Letter: Time to pump brakes on Forest Hills development

In recent weeks, every article in the Gazette has been about the BRA rubber-stamping one development project after another. Most of these approved projects had fewer parking spaces, less open space and affordable housing, or greater height requirements than code mandates. The proposed project at the former site of the James’s Gate Pub was seeking variances for all of these!

Why bother to establish codes, conduct usage studies, or plan neighborhood growth if developers, in collusion with municipal authorities, will just do as they please?

Mayor Walsh, are you listening? Do the entreaties of your electorate count for nothing?

Criterion plans to develop the LAZ parking lot at Washington St. and the Arborway. Forest Hills Station is the rail terminus. Where are people who drive to reach the T supposed to park? It’s commendable to discourage driving, but people need to park somewhere or they’ll end up endlessly circling for spaces, congesting roadways.

The Criterion development looms, after years of Casey Arborway construction noise and dust forcing us to keep our windows closed. And anyone who has walked or driven around the T Station has had the pleasure of dealing with the haphazard traffic management (see: Nicholas J. Ellis’s astute June 10th letter to the editor).

Criterion intends to shoehorn in five- and six-story condominiums directly behind a commercial strip and across a busy new road from another massive new condo complex (JP MetroMark Apartments). I don’t like the drug dealing, prostitution, and public urination that take place in a vast parking lot with no attendant, but I do not welcome the sort of privacy that alleys and blind corners will afford criminal activity.

Collateral damage from ongoing construction is already not being managed well. Now a plan is in the pipeline to disrupt the area even more?

What happened to controlled growth? The Gazette has reported that the JP/Rox plan allows for fifteen-story buildings in the Forest Hills area. Fifteen stories! Big glass towers are in no way compatible with the triple-deckers and tree-lined streets of Forest Hills. And I’m tired of hearing, particularly in this city, that development is inevitable. Anyone who believes so need only take a walk in Beacon Hill or the South End.

Wasn’t taking down the Casey Overpass supposed to ease congestion? Does anyone have any idea what pouring thousands more people into this area will do for traffic, for noise and air pollution, for crime, for pedestrian/cyclist/motorist safety? At the very least, NO NEW CONSTRUCTION should take place in Forest Hills until the Casey Arborway is complete, the condo complexes already under construction are fully occupied, and an unbiased analysis determines that the area can accommodate many more residents.

Don’t ask me to cry for developers who paid top-dollar for a piece of our neighborhood and now want to destroy it to make good on their investments. What makes our neighborhood desirable is its character: to market that while ruining it seems counter-intuitive, even to the most superficial reasoning.

Ted Kehoe

Jamaica Plain resident

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