Roslindale Neighbors: New path proposed for connecting Roslindale Village to Arboretum

WalkUP Roslindale and Rozzie Bikes have proposed the Roslindale Arboretum Gateway Path, an initiative which may lead to a new path connecting Roslindale Village to the Arnold Arboretum.

Alan Wright, on behalf of WalkUP Roslindale and Rozzie Bikes, said in an email that the idea for the path has been percolating for many years among various Roslindale residents. The idea became clearer last year when WalkUP Roslindale decided to form in order to work on the project.

“The need [for the path] has been obvious for some time and increasingly so as the number of people walking and bicycling to and from Roslindale to JP and downtown has increased,” said Wright in an email. “While there are a number of bike routes from Roslindale, a path along the Needham Heights commuter rain line would be a boon for pedestrians and bicyclists as it would be direct, scenic, and safe.”

Wright said that the community would also benefit by having a new entrance to the Arnold Arboretum directly from Roslindale Village, owing that a neglected stretch of woods would be cleaned up and made accessible.

The Rozzie Gateway path would start adjacent to the commuter rail platform, and continue at grade into the park. It would continue in a straight parallel to the commuter rail tracks toward Bussey Street, and then connect up with the Bussey Brook Meadow path and on to Forest Hills.

WalkUP Roslindale, formed in summer 2015, is an organization made up of Roslindale residents with the aim of improving walkability in the neighborhood. They also work with allies to improve the neighborhood for bikes, and other transit. The group has a steering committee of nearly 20 people and a membership of over 100.

WalkUP Roslindale held a meeting in April to introduce the idea of the Gateway Path to the community, at which 100 residents and representatives from the City of Boston, the City Council, MassDOT, the MBTA, and the Arnold Arboretum attended. Around 600 people responded to an online survey. According to Wright, the overwhelming majority of responses expressed support for the Gateway Path.

There has been informal support for the idea from various governmental bodies and organizations, according to Wright.

Wright said that the Arnold Arboretum has been particularly supportive. The Arboretum Park Conservancy and Arnold Arboretum are jointly seeking grant funding for phase 1 of the Blackwell Path extension from its current endpoint to the arch at Arboretum Road.

The cost of the path is still unknown. WalkUP Roslindale are in the stages of having an engineering survey done, and have not identified from where the funding would be obtained. Wright said that they have cleared a rough path through the vines and thick woods and walked along the overgrown MBTA-owned portion of the proposed route, and expect to lead tours of it in the future.

The group hopes for the path to be built in the next two years.

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