-By John Lynds
It seems the persistence of community activists lobbying for a greenway connector has paid off.
Last Wednesday at a Boston Conservation Commission hearing, the Commission reviewed Massport’s permit application for a proposed Green Bus Depot at Logan International Airport and voted to grant an Order of Conditions (wetland permit) for the project
At the hearing, the commissioners applauded the efforts made to date to advance the greenway connector and voted to approve a permit with the proviso that Massport continue to work with City of Boston agencies and residents on the planning of a greenway connection to link Bremen St. Park to Constitution Beach and other resource areas. Massport is also required to appear before the Commission within 30-days to provide a progress report on the greenway connection.
Greenway proponents, in return for support for a Bus Depot at Logan International Airport, want the right to use a 25 ft. corridor between the proposed Logan Bus Depot and the community as a way to connect Bremen Street Park to Constitution Beach. This would once and for all connect waterfront parks in the southern part of the neighborhood with parks and airport edge buffers in the northern part of Eastie. This would allow for one continuous park system that would allow adults and children to ride their bikes, jog, rollerblade or take part in other leisurely activities without being dependent on busy neighborhood streets like Bennington Street.
The Commission initially refused to sign off on Massport’s plans to construct a Bus Depot in Logan’s Northwest Service Area until it sat down with proponents of the greenway extension plan.
Over the past few weeks, Mayor Thomas Menino, along with City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Senator Anthony Petruccelli, and Representative Carlo Basile, joined community members to engage Massport in a planning effort to connect the greenway.
At one meeting, Senator Anthony Petruccelli asked Massport officials including Executive Director Thomas Kinton and all of his top aides to listen to the presentation, give it some thought and to plan on a follow up meeting in the near future.
The proponents put forth their intention to reconnect the neighborhoods and park amenities in Eastie with a safe bike/walking path between the Bremen Street Park and Constitution Beach; to reconnect East Boston residents to our natural resources; and to re-establish the community process.
“We Closed our presentation by pointing out to our partners at the Port Authority that we have been joined together for 40 years as partners and that the only question was ‘What type of partnership are we going to have?’,” said AirInc.’s Chris Marchi. “We asked them to join us in a partnership that would allow us to move forward together.”
Kinton, together with over a dozen of his top advisors watched the presentation keenly and afterward, praised the community’s work, congratulating architect Gretchen Scheider, AirInc.’s Gail Miller and Marchi. In Kinton’s closing statements he thanked the proponents but also reiterated the importance of national security.
“However, he also agreed that the airport and community were partners, he confirmed that there was a need for and
merit to our concept and expressed the idea that we should improve and strengthen our partnership,” said Marchi. “Then following Senator Petruccelli’s lead, he closed his statements by promising to go back and meet with his team to discuss the community and airport’s needs, goals and issues.”
At the request of the Mayor and elected officials, a collaborative effort has since been developed between Massport and staff from city agencies to assess pathway design options that will address public safety, airport security and community access to their open space resources.
“East Boston residents have long sought to connect their public spaces from Piers Park to Belle Isle Marsh,” said Menino. “Over the past several weeks city hall planners have worked hand in hand with Massport and community leaders to extend the East Boston greenway, connecting the Bremen Street Park to Wood Island Marsh and Constitution Beach, and enabling residents to bike or walk on a continuous pathway across East Boston. While there are planning and design challenges that remain to be addressed, I am confident that the planning process is now in place to realize the full vision and potential of a continuous East Boston Greenway.”