City Councilor Charles Yancey came out in opposition of a proposed plan to relocate the proposed permanent Arborway bus yard facility to American Legion Highway, in his district, at a May 14 community meeting.
Earlier this year, JP resident Allan Ihrer proposed that the long-delayed and still-funded future MBTA bus maintenance yard be built on a large parcel at 415 American Legion Highway, allowing for the property at 500 Arborway to be developed into transit-oriented housing instead.
Yancey spoke in front of about 70 attendees, saying he was “disappointed [that] this proposal has gained so much steam without consulting” with his office—though Ihrer told the Gazette he reached out to the councilor. Yancey then stated his flat opposition to the idea, noting that it should have been coordinated with the Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan communities, which would be heavily impacted by the move.
Community members wearing “Ask Rozzie” stickers cheered at Yancey’s statement, but did not make any statement of their own.
Those community members, part of the Mt. Hope-Canterbury-Manning streets neighborhood association, wanted to make their presence known, association president Steven Godfrey told the Gazette this week.
“We need to let you know we’re here and we need to be involved,” he said. Godfrey said he personally doesn’t think it’s an “attractive” idea.
The Mt. Hope-Canterbury-Manning streets neighborhood association is roughly bounded by American Legion Highway, Cummings Highway, Walk Hill Street and Harvard Street.
Yancey did not provide other arguments against the idea besides the lack of input and calling the facility an “eyesore.”
Ihrer told the Gazette he made at least two attempts in the past year to inform Yancey of his idea, including dropping off a hard copy and sending a digital copy to Yancey’s office. He said he also tried to schedule meetings with the councilor various times.
The meeting, organized by the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard (CPCAY), was meant to gather opinions and questions from the community, so that the CPCAY could decide on a stance in favor or in opposition to Ihrer’s idea, member Pam Bender said at the meeting. Ihrer has been a member of CPCAY for many years.
CPCAY member Gail Sullivan said that the plan to create a bus yard in Forest Hills would be an “oddity,” given how the neighborhood has changed since the facility was proposed in the 1990s.
Forest Hills has “become a very different place” since then, Sullivan said at the meeting. “The development community has recognized the tremendous value of this area.”
CPCAY member and head of the Asticou-Martinwood-South Street Neighborhood Association Bernard Doherty said, “It doesn’t make sense for us to continue this farce” before discussing the many other developments already in progress around the area.
CPCAY members did not provide any new information on where the bus yard project stands, nor whether they have been meeting with MBTA officials.
The audience broke into smaller groups to gather information and questions for the CPCAY. Many of those included thoughts on how feasible the move even is—the MBTA has previously told the Gazette it would not consider the idea—how neighbors at both sites would deal with the change, as well as questions on why the MBTA has not built the bus yard after almost 20 years.
No representatives from the MBTA, DCR or BTD were present. City Councilor Matt O’Malley was present for part of the earlier part of the meeting, but did not speak.
CPCAY has scheduled a follow-up meeting for June 17.