Hyde Sq., Centre St. design plans coming

May 9, 2014
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Long-stalled plans to improve the Hyde Square rotary and the Centre Street sidewalks area in Hyde/Jackson Squares will hit official drawing boards over the next year, City officials said an April 28 meeting.

But they also revealed that a similar Monument Square facelift might not happen, while attendees pressed for South Street improvements to be included.

The City is calling the redesign package “Centre/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects.” It is part of the Centre and South Streets Streetscape and Transportation Action Plan that developed general guidelines for the look and feel of the Centre/South corridor, and aimed to fix some specific traffic trouble spots. The planning first began in 2009.

Those spots include Hyde Square, where the rotary is to be made more pedestrian-friendly with added green space and sidewalk seat. More street trees and sidewalk seating were among the ideas for Centre Street in that area as well.

About 10 people attended the meeting at Hennigan Elementary School.

There are dueling plans for Monument Square, where Centre and South Streets intersect. One plan would enlarge the traffic island containing the Soldier’s Monument, while the other would connect the island to the First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist property to create a new park.

Vineet Gupta, Boston Transportation Department’s (BTD) director of policy and planning, revealed at the beginning of the meeting that major improvements to Monument Square are no longer desired by the neighborhood groups and abutters he had recently talked to.

“There is not a lot of support for wholesale changes,” said Gupta.

He said because of that, those major improvements might not happen. There was limited response from attendees about the news, though some people expressed a desire to see a traffic light installed or have a scale-back of the amount of signs in the square.

Attendees were most passionate about having South Street included in the “Centre/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects.” Gert Thorn said that it is a “continuous entity” from Forest Hills to Jackson Square along South and Centre Streets.

Mike Epp said leaving South Street out would “exclude the final link.”

“That’s part of our Main Street district,” he said, referring to the Centre/South Main Streets. “You’re leaving out a whole segment of our community.”

Gupta responded by saying, “That’s where we are at in terms of the process.” He also said the project is not going to be able to receive millions of dollars to redesign the whole stretch.

Thorn asked, “Why not?” saying that the City could use it as a centerpiece of Boston’s redevelopment. Gupta said, “Unless we start, we aren’t going to get anywhere.”

The City has allotted $400,000 for the design process for the project and has hired consultants Nitsch Engineering and Kyle Zick Landscape Architects.

Gupta said the schedule for the project is to have final conceptual design by the end of July, 25 percent design by the end of November and 100 percent design by June 2015. The City plans to hold another community meeting near the end of June.

For more information, visit bit.ly/1ktBTSO.