Progress on Gateway Path funding thanks to Sen. Rush and Rep. Malia

We have been working for many years with our elected leaders to make the Roslindale Gateway Path a reality and were delighted to learn that Sen. Mike Rush has successfully pushed through an amendment to this year’s state budget bill  allocating $100,000 toward development of the path. Rep. Liz Malia and her staff are on board to help see this through on the House side. This is a significant step forward for the path, which we hope will be fully funded in the coming years.

Advocacy Opportunity – Boston City Council Sidewalk Snow Clearance Hearing – 10 am, March 16 via Zoom

Yes, the hearing – under the subtitle “Supplemental Sidewalk Clearance Program During Snowstorms in Boston” – will be held by the council’s Committee on City and Neighborhood Services during the day, but it will be over Zoom. Anyone interested in testifying or offering public testimony should send an email to committee liaison Juan Lopez (email juan.lopez@nullboston.gov) to request the zoom link, sign up to testify at the hearing, and/or to submit written comment separately. Your friends here at WalkUP Roslindale will be there, with bells on, and we’ll post our written testimony after the hearing. We have long-standing, well-documented thoughts about the consistently awful, incredibly short shrift our city gives to people walking, biking, and taking transit during and after any significant snowfall. This is the first opportunity we can recall where the public is being invited to speak to our city’s administration about just how bad it is out there and what we believe can and should be done. We hope you can participate! PS And we’d like to give a special note of thanks to Councilor Bok for issuing the call for this hearing. It’s way, way, way past time to do better in what is supposed to be “America’s Walking City.”

WalkUP Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative – Version 4.4 – Back at it again…

We have snow falling again this evening and we are accordingly calling out our forces again – If we hit 4″ (10cm), please do what you can to clear out bus stops, crosswalk ramps, and other paths for our neighbors. If you make it out and get it done, send us before and after pictures (email Matt at mlawlor@nullrc.com) and make yourself eligible for $10 in Rozzie Bucks from our good friends and sponsors at Roslindale Village Main Street. Thanks everyone!

WalkUP Roslindale Snow Clearance Collaborative, Version 4.3 – You know the drill by now…

We have snow falling again this afternoon and though it isn’t yet sticking on the motor vehicle travel lanes of our streets, it does appear to be accumulating on sidewalks and other paths. We are accordingly calling out our forces again – If we hit 4″ (10cm), please do what you can to clear out bus stops, crosswalk ramps, and other paths for our neighbors. If you make it out and get it done, send us before and after pictures (email Matt at mlawlor@nullrc.com) and make yourself eligible for $10 in Rozzie Bucks from our good friends and sponsors at Roslindale Village Main Street. It is worth noting that we here at WalkUP Roslindale are aware that there is an ongoing debate and plenty of advocacy ground to cover as to how priorities are set and how we as a city clear snow and ice. We acknowledge that this collaborative is barely scratching the surface of what is needed. But we think we have to start somewhere and take action.

Spring 2020 Gateway Path Update – New 25% Conceptual Plan, Demolition Started at Bussey Brook Meadow

The Roslindale Gateway Path remains one of WalkUP Roslindale’s signature initiatives and a top priority. As we approach the five year mark since its conception (along with WalkUP itself), we’re starting to see concrete progress. Please excuse the pun.

Notably, we recently received a revised 25% conceptual plan for the path from our partner consultant, Horsley Witten Group. As you will see below, the path course has been modestly revised, and more details about eventual construction filled in. Click on the image to see an (extremely) high-resolution detailed version.

Updated 25% Design Plan for Roslindale Gateway PathMeanwhile, demolition work on the new Bussey Brook Meadow entrance to the path–at the end of Arboretum Road off of Washington Street–recently started:

Demolition of Bussey Brook Meadow Entrance to Arboretum

We are looking ahead to break ground for this segment of the path sometime this summer. The other major update is that design work is moving forward on the grand boardwalk connecting the Peters Hill segment of the path – this segment will connect the intersection of Bussey and South Street to the Bussey Brook Meadow. Renderings of this section are expected in June 2020. Blow-up of this section below, with the new, improved Arboretum Road entrance on the bottom right:Boardwalk Section of Bussey Brook Path

Join us on Lilac Sunday 5/12 10am-3pm to learn about a new entrance to the Arboretum

A NEW ENTRANCE TO THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM IS COMING!

The City of Boston in partnership with the Arnold Arboretum, WalkUP Roslindale, and the Arboretum Park Conservancy are working to create a new entrance to the Arnold Arboretum at the end of Arboretum Road that will ultimately connect up with our planned Gateway Path.

Please stop by on LILAC SUNDAY (this coming Sunday, May 12) to learn about the project and enjoy some ice cream and music on your way to viewing the lilacs! The entrance is not yet paved, so please wear sturdy shoes or boots

Date and Time:    Sunday, May 12, 2019, 10 AM to 3 PM

Location:        End of Arboretum Road, Roslindale

Bussey Brook Meadow Path Gets Recommendation for CPA funding!

This past Friday, the City of Boston Community Preservation Committee released its funding recommendations from the 2018 and 2019 Community Preservation Fund, and the recommended recipients include the Bussey Brook Meadow Path, an important part of our vision for the Roslindale Gateway Path connecting Roslindale Village to Forest Hills.

By way of background, in 2000 the state legislature passed the Community Preservation Act, allowing cities and towns across Massachusetts to put CPA on the local ballot. In November 2016, CPA passed in Boston with the support of 74% of the voters. As a result, property owners pay a 1% surcharge on their quarterly real estate tax bill that funds the CPA in Boston. In this latest round of CPA awards, the committee has recommended that the path be awarded $500,000 to help “create green link between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills with a refurbished gateway at Arboretum Road.” Thanks, Boston voters!

Specifically, the Bussey Brook Meadow path, which is a segment of of the larger Roslindale Gateway Path, would create a new gateway to the Arnold Arboretum through the arch passage at the end of Arboretum Road and an accessible multi-use path connection to the existing Blackwell Path. The project creates a new entry to the paths in Bussey Brook Meadow for the Environmental Justice community of people who live east of the commuter rail tracks. When completed, the project would transform the neglected and trash-strewn arch passage into an inviting, landscaped gateway, with signage and subtle lighting on the side of the arch that faces Arboretum Road. The arch passage would be lit to enhance pedestrian safety.

Beyond the arch gateway, a crushed stone path would connect to the Blackwell Path, the South Street Gate, and Forest Hills Station. People using wheelchairs, pushing strollers, and riding bikes would be able to use the new path. Ongoing work to advance additional key path connections within the Arboretum means this path will eventually allow safe, comfortable, and beautiful walking and bicycling to Roslindale Square to the south and to the Southwest Corridor to the north.

A final design which will result in construction drawings for the Bussey Brook Meadow path is underway and will be completed by June 30, 2019. Construction of the path using CPA funds could begin as early as August of this year. The funding recommendation from the Community Preservation Committee must be approved by the City Council and the Mayor. Final approvals are expected by mid-March.

Community Meeting on February 28, 2019 at Menino/Archdale Community Center for Gateway Path 25% Design of Entire Path

Please join us on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 6:30pm at the BCYF Thomas Menino (Archdale) Community Center (125 Brookway Road) to learn about the 25% design study for the Roslindale Gateway Path and provide feedback. Last summer, we had a community meeting focusing on the portion on MBTA land adjacent the Roslindale commuter rail station. This meeting will focus on the entire length of the new planned path, including the section closest to the Archdale neighborhood in Roslindale — running near the Needham Line commuter rail tracks adjacent Peter’s Hill from the entrance of the Arboretum through to the tunnel entrance at the end of Arboretum Road, and then all the way to the existing Blackwell Path. RSVP appreciated (so we can plan for the appropriate crowd) but not required.

RSVP appreciated. You can also join the event and invite others from the Facebook event page or the Nextdoor event page. Spread the word!

Gateway Path - Proposed Route
Gateway Path – Proposed Route

Your 2018 WalkUP Roslindale year in review!

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.
  10. 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.