On: May 17, 2017

The highlight of Greater Ashmont Main Street’s Annual Public Meeting on May 16th was the first public presentation of visioning efforts for our proposed DOT Greenway along the MBTA tunnel cap from behind the Englewood Building in Peabody Square north to Park Street where the train returns to surface level in Fields Corner.  Jenn Cartee of Greater Ashmont Main Street gave context for the proposal and facilitated the community discussion, while Cody Klein of OJB Landscape Architecture showcased the presentation they have prepared pro bono of what might be possible.  

The envisioned Greenway would seek to:

  1. Connect people to people
  2. Connect people to mass transit
  3. Connect people to local goods and services
  4. Provide a safe recreation space for walkers and cyclist
  5. Express the historic and distinctive qualities of the Dorchester
  6. Provide opportunities for community engagement and active programming

The concept as proposed would expand on the existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure at the Shawmut station and be consistent with the City of Boston’s 30 year Master Plan for multi-modal infrastructure “GoBoston 2030.”   The full proposal can be viewed at tinyurl.com/DotGreenwayProposal  

OJB took on this project in coordination with RODE architects and Travis Lee of TLee Development, and they have been independently working on this for several months.   Greater Ashmont MS’s facilitating role in the project is inspired by the fact that a tunnel cap park of some kind has been part of the organization’s long term goals since at least 2012.  Working to make it a reality is part of the Greater Ashmont MS’s broader commitment to community vitality in lower Dorchester and support for Vision Zero/Complete Street‘s multi-modal transit objectives.  The best model for organizing this project is still to be determined, but tentative discussions conceive of the easement from the MBTA being held by the City of Boston who would then license it to an independent 501(c)3 organization devoted to the Greenway’s funding, function, and maintenance.

Although still in its early stages, the project was warmly received at the meeting as an expression of long standing community hopes.  It cleared a significant hurdle at the beginning of May, when the MBTA approved the requested 99 year Right of Way easement for this purpose, subject to construction document review.  Several of the area’s political representatives have expressed support and the Boston Transportation Department’s staff responsible for their Greenlinks initiative, Liveable Streets, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation have all expressed enthusiasm and a desire to be part of the conversation.  Outreach to community residents and business owners,  through our many civic associations and in small group sessions with abutters, is expected to happen this summer, leading into community-wide charrettes in the fall.  Separate outreach will occur to additional likely partners, such as Walk Boston, DotBike, and Boston Natural Areas Network (Trustees of Reservations).

To stay up to date on community-wide meetings related to this project, please subscribe to our newsletter at greaterashmont.org and follow our social media accounts @greaterashmont.  For the dates of presentations in your neighborhood specifically, please look to your local civic association’s usual agenda announcements.