On a drizzly Friday morning City Councilor Sal LaMattina met Neighborhood of Affordable Housing’s (NOAH) Community Building and Environment Department Chris Marchi to tour the final stretch of the long-awaited East Boston Greenway Extension.
The final section being completed by the City of Boston will connect the Massport section near Wood Island Marsh completed last year to Constitution Beach via an existing strip of MBTA owned land alongside the Blue Line.
“This is very exciting and once it is completed it will transform the neighborhood,” said LaMattina. “It should be completed by the end of the month.”
LaMattina said while the path will be completed the city will most likely wait until spring to landscape the connector.
“This is a game changer for East Boston,” said Marchi who spent close to three years pushing for the connector. “Residents and entire families will be able to walk or bike from one end of East Boston to other without ever hitting a major road.”
Marchi said the Greenway Extension will also reconnect isolated neighborhoods with one another.
“Due to a highway, an airport, a toll plaza and a MBTA line the neighborhood has been fragmented in a lot of ways,” explained Marchi. “You have Jeffries Point, Eagle Hill, Orient Heights and St. Mary’s Parish. What this project does is allow all these neighborhoods to have a common parkway and pathway leading to different points throughout the neighborhood.”
During the tour LaMattina and Marchi agreed there should be one more entrance/exit along the Greenway and both thought an area of MBTA owned land near the Byron Street bridge would be the perfect place for an on and off ramp accessing the Greenway.
LaMattina and Marchi also agreed that the fence and gate to the last section should be pushed back before the baseball fields at the beach. The current plan calls for a fence to run along the baseball fields with a gate further down the beach as an entrance/exit.
LaMattina and Marchi thought it would make more sense to have the exit/entrance be pushed back because it keeps the beach open and makes the Greenway part of the beach and its parks.
The City of Boston sent out bids last spring to complete the Greenway from the already finished Massport section to Constitution Beach and began work over the summer. Last summer Massport opened their section of the Greenway which runs from Frankfort Street to Short Street but the section that is being worked on by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) has run into some snags.
The BRA was responsible for completing the last 1/4 mile of the Greenway to connect the Massport section to Constitution Beach. The BRA said the challenge with this particular project stems from the fact that none of the land is city-owned.
“That last 1/4 mile is split in ownership between Massport, the MBTA, and DCR, which has required a lot of negotiation over access and the phasing of construction,” said BRA’s Nick Martin at the time.
Plans for the BRA extension shows a 12ft.-wide multiuse path for walking, bike riding and rollerblading as well as a 10ft. vinyl-clad fence that will separate the path from the abutting MBTA Blue Line.
Last summer, after years of planning and development the first section of the East Boston Greenway Connector opened to the public.
This section of the Greenway Connector, built by Massport, opened with a new path that runs from Frankfort and Lovell Streets just beyond Bremen Street Park to a scenic vista at the Wood Island Bay Marsh, three-quarter miles away.
In 2011 Massport’s Board voted to approve the community and city’s request to use a small stretch of Massport owned property that use to be part of the famed Wood Island Park in order to connect the Bremen Street Park with a greenway path that will extend to Constitution Beach.
The path will extend from the Bremen Street Park and end at Constitution Beach.
The city and Massport cut the ribbon on the greenway extension in November 2012.
In April 2011, at a Boston Conservation Commission hearing, the Commission reviewed Massport’s permit application for a proposed Green Bus Depot at Logan International Airport and voted to grant an Order of Conditions (wetland permit) for the project.
At the hearing, the commissioners applauded the efforts made to date to advance the greenway connector and voted to approve a permit with the proviso that Massport continue to work with City of Boston agencies and residents on the planning of a greenway connection to link Bremen Street Park to Constitution Beach and other resource areas.
Greenway proponents spearheaded by community activists like Marchi and Gail Miller, in return for support for a Bus Depot at Logan, had spent two year fighting for the right to use a 25 ft. corridor between the proposed Logan Bus Depot and the community as a way to connect Bremen Street Park to Constitution Beach. This would once and for all connect waterfront parks in the southern part of the neighborhood with parks and airport edge buffers in the northern part of Eastie. This will allow for one continuous park system and allow adults and children to ride their bikes, jog, rollerblade or take part in other leisurely activities without being dependent on busy neighborhood streets like Bennington Street.
The Commission initially refused to sign off on Massport’s plans to construct a Bus Depot in Logan’s Northwest Service Area until it sat down with proponents of the greenway extension plan.
At the request of then mayor the late Thomas Menino and elected officials, a collaborative effort was developed between Massport and staff from city agencies to assess pathway design options that will address public safety, airport security and community access to their open space resources.
This work ultimately lead to the Massport Board’s vote to approve the community’s plans.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina met Neighborhood of Affordable Housing’s (NOAH) Community Building and Environment Department Chris Marchi tour the final stretch of the Boston Greenway Extension.
Work is nearly complete on this section of the Greenway Connector that will run from Short Street to Constitution Beach.