Last chance to fund facility
STONYBROOK—In a final push for funding for the construction of a new Arborway Yard bus facility, the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY), at a Feb. 10 meeting, devised its plan of attack for an upcoming meeting of the joint boards of Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the MBTA.
The March 2 meeting will be the last meeting of the joint boards before they vote to approve the MBTA’s Capital Investment Program (CIP) in April, and CPCAY’s and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation’s (JPNDC) last chance to include the Arborway Yard in the CIP before that meeting.
The CIP is the MBTA’s five-year investment plan. While inclusion in the CIP is not a guarantee of funding, projects not included in the CIP will not be funded. If the Arborway Yard facility is not included in that version of the CIP, the project will have to wait another year for possible inclusion. The temporary bus yard currently on the site is already two years over its intended five-year lifespan.
CPCAY’s goal is to have 500 signatures on a letter submitted to Jeffrey B. Mullan, secretary and CEO of MassDOT, and MBTA General Manager Richard Davey by April. To that end, CPCAY recruited JPNDC’s help to step up awareness in preparation for the April vote.
As of Feb. 10, between 310 and 320 signatories to that letter had been collected, Kyle Robidoux, community organizing assistant director at JPNDC, said at the meeting.
To meet the goal of 500 names, volunteers “would definitely need [to make] a good final push,” Robidoux said. JPNDC and CPCAY are organizing a phone bank night on Feb. 24 to try and meet it.
CPCAY Chair Henry Allen is also coordinating a show of support to be present at the March 2 meeting. According to materials handed out at the Feb. 10 meeting, the goal is to have 20 community members present.
Allen said he hopes to “to make a splash and a lot of noise,” at that joint boards meeting in order to emphasize the importance of the proposed facility.
State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and Rep. Liz Malia are planning to include the opening of bonds in a future bond bill that could provide an alternate source of funding for the project. There are also efforts to arrange a meeting with Governor Deval Patrick.
“Our real issue is to get the new people [neighbors and legislators who haven't been involved since 1998] to understand the need to keep this project alive,” Malia told the Gazette this week.
“They’ve been supportive from the beginning,” Allen said of Chang-Díaz and Malia.
Bond bills are authorizations for funding, and, even after he signs it, the governor still prioritizes what projects move forward.
Mentioning how JP fought off the expansion of I-95, CPCAY member Joyce Perkit said, “Don’t mess around with JP.”
“And don’t give up,” Allen added. “We’re ready for March 2 and beyond.”
Originally budgeted at $94 million, the Arborway Yard facility is currently expected to cost $200-$220 million. The facility has been a part of the MBTA’s CIP in the past, though that is not currently the case.
The CPCAY has been fighting for a community-friendly facility on the site for almost 13 years, when the MBTA decided to close Bartlett Yard in Roxbury. The CPCAY approved the 90 percent design at its December meeting. It is now up to the MBTA and MassDOT to break ground.
To submit comments to the MBTA, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write MBTA Budget Office, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116. The CPCAY’s next meeting will take place on March 10.