BRA Say’s Boston’s Part of Greenway Connector Project May See a Delay

March 5, 2014
By
Boston Natural Areas Network head Valerie Burns during last week’s East Boston Greenway talking about the Greenway Connector.

Boston Natural Areas Network head Valerie Burns during last week’s East Boston Greenway talking
about the Greenway Connector.

While the Massport section of the East Boston Greenway Connector is moving along rapidly there may be some delay on the Boston section.

At a Friends of the East Boston Greenway meeting last Thursday night, Boston Natural Areas Network Valerie Burns told members that they received word from the Boston Redevelopment Authority that there have been some delays on the Boston end of the project that will run from the end of the Massport section from Short Street to Constitution Beach. The Massport section of the connector will run from the Bremen Street Park to Short Street.

The BRA’s Melina Schuler explained that the Boston section of connector is complicated because it is a multi-agency project that involves the city to get easements from both the MBTA and DCR.

“There is spending in place for this project and it is a high priority project,” said Schuler. “One problem we’ve encountered is that before the city takes over ownership of the parcels involved from the MBTA and DCR it needs to be properly surveyed. This has been delayed by the weather over the past several months. But we are optimistic we will move full steam ahead once the weather clears up and we’ll have a great project for East Boston residents to enjoy.”

Burns said any delay would be weeks or months but not years. She asked members of the Greenway Council if they would want to have two ribbon cuttings, the first on the Massport completed section and hopefully a second when the Boston section is done in late summer or early fall. The members agreed that would not be a significant problem but were disappointed the whole connector would not be completed simultaneously.

In 2011 Massport’s Board voted 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.

Allison Richard of Richardson & Roe Architects’ preliminary plans for the extension shows a 12ft.-wide multiuse path for walking, bike riding and rollerblading as well as a 10ft. vinyl-clad fence that will separate the path from the abutting MBTA Blue Line.

The path will extend from the Bremen Street Park and end at Constitution Beach.

The city and Massport cut the ribbon on the greenway extension in November 2012.

In April 2011, 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 Street Park to Constitution Beach and other resource areas.

Greenway proponents spearheaded by community activists like Chris Marchi and Gail Miller, in return for support for a Bus Depot at Logan, had spent two year fighting for 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 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.

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.

At the request of then Mayor Thomas Menino and elected officials, a collaborative effort was 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.

This work ultimately lead to the Massport Board’s vote last year to approve the community’s plans.

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