New antennas exemplify hodgepodge planning

The following letter was sent to Dennis Royer, Chief of Public Works and Transportation, City of Boston Public Works Department:

An article in the Sept. 12 issue of the Jamaica Plain Gazette brought to my attention that the City of Boston has entered into an agreement with NextG Networks that allows for the installation of low-level cell phone antennas in Jamaica Plain.

Some of these antennas are atop new street light poles that are currently being installed along Centre Street and elsewhere and would replace existing poles.

As chairman of the Centre/South Main Streets Design Committee, I am shocked and greatly disappointed that this action is occurring without any public review process or notification. The poles that are being installed are completely out of character in our community and indicate a complete disregard for the efforts that are currently being discussed as to how to improve the Centre/South corridor.

As such, I request an immediate meeting with you to review the impacts of this decision on our community.

In June, 2007, our committee assembled neighborhood groups that abut Centre/South streets in a session entitled “A New Vision of Centre/South.” The purpose of this gathering was to address the much-delayed improvements to the infrastructure of this historic corridor in a logical and coordinated manner and to establish priorities and schedules.

At that meeting, a representative of the City of Boston agreed to several temporary improvements to the roadway, including the current paving over the trolley tracks and miscellaneous sidewalk repairs.

Additionally, the city agreed to fund a formal master planning process that would include the review of: sidewalk finishes, pedestrian crossings, street lighting, bus stop locations, traffic calming measures, signage and general improvements to the functionality and safety of Centre/South streets. The intent of this planning process was to involve all stakeholders to coordinate the future efforts of both the MBTA and the City of Boston in the renewal of a vital transportation spine.

The installation of the NextG antennas is an example of what we were attempting to avoid—the hodgepodge of uncoordinated efforts that diminishes the quality of the district.

A private company should not be allowed to set the character of a Boston neighborhood with a crude, thoughtless intrusion that just shows up one day.

I look forward to meeting with you and welcome your prompt attention to this matter.

Michael Epp
Design Committee Chairman
JP Centre/South Main Streets
Jamaica Plain

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