Dot Board of Trade looks to 2020 with a focus

As a dizzying array of new developments hover on Dorchester's near horizon, the neighborhood's leading merchants group hopes to bring the myriad projects into sharper focus in a unique program planned for next Tuesday evening. The Dorchester Board of Trade will host a forum called "Dorchester 2020" at Florian Hall on Hallet Street from 6 to 8 p.m. The program, moderated by NECN reporter and Dorchester native Greg Wayland, will feature presentations on major development plans from the Fairmount Line corridor to the Columbia Point waterfront.

William J. Puddister, the president of the Board of Trade, envisions the event as a one-stop primer for those interested in updates on the various projects.

"I think it gives us an opportunity to show the future of Dorchester and what's going on in terms of building infrastructure," says Puddister, who is the branch manager of MembersPlus Credit Union in Adams Village. "We have a vibrant business community with a lot of growth ahead of it."

Presentations are scheduled from representatives of the Boston Redevelopment Authority's Columbia Point Task Force, which was assembled in recent months to begin a master planning process for the peninsula, where a flurry of re-development is likely to begin in the next two years. Chief among those projects is the Corcoran Jennison Companies' plan to re-invent its Bayside Exposition Center complex as a new mixed-use, residential, retail and commercial neighborhood. The $1 billion redevelopment project - first outlined by the company in June of last year - would likely transform 30 acres of prime waterfront real estate into a regular destination in the neighborhood, with a grocery store, 20 to 40 shops, housing and a new grid of streets, open space and sidewalks.

Also very much in play on the Point is UMass-Boston's plan to expand and enhance its current footprint on the peninsula. Puddister says that university vice-chancellor Ellen O'Connor will make a presentation at Tuesday's forum specifically on that subject.

The MBTA will also be on hand to discuss its plans for the expansion and rehabilitation of the Fairmount commuter rail line, a project that calls for the construction of four new station stops at Four Corners, Blue Hill-Cummins Highway, Talbot Avenue and Newmarket. Two of the four station stops, Four Corners and Talbot, are already in the design phase.

A representative from the city's BRA will discuss the Dorchester Avenue Project, a $7 million improvement project slated to start next spring. And Fr. Thomas Foley of St. Ann's parish in Neponset will discuss the Archdiocese of Boston's ongoing 2010 Catholic School effort, which will result in the opening of Pope John Paul II Academy in fall 2008. Work has already begun to build-out a new cafeteria and gymnasium at the Columbia Road campus of the school system, which will replace the current parish-based grammar school model later this year.