Hyde Sq. residents weigh in on improvement plan

July 18, 2014
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The City held on July 8 its second meeting on the Jamaica Plain/South/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects, which focused on the Hyde Square portion of the project. Attendees’ suggestions for improvement ranging from raised crosswalks to making the area the entryway to the Latin Quarter.

About 15 people attended the meeting at the Kennedy Elementary School. Some residents pressed the City for a budget for the project, saying that without one it is hard know the scope of the project and that restricts their suggestions.

Boston Transportation Department (BTD) Director of Planning Vineet Gupta said that the City has allocated $400,000 for the design portion of the project, but has not created a budget for construction. He said that that budget would be created in “subsequent meetings.”

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) has sent Mayor Martin Walsh a letter requesting a meeting with him to discuss the project and to urge more funding for it. The Gazette obtained a copy of the letter from JPNC chair Kevin Moloney at the meeting. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Jamaica Plain/South/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects will stretch along Centre Street from Jackson Square to Hyde Square to Monument Square, then down South Street to Forest Hills. The project is intended to make sidewalks and crosswalks more pedestrian-friendly, improve traffic flow and add green space. A facelift at Monument Square, which was included in earlier phases of the redesign project, might not happen, as the City revealed during an April 28 meeting.

Kyle Zick Landscape Architects gave a presentation at the July 8 meeting showing different options for improvement at Hyde Square. Those included the narrowing of the road at the rotary to slow vehicular traffic, opportunities for unique artwork installation, and lowering of the brick wall around the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center.

Gupta responded to the wall-lowering suggestion, saying that the Boston Redevelopment Authority contacted the medical center about that during a previous planning study and found it to be “very unresponsive.”

MSPCA spokesperson Rob Halpin later told the Gazette that the organization has been responsive in the past, lowering some portions of the wall along S. Huntington Avenue. The rest of the wall protects neighbors from noise and car headlights, and contains animals being treated there, he said.

“We feel we strike a balance between access and security,” Halpin said.

Michael Epp suggested that raised, visible crosswalks be installed at the rotary to make sure vehicular traffic slows down, while Ken Tangvik of the Hyde Square Task Force said that a “Latin flavor” should be brought to the rotary, as it is the entryway to the neighborhood the City has titled “The Latin Quarter.”

Other suggestions included fixing the traffic light at the intersection of Centre, Creighton and Forbes streets to prevent traffic from backing up into the rotary, and having a public art contest to fill the circle of land in the middle of the rotary.

Jamaica Plain/South/Hyde/Jackson Design Projects 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. For more information, visit bit.ly/1nZ4Nfk.

Gupta said that the next meeting would be held sometime in September.

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