WUR Housing Chair Rob Orthman’s Letter in the Roslindale Bulletin re 4198 Washington Street

We remain incredibly disappointed in the ZBA’s decision denying zoning relief to the 4198 Washington Street project as this proposal, more than many, presented a stark choice between affordable housing and community amenities on the one hand, and passive private car storage on the other. We hope Mayor Wu will scrutinize this issue closely and exercise her right to appoint members who will not prioritize parking above other urgent needs or anoint themselves de facto transportation policy czars. In any event, we were pleased that the Roslindale Bulletin chose to print a letter this week from WalkUP Board Member and Housing & Development Chair Rob Orthman. The full text of Rob’s letter is reproduced below:

NEW MEMBERS OF THE ZBA WITH EXPERIENCE IS CRUCIAL
To the Editor:

Regarding the article in last week’s issue, ‘4198 Washington project fails for lack of parking’, we as a city are desperately in need of a new Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and overall zoning reform. The recent decision by the ZBA to deny a worthwhile project at 4198 Washington Street in Roslindale Square is just the latest example of why. This is a development with levels of income-restricted housing far exceeding the city minimum requirements. It includes new, enhanced spaces for a community theater and local yogurt shop; both businesses owned by Asian-Americans. The location is transit-rich, right on the rapid bus lane to and from Forest Hills and close to the commuter rail station. And yet, members of the ZBA pedantically only focused on a lack of on-site parking in evaluating the project merits. The board members put aside support from City Councilor Arroyo, the Mayor’s Office, and many residents, and instead gave voice to bad faith efforts put forward by some residents opposed to the project to pit business owners of color against one another in an effort to defeat the project. The ZBA and opponents seem to think parking is more important than anything else including desperately needed homes for people and better spaces for our small businesses. It belies basic logic to think customer parking would be negatively affected by this new building when customer spaces are signed for 2-hours; why would any resident leave their vehicle in a spot to get ticketed every day? Having new customers living a stone’s throw from our local businesses would only benefit our business district as is. To hear the board architect proclaim that the community theater could simply be moved to a different, smaller space in the building to accommodate underground parking was particularly shocking, as if she is in any position to tell a business owner what is best for their business or what kind of space they need.

Mayor Wu takes office with the vast majority of ZBA members as holdover appointments on expired terms from prior administrations. It is imperative to have new members of the ZBA appointed that understand we live in a growing city and need to get serious about building new housing, particularly income-restricted housing, and supporting our local businesses, especially owned by individuals of color, that want to stay and grow here. More broadly, we need zoning reform that stops requiring every single development proposal to go through endless community meetings and bureaucratic approvals that only benefit the opponents of progress like happened here. We need to move past this parking-above-else mentality that is stifling progress and keeping us stuck in a place that does not benefit anyone except those who simply oppose change, no matter how they disguise it.

Robert Orthman
Roslindale

Roslindale Bus Improvements

We’re a bit late to acknowledge these recent improvements for bus service in Roslindale:

  • Washington Street Bus Lane: Building on the incredible success of the inbound morning bus lane on Washington Street, BTD expanded earlier this year to an afternoon outbound bus lane. Starting in late April, BTD added red paint to the southbound bus lane between Arboretum Road and Firth Road/South Street. This paint makes the bus lane more visible and prominent. The bus lane is operational between 2PM and 7PM on weekdays and enables buses to have a more reliable trip and save travel time. We’ve included some photos of the first night of striping below.
  • Roslindale Village Bus Stops: Work began in May on bus stop bump-outs on Poplar Street and Corinth Street. Once completed, these bus stops will be fully ADA accessible and provide better passenger amenities such as benches, shelters, and real time arrival information. They are also better located to permit smoother flow of buses through the square, and should shave off a few minutes of travel time for some bus lines that will no longer have to go all the way around Roslindale Square in order to head south on Cummins Highway.

We’re also happy to see the old Needham Line bridge over Robert Street has finally been replaced.

Thanks to all the folks at the MBTA and BTD (especially the transit team) for their hard work in seeing these projects through!

 

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!

Washington Street Outbound Bus/Bike Lane Work Starts Tonight!

We are quite happy to learn that the Boston Transportation Department is beginning striping work for the Washington Street/Roslindale Outbound Bus/Bike Lane. We have long pushed for both an evening-outbound and morning-inbound bus/bike lane and hope that finally achieving both goals will be transformational for Rozzie mass transit users as well as cyclists.

A few notes on what to expect over the next few weeks:

  • Striping Work is anticipated to begin on Sunday, November 8 at 8 PM.
  • BTD will be striping a new bus/bike lane and adding new signage.
  • Work will be phased to minimize disruptions during peak hours.
  • Plans are in place to manage traffic and ensure safety during road work.
  • The new lane is anticipated to be operational on Monday, November 16th for the evening commute.

We’ve also agreed to help distribute a BTD flyer in both English and Spanish concerning the bus lane work. Please spread the word to interested folks!

Washington Street Evening Bus Lane Public Meetings June 15 and 16, 2020

As long-time WalkUP followers know, we’re big supporters of bus lanes, and were delighted by the relatively quickly deployment and extraordinary success of a morning in-bound dedicated bus lane on Washington Street from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills. It’s been clear from day one, though, that an evening outbound lane is at least as necessary–if not more so–given the extreme congestion in that direction during normal times. We are happy to report that the City is now moving forward with (virtual) public meetings to discuss an outbound lane and receive community feedback. In advance of next week’s meetings, you can check out a BTD presentation to WalkUP from January which started to explore some of these ideas.

The following meetings are scheduled for next week; click on the links below for flyers with more details:

Please attend the meeting most appropriate for your interest and speak out in support of this excellent idea!

City-sponsored Open House on Roslindale Transportation and Housing – TOMORROW – 30 January 2020 – 6 to 8 pm – Roslindale Substation

We urge everyone who is able to make it to attend tomorrow night’s city-sponsored open house to learn more and share ideas about both transportation and housing issues in our neighborhood. Here’s the listing from the Department of Neighborhood Development’s webpage:

Latest Update

Join the City of Boston (Department of Neighborhood Development, Boston Transportation Department, Boston Planning & Development Agency and Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services) at an Open House community meeting for a conversation about how housing and transportation can work together in Roslindale.  This open house will explore the questions, concerns and ideas raised during a September 2019 community meeting regarding Housing with Public Assets at the Roslindale Municipal Parking Lot.

This open house will provide an opportunity to have smaller group discussions with residents, business owners and representatives from city departments responsible for housing production, transportation and neighborhood planning.

Date: Thursday, January 30, 2020
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Location: Roslindale Substation
Address: 4228 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA 02131

Presentation from WalkUP’s first BTD Transit Team Meeting of 2020

We had a full house at the Rozzie Square Theater on Tuesday night this week to hear from Boston Transportation Department Transit Director Matt Moran about planned mobility upgrades for Roslindale. The two points of focus of Matt’s presentation were the Washington Street corridor (between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills) and Hyde Park Avenue (between Wolcott Square and Forest Hills). Bus riders depend heavily on both corridors; moreover, although they outnumber car drivers, they are stuck in the same stand-still traffic at rush hour. The improvement that appears to be the closest to fruition is a southbound afternoon bus/bike-lane on Washington Street, but several improvements for mass transit riders and cyclists are planned for both streets.

We’re pleased to share BTD’s complete presentation from the event, which outlines several other planned improvements in addition to the bus/bike lane. Now it’s our job to make sure the City gets positive and encouraging feedback from residents. Change can’t come soon enough!