Arborway Yard cleans up its act

(Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira) Workers install a new, higher-security fence around the MBTA Arborway bus yard during a community walk-through on June 22.

FOREST HILLS—The MBTA Arborway bus yard is undergoing improvements in an effort to be a better neighbor after being criticized by City inspectors late last year.

New, higher-security fencing, gates and video surveillance are all part of the effort to clean up and curb illegal dumping at the facility located at the corner of Washington Street and the Arborway.

Illegal dumping is a big problem for the facility, MBTA officials said during a site visit on June 22 with community leaders, including City Councilor Matt O’Malley and state Rep. Liz Malia. They said they expect better security and surveillance should curb it. The site also still contains some industrial waste, which the MBTA is working on disposing.

“We want to be good neighbors,” MBTA Acting General Manager Jonathan Davis said. “The effort we’ve made to clean up the facility shows that.”

“The idea is to get away from an adversarial relationship,” Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council member Michael Reiskind said during the visit. “It’s looking nicer, more and more neighborly.”

The MBTA is preparing to dispose of ballast remaining on the site. Ballast refers to heavy materials that serve as cushion under train tracks and other purposes.

Before the ballast can be disposed of, it must be tested to make sure it is safe. Testing is under way, MBTA officials said, and the remaining piles of ballast should be gone by the end of next month.

Since the Arborway Yard was placed on the Problem Properties list last year, the MBTA has also cleaned up and disposed of barrels of brake fluid, pallets of used fire extinguishers and other debris.

In an unusual move, the Jamaica Plain Problem Properties Committee—an advisory group that normally identifies private properties for city inspectors to investigate—added the bus yard to its list at the end of last year. Malia and O’Malley requested that the property be added to the list.

Inspectional Services Department spokesperson Lisa Timberlake told the Gazette in January that “there was no type of hazardous material situation on the site.”

O’Malley asked about the possibility of planting trees along the property’s boundaries. An MBTA official replied that it would be impossible to plant trees along Washington Street, due to the presence of utilities in the vicinity.

Davis said that the MBTA would look into planting trees along other edges of the property.

The Arborway bus yard was built as a temporary facility nine years ago and is four years overdue to be replaced by a permanent facility. The permanent facility is ready to begin being built as soon as the estimated $200 million are located.

Davis said building the permanent facility will be a “top priority,” as soon as the MBTA has the funds.

“It’s an important project that we’d like to get done,” Davis said.

The Arborway bus yard was the first publicly-owned property to be placed on the Problems Properties list.

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