Community to look at Washington St. ‘livability’

Ideas for improving the “livability” of the Washington Street corridor between the Arborway and Green Street will be the subject of a June 11 workshop run by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) June 11.

The Saturday morning workshop will include a walk along the corridor before participants return to Doyle’s Café at 3484 Washington St. to brainstorm about possible improvements, Cathy Buckley from Boston Region MPO told the Gazette.

“We will have maps that people can mark up with things that they think will make the corridor more livable,” including small parks, improved pedestrian crossings, wider sidewalks or other amenities, Buckley said.

Bill Reyelt of the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) told the Gazette that the SNA asked Boston Region MPO for the workshop because members feel that section of Washington Street has been neglected.

“There is Egleston Square Main Streets for the commercial district in Egleston Square, and the Arborway Yard and the Forest Hills area have gotten a lot of attention, but there is a long stretch between the two,” he said.

Reyelt, who knows Buckley personally and asked her to run the workshop, said he was also inspired by a planned mixed-use development on the corner of McBride and Washington streets.

“I am excited to see development proposed on Washington Street,” Reyelt said, though he said he hopes developers—a team that includes New Boston Ventures and SSG Development—expand their plans for a two-story retail space on the corner of McBride and Washington into something “more urban.”

Preliminary plans for the proposed development also include a self-storage facility and at least 20 units of housing on the lot.

Boston Region MPO’s main work is carrying out federal transportation planning in the Greater Boston area.  It is not a part of city government, so there is no clear path for the visioning workshop to lead to actual corridor improvements. But Buckley and Reyelt said that officials from the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Boston Transportation Department have expressed interest in attending.

They both said that it is possible an informal corridor working-group could arise from the meeting. Reyelt said he also hopes the group comes up with use and design recommendations for future development along the corridor.

“I hope we can start a conversation about what we want,” he said.

Boston Region MPO plans to host at least one weekday evening meeting for residents who cannot make it to the Saturday morning workshop, Buckley said. That meeting has tentatively been scheduled for June 20, she said.

Buckley said Boston Region MPO has conducted about 35 livability workshops in the Greater Boston area since 2003, but this will be the first in Boston since one that took place in the Fenway that year.

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