Confusion over Uphams land causes frustration, trash pile-up

A broken TV, tires, shards of glass, and a yellowing copy of the Boston Globe from Sept. 13 were a few of the items lining the sidewalk on Alexander Street last Friday afternoon. Trash and debris along the stretch of sidewalk that abuts the tracks of the MBTA's Fairmount Line has been a constant problem according to residents who say they want someone to take responsibility for cleaning up and maintaining what they call an eyesore.

Franco Marzo has lived on Alexander St. for a year now and has placed countless calls to the city and the MBTA to try to get someone to cleanup the trash-strewn stretch of cracked sidewalk and overgrown weeds. He wants whoever is responsible for the sidewalk to keep up the property, just like he and his neighbors do.

"Maintain your property like everyone else," said Marzo. "If you have a mess in front of your house, you get a ticket," said Marzo, during a walk along the sidewalk last week.

Marzo said that he and his neighbors have complained to the city and the MBTA, which owns the property abutting the sidewalk, but claims that for the last year the two entities have blamed each other for neglecting the sidewalk.

Marzo's home, like those of many of his neighbors, are newly built and they say that the mess across the street is in sharp contrast with their well-maintained properties.

"We have lovely homes," said Alexander Street resident Anthony Cooley. "You see sunshine over here and you go across the street and there's darkness."

Trash and overgrown weeds and brush make the sidewalk unusable and unsafe, residents said. They report regularly seeing rats, mice, snakes, and raccoons and are fearful that tree limbs broken in recent storms could fall and injure passersby.

Last week, representatives from the city and the MBTA accompanied Marzo for a walk-through along the sidewalk and developed an action plan. However, precisely who will have continued responsibility for the maintenance of the sidewalk remains unclear.

Both the city and state officials offered commitments to initial improvements and a cleanup, but at press time a timetable was unavailable.

"The city has committed to upgrading the lighting on the street, but we have to get support from the abutting neighbors," said Karine Querido, one of three Dorchester liasions from the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. In the coming weeks, Marzo plans to bring a petition to his neighbors to get approval for the installation of brighter, fluorescent lights.

"The other commitment the city has made is to upgrade the sidewalks, the DPW committed to putting it on next year's list [for improvement]," said Querido, who participated in the walk-through.

MBTA Spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said that the T will have a work crew substantially cut back vegetation on the MBTA's side of the fence.

"The direction we're giving the crew is to cut back any brush, branches, and vegetation to two to three feet onto the MBTA side of the fence," said Pesaturo. Once that's done, the T anticipates that it will take a significant amount of time for the growth to again reach the fence line, and the T will be ready to address the situation again when the time comes.

The T is awaiting action from the city to begin the work, Pesaturo said, as the two are trying to coordinate their efforts. The city has planned a clean up on the Alexander St. side of the fence, according to Pesaturo, and after that is initiated the T will perform its cleanup.

Marzo and his neighbors are still awaiting action.

"We just want basic service - bottom line," said Marzo