Casey team looks at park, bus mitigation

April 12, 2013
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(Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira) Bridging Forest Hills member Jeffrey Ferris shows off a custom hat during April 3’s Casey meeting.

(Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira) Bridging Forest Hills member Jeffrey Ferris shows off a custom hat during April 3’s Casey meeting.

FOREST HILLS—The Casey Arborway project moved forward in its design process by reviewing a park and protecting a neighborhood from bus noise at a April 3 meeting.

A suggestion to keep Toole Square—a small park between South Street, the Arboretum and Forest Hills station—as a “passive area,” was well-received. Toole Square is adjacent to American Legion Post 76 at 280 South St. and has a memorial to World War I veterans on its grounds.

The design team also suggested adding walking paths through the square and mentioned possibly adding a fountain or benches.

As part of the Casey project, the upper bus bays at Forest Hills station will be enlarged and redesigned, causing the buses to exit directly across from Asticou Road. Residents of that area have complained about the increase in light and sound pollution for months.

Among topics covered during the meeting’s breakout discussion groups were mitigation measures for the Asticou/Martinwood neighborhood.

Design team members have previously said that mitigation measures would be addressed during the “75 percent” section of the design process, which has just begun.

As the meeting was coming to a close, Design Advisory Group (DAG) member Bernard Doherty said he would be willing to arrange a meeting between his neighborhood and the design team to discuss options for mitigation.

Design team member Paul Godfrey said during an earlier breakout session that the team would be willing to accommodate the Asticou/Martinwood neighbors if they would be willing to engage in discussions.

“Whatever they would want [by way of mitigation measures], we would provide, but they’re not engaging in design discussions,” Godfrey said at the meeting.

Doherty, an Asticou/Martinwood resident but officially representing the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard, is a vocal opponent of the chosen at-grade design.

When asked by the Gazette about Godfrey’s comment, Doherty said his neighborhood has never been consulted about the bus bay redesign. He also said he would like to see a study done on the noise, light and other sources of pollution around the Asticou/Martinwood neighborhood.

He did not state any preferences about type, material or design of any light- or noise-blocking measures.

Doherty and fellow Bridging Forest Hills (BFH) member Jeffery Ferris both had hats supporting that organization. BFH is a pro-bridge group that advocates for a reset of the process in favor of a replacement bridge.

Ferris and Anne McKinnon, who was acting as DAG member Elizabeth Wylie’s alternate, and who has been involved with BFH, brought up the lack of on-street bike paths in the design, asking why they had to be removed from the original sketches.

MassDOT officials said bike riders are accommodated by a new cycletrack on Washington Street and off-road bike paths throughout the corridor.

Also under discussion were landscaping choices for the new Arborway corridor—including discussion on possible plant species and locations—the possibility of including vendor kiosks at a redesigned Forest Hills station plaza adjacent to the Arborway, and location and content of vehicular and pedestrian signs in the area and other such details.

Planning for the design is expected to be completed by this fall and construction is expected to start early next year. The state Casey project website is massdot.state.ma.us/caseyoverpass.

Clarification: This article has been edited to clarify Anne McKinnon’s role at the DAG meeting.