Concerns about the lack of progress made by a state-run commission charged with planning improvements to the Morrissey Boulevard corridor filled the air at Monday evening’s meeting of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association (CSHCA).
The group, which meets on the first Monday of each month, voted to create a new Government Affairs committee to track developments related to the commission, as well as other matters that could impact the neighborhood.
Jake Wachman, who is serving as state Sen. Nick Collins’s designated member of the Morrissey Boulevard Commission, will head the newly formed committee.
“We want to ensure that our community’s interests are represented at the city and state level,” Wachman said. “We’ll partner with the city and state to drive outcomes, and, if needed, engage the community to advocate for change.”
During a discussion of the committee at Monday’s meeting, Wachman said that the Morrissey panel, which is managed by officials who work for MassDOT, should adhere to the original 2022 state law that mandated its work and timeline. Commissioners are facing a June 1 deadline to complete its work and make recommendations to the Legislature about funding priorities, and Wachman said some commissioners are worried that not enough progress has been made to date.
“The purpose of the commission originally was to evaluate and recommend transportation and infrastructure improvements, identify short-term investments, develop a comprehensive plan for the Morrissey Boulevard corridor, improve mobility for pedestrians, transit users, cyclists and motorists and strengthen climate resiliency at Kosciuszko Circle,” Wachman said. “And so far, they’ve only touched on that first goal.”
At the second commission meeting, held last Tuesday at UMass Boston, some in attendance expressed disappointment in the lack of progress and transparency from MassDOT. Wachman said he “took it upon himself” to gather many of the community’s requests, including the need for an interactive online portal for project discussion outside of meetings, updates to Kosciuszko Circle in the project, and 3D visualizations for future presentations of the boulevard’s design, among several other recommendations.
He said he wants local legislators to press for these improvements in future commission meetings. He is also urging state officials to schedule and publicize the date and time of the next commission meeting, which is expected to be held in March, as soon as possible to increase local participation and awareness. Last week’s meeting, the second of four planned sessions, was poorly attended and came with only one week’s notice to the public and to some commissioners.
“The Morrissey corridor has incredible untapped potential. Dorchester deserves an exceptional waterfront just like the rest of Boston, and our community is rich with ideas to achieve this vision,” said Wachman.
Other items discussed at Monday’s meeting included:
An announcement of a new Public Health Committee, which was formed after January’s discussion of water quality concerns in Savin Hill Cove. In a separate water-related matter, officials with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission came to the meeting to talk about changes coming to residential water bills. The BWSC estimates that about 60 percent of customers will see a reduction in their bills to account for the amount of square footage of impervious surfaces on customers’ property. Residents can check how their bills might change by going to bwsc.org/stormwater and using their Bill Estimator tool.
The civic voted to approve a letter to the Boston Planning and Development Agency to update their language related to the city’s new Squares and Streets zoning proposal, and okayed a letter asking MassDOT to publicize its schedule for graffiti removal.
Association members used the occasion to thank former city councillor Frank Baker for his longtime service to his constituents in District 3.
The next CSHCA meeting will be held on Mon., March 4. See columbiasavinhillcivic.org for more info.