Seaver Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Roxbury, could see a number of changes to improve safety and traffic flow on the roadway.
A public meeting, sponsored by Boston Bikes, will be held Thursday, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., at the United House of Prayer for All People, at 206 Seaver St.
Thursday’s meeting will concentrate on the “buffered” bike lanes proposed for the roadway. The lanes, which are more protected than a standard bike lane, but less intrusive than a protected cycle track, are expected to run the length of the roadway from Blue Hill Avenue to Walnut Avenue.FULL ENTRY
Ryan Peterson in Boston discusses what life is like living with an 80-pound pig.
Neighborhood group, developer settle year-old lawsuit over housing project planned for Home for Little Wanderers site in JP
(Boston Residential Group)
A neighborhood group and developer announced Tuesday they have reached a deal to settle a year-old lawsuit that has prevented construction on a project to raze the Home for Little Wanderers complex in Jamaica Plain to build housing.
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council said in a statement that the agreement calls for the developer, Boston Residential Group, to increase the number of units designated as affordable housing in the project from 33 to 37 and for all four of the additional affordable units to be “family size apartments.”
The deal, finalized in mid-November, also calls for the developer to “significantly lower the rent on many” of the other affordable units in the project and to, pending city approval, build a publicly-accessibly footpath along part of the development site connecting South Huntington Avenue and the Jamaicaway.
“We asked BRG to make extraordinary increases in affordability for this project, and they’ve come through – with the changes, this development will become one of the largest affordable housing developments in JP,” said a statement from JPNC chair Benjamin Day.
Curtis Kemeny, CEO of Boston Residential Group, said demolition for the project is scheduled to start in January and the project should be finished within about 18 months, or by the summer of 2015. He said he and his team are "very excited to move ahead" on the $80-million project.
"We’re ready to go and we have been ready for quite some time," Kemeny said. "It was a challenging process and this is not ideally the way we’d like the process to go but in the end all of the interests I think were balanced in a way that is allowing us to move ahead and we’re just excited to do that."
Officials had said previously they planned for construction to start this past spring and hoped to open the building, to be called Olmstead Place, by this coming spring.
But, work on the project was delayed after the JPNC filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Superior Court last December alleging that Boston Residential Group did not provide sufficient evidence to obtain zoning variances from the city for its project proposed.
The complaint also said that the city’s seven-member zoning board “exceeded its authority” and “acted with gross negligence, bad faith, or malice,” when it granted the four variances to the developer at a public hearing last November, the project’s last permitting hurdle.
The project calls for constructing an apartment building with 196 units and around 156 parking spaces by first demolishing three buildings on the 3.5-acre site at 161 S. Huntington Ave., including the 99-year-old Knight Children’s Center special education school building, a well-known facility that the nonprofit Home for Little Wanderers vacated last fall.
During the public approval process for the project, the plans were criticized by some neighbors who have said the existing buildings should be preserved and that the new development would be too large and would have too few affordably priced units.
Concerns were also aired over the project being one of a series of recent real estate- and construction-related changes and proposals for that stretch of South Huntington Avenue.
Two other key changes along S. Huntington are:
A vacant, wooded lot At 105A S. Huntington where a developer plans to build a 13-story building with 195 apartments and ground-floor retail space. In June, about a month after municipal development officials finished a planning study for the area, the city approved the project. Construction is expected to start there this coming spring.
And, at 201 S. Huntington, next door to the former Little Wanderers site, sits an 85-year-old building that housed the Goddard House nursing home until Aug. 2012 when it abruptly closed. Goddard’s nonprofit board put the two-acre property on the market this past spring. Some expect it will be redeveloped.
Kemeny said he hopes the project his company plans to build will "lead the way" in giving the South Huntington Avenue corridor a more residential and pedestrian-friendly feel.
"Our primary objective is to add much-needed rental housing to Boston and Jamaica Plain specifically," he said.
(Boston Residential Group)
A new dance studio is planning to open its doors later this month in Jamaica Plain.
The Origination Cultural Arts Center is moving from Roxbury to 3708 Washington
St., into a freshly constructed studio. It was designed by Founding Executive and
Artistic Director Shaumba Dibinga.
“It’s very different from our old space but has the energy and the family vibe our students embrace,” said Dibinga.
Dibinga studied dance at the Boston Conservatory and has taught at the Boston
Renaissance Charter School. She said she once was offered a position as a dancer in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, but turned it down to continue teaching.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love performing!” said Dibinga. “But once I started working with young people I realized that this [teaching] was my calling.”
Origination’s mission is to empower and bestow confidence in its students through performing art. The studio has a dance institute and a professional dance division alongside a tae-kwon do department.
With the studio approaching the 20th anniversary of its founding, Dibinga decided it was time to “make a change.” The new studio will continue providing its usual dance and tae-kwon do classes in the evenings while adding a number of new classes in the morning.
“We’ve had a lot of people call and ask us if we’ll be open during the day, and that’s one of the biggest changes with the new studio,” said Dibinga, who’s currently teaching classes at the Egelston Community High School in Roxbury while the studio transitions. “We’ll have some morning classes, pilates mommy-and-me classes, Zumba, etc. We’re adding onto our schedule so that we can invite a lot more people into our studio.”
New faces will mix with old as well as current students prepare for the move to Jamaica Plain. Lexis Alleyne, 17, has danced for Origination for more than a decade now, and says she’s excited for the new studio.
“I’m happy to see we’re not just sticking to one place,” says Alleyne. “We’re able to move around.”
Dibinga said JP businesses and citizens have both been very receptive to the new studio. She said she hopes it will bring new faces and new energy to the “family” of Origination.
“Our energy is going to be the same and even more at our new studio,” said Dibinga.
Origination will open as soon as its building permits have been finalized, she said.
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.
This ain't your average Frosty.
Freaky the Snowman, or a guy named Brian in a snowman costume, took to the streets of our fair metropolis to film the latest installment of "The Scary Snowman" Youtube video series and terrorize the city's pedestrians.
The clip captures a lot of flustered jumping, several gaping mouths, and a few double takes, as well as some very entertained police officers. All in a day's work.
Not surprisingly, the snowman targeted ice cream franchise JP Licks' Cambridge store as one of the locations of its chilling prank.
The concept behind the Internet sensation is simple: Freaky, né Brian, stands still next to a storefront, assuming the part of large holiday decoration. With the help of the Scary Snowman crew, he targets unsuspecting passersby and moves to startle them. They react. And repeat.
It's a formula for comedic gold but not a perfect science. Jay Lichtenberger, one of the Scary Snowman guys who's not in the suit, said in a Facebook post that oftentimes the crew misses out on a great reaction because they fail to get permission or attract too much attention.
"We average about 10 to 15 great reactions an hour with a lot of not so great reactions in between," Lichtenberger wrote.
Since it launched four days ago, the Boston-based video has received more than 1.5 million views and nods from media organizations like Yahoo! News.
Note: This video features language that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
A three-alarm fire in Jamaica Plain left a fire lieutenant with third-degree burn injuries and displaced two residents early Wednesday morning, Boston Fire Department officials said.
The fire broke out around 1 a.m. at a two-and-a-half-story home at 14 Pond Circle, officials said via Twitter.
The fire lieutenant, who suffered leg burns, was taken to Brigham and Women's Hospital for injuries considered to be non-life threatening, according to fire department officials. Initially, officials thought the firefighter would have to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital, but the firefighter was released around midday Wednesday.
The two people who live at the home were not inside when the fire started. Officials said the displaced residents plan to stay with family and friends.
The cause of the fire was under investigation Wednesday morning, officials said. The blaze caused an estimated $650,000 in damage.
City records say the home is about 1,700 square feet and worth about $314,000. The 5,000 square-foot lot the home sits on is worth assessed at another $200,000, according to city records.
MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott is “not opposed” to new fines for fare evasion that would double the increases enacted into law in 2012.
“I’m not opposed to it,” Scott told the News Service Tuesday morning. “I think the people need to be very clear about consequences relative to fare-evasion.”
In 2012, fines for fare evasion had been $15 for a first offense; $100 for a second offense; and $250 for a third or subsequent offense. An MBTA bailout bill bumped those fines up to $50 for a first offense; $100 for a second offense; and $300 for a third or subsequent offense.
As part of a transportation bond bill (H 3763), the Transportation Committee included language that would raise the fines still further to $100 for a first offense; $200 for a second offense; and $600 for a third or subsequent offense.
Scott said MBTA officials have also discussed undertaking a “fare evasion review.” She said, “Personally, I’m supportive of making sure that there are consequences.”
- A. Metzger/SHNS
(Image courtesy Google Maps)
A new home for the Elizabeth Stone House was approved by the city's Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday morning.
The project by the non-profit homeless advocacy group was before the board for a few zoning variances including excessive height.
The organization currently has a facility on Notre Dame Street in Roxbury. Once the new location is constructed all services will be moved to the Washington Street building, allowing the group to expand its reach and capacity.
The $20 million dollar project proposes constructing a four-story structure at 3012 Washington St. in Roxbury for 27 residential units, office space, retail space, and a day care facility. Of the 27 units, six will be one-bedrooms, 12 will be two-bedrooms, eight will be three-bedrooms, and one will be a four-bedroom. Eight of the units will be dedicated to permanent housing, with the rest set aside for transitional housing.FULL ENTRY
Just over a year after raising them, the MBTA is now seeking to drop fares for the RIDE paratransit service from $4 to $3, an agency financial officer told a state transportation department committee Tuesday.
MBTA Strategic Initiatives Senior Director Charles Planck told MassDOT’s Board’s Audit and Finance Committee that the T will put the fare reduction before the full MassDOT Board of Directors at its Dec. 11 meeting. The RIDE is a door-to-door service available for people with disabilities.
The announcement was greeted by scattered cheers from transit access advocates in the audience. Lower fares have been a goal of transit activists since the T raised the price of the RIDE from $2 to $4 in 2012.
About 60 percent of respondents to a state survey measuring the impact on the 2012 hikes on elders reported this year that they make fewer transit trips, while a majority of RIDE users whose income is less than $2,000 per month said they cut back on food, personal grooming and transit trips.
Earlier this month, transit advocates and seniors called on lawmakers to provide relief from paratransit fare hikes, saying the increases had left people choosing between travel and other necessities. Arlington Sen. Ken Donnelly ripped the RIDE fare increases as a “targeted fare hike at a vulnerable population.”
On Tuesday, Planck said the move will have an impact on the agency’s budget as revenue will drop and demand is expected to rise as the RIDE becomes more affordable. Planck was unsure of the move’s exact impact on the T’s budget due to new service contracts with providers.
“We expect to get the best price the market can bear,” Planck said.
When asked by board chairman John Jenkins about the annualized impact of altering RIDE fares, Planck estimated $1.5 million in reduced revenue per year and a $3 million to $4 million annual revenue loss overall when including operations costs.
“We believe right now that we’ll be able to accommodate this change in the budget approved by the board,” MBTA CFO Jonathan Davis told the panel.
At the meeting, Massachusetts Senior Action Council Executive Director Carolyn Villers called the fare reduction “a big step towards more affordable and equitable” service and said her group is looking forward to working with the MBTA and on other long-term solutions.
After the meeting, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott told reporters the fare agreement was the result of the work of a task force made up of MassDOT officials, transit advocates and the business community.
Scott said she thinks there would be benefits to introducing means testing for riders to help determine discounts, but that the MBTA is not in a position to evaluate incomes. Asked if other state agencies would be in better positions to aid the MBTA at means testing, Scott said she had discussed the issue with the health and human services officials and any possible means testing scenario would have to wait.
Under a new law, the MBTA may raise its overall fares by up to 5 percent next year.