Last week, we sent a comment letter to the Boston City Council Committee on Ways & Means concerning next year’s operating budget, with a focus on transportation. We were particularly happy to see some proposed funding for the Roslindale Gateway Path. Other WalkUP priorities include the Washington Street Bus Lane, an American Legion Corridor bike network, and implementation of Neighborhood Slow Streets in the Mount Hope/Canterbury area. Our detail comments are below; a PDF version of the letter as sent is also available.
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.
Meanwhile, demolition work on the new Bussey Brook Meadow entrance to the path–at the end of Arboretum Road off of Washington Street–recently started:
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:
On February 28, 2019, we held a well-attended community meeting at the Archdale Community Center to elicit feedback the 25% design for the Roslindale Gateway Path. Several attendees as well as folks who followed the live video feed of the meeting asked for a copy of the slides. They’re now available; please feel free to share any additional feedback in the comments below.
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.
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.
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.
We had great turnout and lots of enthusiasm at a community meeting held last week to present the preliminary 25% design of the first portion of the planned Roslindale Gateway Path. The Gateway Path is WalkUP’s signature initiative, supported by a broad coalition of like-minded organizations including Rozzie Bikes and the Livable Streets Alliance. Ultimately, the path will create a new entrance to the Arboretum closer to Roslindale Village (right from the MBTA Commuter Rail station), allow entry to the park from Roslindale without having to surmount a big hill, provide improved access to the park along its route, and connect all the way up to the Forest Hills orange line station and Southwest Corridor Path.
For this meeting, we were focused only on the first portion which will cross over MBTA land. Since this portion requires negotiating land rights (the Arboretum, the City, and the MBTA will be all be involved), we thought it important to complete the process of gathering community feedback on that section first so those negotiations can move forward. Hence, this meeting, which was attended by as many as 50 residents, business owners, city employees, and representatives of our elected officials. Notably represented at the meeting were District City Councilors Tim McCarthy and Matt O’Malley, State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, and State Sen. Michael Rush. City-Councilor-at-Large Michelle Wu has also been very supportive of the project.
The presentation was lead by Jen Relstab of the Horsley Witten Group, our design consultant from the start of this effort. Be sure to check out the complete presentation. Following the slideshow, we received ample constructive feedback and questions from the group, ranging from questions about snow and ice; maintenance; policing; wildlife; storm water; trash; and ideas about various surfaces that might be used in different parts of the path. We’re incorporating this feedback and ideas into our next steps, and look forward to returning to the community as the project moves forward. If you have comments in the meantime, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some tweets and photos from the event below.
Roslindale Gateway Path 25% concept design meeting getting underway at the Roslindale Community Center. @StevenGag introducing project. Reps here from @McCarthy4Boston, @SenatorMikeRush, @ONSRoslindale among others. Great turnout! pic.twitter.com/ItOpqSo0fI
— WalkUP Roslindale (@walkuprozzie) July 25, 2018
— WalkUP Roslindale (@walkuprozzie) July 25, 2018
— Robert Orthman (@realroborthman) July 25, 2018
— LivableStreets (@StreetsBoston) July 25, 2018
@jeffrey_sanchez Looking forward to state funding for this important path to help ppl get out of CO2 producing cars and use active transportation means to get where they r going. https://t.co/eACfTBLWDC
— Alan Wright (@AlnThinks) July 26, 2018
Please join us on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 6pm at the Roslindale Community Center (6 Cummins Highway) to learn about the 25% design study for the Roslindale Gateway Path and provide feedback. This meeting will focus just on the MBTA portion of the design — the section connecting the Roslindale Square Commuter Rail Station into the Arboretum. RSVP appreciated. You can also join the event and invite others from the Facebook event page.
The Roslindale Gateway Path — the linchpin of a multiuse off-road trail to connect Roslindale Square with Forest Hills — took a significant step forward earlier this month when our Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, ensured that complete funding for the path was included in the House’s Environmental Bond Bill. You can find the authorization — for $3 million — right there on line 378, page 19 of the bill! Based on our preliminary estimates including the 10% design study, we believe this state funding coupled with city support and cooperation from the MBTA will be sufficient to design and build the entire path, including the Blackwell Path Extension on the Forest Hills/Jamaica Plain side, as well as the Gateway Path starting at the Roslindale MBTA Commuter Rail Station and extending into the Arboretum.
While the bill still needs to get through the Senate and be signed by the Governor, we are delighted by Rep. Sánchez’s leadership on this important sustainability issue. We expect Senator Michael Rush, who represents much of Roslindale in the Senate and serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, will also go to bat to help see this through.
At this point, we have no immediate action item for path supporters (other than to thank our elected officials when you get a chance!), but we will be keeping a close eye on the bill as it moves through the Senate. We expect the authorization will come up in the Senate some time before the end of July.
Yesterday, we sent an official letter to Mayor Walsh in strong support of his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 transportation budget, specifically in view of several major steps forward on our most important goal for Roslindale and the City of Boston: walkability! The full text of our letter is below; we encourage everyone to drop a quick note to the Mayor and their elected representatives on the City Council to insure the active and mass transportation aspects of the budget are enacted. Once implemented, we expect residents and business owners will immediately appreciate major returns on these investments in walking, bicycle, and bus infrastructure, which will then lay the groundwork for even bigger progress in the future.