Task Force hears 'visions' for Columbia Point improvements

Harbor Point should be integrated with the rest of the Columbia Point community and local transportation around remains a keen problem, residents told a city task force on June 14. The comments came at a Saturday "visioning" session held at Boston College High School. The event was convened by a BRA-led committee with an eye towards creating a master plan for the 412 acres between I-93 and Dorchester Bay.

Sister Elizabeth Calcagni, of St. Christopher's church on Mt. Vernon St., said that commuters coming from South Boston using William J. Day Boulevard find connecting to Columbia Point a hassle.

"You're backed way up," she said.

Dierdre Habershaw, head of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association, said the nearby rotary shares some of the blame. The backing up of Morrissey Boulevard, which goes by the Boston Globe, Boston College High School and UMass-Boston, creates a tsunami effect on Columbia Road and Dorchester Ave., some added, leading to a tougher commute for those heading to areas like Fields Corner.

Joan Hill, of the Columbia Point Community Garden, suggested a transit service specifically for Columbia Point. As part of a discussion on sustainability, community members also pushed for harnessing geothermal, tidal, wind and solar energy for potential new buildings in the area, with Habershaw suggesting green roofs.

Some also continued to grouse over UMass-Boston. John "Tad" Read, senior Boston Redevelopment Authority planner, said the city doesn't have direct control over the campus, which is exploring an expansion in academic buildings and, eventually, dorms, a source of concern for some Dorchester residents. Read said the BRA will be incorporating dorms into the agency's impact analysis.

Added Ellen O'Connor, the university's vice chancellor for administration and finance: "We know we're part of Columbia Point and need to work together."

The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for July 7, 5 p.m. at Boston College High School.