Bus yard final plan gets vote

April 18, 2008
By

John Ruch

FOREST HILLS—A final plan for the MBTA’s Arborway Yard bus facility was chosen by a community advisory group Wednesday night just before the Gazette went to press. The vote could allow construction to begin on the project after a decade of debate.

The vote by the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY) favored the original, community-approved design over an expanded design sought by the MBTA.

“Our position seems to be, ‘Make it work,’” CPCAY chair Henry Allen said about the vote to approve the original design for the bus facility at the corner of Washington Street and the Arborway.

No MBTA officials attended the meeting. Representatives of state Rep. Liz Malia and Mayor Thomas Menino said those officials would support the CPCAY’s decision.

Last October, CPCAY asked for a possible third alternative—a cost-benefit analysis of demolishing and relocating the MBTA’s aging 500 Arborway office building that the entire plan was designed around.

The MBTA conducted that analysis and informed CPCAY that it is not feasible to alter 500 Arborway.

But several CPCAY members complained that the analysis was deeply flawed and lacked major factors MBTA officials previously agreed to add to the calculation.

The vote to approve the original design was strongly influenced by what several members called “disappointment” and lack of trust about the cost-benefit analysis. The vote was not unanimous.

MBTA officials said last year the agency would build whatever plan the CPCAY approves. But it remains to be seen what the agency will do in practice now that CPCAY has said “no” to the expansion.

CPCAY was not required to vote at the meeting, but had several motives to make a decision. The temporary bus facility currently on the site is unpopular. Also, either alternative design would give a large amount of land to the community as green space and redevelopment land for a possible commercial or residential use.

Several CPCAY members were interested in a proposal by resident Bill Mitchell to give up the green space idea and develop the land instead. The MBTA had pledged to maintain the green space in exchange for CPCAY approval of an expanded bus yard design. But members appeared to no longer trust the MBTA to follow through on that commitment, either.

In any case, the fate of the green space was not an explicit part of the design vote. The approved design still includes the green space.