The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) held its regular semi-monthly meeting this past Monday evening. Steering Committee member Jonathan McCurdy chaired the meeting, which also was attended by new State Representative Samantha Montano (who invited the community to contact her with any suggestions for new legislation for 2023 within the next 10 days); Thomas Mannion, the Director of Constituent Services for Boston City Councilor at large Erin Murphy; Emily Polston. Chief of Staff for City Councilor at large Ruthzee Louijeune; and Frances Oliveira, who is the community liaison for Jamaica Plain for the city’s Inspectional Services Dept.
The principal portion of the session was taken up with a presentation by Alexandra Markiewicz, the Manager of Bus Modernization at the MBTA, in which she updated the association on the progress of the T’s Arborway Garage project.
Markiewicz told the group that the new garage, which will replace the existing garage with an electric bus maintenance facility, will house 200 buses, ranging in length from 40 to 60 feet, all of which will be electric.
Markiewicz said the T is seeking to have an all-electric bus fleet by 2040, “which is one of the most ambitious programs for bus electrification in the country and this requires that the present Arborway facility must be changed over from CNG to electric.
“When the Arborway project is completed, all buses on local JP streets will be electrified and 40 percent of all buses in the city will be electric,” Markiewicz noted.
She also added that the T will avoid building directly over the Stony Brook culvert. In addition, the new garage has been designed to allow the city to retain its adjacent snow and ice removal storage facility.
She noted that the impact upon local traffic from the increase in the number of buses using the garage (the new facility will house almost twice as many buses as the present garage) will be minimal because the buses will not be going to-and-from the facility during peak rush hours.
Construction is slated to start in 2025 with a completion date of 2028.
Markiewicz fielded a number of questions from the group.
Tulin Dadali asked whether there will be any changes to the present walkway and bike path to the Forest Hills rapid transit station and was assured that there will be no changes.
Merlin Southwick asked about the potential uses for the adjacent Community Development parcels, which total 6.5 acres. Markiewicz replied that the City of Boston will be addressing that issue.
Royce Abel asked about the 60-foot height of the new garage. Markiewicz said that the building needs that height in order to accommodate the buses and the pantograph overhead charging system that will be used to recharge the buses in the garage.
Felicia Kazer asked about the environmental impact during the construction phase and where the electricity will come from, including wind and solar.
Markiewicz told the group that the MBTA is the largest consumer of electricity in the state and that 100% of the MBTA’s system is powered by certified renewable electricity. She also said that the T has begun already working with Eversource, the local electric company, because the new garage will require a significant power upgrade to the site.
In response to a question about water and air quality during construction, Markiewicz said that the T will be working with the appropriate authorities on mitigation to make sure the area is safe and protected during the construction project.
Susan Ramos-Hunter asked about density for the new commercial zoning area, but Markiewicz said that issue still is up in the air and in any event will be determined by the city.
Fred Vetterlein made a strong case for the T to incorporate greenery into the plans for the site, which presently indicate a lack of plantings or green areas. Vetterlein suggested that trees might be able to be planted along the perimeter of the site.
“This is an important site that you should make look decent,” said Vetterlein. “The Arborway is such a major part of our park system. You should show a face that really has some pride in it and do something that makes that happen.
“The MBTA did a nice job with the Forest Hills station and the T is capable of good design,” he added.
Markiewicz noted that the drawings she showed are only preliminary and that Vetterlein’s suggestion will be considered.
The association then heard a number of updates from its various subcommittees:
— Vetterlein told the committee of the progress (or lack of it) regarding the so-called Southwest Corridor Extension, a stretch of land that is 1/4 mile long and 50-90 feet wide that runs from English High School to Forest Hills station. He noted that $125,000 has been received toward the construction of a greenway, but there presently are no concrete plans for development.
— Royce Abel updated the group about the construction project at the corner of Brookley and Stonley Rds. He said the existing building has been demolished, but that an issue remains regarding color selection for the new structure. He said a pedestrian path has been included and there are discussions with a car-sharing company to be available for tenants. However, a sticking point has been the finalization of an agreement between the developer and the city & state to make all of the housing, which will include five live/work units for artists, 100 percent affordable. It is expected that the matter will be resolved in time to start construction in May.
— The association was informed that the property at 15 Meehan St. was sold on December 30 and the new owner is planning to build either a two or three-family structure.
— The association learned that there has been no real progress for the plans at the BMS Paper Co. building, 3390 Washington St., where the owner of the current restaurant and party supply company has proposed to expand his retail business with a full-on grocery store, 80 units of housing, and a restaurant on the second floor. The owner presently is working on plans for the shared driveway with the Pine St. Inn, redesigns for the restaurant, and a choice of color for the building.
— The Guidance subcommittee reported that it is nearing completion of its work on a document regarding the procedures that will govern the SNA’s subcommittees.
— Tulin made a presentation about the NextDoor social media website.
— McCurdy thanked the members of the community who volunteered themselves and their homes to make the SNA’s recent Holiday Stroll a success.
The next meetings of the SNA are scheduled for March 13 and May 8.
SNA in dire
need of members
The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) needs members from the community who are willing to step up to become active members of the SNA.
Steering Committee member Jonathan McCurdy said that the Steering Committee, which typically has five members, has been reduced to three in recent years and that he is planning on stepping down after the SNA’s next meeting in March.
“We are in crisis mode,” said McCurdy, who has been a member of the Steering Committee for four years. “We need at least three members to handle the organizational needs for our meetings, but when I leave, we’ll be down to two.”
Interested members of the J.P. community who would like to join the organization should go to the SNA’s web site at www.sna-jp.org for more information.