Rutherford Avenue Today; Rutherford Avenue Tomorrow

October 27, 2011
By

The remaking of Rutherford Avenue is absolutely essential to the well-being of Charlestown.

In its present incarnation, Rutherford Avenue is a disconnected mess of businesses and a learning institution on one side of it and a disconnected grouping of residences, a cemetery, a few commercial interests and some open space on the Charlestown side.

In its entirety, Rutherford Avenue is an ugly conglomeration of nothingness compared with the town of Charlestown itself, which has transcended in nearly every way old beliefs of what it might one day come to be.

The question is, why can’t Rutherford Avenue enjoy the miracle that the town of Charlestown owns?

The re-doing of the traffic circle at Sullivan Station and the possible filling in of the underpasses leading down Rutherford Avenue will not change life in Charlestown one iota.

What will change Charlestown is a Rutherford Avenue that changes with the times instead of being left at the station when the train has already gone out of it down the tracks.

This being said, there is the absolute necessity for everyone wishing to be heard to be heard – even white haired older ladies (who are not so different from those of us who are white haired older men) should be able to get their points across at public meetings about what the city is apparently planning for Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue.

Those of us who have traversed this square and those underpasses and Rutherford Avenue for a lifetime understand the necessity, in fact, the requirement, that everything needs to be changed.

That being said, the real change that is needed is the complete redoing of the ugly, useless, disgusting, ineffectual commercial part of Rutherford Avenue that does not work in the modern configuration that is Boston today.

The truck traffic, the filth, the mud spread onto the roadways, the paper flying around everywhere is an all-wrong scenario for modern Charlestown. Cambridge wouldn’t allow it in its neighborhood. Somerville wouldn’t have it. So why should Charlestown residents and those who care about the neighborhood accept this as a fait accompli?

Perhaps it might make sense to attempt to achieve some kind of eminent domain zoning change to remake the ugliest part of Rutherford Avenue into something more acceptable as a neighbor? And to do this in conjunction with changing Rutherford Avenue’s traffic patterns might make sense.

Viewing Rutherford Avenue as a traffic artery only is all wrong when it comes to trying to give shape and form to the Charlestown of the next 20 years.

Rutherford Avenue should be a walkway leading to a much friendlier and consistent type of neighborhood than we have today on the other side of the street.

The Rutherford Avenue of today does not work. Trafficwise it remains the disaster it has been for decades.

Tenantwise it is also a disaster.

It all needs to come together. That’s what the debate should be about.