AirInc looking to turn unused land into park pathway

It’s been off limits since the September 11 terrorist attacks due to its proximity to Logan International Airport but since banning the public from a small sliver of land at the airport’s Northwest Service Area, Massport has tried to put a 1,700 car parking lot and now a Bus Depot.

Activist have tried for years to connect Bremen Street Park and Eastie’s other park systems to Constitution Beach via a small path in the Northwest Service area but were always told safety concerns trump the neighborhood’s desires to have a streamlined park system.

Now with the proposed Bus Depot, members of East Boston AirInc. are saying it would support Massport’s plans but in return want to once and for all have their connector.

At a recent Orient Heights Community meeting, AirInc.’s Gail Miller and Chris Marchi said Eastie has a unique opportunity to use that development to get a connector.

"We are looking to extend the airport buffer mitigation to include a small pathway big enough for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists to continue from Bremen Street Park to Constitution Beach," explained Miller.

If AirInc. gets its way, Eastie will have one continuous park system that would go from Piers Park on Marginal Street all the way to the Bayswater Street buffer.

"This will allow everyone in the neighborhood to access the park closest to them and continue in one direction to Piers Park or the other to Constitution Beach without being on dangerous city streets,: said Marchi.

Marchi and Miller said having this streamlined park system could improve mobility in the neighborhood without the use of cars, improve property values of homes near the park system and build a unified community that is connect by one gigantic park system.

AirInc. is currently conducting a park survey and going to community events and door to door to garner support for the plan.

However, one of the most interesting concepts of unifying Eastie’s park system is using the old MWRA right-of-way as a greenway. The right-of-way runs parallel to the Blue Line behind Wood Island and dumps out onto Constitution Beach.

Marchi explained that there is nationwide movement called Rails to Trails that is using old right-of-ways and train track beds and transforming them into public open spaces and greenways like Eastie did years back on its own Greenway using the abandoned Narrow Gauge railroad.

Marchi explained that in addition to providing a safe place for people to enjoy recreational activities, greenways and trails often function as viable transportation corridors.

Trails can be a crucial element to a seamless urban or regional multi-modal transportation system. Many areas of the country incorporate trails and similar facilities into their transit plans, relying upon trail facilities to "feed" people in to and out of transit stations in a safe and efficient manner. The ability to avoid congested streets and highways, and travel through natural areas on foot or by non-motorized means, is a large factor in a community’s "livability".

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