Charlestown Patriot Bridge(CPB): As you travel around Charlestown, how has the response been to your campaign?
Roy Avellaneda (RA): Unlike the Special Election, I had much more time and have found these last six months campaigning in Charlestown to have been very rewarding. As I meet and converse with Charlestown residents about issues that are important to them, I feel that I have gained support for my candidacy by demonstrating my passion for advocacy and experience on how to deal with those issues. Charlestown voters are more demanding than just asking what side of the Tobin you live on. They ask tough questions, look at the literature thoroughly and have checked out my web site and sent follow up emails to me. I am happy with the response I have received to date.
CPB: What do you think are the most pressing issues Charlestown is facing and how do you plan to address them?
RA: Without a doubt the upcoming decision of the Mass Gaming Commission on which of the two casino proposals, Wynn Casino in Everett or Mohegan Sun in Revere, is the most pressing issue facing Charlestown right now. The impact the Wynn Casino will have on traffic in Charlestown should they win the designation will severely hamper Charlestown’s desire to redevelop and redesign the SS/ Rutherford Ave corridor as a muti-model Transit Oriented Development.
For that reason and others, I have advocated to the Mass Gaming Commission that the Mohegan Sun proposal be approved. The Mohegan Sun proposal offers greater dollar mitigation packages to Boston, Chelsea and other surrounding communities. It also has less impact overall to traffic due to its two onsite Blue line stations, ample onsite parking and higher dollar amount spent on traffic redesign along Rt 1A and Rt 16.
CPB: Waterfront development is a big concern in Charlestown. The biggest issue is balancing the need for development with the proper mitigation for parking to accommodate these new developments. How have you (or do you plan) to address this issue?
RA: I have attended several community meetings in Charlestown regarding the Ropewalk Building and Starboard Place Proposals and heard loud and clear the parking concerns raised by residents. In private conversations with those residents I gave my suggestions.
While working at Mass DOT as a project manager, I worked with the City of Chelsea to have space under the Tobin Bridge and Rt 1 corridor to be surplussed so that it could be used for parking and new open space (skate and dog parks). This will help support economic development that is occurring in Chelsea such as new residential apartments, an FBI building and existing state and city agencies located there. All the while repairing the disconnect the Tobin Bridge caused as it runs midway thru Chelsea.
As State Representative, I would continue my previous work and follow up my internal discussions with former Mass DOT colleagues about replicating the process in Charlestown to alleviate parking issues in the Charlestown Navy Yard area. An example of this private parking use can be found currently under the viaduct in the South End near Albany St and Berkley St.
CPB: The state recently passed a comprehensive bill to address substance abuse. How do you plan to work with the two anti-drug agencies in Charlestown to ensure they get the resources they need to address the problem?
RA: Groups like Charlestown Against Drugs ( CHAD) and the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC) are performing incredible work in Charlestown. The recent bill passed allocated money for such agencies to continuing their efforts in substance abuse education and prevention in Charlestown and across the state. Advocacy on their behalf to receive a portion of those fund is an essential role I would perform as State Representative. Additionally, Drug Courts like the one located in the Charlestown Boston Municipal Court House need similar continued support so that collaborations with CSAC and CHAD continue.
CPB: What are some of the things you’d like to see as part of the Rutherford Ave. project moving forward?
RA: The recent Transportation Bond bill that was passed by the Legislature only had $5,000,0000 appropriated for the redesign of Sullivan Sq and Rutherford Corridor. This amount is entirely inadequate for the size of the project and is not even guaranteed. What is needed is the appropriate amount of funding for this very large and important project to go forward.
I share the vision of Charlestown residents that this area becomes a “Gateway” to the City of Boston. It needs to become a Transportation Oriented Development (TOD) that safely and efficiently allows muti-model access (pedestrians, bicyclists, automobiles, buses and trains) to exist while allowing high density use for office space, retail, housing and or hotels. This would allow Charlestown to “recapture” the northern and western edge of its neighborhood while creating jobs and expanding it’s tax base to help pay for needed public services.
As State Representative, I would work on increasing the amount allocated for redesign in the Legislature and its allocation of funding to the Governor and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.