By Seth Daniel
In quiet moments away from City Hall, when Sara Myerson contemplates in her mind what Boston should look like in 2030, or what it might look like in five years from now, those fleeting moments often come while she gazes out the window of her home in Charlestown.
At times, they come while on the way to the park with her daughter, or even on the North Washington Street Bridge as she walks from home to work.
In short, the chief planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) gets a good deal of her inspiration from her new home in the Town – one of many City officials to have recently made Charlestown their new home.
“We absolutely love living in Charlestown,” said Myerson in a recent interview, noting that her family moved to the Town one year ago this month. “I live in Charlestown with my husband, our one-year-old daughter and our puppy. We all love it. It’s been a very warm and accepting community and that’s made us really love our new neighborhood.”
Part of what she loves about the neighborhood is the walkability, and how Charlestown so easily fits into what the City would like to do as a whole in its neighborhoods. Whether in Charlestown or in the planning projects she is spearheading right now in Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, one of the main goals of planners in the City for the last few years has been creating communities near mass transit – communities where people can walk to work, shop after a short bike ride, and find parks and open space just down the street.
Charlestown has fit the bill in that respect, she said.
“I love being able to walk to work at City Hall and my husband walks to work in Cambridge as well,” she said. “We really like that. As a family, we like being able to walk up to the Monument on weekends and we spend time in all the parks. We’re very anxious for the John Harvard Mall to re-open. We live very close to it and I am thinking it will open just at the time that my daughter is the right age to use the playground. That’s going to be very exciting for us.”
Such excitement carries over to her work at the City, where BRA planning efforts have blossomed lately to where the City is thinking in the long-term more often. Mayor Martin Walsh announced Myerson as the new director of planning at the BRA during his State of the City Address in January, with the BRA board approving the appointment in February. She has been charged with leading specific planning efforts within the city, and also continuing the long-term Master Planning process by the City known at Imagine 2030.
Prior to becoming the director of planning, Myerson was the executive director of Imagine Boston 2030 – the first City Master Planning process initiated in more than 50 years. Just this week, Myerson and the BRA announced another round of Imagine 2030 meetings, with one meeting coming in Charlestown on July 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Schraffts City Center.
Prior to her role in the Master Planning process, Myerson was the front person for the Boston 2024 Olympic bid, which ended unceremoniously last summer. It was after that process ended that she began her work on the Master Plan.
Mayor Walsh, upon announcing the appointment in January, said he wanted the BRA and its young talented planners, such as Myerson, to shape the City moving forward.
“People want to live in Boston. That’s a good thing,” said Mayor Walsh during the Address. “But we need to shape growth as a community, not let it shape us.”
Brian Golden, Director of the BRA, welcomed Myerson’s
leadership at the time and the new planning initiatives.
“Our refreshed approach, which prioritizes robust engagement with residents, has been very well-received,” said Golden. “Sara’s unique skill set and background in affordable housing and real estate finance will be a valuable asset as we work to synthesize our targeted neighborhood planning efforts with the citywide plan.”
Before coming to work for the City of Boston, Myerson held a senior role at the nonprofit organization Preservation of Affordable Housing and positions at HR&A Advisors and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Middlebury College and a master’s in urban planning from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to lead the city’s planning work at such a pivotal moment in Boston’s history,” said Myerson. “Our economy is booming, and we’re doing more proactive and comprehensive planning than ever before. I look forward to building on this momentum and working closely with community members to achieve a shared vision for the future of our city.”
And she’ll do all such things from her base in Charlestown.