City Launches Planning Initiative in East Boston

Last week Mayor Martin Walsh announced East Boston was chosen as one of five neighborhoods that will be part of Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) planning initiative. Eastie will join Mattapan, Newmarket, Allston-Brighton and Downtown in an Imagine Boston 2030-guided effort to ‘preserve, enhance and grow’ the neighborhood.

According to Walsh,  city officials will work closely with Eastie community groups, community leaders and other stakeholders to ensure decisions made by the city are following the guiding principles of “preserves wisely, enhances equitably, and grows inclusively.”

“Over the last four years, we have set strong foundations in our planning efforts that will guide our growth as a city in a way that is responsible and inclusive, for many years into the future,” said Walsh. “These four new planning processes represent a continuation of our commitment to fulfill the individual needs of each neighborhood that both preserve the distinct historic character, and allow for us as a community to plan together for our bright future ahead.”

As part of the initiative in Eastie a comprehensive planning will include a focus on balancing contextually-sensitive development alongside preservation. There will also be a focus on supporting existing residents and businesses through increased access to opportunity, affordability strategies, and anti-displacement policies.

Walsh said one of the highlights in Eastie will be improving the public realm and access to open space and neighborhood-serving amenities, addressing mobility challenges, and supporting neighborhood resiliency and preparing for climate change.

“I applaud the Mayor for following through on his commitment to East Boston regarding development planning,” said Ernani DeAraujo, Eagle Hill Civic Association vice president. “While residents have benefited from the strong economy and many jobs created in the past few years and as home prices have increased, we need a comprehensive plan for development to make sure all families can stay in East Boston and continue to thrive, regardless of their income.”

The city will work with the community in Eastie’s half dozen enclaves with a focus on the neighborhoods here that are facing increased development pressures. Working with the community the city will determine a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood. Community discussion will focus on preservation of the existing residential fabric, enhancement of the vitality of existing residential communities and businesses, anti-displacement strategies for residents and businesses, connectivity along the waterfront, mobility, and flood protection and climate resiliency.

“I’m pleased the Walsh administration is moving forward with long-needed planning for East Boston to address critical issues like housing displacement, traffic congestion and climate resiliency,” said City Councilor Lydia Edwards. “I look forward to discussing the initiative when the council holds a hearing on neighborhood planning in East Boston this summer.”

“I applaud Mayor Walsh for his commitment to development planning in East Boston,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “PLAN: East Boston will provide our community with the clarity and guidance to move forward in an age of rapid development. With a comprehensive, community-driven planning initiative, we can ensure that the fabric and character of our neighborhood are maintained and that private development and public infrastructure work in harmony. This is an important step to realizing a lively, affordable, and diverse East Boston for years to come.”

The BPDA is also exploring moving forward with an Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) in Eastie residential neighborhoods. An IPOD is an interim zoning tool that is used to maintain increased public review and community process in the evaluation of proposed new development during a planning process.

“As a resident of East Boston and a Board Member with the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association, I’ve seen many changes in the neighborhood,” said Renee Scalfani. “Thank you to Mayor Walsh and the BPDA for listening to residents and business-owners and establishing this East Boston initiative. This is something that will help the neighborhood tremendously and working with the City on this issue will be beneficial for all the residents of East Boston.”

According to Walsh the planning initiatives build on the strategies outlined in Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s first citywide plan in 50 years aimed at guiding growth and those of Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030, Mayor Walsh’s plan to create housing at a variety of income levels across the City.

“As East Boston continues to develop, we need to plan adequate to address the needs of this community,” said Sen. Joseph Boncore.  “Addressing our infrastructure, transit options, housing stock, congestion and climate change concerns are critical to ensuring our neighborhood continues to grow in a thoughtful manner.”

The goals outlined in the Mayor’s housing plan are currently being reviewed to ensure that they continue to reflect current conditions.

Imagine Boston 2030 prioritizes inclusionary growth and puts forth a comprehensive vision to boost quality of life, equity and resilience in every neighborhood across the City.  To achieve this vision, Imagine Boston identifies places for growth and enhancement that will help the city achieve its goals of becoming more equitable, improving quality of life, and preparing for climate change.

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