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Blue Hill Avenue/Cummins Highway planning project moves forward

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 28, 2014 05:37 PM

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Efforts to create a cohesive vision for the area around the planned Blue Hill Avenue MBTA station in Mattapan are progressing.

On Monday, members of the Blue Hill Avenue/Cummins Highway Working Advisory Group came together to continue their work to hash out a concrete plan to stimulate growth, investment, and improvements in the area.

The group, which is made up of local residents, business owners, and stakeholders, was formed as part of the BRA’s Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative.

Although the Blue Hill Avenue/Cummins Highway group will specifically focus on the area around the station, which will service the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, the larger initiative aims to create an overall vision for the 9.2-mile rail corridor that stretches from South Station to Hyde Park.

A separate station area-specific group has also been formed in Uphams Corner and advisory groups for the Four Corners Station and Talbot Avenue Station are expected to be announced in 2014.

Using input from the recent “community visioning” held by the BRA, members of the group have begun the process of creating a formal plan to tackle the project’s six specific themes: housing, place, getting around (transit), parks and public space, and quality of life.

Over the coming months group members will prioritize initiatives and issues specific to the themes, to help provide a guide for future development and capital investment in the community.

On Monday members began the process of pouring over notes from the visioning.

“Now we’re getting into the good stuff and really prioritizing every we’ve heard,” explained Jeremey Rosenberger, a project manager with the BRA leading the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative. “The big thing is to look at the next steps and the strategies that will be used.”

Although the advisory group reviewed all the comments submitted, creating a better business mix, improving the streetscape, and making Mattapan a destination seemed to be the issues that stood out the most as members discussed the notes.

“I hear from people who say they don’t like to shop in the area,” explained Vilma Berarducci, a local business owner and WAG member. “If we don’t have quality stores that people want to go to, how can we be a destination?”

The idea of making Mattapan a destination was at the top of the list for many members, with some saying the neighborhood should focus on the arts and others saying economic development is key.

“We talk about Mattapan being a destination and we want to improve economic development, but if there is not that cultural piece people will still leave the area to experience that,” said Lincoln Larmond, an area resident and WAG member.

Transit and development were also on the members’ minds.

“One parcel that needs to be looked at is the MBTA parking lot,” explained Corey Allen, an area resident and WAG member. “It’s been years since the conversation was started about the site and it’s an important parcel.”

The MBTA site, located adjacent to the Mattapan Square MBTA Station, has been eyed for development in the past, but plans have never materialized.

The site, however, isn’t the only piece of land in the neighborhood that residents think is ripe for development.

A city parking lot on Fairway Street was highlighted, as well as the Cote Ford site on Cummins Highway and another city-owned parking lot on River Street.

While new developments could bring new life to the area, many members said attention also needs to be paid to how people get there, from the addition of bike lanes to better crosswalks and cleaner sidewalks.

“Cummins Highway and River Street are terrible,” said Allentza Michel, an area resident and WAG member. “I’d love to see some Complete Streets planning around those; it’s an opportunity to bring some attention to streets that often are overlooked.”

Now that members have begun consolidating notes and have the knowledge of what area residents would like to see in their community, the group can now begin developing a plan, with a draft expected to be release by the spring/summer.

More information about the Blue Hill Avenue/Cummins Highway project and the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative can be found here.

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

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