A tiny crowd showed up at a meeting in the parish hall of St. Gregory School last week to see the 25 percent completion stage of the Dot Avenue Project draft, a plan for the reconstruction of the avenue and its streetscape at several key intersections. Concerns from a few neighbors of Fields Corner seem to have died down, and only a need for a parking solution there remains.
"We're done," said Jeremy Rosenberger, the project manager for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). "Time to move on to the next phase."
Rosenberger said the Mayor would likely unveil the entire plan in December, and hire a team of consultants by February next year to implement the work. Construction could begin as early as spring of 2009.
The Dot Avenue Project is a proposal to rebuild three major intersections along the avenue, at Glover's Corner (Freeport-Hancock-Dot Ave.), Fields Corner and Andrew Square. Peabody Square is also being redone in a separate effort. Six other intersections will receive lighter changes, and the entire street will have a set of guidelines for street furniture, pavement, street-tree and crosswalk treatments. To improve traffic flow for cars, all 10 of these intersections will have dedicated left-hand turning lanes and synchronized traffic lights.
Mayor Thomas Menino has already committed $5 million in the city's capital budget for the Dorchester side of the project, not including over $2.8 million already committed for the Peabody Square reconstruction or the still unbudgeted $3 million that will be needed to re-build Andrew Square. Including the $1.5 million it will take to interconnect the traffic lights, the work will consume $10 million or more.
"If you're going to rip the street up anyway, what about internet access," said Al Willis, asking one of the only questions of the evening. "I live up on Ashmont Hill, and we can't get the high-speed internet there that the rest of the city has access to."
Patrick Hoey, Boston Transportation Department's community liaison, took note of the idea and described a similar coordination of work BTD did with NSTAR in the past.
So few questions were asked at Thursday's presentation at St. Gregory, the meeting ended early. As a result, director of Fields Corner Main Streets Evelyn Darling arrived too late to address her main concern, parking.
"Parking is a big issue in Fields Corner," said Darling. "I'm hoping that the Dorchester Avenue Project, with its resources, will address this problem."
No parking is being taken away from Fields Corner, but Darling is hoping that some arrangement can be made with the owners of one or more of the parking lots that already exist in the area, but are under-utilized. According to Darling, parking is a persistent problem for customers and owners of local businesses.
A meeting of the Freeport Adams Neighborhood Association the night before defused earlier complaints from Linden Street residents who feared an increase in traffic on their street. The Boston Redevelopment Authority's project manager Jeremy Rosenberger said the agency is looking at a number of possible solutions for Linden.