Neighbors balk at siting for Blue Hill Station
Though the call for new stops along Fairmount Line commuter rail has been a loud and long one, the station designs on the table are hardly free from concerns and some residents are even demanding the proposed stop at Blue Hill Avenue be moved or simply scuttled.
The Woodhaven Culbert Regis Neighborhood Association penned a strongly worded to Gov. Deval Patrick in opposition to the Blue Hill Avenue stop this week. They state the project will have a negative impact on property values by damaging the area during construction, and by increasing traffic, noise and light pollution.
"They'll have to do work in my yard," said Woodhaven resident Paul Parks. "They say they'll return it to what it was, but the value of my house is in jeopardy."
Parks is worried that construction may affect his home's foundation.
The letter calls the project "redundant and completely unnecessary," citing existing bus routes, the Mattapan High Speed Line stop in Mattapan Square, and Morton Street Station on the Fairmount Line.
But in a unique bit of horse trading with the Conservation Law Foundation and other organizations last year, the T now has a court order to build four additional stops along the Fairmount Line as mitigation for the Big Dig, instead of having to fulfill other obligations such as the restoration of the Green Line Trolley through Jamaica Plain to the Forest Hills T Station.
In addition to the Blue Hill Avenue and Talbot Avenue locations, new stops are planned for Four Corners and Newmarket in the South Bay Shopping Center. The entire project is scheduled to be complete in 2011, with work beginning this year.
Despite complaints from residents, and claims from some they were never notified about the project in its early planning stages, MBTA Spokesperson Lydia Rivera said construction of the Blue Hill Avenue stop will go forward.
"We've had extensive community outreach and meetings," she said. "We will continue working with the community to let them be part of the process and we invite all to have a say in how it proceeds."
Though Rivera did not confirm notification of specific streets, she said the T's outreach department makes an "extensive effort" to go door-to-door. Parks said he was never notified and neither were his neighbors.
The MBTA will meet with the public and present its plans for the Blue Hill Avenue stop Thursday, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mildred Avenue Community Center, 5 Mildred Ave.
Meanwhile, Codman Square-area neighbors near the proposed Talbot Avenue stop between Norwell and Westcott streets by the Lee School are gearing up for a March 19 meeting. MBTA officials are expected to show a 60 percent-complete plan at the 6:30 p.m. meeting in the Talbot Bernard Homes Community Room, 193 Talbot Ave.
The stop will be constructed on the north side of Talbot Avenue. A parking lot would be built on the east side of the tracks with an entrance on Talbot.
At a stakeholder meeting this week, concerns about noise, traffic, parking, safety and littering were raised. Some suggestions included sound barriers, good lighting and cameras at the stop and in the parking lot.
"We're very excited to have the stop," said Cythia Loesch, president of the Codman Square Neighborhood Council. "But we need to make sure it syncs up with what the residents want."
Some attendees were worried about people parking in their neighborhood to use the train and taking up scarce spaces. The possibility of instituting resident-only permit parking was mentioned.
Residents wanted to ensure the train costs $1.70 like T rides, not a higher commuter rail rate. Rivera said rates have yet to be determined, but current rates on the line inside Dorchester do compare to the T.
Traffic patterns in the area were also a major point of discussion.
Paul Malkemes, of Talbot Norfolk Triangle Neighbors United, said he would like to see an evaluation of the one way streets, traffic lights and signs.
"We're looking at a minimum of 25, potentially 100 new units in the next three years," he said. "Cars will get bottlenecked. I think if we deal with traffic issues with the T, we can start thinking about some of the other traffic problems in the area."