Trafficking in Renewal, Residents Focus on Ave. Plan

Rolling along seemingly faster than traffic on the avenue itself, a City Hall plan to rehaul Dorchester's main artery met the public for the first time Saturday. The charrette, aimed at airing preliminary details and collecting residents' ideas, attracted more than 100 people, according to city officials.

City Hall development officials say "The Avenue Project," a pet initiative of Mayor Thomas Menino, will rejuvenate Dorchester Ave. aesthetically and smooth some of the traffic snarls that continue to hinder motorists.

On Saturday, in a Dorchester House meeting, the city rolled out a strategy to divide the avenue into three segments: the Milton border to Melville Ave, Melville to Freeport Street, and Freeport to Andrew Square. Nine community members will sit on a task force with employees of city agencies and the Boston Redevelopment Authority throughout the process.

The BRA-steered process will focus on transportation, housing, business, and aesthetic cues along the four-mile stretch. Residents can voice their desires at meetings on April 7, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the O'Hearn School, and on April 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Campbell Resource Center in Savin Hill.

The city announced a website, dotavenueproject.com, and invited feedback.

While the mayor and his staff have stayed away from announcing a timeline publicly, one city employee with a knowledge of the process said it could take up to three years. In a Boston Globe article, the mayor forecast a year-and-a-half timeline.

Anne Riley, a Savin Hill resident who attended the meeting, said, "I think the mayor did a good job of outlining what his priorities are."

Riley said she was encouraged to see an inter-agency approach from the city, even though the mayor hasn't talked publicly about funding for the project.

"I don't know if they've traveled down that road yet, in terms of what kind of resources they have available," she said. "Obviously, that'll dictate the project, but I don't think they're at that point yet."