Fields Corner meeting takes up 'Squares + Streets' discussion

Representatives from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) made an appearance at the March meeting of the Fields Corner Civic Association (FCCA) to discuss the Fields Corner Squares + Streets planning initiative – an exercise that could transform how the neighborhood looks over the coming decades.

Fields Corner is one of four areas in the city where the zoning reform plan will be piloted. BPDA planners Taylor Mayes and Ben Zunkeler told the group that “we will be kicking off planning in late April at the latest. A formal kick-off event will usher in a series of opportunities for neighbors to engage more directly,” said Mayes.

There will be office hours and maybe an office space in Fields Corner for the period, which lasts six to nine months. The initiative will focus on Dorchester Avenue from Freeport Street to Park Street.

“Residents would help us choose from the six ‘S’ zones and we would use some of these in some combination in Fields Corner,” said Zunkeler, who noted that each district would be different, but “have a consistent palette” citywide.
One feature of the plan is the elimination of some parking, something that worried merchants on the call.

“We do want walkability, but for businesses to operate we need people to come in and visit businesses, and that’s going to require parking,” said Tran Le, of Pho Le Restaurant, who said the city seems to be pointing to private property owners to provide parking in this plan. “I can’t see what direction the city wants to take towards parking.”

Mayes said the point was valid but noted that everyone needs to remember the plan is part of “moving the city in a direction that is carbon neutral.”

District 3 City Councillor John FitzGerald said that now is the time to get involved in the process, warning that many development projects will be “by right” and not require community discussion or review under the Fields Corner Squares + Streets program.

“If you don’t participate now and don’t give input on this process now, you will be stuck with it in the years ahead,” he said.

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