This week, we sent a short comment letter in support of the City of Boston’s application for a “LAND” Grant to support the acquisition of 108 Walter Street in Roslindale for an urban wild. Details about the project can be found from the Roslindale Wetlands Task Force; see also this notice concerning a recent public meeting on the project from the Boston Conservation Commission. Our full letter appears below or can be downloaded as a PDF.
The Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild Park is a 10-acre nature sanctuary, located near Weld between Centre and Walter Street. The Boston Parks and Recreation Department is working on capital improvements to the park in collaboration with landscape architecture firm Crowley Cottrell. They’ve asked us to spread the word about an online survey seeking community feedback about these planned improvements. Please take the survey at the links below and spread the word to neighbors.
WITH 2018 having drawn to its inevitable close, now seems like a decent enough time to look back on another year in the life of WalkUP Roslindale, your neighborhood walk-bike-transit-Y/QIMBY (Yes/Quality in My Backyard) citizens advocacy group. In the opinion of one member of group management, here are the top 10 things that happened this year. Comments, corrections, and additions are always welcome!
- District City Councilor Forum – Although scheduling conflicts kept us from hosting this particular forum in 2017, we did manage to pull off a gathering of the three district councilors who represent various parts of Roslindale – Andrea Campbell (District 4), Tim McCarthy (District 5), and Matt O’Malley (District 6) – that resulted in a lively discussion on a wide range of topics hosted by our own Sarah Kurpiel Lee. You can read the post-mortem at Recap on District City Councilor January 2018 Forum.
- Washington Street Bus & Bike Lane – After the 2-day pilot at the end of 2017 and then a full 4-week pilot in May and June of this year, the Mayor announced that the Washington Street bus and bike lane improvement project – which allows for a bus and bike only lane northbound on weekday mornings (5 to 9 am) and has significantly improved travel times for riders on the 9 separate lines that run between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills – would be permanent. This was a big win for better transit in our neighborhood and a significant step forward for better bus service across the region. We were proud to partner with Livable Streets Alliance on surveying riders and building support for the project and reported on it in May in Give Washington Street Bus Lane Feedback and in October in WalkUP Comment Letter on Washington Street Bus Lane.
- Safer Walking and Cycling in Roslindale Square – Around the same time that the bus/bike pilot was going on and being made permanent, the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) planned and then the Public Works Department resurfaced the key loop of South/Belgrade/Corinth/Poplar in Roslindale Square and installed a targeted set of new crosswalks, daylighting areas, in-street bike lanes, and relocated bus stops. With this set of improvements, a significant majority of the changes we advocated for in our December 2015 Walk Audit with WalkBoston have now been implemented. You can find coverage at Recent Safety Improvements in Roslindale Square – An Explainer and Letter of Support for Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Calming Improvements in Roslindale Square.
- Significant Progress on the Roslindale Gateway Path – In late June, we teamed with the Arnold Arboretum and Horsley Witten to release the 25% design for the MBTA-owned section of the path, running from the commuter rail station to the Arboretum border. The meeting was well attended and led to the T’s relatively swift determination that the proposed path route was conceptually approved through its internal canvassing process. Mid-year also saw funding progress as the commonwealth’s legislative session drew to a close in July. First, future funding to the tune of $3 million for path construction was included in the statewide Environmental Bond Bill. Securing these particular funds will require more work going forward, but the good news was just getting started. The FY2019 budget also included $100,000 in earmarked funding to help complete the path’s overall design. And then, to top off the funding story for the year, the city, through BTD, was able to obtain $90,000 in federal grant funding to move to 100% design for the initial extension of the path from its current terminus at the end of the Blackwell Path to the Arboretum Road underpass. An application to the city’s Community Preservation Act committee to fund construction of this extension was submitted in September. Coverage can also be found at Major Step Forward for the Gateway Path.
- Y/QIMBY Support and YIMBYtown – We continued to support new projects and concepts that we believed make sense, including 3-7 Poplar (732 South) and RVMS’ Poplar Street Improvements and the possible redevelopment of the Taft Hill Parking Lot. We also participated on the host committee of YIMBYtown 2018, the third annual national YIMBY conference held here in Boston in September. Perhaps the emblematic moment at YIMBYtown was the demonstration by housing justice advocates led by City Life/Vida Urbana at the closing plenary of the conference, voicing concerns about displacement of poorer people and people of color from neighborhoods experiencing an influx of new residents. WalkUP Roslindale hopes to partner with the housing justice initiative at RISE in the coming year to find a unified way forward in our neighborhood. More to come on this topic.
- FY2019 BTD Budget – WalkUP Roslindale was truly excited about the passage of an expanded BTD budget for FY2019 that calls for hiring a slew of new planners and engineers focused on issues such as coordinating MBTA service in the city, implementing Vision Zero, and expanding our city’s bike network. While we are still awaiting these new hires, we hope that they will be made soon.
- Neighborhood Slow Streets in MHMC – Progress continued on our neighborhood’s winner of the 2017 NSS sweepstakes. Conceptual plans are anticipated to be released in late winter. More information can be found at “Mount Hope/Canterbury” on BTD’s vision zero site.
- Blue Bikes in Roslindale! – We finally got our first 4 Blue Bikes stations in Roslindale in late summer – 2 stations in the square, one Belgrade and Walworth, and a fourth at Washington and Archdale. Now, if we could only find a way to get the long-delayed-due-to-construction and now completely inexplicably delayed station slated for Forest Hills, we’d really be talking. You can read more at “New Hubway (Blue Bikes) Locations Announced in Roslindale” and “Blue Bikes Finally Come to Roslindale.”
- Walter Street Traffic Calming – After sustained advocacy over many years by members of the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association, 3 new crosswalks were finally installed in the stretch of Walter Street running from Bussey to South. The crosswalks were also accompanied by daylighting and flexposts on Walter itself and on certain of the side streets on Peters Hill. This kind of treatment can and should be extended to all of our major streets.
- Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative 1.0+ – Finally, our volunteer snow clearance collaborative had plenty of chances to flex our muscles and get in a good work out shoveling out key bus stops in and around the square and at the key intersection of Hyde Park Avenue and Cummins Highway. The shoveling in the square even included the contested sidewalks surrounding the MBTA commuter rail station on Belgrade. We gave the last installment – Collaborative v. 1.5 – a lighthearted touch with a photo of the Boston yeti.
Join us in two weeks, Sunday, May 20, 2018 for an easy bicycle tour of the American Legion Parkway green areas. The tour will run from 8am-10:30am and start at the Walgreen’s end of the Stop-n-Shop Plaza on American Legion Highway, near Hyde Park Ave. RSVP to Laura Smeaton (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lisa Beatman (email@example.com, 617-306-1283). More details below or download the PDF flyer.
We talk a lot about how smarter, well-designed, and dense mixed-use development will advance our vision of making Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in all of Boston, but it’s important to remember that high quality and accessible open space is also a critical ingredient for a Walkable Urban Place. Indeed, density and open space are two sides of the same coin. As urban designer and walkability advocate Julie Campoli states in her book Made for Walking:
The structural elements illustrated throughout Made for Walking – streets, blocks, sidewalks, and connected open spaces together with the intricate mixing of uses – make walking and biking convenient and enable mobility with a vastly reduced carbon impact. These qualities, combined with a comfortable streetscape, create the type of pedestrian-oriented environment that lures people out of their cars. A few other physical qualities may not contribute directly to lowering a place’s carbon footprint but are also essential ingredients in a successful urban neighborhood. These elements, which can be designed in a place to add value, include the things all of us need in varying degrees – greenery, privacy, variety, and a sense of spaciousness.
To this end, we are happy to support the Healy Field Community Garden effort. After several years of outreach and dozens of meetings, the Friends of Healy Field are poised to create a garden space for children and adults, including a gathering space for community-wide events. The friends have gotten support from Healy Field abutters and neighbors, over 500 Roslindale petitioners, 60+ participants in the community design process, Boston’s Parks Department and Boston’s Mayor Walsh. Now MassDevelopment is offering to match the $25,000 FOHF plans to raise through this campaign. Please consider contributing whatever you can toward this major $25,000 matching grant, and spread the word!
We last updated folks on the progress of the Roslindale Gateway Path when we, along with our partners LivableStreets Alliance, the Arnold Arboretum, and Roslindale Village Main Street, released the conceptual design study back in April of this year. Since then, we have discussed more seamlessly weaving together and unifying the RGP with the Blackwell Path Extension that the Arboretum Park Conservancy has been promoting on roughly the same timeframe. Those discussions resulted in a joint meeting with city officials in June 2017 to put the combined project squarely on their radar and just a few days ago the decision by the Solomon Foundation to provide $29,000 in funding to advance the combined project to 25% design. The Arnold Arboretum will be facilitating this work with Solomon and the design consultants at Horsley Witten Group and we look forward to releasing and publicly discussing this design when it is released later this year. So, special thanks to Solomon and the Arboretum for keeping the momentum up on this effort!
Yes. That’s Keytar Bear from the Roslindale Craft Beer Cellar opening earlier this year!!
Friends, it’s going to be a busy few weeks upcoming. So, as we close out April and start into May, here are 5 eminently worthwhile events to put on your calendar. We hope to see you at all or at least some of them:
ITEM 1 – Sunday – May 7 at 1 pm – Jane’s Walk – We’ll meet in the southeastern corner of the Arboretum, just down the short slope from the Mendum Street gate and then wind our way northward along the contemplated route of the Roslindale Gateway Path and the Blackwell Path extension, stop and consider ways to work with our neighbors on cleaning up the area around the Arboretum Road underpass, and get a tutorial on the upcoming end-state for walking and cycling connections in the Arborway-Casey area.
ITEM 2 – Monday – May 8 at 6:30 pm – Roslindale Gateway Path Conceptual Design Study Presentation – This will take place at the Arboretum’s Weld Hill building. More information at the link. Pushing the concept to the point of seeing how it might lay out on the ground is an important milestone, and those of us who have been steering this grassroots effort so far are eager to continue the community conversation we started last spring.
ITEM 3 – Tuesday – May 16 at 9:30 am – Mayor Walsh’s Neighborhood Coffee Hour and Fallon Field Playground Ribbon-Cutting – This will be a great opportunity to connect with the mayor and his staff (including our own Dan Murphy from ONS) to thank them for their work on the new playground and discuss other ways we can work together to make our neighborhood a better place.
ITEM 4 – Thursday – May 18 at 7:00 pm – Fun-Size Target Meeting – It’s now official: Staples is closing and Target is proposing to bring their smaller-size store model into our neighborhood. Lots of upside and downside to discuss. To be held at the RCC, this one promises to be interesting.
ITEM 5 – Friday – May 19 at 7:10 am – Bike to Work Day – With Councilor Tim McCarthy! – May 19 is bike to work day throughout the city and the country, and if you work downtown, you can have an extra special treat on this day because our own district city councilor has accepted Rozzie Bikes’ invitation to ride into town from Roslindale Square. The West Roxbury/Roslindale convoy starts at Adi’s Bike World on Centre Street at 7:00 am and then departs Roslindale Square at 7:10 am. The ride ends at an early-morning festival on City Hall Plaza. Be there with your 2-wheeler and join in the fun!
WalkUP Roslindale is excited to announce another milestone toward making the Roslindale Gateway Path a reality. After completing a vision report (two-page summary) with students from the Tufts Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program just about a year ago, we raised donations to fund a “10% conceptual plan” for the path by an engineering firm, the Horsley Witten Group (“Sustainable Environmental Solutions”). This study has just wrapped up and we are holding a public event on Monday, May 8, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Weld Hill Research Building in the Arnold Arboretum, 1300 Centre Street, to present the final product and invite more community feedback and support.
Our past events for this project have had a big turnout, and we hope this one will as well. As a preview of the report, a couple of images below show in more detail the proposed route for “section 1” of the path, starting at the Roslindale Village Commuter Rail stop, as well as a visual rendering of a section of the path.
Please RSVP so we can prepare for the right size group! Spread the word, and don’t forget to join for a Jane’s Walk in the area of the path the day before (May 7).
As part of the international movement of holding citizen-led walking tours promoting community-based city building during the month of May in honor of pioneer urbanist Jane Jacobs (that’s her in the graphic next to the Jane’s Walk logo) and in collaboration with our friends at WalkBoston, WalkUP Roslindale will be hosting its first-ever Jane’s Walk on Sunday, May 7, 2017 starting at 1 pm at the southeast corner of the Arboretum. We will wind our way along the proposed route of the Roslindale Gateway Path and the proposed Blackwell Path Extension, hopefully connect with a couple of key stakeholders at the Arboretum Road arch, and then hear from WalkUP Roslindale/Rozzie Bikes‘ own Mark Tedrow about walking and cycling connections to the Southwest Corridor and Franklin Park that will result from completion of the ongoing Casey Arborway project at Forest Hills. Hope to see you there!!!
Most public and media attention to the questions that will appear on our ballots next Tuesday has focused on questions 1 through 4. But for WalkUP Rozzie and many allied organizations, Question 5 has the greatest impact potential. We need your help in spreading the word (both via social media and in the real world)!
On November 8th, Boston voters have the opportunity to secure a lasting investment for local parks and open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. The Community Preservation Act (CPA), which will appear as Question #5 on the ballot, is your opportunity to improve quality of life in Boston by helping the city:
- Build and improve parks, playgrounds, trails, and gardens – including greenways that make up the Emerald Network
- Acquire land to protect water quality and reduce climate change impacts
- Restore and preserve historic buildings, and rehabilitate underutilized resources
- Create thousands of new, affordable homes for seniors, families, and veterans
Currently, too many people in Boston lack adequate access to parklands and open space. WalkUP Roslindale strongly believes that safe, enjoyable streets, parks, and neighborhoods should not be a privilege afforded to some, but a right guaranteed to all. It’s time to invest in a better, more equitable Boston.
Through CPA, the City of Boston has an opportunity to generate over $20 million every year in dedicated funding to create and improve parks, restore historic sites, and build new affordable homes throughout Boston’s neighborhoods.
Thanks to our friends at Livable Streets Alliance for help with this copy. See also the Yes on 5 website and this well-written column from Adrian Walker at the Boston Globe in support of the measure.