Today, we sent a comment letter on a proposed residential development at 18-22 Arboretum Road. We support this badly-needed new housing, but also call on the developer to contribute to certain community benefits. Our full letter is below.
Dear Mr. Valcich,
Please accept the following comments on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale with respect to the proposed rental residential development at 18-22 Arboretum Road (the “Proposed Project”).
We support the Proposed Project and are appreciative of the developers design changes in response to feedback from the community and the IAG. The construction of 243 new units of housing at 18-22 Arboretum Road in Roslindale is a welcome event for our city and for the transit-rich community near the Forest Hills MBTA station.
We renew our ask to the developer to contribute 1% of its total development costs to maximize integration into the neighborhood through two major community benefits:
- improve food access through support of a full-fledged certified Food Pantry at the Archdale BHA Community FAVOR site serving the Archdale BHA Community, and
- improve access for development’s residents and the surrounding environmental justice community to the Arboretum through a contribution to Phase 2 of the Roslindale Gateway Path project construction documentation and construction costs.
This investment by the developer 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.
Certified Food Pantry at the Archdale BHA Community FAVOR site
Food Access Volunteers Of Roslindale (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. Becoming certified as a Food Pantry would open significant doors for Archdale distribution, allowing for services to reach residents on additional days and at more convenient times, as well as qualifying for delivery of food requiring storage and refrigeration––foods currently often available but are unable to be accepted.
Phase 2 of the Roslindale Gateway Path project
The Proposed Project will be directly adjacent to a new Arboretum entrance that will be completed this year (Phase 1 of the Roslindale Gateway Path, which connects the entrance with the Arnold Arboretum). In addition to this new entrance on the Proposed Project’s doorstep, the Roslindale Gateway Path, 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 will all greatly enhance the monetary value of the Proposed Project. 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.
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. Design of the boardwalk is being funded by a combination of private donors and state grants. We now seek funding for construction of the boardwalk from the developers of the Proposed Project.
We have provided even more detailed context and rationale for these community benefits in a separate letter.
At the Joint IAG & Public Meeting on January 4th, the developer indicated that a total of $350,000 would be put forth for the community benefit, and that at least $125,000 of that amount is already committed for crosswalk and curb construction at Lochdale Rd and Washington Rd and a Blue Bikes station on Arboretum Rd. Considering the level of amenities afforded to the Proposed Project site outlined above and the needs of neighboring residents, we believe a more substantial contribution is warranted. We support the Proposed Project and do not wish to delay its construction in any way, but we believe these two critical community benefits deserve the robust support of the developer.
WalkUP Roslindale Board of Directors
About WalkUP Roslindale
WalkUP Roslindale, which takes its name from the international movement to foster “Walkable Urban Places,” is a collaborative group of residents dedicated to making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston. We advocate for a dynamic, livable streetscape and we support positive changes to our public and private built environment that strengthen walkability and other forms of active mobility as means toward better personal and public health, safety, social capital, economic development, and environmental sustainability. We are led by a steering group of about thirty residents and have nearly 1,000 additional supporters. More information about WalkUP Roslindale and our initiatives can be found at www.walkuproslindale.org.
We recognize that no single group of people can be said to speak for our entire neighborhood – instead, please take these comments as representing the collective support of our steering group members (indicated above) resulting from our mission and principles.