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Mattapan residents look to spur green space development along Fairmount Corridor

Posted by Patrick Rosso  May 18, 2012 11:58 AM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)


Green was the theme Thursday night as a small group of committed residents looked at ways to increase green space in the Mattapan and spur development on the Fairmount Greenway Project.


Green was the theme Thursday night as a small group of committed residents looked at ways to increase green space in the Mattapan and spur development on the Fairmount Greenway Project.

“This is a plan to increase the amount of green spaces near the Fairmount Line,” said Vivian Morris, director of the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, one of the project's backers. “This is a discussion about what kinds of parks and green spaces we would like to see along the line.”

While Mattapan does share a portion of the Fairmount Line, the corridor and the project stretches from South Station in Downtown Boston to Reedville in Hyde Park, with a number of community organizations involved.

The Mattapan portion of the project, which began development in 2009, was originally headed by the Mattapan Community Development Corporation, which has since dissolved, leaving the neighborhood to pick up the pieces and catch up with other neighborhoods’ proposals.

“The idea came about to take the streets and sidewalks that run along the line and make it into a green street and green space corridor,” said Valerie Burns, president of the Boston Natural Areas Network, another partner on the project. “The Mattapan section hasn’t had a lot of discussion and consideration from folks in Mattapan and we need your input.”

While the project is being referred to as a “greenway” it will not be a traditional continuous greenway like the Southwest Corridor or Neponset Greenway. Instead it will be a loosely tied together route with green spaces and parks dotted along the corridor.

Originally backers floated the idea of a rail-trail along the line, but it was scrapped because there is not enough room along the tracks.

Now residents are looking at ways to bring more parks within close proximity to the corridor. Suggestions Thursday night included basketball courts, picnic areas, community gardens, and urban wilds.

“I was a kid growing up without a park and I think my son should have one,” said Dilema Wilson, an Edgewater Drive resident. “It’s the sense of being comfortable with my kid in a playground and not riding his bike on a busy street.”

To aid in the discussion the group has mapped out vacant city land in the area that could possibly be developed into new greens spaces, as well a preliminary route that would run down the corridor connecting communities and other established green spaces.

“I’d like to see those lots used for open air sitting areas,” said Barbara Crichlow, an area resident and member of the West Selden and Vicinity Neighborhood Association. “It would be great to have some place where people could sit down and get outside.”

But although there was visible excitement in the room the project faces an uphill battle. There is currently no funding for the project and even if there was there is no formal plan in place about how to use that money.

Residents and advocates, however, are confident that if a plan is created the money can be found.

“If we have our plan set then when the money becomes available we will be ready,” said Burns.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)

A preliminary map that shows vacant city properties and the possible route of the Fairmount Greenway.

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