Square roots Residents help give shape to Central Sq. project

The second in a series of community input meeting regarding the redevelopment of Central Square took place last week at the East Boston Social Centers. Attendance at future meetings, said city officials, will be crucial to the design and success of the project.

“After all this is going to be your square,” said City of Boston Engineer Vineet Guipta. “We are at the beginning stages but from here on out we want as much community support as possible.”

Last week’s meeting was a brain storming session of sorts with at least 50 people giving their impressions of what is good and bad about the square as it exists today.

Suggestions ranged from outdoor café seating to adding more sidewalk and pedestrian space to adding more traffic lights to calm motor vehicle flow through the square to adding wrought iron archways welcoming visitors to Central Square.

“We want to give the neighborhood the opportunity to radically change the square,” said Guipta.

In August 2008, Menino announced the city would spend nearly $4 million on a new design for Central Square and has already added new angle parking on Sumner Street for local residents.

“I am proud we still able to keep the $3.85 million commitment for the design and reconstruction of Central Square,” said Menino. “I want to ensure that Central Square is a healthier and safer place for people to live, work, walk, shop and do business. We want to improve traffic, reduce congestion and enhance the pedestrian environment. I urge everyone to get involved with the community process for this important project.”

The first in a series of meetings was held in September 2008 to begin the redesign of the Square.

The new design will include a reorganization of parking to improve access for businesses, new traffic signals at key intersections, shorter pedestrian crossings, and additional trees and landscaping. The design will be finalized after a year-long community process.

Construction is anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2010 and will be managed by the Boston Transportation Department.

“Twenty years ago we were able to really make a difference in Day Square and I think we have an opportunity to do it again in Central Square,” said LaMattina. “Central Square will soon become a revitalized jewel where residents can come and relax, shop and enjoy East Boston’s business district.”

In addition, the city is expanding the Resident Parking Program in East Boston in an effort to prevent commuter and airport parkers from monopolizing the limited on-street parking spaces in the neighborhood.

“BTD will be expanding residential parking by over two hundred spaces throughout East Boston,” said Tinlin. “We are currently implementing new regulations and installing signs on over a dozen streets including sections of Bremen, Marginal and Bayswater Streets.”

In fall 2008, the parallel parking on Sumner Street was replaced by angle parking to provide approximately 60 new spaces for residents.

The Transportation Action Plan process has resulted in several other initiatives:

• Construction of the Maverick Street Gate by Massport which allows access only for East Boston residents and further reduces cut-through traffic in the neighborhood.

• Plans for safer pedestrian crossings at several locations including at the Umana School on Border Street and along Condor Street.

• Elimination of cut-through traffic on Bayswater Street.

• A redesign of the Saratoga Street and Chelsea Street intersection.

• Coordination with private developments adjacent to Central Square including the Boston East residential project.

“The East Boston Transportation Action Plan is the result of an extended community process,” said Menino. “Neighborhood groups from Eagle Hill, Jeffries Point and Orient Heights, along with East Boston Main Streets, contributed to this effort. The Boston Transportation Department, in partnership with the Boston Public Works Department, will lead the design and implementation process.”

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