reach out to those impacted directly by the proposal and walk through the area to fully understand what we’re facing. Help us work with BRA and the developers to find a solution in which we all win and make a good effort to come to a compromise that preserves our neighborhoods. We love our homes, our neighbors and neighborhood and we want what is best. Unlike people’s opinion that we prefer an empty lot, you’ll find that we want something built and don’t want to settle on any project but seek the right project that is reflective on Roslindale. We’ve welcome the revival of the businesses in the area despite the added stressors on small neighborhood. Dealing with blocked driveways, noise and litter. Things can be better and we can use more assistance from the city on dealing with these issues to ensure that safety and enjoyment of our homes continues.

      This project should work as a learning experience on things that can be done differently to ensure that there is a strong voice to represent the needs of the community. I personally feel that the bigger issues will be missed just as the developers have focus on square footage as the size issue and their failure to understand it’s not the square footage but the height on project. We have been cleared that 3 stories is preferable to the 4 story. That’s where the frustration comes in and where some of us feel we’re not being heard. Stand in our backyards and imagine what the change will mean to homes. Visiting us would have given you a different prospective to the scope of this project. Moving forward it would be a suggestion that LANA go out and experience the neighbors in our homes.

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