Last week, we joined with several community partners to send a letter to the BPDA requesting community benefits to accompany the 18-22 Arboretum Road Development, a proposed 230-apartment development just off Washington Street abutting the Arboretum. Our joint letter focuses on funding for the Gateway Path and food pantry certification for an Archdale food distribution site. The full letter is reproduced below.
March 28, 2023
Senior Project Manager
Boston Planning and Development Agency
City of Boston
RE: 18-22 Arboretum Road Development – Community Benefits
Dear Ms. Coppinger:
The development and construction of new housing at 18-22 Arboretum Road in Roslindale is a welcome event for our city and for the transit accessible community near the Forest Hills MBTA station. The development is also a major opportunity to expand access to the Arnold Arboretum for the nearby Washington Street neighborhood, including the Archdale Boston Housing Authority community.
We are writing as representatives of a coalition of community organization partners that includes WalkUP Roslindale, The Arnold Arboretum, Roslindale Village Main Street, Livable Streets Alliance, RozzieBikes, the Arboretum Park Conservancy, and FAVOR (Food Access Volunteers Of Roslindale). Our coalition seeks community benefits from the Arboretum Road Development to further the Arboretum Gateway Path and the FAVOR food access project at the Archdale BHA community.
Roslindale Gateway Path Community Benefit
Together, WalkUP Roslindale, The Arnold Arboretum, Roslindale Village Main Street, Livable Streets Alliance, RozzieBikes, and the Arboretum Park Conservancy have worked for six years to establish the Arboretum Gateway Path, connecting the Arboretum to the Forest Hills MBTA station, Washington St, and Roslindale Village. This path will enable pedestrians and bicyclists to access the Arboretum from Washington Street. It will also serve as an extension of the Southwest Corridor Path, connecting communities of Roslindale and West Roxbury to the existing network of protected walkways and bicycle paths heading downtown.
Sometime this spring, Boston Parks and Recreation will oversee construction of Phase 1 of the Gateway Path. This phase includes the reconstruction of Arboretum Road by the Boston Public Works Department for pedestrian access, a new entry plaza to the Arboretum Road tunnel beneath the MBTA tracks, and a new path connecting this entry to the Arboretum’s South Street gate and the Blackwell Path to the Forest Hills MBTA Station. Phase 1 has been funded through grants from Boston’s Community Preservation Commission, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts MassTrails program and operational investments by the City of Boston Parks, Public Works and Transportation Departments.
The development at 18-22 Arboretum Road will be directly adjacent to the new Arboretum entrance, and its residents will be able to enjoy the park and its wonderful open space by access through the Gateway Path. In addition, this new entrance, the Roslindale Gateway Path which connects the entrance with the Arnold Arboretum, the ongoing maintenance of the entrance and path by The Arnold Arboretum and the significant improvements to Arboretum Road by the City of Boston’s Public Works Department expected to be completed by the end of this summer, will greatly enhance the monetary value of the proposed development at 18-22 Arboretum Road.
Our goal has been to make the Arboretum accessible to all members of the Washington Street neighborhood, and we are pleased to see that the development plans attempt to support that goal. The neighborhood is an Environmental Justice Community and its residents currently have no welcome access point to the Arboretum’s open space. We see an opportunity for a robust partnership between the 18-22 Arboretum Road development team and the coalition behind the Gateway path.
Phase 2 of the Path will connect the new entry at Arboretum Road to a new pedestrian crossing at the intersection of South and Bussey Streets. Path-goers will be able to enter the Peters Hill section of the park via the Arboretum’s Poplar Gate. Phase 2 involves the construction of a boardwalk parallel to South Street overlooking the Bussey Brook meadow. Full design of the boardwalk has been funded by a combination of private donors and state grants. We now seek funding for construction of the boardwalk from the developers of 18-22 Arboretum Road.
Food Access Volunteers Of Roslindale Community Benefit
FAVOR is a volunteer-run mutual aid group serving Roslindale and surrounding neighborhoods, formed to support families and individuals experiencing food insecurity in our community. FAVOR was a coming together of two groups formed in the early days of the Covid pandemic to address the impact of the pandemic on the community – Roslindale Cares and the Washington Beech Food distribution. At the time of its formation, the Greater Boston Food Bank’s Food Resources map showed that of 119 food pantries in the city, only 3 were located in the Southwest Boston communities of Roslindale, Hyde Park and West Roxbury.
FAVOR has built a strong community network to provide fresh, local, nutritious foods purchased at wholesale from local sources using grants and donated funds, and “rescued” from area markets, cafés, and bakeries. Our Friday food programs at the BHA’s Archdale and Washington-Beech Apartments provide families with fresh eggs and nutritious produce. We also prioritize culturally relevant foods, like beans, rice, bok choy, plantains, and yams, so our neighbors can prepare meals they know and love. No IDs or documentation are required to receive food, and no limits placed on how frequently someone can come to our programs. We rely on volunteers who live at both sites and others who come from Boston and beyond to run our programs every week.
Since the formation of FAVOR, the number of individuals and families receiving food at our two sites has continuously grown demonstrating that the need for our program continues. Unfortunately, our donations and other funding sources have not grown to keep up with this need. In fact, the inverse has been true because of public perception among former individual donors that the need has lessened with the downgrading of the COVID pandemic. Direct grant funding for food purchase has also diminished to a large extent.
For most of the nearly 3 years since FAVOR was formed, our programs ran every Friday and our numbers grew until we were serving 150+ households through our 2 distribution sites. More recently, due to inadequate funds, we have been forced to cut back our distributions to every other week. This move needs to be temporary. Food insecurity in Roslindale continues to grow with residents impacted by the rise in food prices and the recent elimination of the enhanced COVID-SNAP emergency benefits (to be only partially and temporarily replaced by the state.)
As was stated above, FAVOR runs our food distributions at two sites: Washington-Beech and Archdale. While both sites have common needs, Archdale has some particular challenges. These include the following:
- More families and young children residing in the complex,
- Lack of space for storage of canned and dry goods and other non-perishables delivered prior to the distribution days,
- Lack of refrigeration for perishables such as meat, eggs, and dairy products, and
- Without the above, no current pathway for classification as a Food Pantry.
Becoming certified as a Food Pantry would open significant doors for our Archdale distribution and allow for services to reach residents on additional days and at more convenient times.
Certification as a food pantry would allow Archdale to qualify for delivery of food requiring storage and refrigeration––foods currently often available that we are unable to accept. One example that quickly comes to mind is the increasing availability of food from Food Rescue US/Boston, an organization with which we partner. Through this partnership, we currently receive large quantities of bread and other baked goods at both sites, enough to provide bread to each family or individual. Food Rescue US/Boston has informed us that they will soon be expanding operations to include the “rescue” of large quantities of perishable foods and other grocery and household items. Without storage and refrigeration and a path toward certification as a food pantry, Archdale residents will be unable to benefit from much of this new bounty.
Our coalition believes the development at 18-22 Arboretum Rd can support our Phase 2 Roslindale Gateway Path construction costs and the Food Pantry certification of the Archdale BHA Community FAVOR site as part of its community benefit. We are asking that the developer contribute 1% of its development costs to the Roslindale Gateway Path and FAVOR serving the Archdale BHA Community. We see this as an investment by the developer that will greatly enhance the property’s value to its residents, and improve the health and wellness of its neighbors through more equitable access to a public open space and nutritious food. We would like to meet with you and representatives of the development team to discuss this proposal.
Steve Gag and Greg Tobin, Roslindale residents, IAG members and WalkUP Board members
Sabrina Ivory, Jenice Peters and Nancy Horowitz, Roslindale residents and FAVOR members and leaders
Cc: WalkUP Roslindale Board of Directors
Ned Friedman, The Arnold Arboretum
Danny Schissler, The Arnold Arboretum
Vinny Fieg, Roslindale Village Main Street
Abby Jamiel, Livable Streets Alliance
Nina Brown, The Arboretum Park Conservancy
RozzieBikes Board of Directors
FAVOR Board of Directors
Mayor Michelle Wu
Tiffany Chu, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
Arthur Jemison, Chief of Planning, Director of BPDA
Kate Bennett, BHA Administrator
Councilor Ricardo Arroyo
Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune
Councilor Kendra Lara
Councilor Julia Mejia
Senator Mike Rush
Representative Rob Consalvo