The design process for the East Boston Greenway Extension is underway. As a preliminary step, a group of local residents who will serve as an advisory board assembled by the Mayor Thomas Menino toured the route envisioned by Massport and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) last week.
Currently the focus is on a 25-foot wide strip along the train tracks, a half mile in length that expands to around 100-feet wide at both ends.
The tour took off from behind Wood Island Station, at the intersection of Neptune Road and Frankfurt Streets.
“Here, Tom Ennis, a planner for Massport, showed us a 100 foot wide parcel of land Massport is donating to the buffer. From there we walked by Wood Island Station, north toward Constitution Beach,” said Chris Marchi who sits on the advisory board. “As a community mitigation based design process we can suggest additions to this plan. The community’s vision for a train-track compromise includes Neptune Road, provides a set-back for a future Harborwalk, incorporates any additional parcels of Massport land and include the Right of Way next to the Blue Line, currently held by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (MCAM).”
However, since Massport’s timelines to complete the project are tight the group proposed a two-phase buffer project.
“The advisory committee can create a plan which integrates a ‘set-aside’ plan for a future Harborwalk on the Wood Island Bay Marsh, the proposed path along the train tracks and a second phase of non-time sensitive additions to the greenway extension in the future,” said Marchi.
This approach would allow the community to accommodate Massport’s needs for a fast turn around on completing the project and design a buffer which embraces a wider set of opportunities and broader reaching benefits for Eastie in the future.
“Hopefully this can be the beginning of a new working relationship between the airport and the community in which these sort of win-win scenarios are sought,” said Marchi.
Massport’s board voted in August to approve the community and city’s request to use a small stretch of Massport owned property that use to be part of the famed Wood Island Park in order to connect the Bremen Street Park with a greenway path that will extend to Constitution Beach.
The board’s vote was historic and significant, as it marked the first time land taken in the 1960s by eminent domain had been given back to Eastie.
Greenway Extension proponents, in return for support for a Bus Depot at Logan, fought for the right to use a 25-foot 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 will allow for one continuous park system and 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.