JP CENTER—There is no money in the budget right now, but finding money to fund a short-term skim coat paving of Centre and South streets is one of Mayor Thomas Menino’s priorities, said Leslie Delaney Hawkins, spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services at the Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) board meeting Monday night. [See related story.] The mayor also recognizes plans for JPA visions of a long-term Centre Street business district revival.
While the mayor tries to find some money for a skim coat, the Public Works Department (PWD) is beginning the engineering aspect of the project, said Tim McCarthy, a spokesperson for PWD, at the meeting. McCarthy said this includes planning the actual paving and finishing any work NSTAR or the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) have to do on the street so when it is paved, the new surface will not have to be disrupted for additional utility work.
“The mayor is very committed to repaving Centre and South streets,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy said the BWSC has a two-year open gap permit in the area. He said PWD was going to try to settle that issue, and the work could happen this summer or the next.
The announcement was made after months of community advocacy from groups such as the JPA and Arborway Committee as well as statements by City Councilor John Tobin calling for a repaving of Centre Street to reduce potential dangers created by the trolley tracks.
“This issue has been near and dear to me,” said Tobin at the meeting. “This is the mayor’s priority and I’ll be working with the administration to secure funds.”
Recent work on Centre Street between Robinwood Avenue and Green Street was BWSC finishing the job of separating sanitary and waste-water lines as part of the Stonybrook Sewer Separation Project, according to spokesperson Janne Richardson. It is the last part of utility work on Centre Street for that project.
The BWSC paves the section of the street it has disturbed once the underground work is complete, said Richardson.
The paving is in no way related to recent calls by Tobin and community groups, according to Jennifer Mehigan, a spokesperson for Mayor Thomas Menino.
As of April 30, from Robinwood Avenue to St. John Street, both sides of the road were paved. This excludes a section heading towards Monument Square between Goodrich and Pond Streets, where, on each side of the street beginning at the curb, and extending out about as far as the width of one car, the road remains unchanged. The repaved section of the road does not appear to be 100 percent smooth, and on a rainy day, divots fill with water.
Between Lester Place and Green Street, only the side of Centre Street heading towards Hyde Square or Mission Hill is paved.
“Once you see the crosswalks painted, you’ll know work is completed,” said Richardson.
Arborway Green Line E service was “temporarily” suspended beyond Heath Street to Forest Hills over 20 years ago.
Centre Street Business District Planning Initiative
Members of the JPA board met last month with Dennis Moyer, chief of PWD, and put forward several points about their vision for Centre Street and reached a general short- and long-term understanding, according to board member Franklyn Salimbene.
The short-term plan is a skim coat paving project on Centre and South streets.
According to Salimbene, Royer has said he is committed to working to find money to expedite the project. The JPA recommends August 2007 as a good time for the paving because it seems to be the time when traffic and business could be less negatively impacted.
“We want to be clear as a board, that we view this as a temporary measure,” said Salimbene.
“The mayor also recognizes this as short-term and it would be wonderful to see a long-term planning project,” said Delaney Hawkins. She said that process could come after the state’s decision about restoration of the Green E Line from Heath Street to Forest Hills Station.
The long-term understanding is a start to the process of undertaking a Centre Street business district storefront-to-storefront reconstruction. Salimbene said it is unclear whether South Street would be part of that project.
“I want to emphasize the point that this is not just a reconstruction of the street,” said JPA Centre Street/Business District Committee chair Kevin Moloney. “The first step is having a community discussion about how the street and neighborhood ought to look and function for the next 20 to 40 or 50 years,” said Moloney.