The Boston Planning and Development Agency’s Kristina Ricco, Jason Ruggiero, Nick Schmidt have been making the rounds at East Boston’s community meetings to update residents on where the BPDA is on the PLAN: East Boston initiative.
“We are moving into an important part of the process where we will be going out into the community to present some recommendations and some suggested changes to East Boston zoning and street configurations,” said Ricco.
These changes are the result of the over 10 workshops the BPDA has held in the community since the launch of the initiative in 2018.
“We have started preparing draft recommendations on updating the entire neighborhood zoning article, urban design guidelines, and the entire transportation network,” said Ricco. “There will be a community meeting on this sometime in April.”
This spring the BPDA will preview zoning recommendations, design guidelines and public realm scenarios for four “character” areas. These four character areas include Neighborhood Residential, Squares and Corridors, Waterfront and Economic Development Areas and Regional Connections
“We will also be encouraging smaller neighborhood groups to hold “do it yourself” workshops,” said Ricco.
In October, the BPDAteam released an interim PLAN: East Boston 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tours and other events that have engaged the Eastie community in the planning process to update the neighborhood’s outdated Master Plan and zoning.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.
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.
In 2018, former 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.