PLAN: East Boston Holds First Meeting After 14 Month Hiatus

Due to the COVID-19, the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) PLAN: East Boston initiative that seeks to rezone areas of Eastie, and create an updated Master Plan took a back seat to the city focus on pandemic relief efforts. 

However, BPDA’s Kristina Ricco, Jason Ruggiero, and Nick Schmidt hosted a virtual PLAN: East Boston meeting last Thursday night and plan to hold four more throughout the course of the year. 

Ricco said after each meeting the BPDA’s PLAN: East Boston team will release a draft for East Boston planning on each topic discussed at the meetings.

“Tonight we’ll discuss planning for squares and corridors,” said Ricco. “Next is neighborhood residential areas and after that will be discussing waterfront and industrial areas. Then we will conclude the series with network and regional connections. I know some folks at this meeting have already taken a moment to preview the draft recommendations for the content tonight. Our game plan is to release the chapter, give folks time to read it comprehensively and then schedule time. A number of listening sessions to follow up and discuss the draft recommendations in detail with us will be scheduled.”

Ricco said after a long 14 months it’s good to get the ball rolling again in regards to planning and holding more meetings, listening sessions and discussions. 

“It’s so important to connect back and remind ourselves of the task at hand,” said Ricco. “It’s not news that East Boston, like many neighborhoods in Boston, is changing. The most recent comprehensive Neighborhood Plan was published more than 20 years ago, Neighborhood Zoning was published in 1993, the East Boston Master Plan was published in 2000, and the Transportation Action Plan was published in 2008. Certainly, much has changed since then.”

Ricco reminded attendees that PLAN: East Boston will update neighborhood zoning, establish neighborhood design guidelines and propose new capital improvements to public spaces–including near and long term improvements to the neighborhood’s transportation network to predictably shape the future of the neighborhood.

“We are so excited to reinitiate engagement at this important moment in the planning process,” said Ricco. “Starting tonight and spreading over the next several months we will preview draft recommendations that present an ambitious and exciting vision for the future of East Boston. The next phase will further refine these recommendations and then translate them into specific actions to be implemented over time. So, the draft recommendations report is specifically not an implementation plan. Recommendations build on community feedback and respond to trends identified in the existing conditions analysis. Planning trends help summarize what observable data says today about East Boston.”

So with that, following two years of engagement with the Eastie community the BPDA has prepared draft recommendations for squares and corridors, including Maverick Square, Day Square, Orient Heights Square, and Suffolk Downs Square as well as recommendations for major corridors including Meridian Street and Bennington Street. 

These draft recommendations have been published on the project website in English and in Spanish and can be viewed at 55d4ee5f-49dc-4157-9bd5-e9e0c0d4396e. 

Some of the recommendations include adding density, more retail and transit-orientated projects where appropriate while adding more public transportation options in places like Day Square and adding more traffic calming initiatives on busy thoroughfares in the neighborhood.  Residents are encouraged to check out the draft recommendations and comment

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