Chelsea Street Pedestrian Improvements Top List

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has scheduled a public meeting on June 2 to bring the community up-to-date on the community benefits promised by MassPort for the Little Mystic mitigation package.

The meeting comes as an uproar took place amongst several community members that have been following the process when a piece appeared suddenly this month on the Public Improvement Commission (PIC) agenda related to making a connection between Barry Field and the HarborWalk.

Resident Dan Jaffe and others, noting that the plans for the connection weren’t what they expected, called for a delay of the PIC agenda item. Jaffe said the plans were not extensive enough for him, and particularly given the fatal pedestrian incident earlier this year involving a Spaulding patient who was walking alongside the road near 16th Street when hit by and killed by a vehicle.

Councilor Lydia Edwards said she did intervene in the situation, and the BPDA promised to come out to the community and gather input on the connector project and give updates on the other, larger mitigation projects.

“We agreed to allow the item to go ahead on the PIC, but the BPDA said it would schedule a meeting to inform the public of the plans,” she said. “There is still plenty of time to give input on the designs and they agreed to return to the community.”

Devin Quirk of the BPDA said he is excited to hold the meeting on June 2 regarding all of the projects, but also said the connector and pedestrian safety improvements within that plan were expedited due to the fatality at 16th Street this year.

“Because of a traffic fatality there, it’s really important that gets installed as quickly as possible to ensure safe crossing for pedestrians,” he said.

The project was always part of the mitigation package, and was meant to better connect Barry Field, also known as The Oilies, to the HarborWalk on the other side of Chelsea Street. There is an existing traffic light there, but the crossing is treacherous, and a grade change from the Oilies to the street makes it nearly impossible.

That project includes adding a stair and ramp at the grade change, upgrading the signal and enhancing the crosswalk to make a smoother connection between the two amenities. He said they hoped to gather input from the community at the meeting, use that to finalize plans and then start on July 1.

That said, the meeting will also tackle the much more ambitious plans to build out a Medford Street pedestrian and bike trail along the old railway, and also the improvements proposed at the Little Mystic parcels.

The mitigation package was negotiated after the community demanded something more in return for the renewal of a long-term lease with MassPort for the Little Mystic parcels on Terminal Street. That lease was renewed, and it came with a robust menu of community projects MassPort agreed to fund in conjunction with the BPDA as part of the renewed lease agreement.

The meeting is scheduled online from 6-7 p.m. on June 2, with registration information to be sent out soon.

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