Last week the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) PLAN: East Boston team released an interim report for the planning study, available on the BPDA website in English and Spanish (https://bpda.app.box.com/s/hgmqupurzxgjnuokzilvs7kk1894hwe1
The interim report follows two years of community meetings, workshops, neighborhood tours and other events that have engaged the Eastie community in the planning process to update the neighborhood’s outdated Master Plan and zoning.
The BPDA’s Director of Planning Lauren Shurtleff said the report measures the neighborhood as it exists today as a critical first step to adopting a new Master Plan for Eastie. Shurtleff said the document presents data and trends across six planning topics to establish various “baseline” conditions in the neighborhood. This, said Shurtleff, establishes important reference points for developing future PLAN: East Boston actions, including people, housing, climate and environment, transportation, jobs, and urban form.
“These measurements establish important reference points for developing future plan actions, and eventually, measuring progress towards our goals,” said Shurtleff. “The goals set out in this document are a reflection of our shared values and present an ambitious vision of the future of East Boston. Having established where we are today and where we would like to be in the future, our remaining task is to plan for how we get there from here. Future community engagement will focus on refining strategies and identifying specific actions needed to move towards our goals. All stages of the planning process rely on the robust participation of the East Boston community to be both meaningful and sustainable and we look forward to continuing the dialogue.”
As part of the report’s release the PLAN: East Boston team will be holding office hours to provide the community with an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
The office hours will be held remotely on Wednesday, October 14 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.(https://www.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJItdOyhqT0tHbYuSJd8PyA_ifFp7dtYUsA), Wednesday, October 14 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. (https://www.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJIsc-2vpjsuHsPTPuH94vXtRzTP2HtqJec) and again on Saturday, October 17 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. (https://www.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJItce2gqj8qHQHf8032Qe1DmPjd2OBNXXk).
The report comes after more than 70 PLAN: East Boston community engagement events, including Advisory Group meetings, neighborhood walking tours, informal Chat with a Planner events at local businesses such as restaurants and bowling alleys, neighborhood association visits, and discussions at community events.
In addition to planners, the PLAN: East Boston team includes a community engagement manager who focuses on building relationships and reaching out to new voices in the community. These events have facilitated important community conversations that helped shape the shared values reflected in the East Boston Today report and ongoing PLAN: East Boston initiative.
“PLAN: East Boston works with the community to produce a framework to predictably shape the future of East Boston and identify opportunities to preserve, enhance and grow,” said Shurtleff. “Specifically, the planning initiative will update East Boston Master Plan, produce urban design guidelines, recommend updates to East Boston zoning and advise immediate- to long-term improvement projects for the neighborhood’s transportation network.”
In 2018, Mayor Martin Walsh announced Eastie was chosen as one of five neighborhoods that would take part in the BPDA’s planning initiative. The initiative is part of an Imagine Boston 2030 effort to ‘preserve, enhance and grow’ the neighborhood.
The city has been working 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.”
As part of the initiative in Eastie 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.