I have a confession. I’m guilty of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)-ism. My back yard is, essentially, Washington Street and Forest Hills Station. And the issue is livability.
As residents of Asticou Road, my neighbors and I endure noise and litter: buses starting up, pulling out of the station and regularly backfiring 20 hours a day; sirens wailing and cars honking day and night; cab drivers screaming at each other into the wee hours; noise and vibration when the train passes through; the ever-present litter from the station that blows onto our street.
And then there’s the traffic. It can take 10 minutes to get from my house to the Jamaicaway on-ramp and 15 or more minutes to get from St. Rose Street to my house in the late afternoon. And there’s the unofficial designation of the top of Asticou Road as pick-up and drop-off parking, making it difficult to get onto our street at the end of the day. If that weren’t enough, there have been numerous crime incidents at the station, to which there is ineffective or no response from police. You see, Forest Hills Station is at the intersection of a total of five city and state police districts. Until this issue is resolved, we will continue to have great concern for our safety. Some of my neighbors have lived here for two decades or more, suffering the effects of unfulfilled promises from the MBTA.
In regard to the proposed development, I am very worried about the increase in noise, traffic and safety problems during and after construction. I worry about vacant properties at Forest Hills; there’s already a block of storefronts on South Street that have been sitting vacant for over a year. Many local businesses have had to close or move. And with the economy in a downturn, even chains and franchises are closing. Additionally, I wonder just who is going to want to live on top of Forest Hills Station, unless the units will be vibration- and sound-proof.
Finally, considering the T’s track record, forgive my skepticism concerning promises from them. The bottom line here, and we all know it, is the T needs money, and they need to sell their land. I think we would all like to see more affordable housing in the neighborhood, but the scope and scale of the proposed development will be benefiting the T’s bank account, not the quality of life for those of us who have already chosen to live here.