Fairmount Line’s long-view panel to hold open meetings monthly

Elizabeth Murray, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 21, 2012

Fairmount build-out: The Four Corners station is taking shape. Chris Lovett photoFairmount build-out: The Four Corners station is taking shape. Chris Lovett photo

The advisory group recently appointed by Mayor Thomas Menino to assist the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in developing a long-term strategy for the Fairmount Corridor hopes to meet publicly once a month en route to laying out their proposals a year from now.

“There’s so much knowledge around the table and so much experience,” said Ines Palmarin, one of the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s co-directors for the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative (FIPI), in addressing the group at its first meeting last Thursday.

The early morning session was attended by 23 of the 25 members and a number of citizens. The main goal of the gathering was to introduce a two-year initiative and discuss the group’s goals and expectations. It was in that context that the panel noted its intention to meet openly every month.

Tasked with looking hard at the potential for business growth along the 9.2. Fairmount line, the group will also be looking at the future from a big-picture standpoint in helping the BRA develop a long-term strategy for employment opportunities, housing development, and corridor branding along route. The corridor-wide advisory group (CAG) will also be involved with the so-called working advisory groups (WAGs), also appointed by Mayor Menino, as they look at the areas in a more little-picture way.

New stations are being built at Four Corners, Newmarket, and Talbot Avenue, with a fourth slated for the Mattapan neighborhood.

BRA FIPI co-director Jeremy Rosenberger praised the diversity the panel represents (nominee flyers had to be translated into eight different languages). “It actually represents all of Boston, all the different demographics,” said Rosenberger. “We think the body that we put together here and the folks that said they’d like to participate is the best representation we could get. … They’ll be able to learn things from each other.”

At the beginning of the meeting, CAG members were asked to introduce themselves and lay out a goal for their participation in this initiative.

Ethel Santos of the Franklin Field Tenant Task Force, who has lived at Franklin Field for over 40 years, said that her goal centers on education. “I’m very interested in this because in growing communities, transportation is a major key. I’m looking for this to help me to educate my community, and they can help me educate you on what our needs and our goals and our desires are coming out of this. I am very proud to be here.”

Matthew Thall, of the Fairmount Indigo Community Development Collaborative (CDC), has an economic-based view: “I am very interested in seeing this planning process really go on and move forward about a decade of work from community-based organizations to revitalize this rail line and then to develop urban villages and sort of bridge communities along the line. I am especially interested in the economic development goals of the initiative that actually happens to be a major new focus of the organization I represent and the CDC collaborative, so I’m very anxious to make sure that this process really helps to create a real economic and social vitality.”

Consultants have been designated to help with the process and will assist in upcoming meetings. Steven Cecil, the project director, and Josh Fiala, the project manager from the Cecil Group, spoke at the meeting, pointing out that this was one of the most unusual planning initiatives they have encountered.

“I think that this notion that we’re all going to have to work together to understand all of this recognizes the fact that this is very unusual,” said Cecil. “The fact that we can go nine miles in Boston in one direction is amazing to me. It’s a compact community in how large an area it actually is [when you think] about how you can connect in a meaningful way nine miles of different places.”