Residents Encouraged to Attend Two Community Planning Meetings

City Councilor Lydia Edwards and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) are encouraging East Boston residents from all over the neighborhood to attend two important community planning meetings scheduled for later this week and next week.

The first meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at the East Boston YMCA’s at 54 Ashley St. in Orient Heights hosted by Councilors Edwards and Michelle Wu.

Back in July over 200 Eastie residents attended a council hearing on planning and zoning for East Boston hosted by Edwards and Wu.

This Thursday’s meeting will expand on some of the issues discussed during July’s meeting. Thursday’s working session will give Edwards, Wu and BPDA staff the opportunity to listen to priorities and concerns of residents–particularly those who were unable to attend the initial July hearing.

Edwards said staff from the BPDA will be present to describe the planning initiative (PLAN: East Boston) and clarify the process moving forward. Residents are invited to share their opinions on housing, planning/zoning, resiliency and transportation.

“Residents of East Boston can be directly involved in the planning and development of their neighborhood,” said Councilor Edwards. “Providing your ideas and sharing concerns upfront makes our city more accountable and responsive to issues impacting your quality of life.”

July’s meeting was the first step in creating a neighborhood-wide Master Plan that will provide a cohesive vision for the neighborhood. Edwards said creating a Master Plan for Eastie will allow resident to ‘drive the bus and not be driven by it’ when it comes to development and other issues in the neighborhood.

Edwards called the hearing in response to the development boom in the neighborhood and argues an East Boston Master Plan will provides a framework for new growth and development in the community’s commercial districts and waterfront area, while preserving and enhancing the quality of life in the community’s residential neighborhoods.

Many have complained that the recent development boom is guided by the last Master Plan   created for  our neighborhood, which   was  completed in  the  year  2000.  Nearly  twenty   years  later,  this vision has become  outdated, and no longer  reflects the reality  in which  the residents  of East Boston  live.

Edwards and the city have maintained that the Master  Plan process  must be robust  and community-driven. East Boston  residents  need to have a seat at the table, and it is their vision  for the future  of the neighborhood which must  guide  its development.

Contact the Councilor Edwards with questions: (617)635-3200 or email [email protected].

The second meeting is will be hosted by the BPDA and is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Mario Umana Academy Gymnasium, 312 Border Street.

According to BPDA’s Kristina Ricco the purpose of this meeting will be an information session about the PLAN: East Boston neighborhood planning initiative. At the open house meeting residents will have the opportunity to meet the City’s planning team, share ideas and learn about the planning process, the Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) and how to get more involved.

Over the summer Mayor Martin Walsh announced Eastie was chosen as one of five neighborhoods that will be part of the BPDA’s planning initiative as part of an Imagine Boston 2030-guided effort to ‘preserve, enhance and grow’ the neighborhood.

The city plans to work 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 a 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.

One of the highlights in Eastie will be improving the public realm and access to open space and neighborhood-serving amenities, addressing mobility challenges, and supporting neighborhood resiliency and preparing for climate change.

The city will work with the community in Eastie’s half dozen enclaves with a focus on the the neighborhoods here that are facing increased development pressures. Working with the community the city will determine a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood. Community discussion will focus on preservation of the existing residential fabric, enhancement of the vitality of existing residential communities and businesses, anti-displacement strategies for residents and businesses, connectivity along the waterfront, mobility, and flood protection and climate resiliency.

The BPDA is also exploring moving forward with an Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) in Eastie residential neighborhoods. An IPOD is an interim zoning tool that is used to maintain increased public review and community process in the evaluation of proposed new development during a planning process.

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